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Leuchars Station set for multimillion-pound Black Watch revamp

The Army's Black Watch battalion is heading to Leuchars.

Army chiefs are drawing up plans for a major revamp of Leuchars Station to transform the Fife base into the new home of the Black Watch battalion.

They are poised to make a “significant investment” at the former RAF site as part of preparations for the arrival of the 500-strong unit.

The work at Leuchars Station will be funded using a £355 million pot of cash that has been set aside by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to upgrade Army bases in Scotland.

Under a shake-up called “Future Soldier”, it was announced in November that the Black Watch would move by 2029 from Fort George, near Inverness, to Leuchars.

The plans followed years of campaigning to bring the battalion back to its traditional recruiting ground around Tayside and Fife.

Also known as 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), the Black Watch is due to become part of The 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade.

Routinely deployed around the world, the MoD said security force assistance units would contribute to conflict prevention and resilience at an early stage.

The former RAF base was renamed Leuchars Station when it was handed over to the Army in March 2015.

It is already home to Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which will remain in Fife.

Economic boost

The transfer of the Black Watch is expected to deliver a major economic boost to the area.

An Army spokesman said: “As announced in Future Soldier, Defence is investing £355m in the Army estate in Scotland. The Leuchars site will benefit from this investment.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with Black Watch soldiers at Fort George.

One military source confirmed to us that the proposed cash injection would be “significant”.

They added: “There are loads of buildings at Leuchars, anyway – there were 2,500 RAF personnel in it – so there is plenty of room to get more people in.

“It’s just about making it right for the job the 3 SCOTS will be doing.”

The arrival of hundreds of new families to Leuchars will have implications for local schools and other council services.

‘Smoothly as possible’

Councillor Rod Cavanagh, Fife Council’s armed forces champion, said the local authority was looking forward to welcoming the Black Watch to the area.

He added: “We will continue to work closely with the MoD to make sure arrangements to bring personnel to Leuchars run as smoothly as possible.”

RAF Typhoons launched from Leuchars to escort Russian bombers away from Nato airspace in 2020.

As well as the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Leuchars is also home to personnel from the Royal Engineers, Military police units, and also ESUAS (East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron) and 612 (R) Squadron.

Last year, the MoD secured the long-term future of the airfield at the site by confirming it was required to provide back up to RAF Lossiemouth.

Aviation at Leuchars dates back to 1911 with a balloon squadron of the Royal Engineers.

It was used as a training airfield throughout the First Word War, before becoming a fighter station in 1950.

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