Typhoon aircraft will begin leaving RAF Leuchars around six months later than expected as efforts continue to minimise the economic impact of the RAF leaving Fife and the army arriving.
The MoD’s Defence Estate Rationalisation Update, published on Monday, confirmed that No 1 (Fighter) Squadron and No 6 Squadron which provide the Quick Reaction Alert role for northern UK airspace will relocate from RAF Leuchars to RAF Lossiemouth from summer 2014.
Typhoon flying operations will cease at RAF Leuchars during the autumn of that year following a “progressive transfer of the base from the RAF to the army”.
Elements of the Typhoon force based at Leuchars had been due to start relocating in a “phased approach” to RAF Lossiemouth from the end of this year.
However, it is understood the timetable has been revised to accommodate RAF operational requirements and to minimise the impact ahead of a formal handover to the army in early 2015.
The relocation of the Typhoons from RAF Leuchars will affect 347 service personnel who will transfer to RAF Lossiemouth. It will also affect 148 civilian staff.
No 6 RAF Force Protection (FP) Wing Headquarters and No 58 Squadron RAF Regiment, both based at RAF Leuchars, will be disestablished, with the personnel from these units “reassigned” during spring 2014. This will affect 183 military posts.
Details were revealed yesterday in a written statement from Armed Forces Minister Andrew Robathan.
It follows the Army Basing Plan announcement by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on March 5 which confirmed that 800-850 army personnel would move to Leuchars with the arrival of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, a REME battalion and the Royal Military Police.
Defence planning assumes a transition to army control in early 2015, commencing with the arrival of a small number of advance army elements.
Last night an RAF Leuchars spokesman said: “Today’s statement has provided some welcome clarity on timings for our personnel, their families and the local community. As described by the Secretary of State for Defence earlier this month, we are looking to accomplish a phased approach to transition culminating in a formal handover to the army in early 2015.”
Last night, North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell said: “The announcement which will be of real significance to the community will be the detailed description of the precise numbers and dates of arrival of the army units. I shall continue to press for that information.”
Meanwhile, Lossiemouth has lost out in its bid to become home to the RAF’s newest aircraft. The Joint Strike Fighter will instead be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.
It was also confirmed yesterday that RAF Prestwick is to close.