First Minister Alex Salmond is today set to meet defence secretary Dr Liam Fox to put the case for saving RAF Leuchars.
A full-scale campaign has been launched in a bid to retain the Fife base, which employs 1560 service personnel and 220 civilian staff.
Politicians from all parties have united on the issue, with the closure of Leuchars and the accompanying job losses having the potential to devastate Fife communities.
In December, Mr Salmond said closing RAF Leuchars or RAF Lossiemouth would be a “total waste of public money” following a £25 million investment in upgrading the runway at Leuchars and the announcement of a £300,000 skills and training package for Moray.
The Westminster government’s defence review saw RAF Kinloss earmarked for closure and a question mark over the future of RAF Lossiemouth.
Leaked reports from the Ministry of Defence later suggested RAF Lossiemouth could be saved at Leuchars’ expense.
Mr Salmond will today try to convince the defence secretary that both Scotland’s remaining RAF bases should stay.Wider implications”The main strength of our campaign to save vital RAF bases across Scotland is that it is united and cross-party in nature,” he said. “This approach must continue as the future of our RAF bases has implications for the whole of Scotland.
“Last month, we announced a £300,000 skills and training package for Moray in the wake of the news that RAF Kinloss is to close following the decision to withdraw the Nimrod aircraft from service. It is right and responsible that the Scottish Government provides support of this kind to the Moray community to deal with the many difficulties this presents.
“Ministers are also working closely with representatives in Fife, despite previous assurances from the UK Government that RAF Leuchars wouldn’t be considered for closure. This includes support for Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise in developing the economic assessment for RAF Leuchars.”
Fife Council administration leader Councillor Peter Grant said he would also like to meet Mr Fox to discuss the future of RAF Leuchars.
He said, “I welcome the continued support of the Scottish Government and of all the main political groups, both within Holyrood and Fife Council. The invitation remains open for the defence secretary to meet representatives of the council and other interested parties.
“We would certainly welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue and impress upon him the importance of keeping Leuchars open.”
Labour MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, Claire Baker, said closing RAF Leuchars would be “damaging and dangerous both for the Fife economy and the UK’s defence interests. Labour has been clear in calling for all parties to come together and make the case for RAF Leuchars. The case for RAF Leuchars is strong and I would urge Liam Fox to listen to the arguments and keep the base open.”Airspace coverMeanwhile, North East Fife MSP Iain Smith highlighted the quick reaction alert interceptor operations carried out at RAF Leuchars to protect UK airspace. A Typhoon jet from Leuchars was scrambled on January 2 to intercept an unidentified aircraft.
Mr Smith said, “There is no dispute that RAF Leuchars is in the right place at the right time doing an essential job defending the UK’s northern airspace from a plethora of danger.
“The defence case for the retention of the base is incredibly strong.”