Speculation that the Royal Air Force base at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire -- used for the military and civilian flights to the Falkland Islands -- could be scrapped has been played down by the Ministry of Defence in London.
Newspaper articles have suggested that the RAF's three largest United Kingdom bases "face the axe" in a cost-cutting exercise by the Treasury.
The Ministry confirmed to Mercopress that a "Strategy Review" of Brize Norton and two other bases -- Lyneham in Wiltshire and Saint Mawgan in Cornwall -- has been ordered, but the Armed Forces Minister, Adam Ingram, says the purpose of the review is to "examine the most cost-effective location of the Air Transport Fleet...This study is part of the MoD's planning process and I must emphasise that no decision about the future roles of the stations has yet been made".
As well as operating the Falklands air bridge, Brize Norton is a vital base for servicing and reinforcing British forces world-wide. It is home to the VC10 passenger fleet, including mid-air fuel tankers now deployed in the Afghanistan war. It is used by the Royal family, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. It deploys more than 3,000 RAF personnel and more than 600 civilians attached to its three squadrons.
Saint Mawgan, with 750 RAF and 240 civilians, has one of the longest runways in Europe, which has been associated with Nimrod anti-submarine aircraft and air-sea rescue services.
Lyneham, with nearly 2,500 RAF personnel and 750 civilians, is the base for the RAF's Hercules transport aircraft, which have been used to carry vast amounts of cargo to forces in the Middle East.
RAF's future role world-wide.The Member of Parliament for the area, James Gray, who is also an Opposition Conservative Party Defence spokesman, has begun a campaign to save Lyneham, considered the busiest of all the RAF's 30 UK bases. Mr Gray says: "This very real threat will have major impact on the future role of the RAF world-wide. We need to look at the military and local implications".
The review is to be carried out by the Commander-in- Chief of RAF Strike Command, Air Marshal Sir Anthony Bagnall, who will report to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, a former Harrier pilot in the Falklands War.
Newspaper articles suggest the aim is to scale down the number of bases and close the largest and most costly, raising money by selling valuable land for housing or other