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Three more airbases to close?

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Three more airbases to close?

Old 26th Jan 2010, 20:31
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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I beg to differ with rigga.

I arrived at Brize in early 67 The Base hanger was always refered to by that name and always occupied by Base servicing Squadron until at least when I left in late 69.
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Old 26th Jan 2010, 20:58
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Axing Harrier

I had heard that one of the good reasons for getting rid of harrier early was to force the RNto lose all of its fast jet pilots giveng them a real headache when it comes to manning whatever aircraft they end up putting on HMS QE, if and when they get it...

Stir Stir
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Old 26th Jan 2010, 21:06
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Nibble Nibble!
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Old 26th Jan 2010, 21:15
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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As much as I think the Harrier is a cracking capability, and as such any thought of simply chopping it to save a few quid to pay for Brown's mistakes infuriates me, nav attacking may have a point.

If the RAF were to 'give in' to the RN and simply hand over the Harrier, that would effectively mean handing over around half of our fixed wing attack capability. It wouldn't take a great leap of imagination to see the Army and RN getting together at that point to put the case forward that the RAF were therefore surplus to requirements and as such its functions could quite easily be subsumed into the other Services.

Going to be a tricky few months ahead. I hope the Air Force Board have their wits about them!
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Old 26th Jan 2010, 21:38
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Lest we forget, Portillo was the kn0b who, as SOS Def, sold off the MQ/FQ estate at way less than what it was worth so as to free up capital to spend on doing-up the houses (hahahahahahahahahah - anyone seen the latest Private Eye?).

Abbott has even less regard for us than Broon. It's quite galling the way she has changed herself over the years in a desperate (even by nu labour standards) attempt to climb the greasy pole into the Cabinet.

I have no time for either of them.

As for the current MOD senior staffs, it seems to me that there is very little actual management going on as we lurch from one savings measure to the next, hardly daring to look any further than the next few weeks or the next email demanding yet more savings.

Still, on the positive side, I understand IIP is back!

STH
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Old 26th Jan 2010, 21:55
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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STH,

Savings, savings and more savings? Yes, it's a bit like that isn't it....

I found the chart in the NAO Report (Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 2009). Figure 11, and a corrected version is on page 3.

The gap is massive, and then you realise that the line against which it is massive is "flat cash" - ie, same pounds this year and last, and the same again next etc etc. Which whilst it is a real terms cut (by the rate of inflation) is going to look like manna from heaven if the cuts come in at the 16% that all the political parties are talking about.

So, what chance of binning the savings culture and having a proper strategic look at (i) what we want and (ii) what the country is prepared* to afford.

*This is the political question. The country could probably afford to spend quite a lot more on the military if it chose to, but no-one's going to vote for that, so unsurprisingly, no-one is proposing it!

S41
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Old 26th Jan 2010, 22:16
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Base Hangar



There was a Base Hangar at Lyneham in the 1960s.

It was occupied by Base Servicing Servicing for the Britannia.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 00:23
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Base Hanger

The term "Base Hangar" has nothing to do with any "Americanisation" of terms. The name relates to the old Transport Command system of servicing depths. In those days we did Base 1, Base 2 and Base 3 servicings, what todays youngsters would call Primaries, Minors and Majors. It is simply that the name has stuck.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 00:52
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Waddington got very quiet for a few years in the 80's. For those who have written Kinloss off already, here are a few points to consider:

- It is available 24/7/365 and it benefits from excellent flying weather, loosing far less days than bases further south.

- It hosts 4 major exercises a year, 2 x TLT (mostly fast jets and some helos, AT, AAR, AEW, ISR etc.), 2 X Joint Warrior (lots of MPA plus TLT type visitors). It is ideally located for this due to the ranges, airspace and proximity of Naval and Land units. It also hosts plenty of Tutor, Tucano and C130 dets.

- It benefits from being co-located with Lossiemouth, able to share ATC facilities, sections (Regt and Med sections have been particularly helpful), equipment, supplies, personnel, clubs/organisations, quarters, etc. This provides large financial, operational advantages and convenience over isolated Stations.

- It is home to the ARCC and MRT. A few years ago rumour was that 202 Sqn were coming over and getting a new building, allegedly Lossie Stn Cdr wanted to keep them as he didn't want the base to loose such a high profile role. From what I remember Tornado was also supposed to be moving from Lossie in 2015ish to allow JSF in.

- It has a low surrounding population (less complaints, less compensation claims, less prying eyes/lenses and less risk should the worst happen), very quiet airspace and a vast array of training environments for most A/C types.

- It is ideally situated for any Ops task in/or to the north of the UK, QRA, ASW, ASUW, SAR etc.

Operating our MPA from Waddington isn't as great an idea as it sounds, busy airspace, lost flying days from weather, not near a convenient low level training area with a radar buoy (the North Sea off Lincs is quite busy already too!), 400 miles south of the ideal strategic position to base your MPA for ASW Ops and if anyone hasn't noticed they can't cope with all the personnel in the area already, another 1000 plus families would destroy the infrastructure.
I always thought it would have made financial and operating sense to move 51 Sqn up and co locate Nimrod types, but as most on it see it as an escape from Kinloss I guess it was always strongly resisted, and now it's academic!
I would have thought the location, quiet airspace, low circuit traffic, departure/approach over the sea, access to ranges and danger areas would make it ideal for UAV training too, but again many on those units are terrified of Kinloss too .
The previous basing report did highlighted the bird risk for single engine operations, however as TLT/JW successfully operate GR9, Hawk, Etendard, etc. and other Scottish bases have now a bird issue too, so that isn't really valid anymore.

Post Cold War, I thought the RAF plan was to try and group bases together (for logistical reasons, allowing personnel to remain in one area for longer and provide stability for their families: etc. Arenít the Army doing this too and donít the RN have TopMast?) and it had decided that hardened buildings are not needed (due to no perceived direct threat, expeditionary Ops, expense and inefficiency). Has this changed?

We don't have enough airfields left to allow politicians to use them for their own gains, our bosses need to fight to ensure they are in the right place for the right reasons.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 01:49
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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Sirtoppamhat perhaps you misunderstood me? I don't think this would be the place to discuss the political abilities of either Portillo or Abbott. It's irrelevant what you or I think of them - my point was that they are both very experienced politicians who generally adopt almost diametrically opposing views on matters of policy. Therefore, when they both conclude that the carriers and F-35 are dead, we can also draw our own conclusions n'est ce pas?

Ivan your comments sound remarkably similar to those which could have been applied to an even bigger (and better-equipped) maritime airfield at the other end of the country - but we all know what happened to that one! I don't think anyone would question Kinloss' value, but it doubtless counts for nothing when the penny-counters look at the hard fact that the base would (if retained) be the home for maybe two, three or four active aircraft. Who is going to allow that kind of nonsensical arrangement to continue for long?
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 02:12
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Tim, if your referring to St Mawgan I never operated from there. AFAIK it only had one Squadron, I'm pretty sure it wasn't as well equipped (except runway length), had more weather issues, wasn't as strategic for our MPA tasks, wasn't co-located with all the advantages listed, but it's gone now anyway.
WRT aircraft numbers we are still planning on 9 MRA4, but I understand what you are getting at and agree, however I think the solution is to base more aircraft at Kinloss to make best use of it's advantages, eg: if the GR4 force loose a couple more Sqns why not move Marham to Kinloss and have all your Tornados co-located with huge savings and benefits to staff. Or move Typhoon from Leuchars to provide Northern QRA from a better position utilising the runway which is open all the time, and free up St Andrews airport for the civies. The base isn't as quiet as you think, I don't think there is another base available now to do all of this -

"It hosts 4 major exercises a year, 2 x TLT (mostly fast jets and some helos, AT, AAR, AEW, ISR etc.), 2 X Joint Warrior (lots of MPA plus TLT type visitors). It is ideally located for this due to the ranges, airspace and proximity of Naval and Land units. It also hosts plenty of Tutor, Tucano and C130 dets."
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 09:00
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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[As much as I think the Harrier is a cracking capability, and as such any thought of simply chopping it to save a few quid to pay for Brown's mistakes infuriates me, nav attacking may have a point.

If the RAF were to 'give in' to the RN and simply hand over the Harrier, that would effectively mean handing over around half of our fixed wing attack capability. It wouldn't take a great leap of imagination to see the Army and RN getting together at that point to put the case forward that the RAF were therefore surplus to requirements and as such its functions could quite easily be subsumed into the other Services.

Going to be a tricky few months ahead. I hope the Air Force Board have their wits about them!
But wouldn't axing Harrier also get rid of 1/2 of the attack capability and hence the result would be the same?

Whatever way you look at it there are very dark times ahead for Defence. I hope whichever Party gets in next. takes a look at (a) The management-rich organisation of all 3 services & MoD (b) Consolidating defence estate - especially in London. and (c) takes a look at the equipment in service and in the pipeline and see if there are any other roles that they could take on.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 09:58
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Another for the list of stations now in Army hands:

RAF Bassingbourn
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 10:14
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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if the GR4 force loose a couple more Sqns why not move Marham to Kinloss and have all your Tornados co-located with huge savings and benefits to staff.
If the GR4 force lose a couple more sqns then a far better co-location option would be to put them all at Marham. There is easily enough ramp space for 2 more sqns, complete with Rubb shelters (formerly occupied by 9 and 31 sqns before they joined 2 and 13 on the HAS sites). The BAE depth maintenance facility is there. Marham is also far better placed than Lossie for servicing Close Air Support trg, of which a large proportion is carried out in Wales and the southwest - and this is the primary operational role at the moment. Kinloss' runway is on the short side for peacetime GR4 ops and contrary to previous comments the goose hazard is a very significant issue - it's acceptable on exercises purely because exercises are short-term, it would be a different matter to operate there permanently.

The main things Lossie / Kinloss have got going for them are immediate access to rugged low-flying terrain and the HRA, neither of which are enough to swing it in my opinion. The weather factor argument could go round and round forever, I've lost just as many flying days at Lossie to the 'har' or gale-force winds as I've lost to the East Anglian clag...

Of course politics will interfere so all this is academic.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 10:56
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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Easy Street



Close Air Support trg, of which a large proportion is carried out in Wales and the southwest
St Athan has lots of space now. That would be a great location.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 11:07
  #56 (permalink)  
 
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Actually St.Mawgan was very well-equipped. Apart from the huge runway and a strategic position (the nearest major airfield of comparable size is now Brize), the base boasted a very healthy collection of dispersals (including four which were widened for QRA V-Bombers), a standard apron plus a huge second apron, a monstrous Nimrod (formerly Shackleton) servicing hangar, a HAS complex, a nuclear weapons compound, an entire (disused) secondary airfield attached to it, an airport, and proximity to reserved airspace. At one stage it hosted two Nimrod units and a Canberra squadron plus numerous deployments and exercises. But it was abandoned. So on that basis, I don't think any air base could be regarded as "special case" in some way.

Clearly, the current appetite for cuts is based purely on cost and has little or nothing to do with operational needs or common sense. This is why Kinloss will doubtless be a victim. Likewise, it seems quite likely that the Harriers and Wittering will also get the chop. I don't think the process will end until the Navy is a helicopter-only force and the RAF's combat aircraft fleet comprises exclusively of Typhoons. I really do think that this will be the ultimate result of this process.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 11:24
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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Having driven down a bit of the A1 this morning, another couple of former RAF places the brown jobs have now got:

RAF Catterick
RAF Disforth

Local rumour has it RAF Leeming could eventually go brown as well.

Mind you, yet another local rumour is that the current hospital in Northallerton (the Friarage) is in danger of being divested by its bigger partner the James Cook in Middlesbrough, leaving an empty mid sized hospital going begging. Now, keeping the Hospital at Birmingham going for the aeromeds and VSI's, it could be that the MOD shut down all the various MDHU's and transfer all to the Friarage - lo and behold a military hospital with no start up costs. With Catterick Garrison on its doorstep, being just off the A1 and on the main East Coast rail line, not too bad a location. Perhaps its local MP being William Hague may have something to do with the rumour (there again pigs might fly).

Pete

Last edited by Pete268; 27th Jan 2010 at 11:40.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 11:42
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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Announced on East Midlands today - this mornings news

Cottesmore is not to close - it will be used "For other military purposes" - I'd like to see the balance sheet for the "closure" then...
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 12:29
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Cottesmore will very likely become a base for units returning from Germany. It has to be ideal due to road links and a wealth of buildings that suit the role.
As for Wittering -twenty years ago people were talking about it closing -isn't going to happen as the costs involved in closing the airfield would far outweigh any benefits. As for the Harrier - a smaller force has already been planned -cutting the aircraft now would make no practical sense as the carriers will need some fixed wing aircraft with JSF looking increasingly expensive against the potential for UAV's in ten years time.
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Old 27th Jan 2010, 13:16
  #60 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Tim, I still don't think you have swayed my opinion on St Mawgan. The HAS complex is no use to MPA and they are a legacy tactic for the RAF and inefficient (especially when they are on the wrong side of the country) and we don't need nuclear storage. It's location was it's downfall, one of it's main reasons for existing was as the US airbridge for WWIII and that went with the cold war, another was as an MPA base and the RAF made it's choice for good reasons. Kinloss doesnít need a monstrous hanger, it has 8 or 9 already and loads of pan space, it has reserved airspace too and not just a secondary airfield but a fully operational one next door.
I totally agree there should be no special cases, just objective decision based on the fact and not personal preferences. I actually have more personnel reasons for wanting MRA4 to go to Waddington but I don't think it's the correct decision for the MRA4 or the RAF.

Easy, I'm sorry to hear you struggle with 7500ft at sea level, that can't be fun. So how do the Lossie Sqns manage to train for CAS if they are so badly placed? I think that's a pretty short sighted reason for choosing the location of an airbase for the next 20 years or more. I would have thought that at some point soon operating fast jets in the south east with airspace getting tighter, real estate in demand and the NIMBYs will become undesirable, hopefully we are looking far enough ahead to cover these issues too. I can't vouch for Lossiemouths' flying days lost due to weather from it's 2 runways, at Kinloss it is single figures and we often struggle to find another UK military base to use as a diversion in the winter (all being relatively close together and affected by the same weather conditions within an hour or two). As for the geese, yes they are a hazard and we have good procedures to mitigate against them, but the more regular flying you do the better as they modify their flight paths, at the moment with erratic occasional aircraft they don't learn (well, a few did the hard way!).
Unfortunately youíre almost certainly right about the politics clouding any rational decisions.
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