Economic boost for East Cambs as 900 people prepare to arrive at military base

CV-22 Osprey. Photo: Air Force/Tech Sgt Armando Carrion.

CV-22 Osprey. Photo: Air Force/Tech Sgt Armando Carrion. - Credit: Archant

EAST Cambridgeshire is set to be given an economic boost after RAF Mildenhall unveiled its new expansion plans, set to begin this summer.

From this month, the first two of 10 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the first of 12 Commando II fixed-wing aircraft will arrive at the base.

The new aircraft will come with some 380 extra US air force personnel plus their families, increasing the number of people in and around the town by about 900, potentially bringing thousands of pounds into the local economy.

The decision to expand the base is a result of “close coordination” between the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defense.

It comes after concerns were raised about the future of RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall amid steep defence cuts by the US government.

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Capt Jason Smith, 352nd SOG spokesman, said: “The additional personnel will be good for the local area.

“As we increase our operations, we will be bolstering the local economony and new jobs in Mildenhall will mean a stronger local economy.”

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John Bloodworth, chairman of Mildenhall Parish Council, said: “It’s good for the area and hopefully will bring more trade to the shops and the town which will be good.

“We’ve always had good relations with the Americans and I hope that happens.”

As recently reported, fears had been raised about USAF’s commitment to the area after it emerged USAF stood down two of 48th Fighter Wing’s F-15 Eagle Squadrons, based at nearby RAF Lakenheath, from operations.

Furthermore, the 100th Air Refuelling Wing at RAF Mildenhall had its training flights reduced.

Both bases contribute around £580million to the economy.

The latest expansion, which will see the rest of the Osprey aircraft arrive by the end of 2014 and the MC-130J inventory completed within five years, is expected to bring financial benefits to the local area.

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