Lead or Rumour info - USAF to pull out of airbases at Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth...

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Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Oct 17, 2005

The United States Air Force (USAF) has confirmed it will pull out of three UK airbases.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Americans will leave RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk and RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

The move is part of a programme to save £320m ($500m) a year across Europe. The USAF lease the RAF bases.

Mr Hagel said he understood it would mean job losses and thanked those who had supported the US Air Force.

RAF Mildenhall
USAF personnel attended a 2010 ceremony commemorating the 11 September 2001
"I know that this will result in a reduction of our local host nations workforces at some locations; I value the tremendous support they provided us for decades."

The USAF KC-135 tanker fleet based at Mildenhall will be moved to Germany.

RAF Lakenheath, with two squadrons of new F-35 jets (48 of them) arriving by 2020, will be the aircraft's only European base.

The Pentagon said the loss of about 2,000 US military and civilian personnel is due to relocation away from Mildenhall, but will be offset by the addition of about 1,200 people stationed permanently at Lakenheath.

West Suffolk MP and Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy Matthew Hancock said he would support the community affected.

Mildenhall had a long and proud history of strong relations with the United States Air Force and the move "will come as a shock to many", he said.

"I have met with the Defence Secretary, and others in government to ensure we can work, together with the American administration, to support the community.

"We will create a Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth (MAM) Working Group, which I will chair, inviting local LEPs, councils, the Ministry of Defence, and US representatives to ensure no stone is left unturned in supporting Mildenhall and the surrounding area."

A UK Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The US Department of Defence (DoD) has been reviewing its requirement for bases across Europe as part of (its) European infrastructure consolidation review."

RAF Mildenhall is used as a transport hub by the USAF and is home to air refuelling tankers and special operations forces.

It has about 3,200 military personnel, with 400-500 UK civilian staff employed there.
etc etc

One to keep an eye on.


The Spice Must Flow.
Regular User
Aug 26, 2014
This was on the local news this morning, funny how you hear certain phrases and your ears prick up!

betamax toploader

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Sep 22, 2011
I went to Molesworth back in the mid nineties,on a breakdown for one of the officers cars. The very nice man on the gate advised what building to look out for,and as I was slowly driving along looking for said building, I was nearly rammed by a sodding great big transporter lorry, who had no intention of giving way. I was only a short distance inside the actual base, and the job was completed quickly without seeing any further vehicles. I never gave it any thought at the time, but is it safe to assume that on Yank bases, they drive on the wrong side of the road?

Fatsimon mk2

28DL Member
28DL Member
Nov 28, 2013
They certainly do go to mildenhall and lakenheath to fix there forklifts always catches me out when I start following the escort as far as mildenhall closing I wouldn't bank on it just yet something tells me change of president/party and it will be all change


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Apr 3, 2015
Does anyone have any idea when the RAF Molesworth is shutting? I live just down the road from it and it still seems very active, most of RAF Alconbury has already been sold off for development

Andy tunnel

Jun 2, 2015
Hi mate do u live near culsdon it's not the deep culsdon tunnel it's the tunnel that runs from two asylum hospitals canehill and St Marys I no were it is I have lifted cover my mates have walked it would you be up for it ?

green godess

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
May 13, 2011
I find it incredulous that the USAF have already given up so many bases in the UK. We were always known as 'The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier' (quoting Duncan Campbell's Words).

Now precisely what have we lost?

Alconbury - a huge master base, once housed a few TR-1 spy planes then the facility was built-up to house 12/14 of these aircraft. F-4 Phantoms on the early 1970's then F-5 Tigers and the aggressor squadron. Then what else came, can't quite recall. Currently its runway houses many hundreds of caravans and one of the hardened shelters has been destroyed; not sure how but may have been from an internal explosion. I flew over the runway sometime in 2001/.2002

Wethersfield, - Long closed but used by USAF for runway repair engineers, then at once had an airshow there sometime in the early 1980's

Sculthorpe - well generally used as a diversionary airfield, especially when other airfields were being resurfaced etc. Though nevertheless has all current features ILS/etc.

Upper Heyford - Big Big Airfield, once home to the F-111 Raven's - Vast amounts of space and huge amounts of financial expenditure spent on hardened security shelters.

Bentwaters - Another huge base - once home to the A-10 Tankbusters (I'd hate to be in a tank in one of these ever saw me) Big underground photo-reconnaissance base, similar to the 'Magic Mountain' at Alconbury.

Woodbridge - Another A10 base, now being used by British forces, as is their housing annex and quarters.

Molesworth - another WW2 (quite insignificant airfield) developed for Cruise Missiles and now its deep bunkers house a Four Star USAF General and communication squadron, many cars enter and exit this base on shift changes.

Shepherds Grove, near Fenton Suffolk. - Once the home of many nuclear missiles (especially in the time of the Cuba Crisis) - now just used as a housing annex. The typical American chalets with their wood-sheds are easily recognisable from the A130.

Chicksands Base - Often called or known as the 'Elephant Cage'. One of only three in the world, other were at Sondrestrom Greenland and Incirlik, Turkey. Chicksands has been demolished and was easily visible from the busy A1 motorway. Its antenna array looked rather like a Gas Holder that was depleted, however big and busy radio communications were intercepted from Chicksands, during the 'Cold War'.

Menwith Hill - Another huge and very mighty base that has has huge amounts of money and finance invested into it.. A big, big base, generally manned bu American civilians who can tap-into and spy on so many systems. I was told by (an unreliable source tat Menwith Hill will close in the future. However I find this very hard to believe, especially considering the investment into this complex and its facilities. !! We'll have to wait and monitor the situation here with interest,

Upwood - An old RAF airfield, generally used by the USAF as a radio and vehicle servicing facility. It did at one time have a 500 bed cold war emergency hospital facility.

Currently now a total wreck and in a disgusting state.

The 5 SPSS (initially designated "Detachment 1, 73rd Space Surveillance Group", or "Det 1 SSURGP") was part of the USAF's Passive Space Surveillance Network which tracked the physical location of emitting satellites in orbit. This data along with that from other systems was used to adjust the orbits of various satellites and manned vessels (for instance the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station) to reduce the risk of on-orbit collisions.

However other USAF systems and capabilities ultimately superseded DSTS and it was removed in 2002 and the unit was de-activated shortly thereafter. The 21st Space Wing now has a detachment at RAF Fylingdales, UK, to coordinate cooperative missile warning and space surveillance with RAF counterparts.
time base !!

RAF Feltwell is now administered by Detachment 4 of the 18th Intelligence Squadron, which is a space control intelligence organization of the United States Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and which has one other geographically separated detachments: Detachment 2, Osan AB, Korea.[1]

OK Folks, that's the best i can up with at this time of night, doubtless there are many more bases I'be not covered, including Lakenheath which currently house 3 squadrons of F-15's another really big, big time base.

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