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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 15:37 GMT
RAF bases receive aircraft boost
Prototype JCA/RAF image
The new Joint Combat Aircraft will operate from Lossiemouth
Thousands of jobs and the long-term future of two RAF bases in Scotland have been safeguarded by new plans announced by the Ministry of Defence.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told MPs that RAF Lossiemouth in Moray is to be the home for the new Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA).

RAF Kinloss in Moray will be the base for new Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft (MRA4).

The minister said the news would secure 4,500 jobs at the bases.

Lossiemouth was one of eight stations considered as a possible home for JCA.

'Cost effective'

RAF Marham in Norfolk, RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall, RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and RAF Kinloss were discounted as the base for the JCA after a year-long review.

Lossiemouth was identified as the best option because it provided excellent access to training areas, modern facilities and was "most cost effective".

It means both bases have an exciting and challenging future ahead
Adam Ingram
Armed Forces Minister

The JCA will progressively replace the Harrier from around the middle of the next decade.

The MoD said that RAF Marham and RAF Cottesmore had not been ruled out completely and should a second base be required these stations would be considered.

Mr Ingram said it was too early to say whether the second base would be necessary.

RAF Kinloss is already home to the current Nimrod MR2 fleet.

MRA4 Nimrod/Mod image
The Nimrod MRA4 will perform a maritime reconnaissance role

The MoD said that a comprehensive study had shown that while RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and RAF Kinloss would both be suitable operational bases, the substantial financial investment required at Waddington was not justifiable.

The Nimrod MRA4 will be based at Kinloss when they enter service towards the end of this decade.

Mr Ingram said: "This is great news for RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Kinloss.

"It means both bases have an exciting and challenging future ahead."

Scottish National Party MP Angus Robertson hailed the decision a "victory for common sense".

The member for Moray said it was a "tremendous success" for local campaigners and the service community in Moray.

The decision to discount RAF St Mawgan as an option for JCA means there is no long-term Strike Command use for the airfield.

It was also announced earlier this year that RAF Leuchars will be home to three squadrons of the new Typhoon, replacing the Tornado F3 around the end of this decade.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch reaction to the RAF announcement



SEE ALSO:
Task force tackling job cutbacks
03 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Ingram visits jobs shake-up base
26 May 05 |  Scotland
Jobs go at food company's factory
15 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Ingram slammed for RAF job 'snub'
11 Mar 05 |  Scotland


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