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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Ingram visits jobs shake-up base
12 Squadron Tornado
RAF Lossiemouth is home to Tornado combat aircraft
Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram has visited RAF Lossiemouth, where 700 jobs are affected by Ministry of Defence cuts and reorganisation.

The minister was inspecting a new life-saving system to be deployed on rescue helicopters.

Mr Ingram was criticised earlier this year for not visiting the Moray base after the job losses were announced.

The RAF's total strength is to be cut from 48,900 to 41,000 by 2008 as a result of Ministry of Defence changes.

In March, Mr Ingram announced that 700 jobs at Lossiemouth would be affected by changes, alongside 180 at RAF Kinloss.

It is unclear how many personnel will lose their jobs as some will be transferred to the private sector under a new deal signed with Rolls Royce and BAE Systems for Tornado maintenance and support.

Adam Ingram
These advanced new sensors will make a real, positive difference
Adam Ingram
Armed Forces Minister

While the minister's visit was not directly connected to the job cuts it followed an MoD announcement earlier this week, reaffirming the job losses will go ahead.

The visit was arranged to see new equipment, which will be carried by Sea King rescue helicopters.

The hi-tech thermal imaging equipment is designed to find people in darkness or in the worst of weather.

The sensors were successfully used in the Boscastle floods last year and will be rolled out across the RAF over the next 18 months.

Crew using the system have christened it R2D2, because of a resemblance to the robot from the Star Wars films.

Speaking at the base, Mr Ingram did not mention the changes, instead concentrating on the merits of the new infra-red system.

New sensor equipment and the Star Wars robot R2D2
Crews have christened the new imaging sensor R2D2

He said: "These advanced new sensors will make a real, positive difference to the capability of RAF search and rescue crews, and most importantly help to save lives.

"It is especially good news to get this kit in Scotland, where our military search and rescue teams have a huge task to cover the vast areas of mountains, islands and coastline, and are always very busy."

Squadron Leader Mick Cross said they could now pick up small mammals from up to three miles away.

He said: "Things such as rabbits, we're picking up quite easily, and certainly sheep and cattle are being identified.

"So you can imagine translating that across to trying to find a missing walker."




SEE ALSO:
Ingram slammed for RAF job 'snub'
11 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Scale of RAF job losses revealed
10 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Kinloss squadron cut is confirmed
15 Dec 04 |  Scotland
RAF Kinloss faces squadron cuts
03 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Moray RAF base to lose 390 jobs
16 Sep 04 |  Scotland


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