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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 16:35 GMT
Eurofighters force RAF job losses
By Kevin Keane
Fife reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Typhoon jet
The Typhoon Eurofighter will eventually replace the Tornado jets
The Ministry of Defence has announced it is to scrap one of its squadrons at RAF Leuchars with the loss of 80 jobs.

The decision follows plans to phase out the fleet of Tornado fighter jets and replace them with the more advanced Typhoon Eurofighter aircraft.

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has written to MPs and MSPs informing them that 43(F) and 56(R) squadrons at Leuchars will be merged on 22 April.

The RAF is hoping the job losses can be achieved through redeployments.

Consultations are now expected to begin with the trade unions.

New aircraft

RAF Leuchars currently provides a home to two fighter squadrons and one training squadron.

That will be reduced to just two fighter units when 56 squadron is scrapped. Technical staff are expected to be offered the chance to retrain for the introduction of the new aircraft.

An MoD spokesman said: ""There will be no redundancies as a result of this.

About 80 RAF personnel are affected, but all of them will be redeployed to other jobs. One civilian worker is affected but will not be made redundant.

We have written to the minister of the armed forces asking if any other similar changes are in the offing
Sir Menzies Campbell

"The reason for the merger is the reduced requirement to train new aircrew for Tornado, as many of them are now being trained for the new RAF fast jet, Typhoon."

There is concern about the knock-on effects of the merger within the local community.

North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell said: "As the Typhoons come on stream it is inevitable that there will be structural changes involving Tornado F3.

"We have written to the minister of the armed forces asking if any other similar changes are in the offing and when Typhoons will enter service at RAF Leuchars."

The MoD is investing 5bn in its new fleet of 144 Typhoon aircraft which will eventually be based at Coningsby in Lincolnshire, Leeming in North Yorkshire and Leuchars in Fife.

The bases cover the UK Quick Reaction Alert, which provides a rapid response to any threats to UK airspace.

The first aircraft went into active service at Coningsby in July 2007.

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