Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Thursday, 24 June 2010 15:04 UK
Uncertain future for RAF Cosford defence base
C17 at RAF Cosford
Cosford began life as a pre WWII aircraft storage and repair base

RAF Cosford is the Royal Air Force's premier technical training establishment, but for how much longer.

The base was established in Cosford, near Albrighton, in 1938.

Since then RAF Cosford has grown in size, and is currently the home of the No. 1 School of Technical Training and the headquarters for the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE).

Defence Training Review

However the future is far from certain. In 2007, the previous Government announced the Metrix consortium was the preferred bidder to win a private contact to run defence training in the UK.

As part of the contract, Metrix would move the No. 1 School of Technical Training, and its staff, from Cosford to MOD St Athan in south Wales within five years.

There are no plans for job cuts
Wing Cdr, John Stanfield

RAF Cosford Wing Cdr John Stanfield said: "The details are still being ironed out, but should be finalised by early next year."

The Government was due to discuss the issue, as part of the Defence Training Review (DTR), in June, but any decisions have been postponed until the findings of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) are published in October.

Fighter jet
Research into future aircraft is carried out at Cosford

At the moment, the scheduled date to move the Defence Training College to St Athan is 2014/15, but Metrix could take over training at Cosford by as early as spring 2011. Work is due to start on MOD St Athan this autumn, but Wing Cdr Stanfield said those dates could change.

He said current staff will be offered jobs at St Athan or redeployment opportunities. "There are no plans for jobs cuts," he said.

For the other training schools, headquarters and units at Cosford, decisions are yet to be made about their future locations.

Morale

Richard O'Harney from the Public and Commercial Services Union said: "The move to St Athan will affect more than 800 military, civil and contracted staff.

"People need to know what's happening... it's having an impact on morale.".

Aerial view of RAF Cosford
Several organisations are based at Cosford, including the Air Ambulance

He said the Government's delay in finalising the St Athan plans is potentially good news for Cosford. He believes the longer it takes, the more likely it is the plans will be scrapped for financial reasons

If RAF Cosford loses its defence school, the base is the preferred option to become the new home for the 102 Logistics Brigade, when it returns from Germany in 2018.

That could however leave the base empty for the interim period. But Wing Cdr John Stanfield said it is up to the MOD to keep the site secure and modernise it, in preparation for the arrival of the logistics brigade.

Cosford Air Show

The airbase is also the home of the RAF Cosford Museum and the RAF Cosford Air Show.

Once the defence school has moved, the annual air show could be affected. Wing Cdr Stanfield said: "Those issues haven't been addressed. Planning is already underway for next year's show, after that I don't know."




SEE ALSO
Defence academy decision delayed
07 Jan 10 |  South east


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