Red Arrows at RAF Scampton

RAF Scampton, the home of the Red Arrows, is to be sold as a cost-cutting measure.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed the Lincolnshire station will be closed and sold off in 2022.

It is part of plans revealed two years ago to save nearly £3 billion by the year 2040, reducing the MoD's built estate by 30%.

The RAF Aerobatics Team will be moved to other locations following the closure.

It is also confirmed that the Royal Air Force will withdraw from RAF Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire in 2020.

The base is home of the Tucano training aircraft, which the RAF plans to retire from service.

Fast jet training will take place at RAF Valley from 2019.

A total of 91 sites owned or managed by the MoD will be sold.

Downing Street has defended the plans to sell off RAF Scampton, insisting the move will save taxpayers £140 million.

It is being axed as part of wider move to provide more "modern and efficient" military bases, according to No 10.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "That closure is part of a plan to deliver modern and efficient military bases, which will save the taxpayer about £140 million by the end of the decade.

"Work is under way to find the Red Arrows a new home that is fit for purpose."

RAF Scampton was used by 617 Squadron, known as the Dambusters, on May 16, 1943, during their Second World War mission to attack the dams of the Ruhr valley.

It now employs 600 people and has been home to the Red Arrows display team for over 20 years.

There have been rumours of RAF Scampton closing for some years, amid concerns that maintaining the site was no longer sustainable.

Scampton celebrated its centenary in 2016 and it is also the headquarters for 1 Air Control Centre.

The MoD is expected to make £1.7 billion in savings in the next 10 years, prompting concerns that the defence budget is under too much strain.

Last month, the Commons Defence Committee called on the Government to increase defence spending from 2% to 3% of GDP, a boost of around £20 billion a year.

Committee chairman Julian Lewis said the hike was necessary "to place our defence policy on a sustainable basis to meet new threats and fill existing financial 'black holes'".

Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, said he was "saddened" that the base, which is in his constituency, was to be sold.

He tweeted:

It is also reported that defence officials will work with potential buyers to preserve historically significant sites at Scampton, including the museum and the grave of the black Labrador owned by Dambuster, Guy Gibson.

Topics: