USAFE Base Closure

THE PLANNED RETURN to the Ministry of Defence, as expected, of RAF Upper Heyford, Oxon and the partial return of RAF Alconbury, Cambs by the United States Department of Defence was announced formally on May 7. In addition, the US Navy will withdraw from its facility at RAF Brawdy and control of High Wycombe air station will transfer from the USAF to the USN.

Withdrawal of the 20th FW F-l 1 IE aircraft from Upper Heyford to the USA and the base’s reversion to standby status by the end of 1993 had previously been announced in 1991. Now the USAF will withdraw completely from the base by the end of September 1994. The first of the 20th FW squadrons to depart, the 79th FS, was run down between April and June and will be followed between July and September by the 77th FS and then finally the 55th FS from October to December. The aircraft are being transferred to the 27th FW at Cannon AFB, New Mexico.

A similar 1991 announcement regarding Alconbury led to the departure of the 10th FW A-1OAs and their replacement by the special forces MC-130Hs of the 7th SOS, HC-130N/Ps of the 67th SOS and MH- 53Js of the 21st SOS. The parent unit, the 39th SOW, was redesignated the 352nd SOG on December 1. Apart from an administrative area retained to support the US European Command Joint Analysis Centre at RAF Molesworth, the majority of the base will be returned to the MoD by the end of September 1995.

As a result, the special forces aircraft will transfer to Mildenhall, where construction work is already underway to accommodate them, between October 1994 and the end of March 1995. The U-2Rs of the 9th RW/95th RS, which of late have generally only comprised two aircraft, are to return to Beale AFB, California between July 1 and September 30, 1993 and the squadron will be inactivated. The 6952nd Electronic Security Squadron, which comprised 44 personnel to provide logistic support to the electronic sensor and data link systems on board the U-2s, will be inactivated around the same time. At present the MoD is uncertain as to whether there will be any future defence use for either airfield.

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