Select Committee on Defence First Special Report


Letter from the Secretary of State for Defence concerning Eurofighter (13 December 1999)

  I am writing to let you know that today I am announcing plans for the basing of Eurofighter at RAF Coningsby (Lincolnshire), RAF Leeming (North Yorkshire) and RAF Leuchars in Fife.

  As you know, we are planning to procure 232 Eurofighter aircraft which will provide the Royal Air Force with a multi-role aircraft combining a highly agile air superiority fighter with ground attack and tactical reconnaissance capabilities. Ultimately, it will enable us to replace all the Tornado F3 and Jaguar aircraft currently in service.

  To allow the most efficient build-up of availability of ground equipment, spares and trained manpower in the early years, we will introduce the Eurofighter Force one base at a time. The first aircraft will be delivered to the RAF's Operation Evaluation Unit (OEU) at British Aerospace Warton in 2002. We then expect to form the Operational Conversion Unit and first two operational squadrons at RAF Coningsby from 2004, when the OEU will move from Warton. Coningsby will be the first RAF base to receive Eurofighter as it already has much of the required infrastructure in place.

  RAF Leeming will be the second Eurofighter base and would also house two operational squadrons, while additionally retaining the Hawk target facilities aircraft of 100 Squadron. RAF Leuchars will be the final base to convert to Eurofighter and would house three operational squadrons. It will be the last base of the Tornado F3, so the Tornado F3 Operation Conversion Unit will relocate there from RAF Coningsby in 2004 and remain until the Tornado F3 is withdrawn from service.

  We shall be taking every opportunity to explain in detail to local representatives, the local press and members of the public what is planned. We would see this being done through local press releases and through public presentations, to which local authority representatives, the press and members of the public would be invited. The Stations will also take every opportunity to explain to members of the local communities why these stations have been selected.

  The current establishment at each of the stations is:

Service Posts
Civilian Posts
RAF Coningsby
RAF Leeming
RAF Leuchars

  It is too early to be specific about the precise details of staff changes resulting from the introduction of Eurofighter. There will, of course, be a transitional period when we draw down Tornado F3 and Jaguar and introduce Eurofighter. This will lead to fluctuations in manpower numbers at each of the stations involved. However, on current evidence, beyond this transitional period, I do not expect there to be major changes from the current establishments.

  We also intend to provide the Trade Unions with background information on the basing strategy now. Detailed implications for civilian personnel will be presented to the Trade Unions for consultation as soon as they are available.

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