RAF Lossiemouth’s station commander paid tribute to the local Moray community that saved the base from closure – and ensured operations could continue for another 30 years.
Group Captain Ian Gale’s tribute came as he prepares the base for the arrival next year of the Typhoon aircraft that will form up at Lossiemouth following the closure of their current base at Leuchars.
The Fife base was selected for closure after a prolonged campaign that saw Moray lose one RAF Base – but gain an Army regiment at Kinloss and secure the future of the base at Lossiemouth which puts an estimated £60million each year into the local economy.
Extensive work at Lossiemouth has prepared the base for its transition from Tornados to Typhoons, with the first squadron due to arrive in Moray in June next year.
Revealing that the move has secured an RAF presence in Moray for at least 30 years, Group Captain Gale said: “Lossiemouth is secure for at least the next 30 years, which is how long the Typhoon is planned to remain in service.”
Adding that this is a massive tribute to the local community and their fight to retain the base, he continued: “Their support has been fantastic in every way – now RAF Lossiemouth will be at the forefront of the delivery of military capability for many years to come and our people look forward to remaining at the heart of this Moray community.”
Local dignitaries were invited to the base on Wednesday to look over the £10million refurbishment at the base to prepare it for the new squadrons, amongst them local MP and SNP Defence Spokesman at Westminster, Angus Robertson.
Mr Robertson said: “The personnel and management at RAF Lossiemouth deserve the highest praise in dealing with the transition from Tornado to Typhoon aircraft.
“Group Captain Ian Gale and his colleagues have worked hard to manage the change and minimise disruption to the workforce and wider community, which campaigned hard to retain the base.”
Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead also paid tribute to the role paid by the local community in saving the base for a secure future. He said: “The transition at RAF Lossiemouth has been a huge undertaking. A lot of effort has been invested in safeguarding jobs by changing over roles at RAF Lossiemouth to supporting the new aircraft which is to be welcomed.
“The community united to defend RAF Lossiemouth and a change in aircraft was inevitable with Tornados being withdrawn from service. There is real appreciation for the way in which the transition at RAF Lossiemouth has been managed.”
Group Captain Gale is due to move from Lossiemouth in November, however, he admitted that the pull of the area might well see him return for good. He said: “A number of former Station Commanders have settled in the area and I would certainly not discount doing the same.”