Nearly £300 million will be invested into the United States military base at RAF Fairford over the next few years, while there will also be an increase in the number of flights.
While the level of growth is smaller than anticipated, following the news last year that the RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft would no longer be moving Fairford, £295 million will still be spent on a variety of projects.
At a recent virtual briefing held for civic leaders, commander of RAF Fairford Lt Col Joseph Knothe explained that work has already started on a multi-purpose hanger. Plans have now been revealed for a bomber maintenance hanger for B-52s, a munitions storage facility, a deployable air base system, a rapid airfield damage repair facility and various upgrades and renovations.
RAF Fairford is a forward operating base used by United States Air Force aircraft. Air activity is expected to increase between now and 2024 as more aircraft are deployed.
While there are no plans for any aircraft to be based at Fairford permanently, it is anticipated that at least one aircraft will be at the base every day of the year from now on.
The base’s population is also expected to more than double by 2024, rising from 561 to 1,144. Around 400 US family members will move to the base as the emphasis switches from deployed personnel to posted airmen who are allowed to bring their families with them.
There will be an increased demand for housing and schooling in the area and Fairford personnel say they are working with the relevant authorities to facilitate this.
Around 100 people, families of personnel who actually work at RAF Brize Norton, will leave during this period.
There will be also be 300 new roles, mostly military, with some jobs available for local residents.
Reacting to the news Chris Roberts, former mayor of Fairford, said: “When the military personnel left Fairford a few years ago, a lot of people thought that was the end of RAF Fairford as an active base, but I believe there will always be a need for an air force base here due its prime strategic location.
“Activities at the base have long been an important part of Fairford town life and it is really encouraging to hear that there will be further growth planned over the next few years including new jobs available for local residents.
“The personnel at RAF Fairford have always been good neighbours and try to integrate into their temporary home here as much as possible. The increased activity at the base is all good news for the local economy with our guests from America using our shops and hospitality outlets plus a forecast increase in demand for housing.
“I welcome the plans for Fairford and I would like to offer Lt Col Joe Knothe and his family our good wishes for his future posting.”
Lt Col Knothe will shortly be leaving Fairford for a posting in Maine. He will be replaced by Lt Col Jeremy Stover.