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RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by page_verify » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:58 pm

It’s difficult to keep up with all the gossip, rumours, facts and denials! So the UK RC-135s are sharing the 55th’s facilities now after all, possibly? It’s certainly going to be a busy few years while most of Mildenhall moves to Fairford, possibly, apparently, maybe, maybe not!

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by baz1 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:14 pm

they would have known what length runway they needed to take off fully loaded so the crews at Waddington don't like taking off from there, the question is if they knew about it why did they not extend the runway at 02 end when the work was done, I bet the mod are putting money into Fairford for the relocation. what a waste.

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by Knife 04 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:01 pm

Spitfire88 wrote:Can I just say Fairford is happening, it’s not a myth, the building work has already started and having had a nice long chat with the man in charge of delivering the runway at fairford, it’s all moving very quickly.
When did the work commence Spitfire? Not a whole lot going on at the start of the month
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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by von_trippenhopf » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:17 am

Knife 04 wrote:
Spitfire88 wrote:Can I just say Fairford is happening, it’s not a myth, the building work has already started and having had a nice long chat with the man in charge of delivering the runway at fairford, it’s all moving very quickly.
When did the work commence Spitfire? Not a whole lot going on at the start of the month
There is no building at the moment, it's still in the survey and planning stage.
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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by apex » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:58 pm

Re Waddington's runway, I wonder how much longer it would need to be for normal RC-135 ops without the need for a tanker?

I ask, as when the RCs launch from Mildenhall, the KC-135 which goes with it often comes back within a couple of hours, so taking into account the transit time to and from the ARA and the refuel itself, this would suggest that the RC is far from full up on take off, otherwise it would not seem to be worth a top up so soon, unless they like to have the extra safety margins that a lighter RC would give on departure, knowing that it will be topped up regardless.

So will Fairford's runway be long enough? It's longer than Mildenhall's but not by that much. If my assumption above is correct, which it may not be, launching from Fairford may enable the RC to be a bit heavier but still not full, or full enough for it's mission.

Do RCs take a tanker with them when they depart on a transit (i.e non mission) back to the US? Of course they could be met half way, or the fact that they have an estimated time en-route may enable the fuel carried to be deemed sufficient, compared with the perceived unpredictability of a mission out to the east.

So many questions, anyone enlighten me please?

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by page_verify » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:09 am

The RC-135 was built in the era when every USAF airfield had 12,000ft runways, as were the F-117, B-52 and KC-135. Using a runway shorter than that obviously means a compromise. With the RC-135, after about 9,000ft, the amount of fuel that can be carried increases ‘exponentially’ for every extra foot available.

Even today, the difference in TODA between Fairford and Mildenhall is about 1,000ft and I believe it’s a similar difference between Waddington and Mildenhall. Add the rumoured extra 2,000ft being added to Fairford’s runway and overruns, and there’s a significant increase in the RC-135’s available take off weight. That’ll either increase the range of regular flights, reduce the cost of flights that still need AAR and allow AAR’d flights to travel further.

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by Knife 04 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:20 am

von_trippenhopf wrote:
Knife 04 wrote:
Spitfire88 wrote:Can I just say Fairford is happening, it’s not a myth, the building work has already started and having had a nice long chat with the man in charge of delivering the runway at fairford, it’s all moving very quickly.
When did the work commence Spitfire? Not a whole lot going on at the start of the month
There is no building at the moment, it's still in the survey and planning stage.
Thanks for the clarification Von Trippenhopf - from Spitfire's post is sounded like works had already commenced (well that's what it said)
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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by johnwayne » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:06 am

For ref the Dept of the Air Force Military Construction Program FY 2018 Budget Estimates contains $46m for relocating RC-135's to Fairford , most of which is for new Intel and Sqdn Ops facilities . The runway works ($5.5m) is to re-configure the current overruns making them also available for take offs (thus increasing the TODA) To quote :-
''Reconfigure eastern overrun for a displaced take off runway threshold (convert to take-off runway surface) to include renewal of airfield markings and adjustment of airfield ground lighting . Regrade and resurface
western overrun and reconfigure to enable use for aircraft take off. Include relocating instrument landing system localiser transmitter to new level and rewire runway approach lighting in the affected area.''
In other words no overall length runway extension , just add 1000ft take off length available on 09 and 27 by converting existing 1000ft overruns to double as take off extensions. Same principle at both ends but western end also needs regrading to eliminate the 'dip'.
The document (published May 2017) states the move from Mildenhall scheduled for 2021. The 2 year delay in Mildenhalls closure may lead to a re-timing of the Fairford works & the RC-135 transfer but not seen anything [yet !] that changes the nature of the proposed Fairford works . Presumably if the rumoured RAF AirSeeker co-location with the 55th RS assets does go ahead [at Fairford] only the Sqdn Ops facilities might be affected .

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by page_verify » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:24 pm

There's a lot of ambiguity and confusion coming from this mention of Mildenhall's closure being delayed. That's for the actual base itself, which can only close once every unit, function and every has moved somewhere else. Rumour on the street is that some of the flying units which currently use Mildenhall will have left or stopped using it a quite a bit earlier than 2021 - whereas some are still working out where they'll go. If all of the budget documentation relating to investment at Fairford is aligned to relocating the RC-135 mission and there's mention of building work beginning at Fairford, then can we interpret that to mean that the 55th will be one of the first flying units to move out of Mildenhall?

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by johnwayne » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:28 pm

Yep - the wording in the budget doc regarding the Fairford works is 'to support RC-135 mission relocation due to arrive in FY21' . But then again maybe 'no' as the doc also states 'closure of RAF Mildenhall is driving the relocation ....' So maybe later Mildenhall closure could slow the Fairford works ? So PV you'd have to say the timing of the 55 RS and 488 IS is , err , still unclear !

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by page_verify » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:41 pm

Or maybe the 55th visited Fairford and say we'll move here as quickly as possible, regardless of when Mildenhall actually closes :S

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by slogen51 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 4:27 pm

Sorry to be pedantic but I assume the 55 wing will still be based at Offutt.

You mean the 95 Reconnaissance Squadron will move to Fairford (still with a det at Souda?)

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by page_verify » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:35 pm

Kind of. I can't find the news article now, but there was a piece with comments from a retiring USAF General about the build up of US forces in NATO countries to counter the increasing threat from Russia. In one of its examples of preparing for the future, he mentioned that the closing of Mildenhall had given the USAF the chance to review its RC-135 operations in northern Europe, rather than just move an existing squadron from one base to another. If you wanted to, you could read this to suggest that this isn't just the 95th moving from Mildenhall to Fairford, this is the 55th building itself a new RC-135 base in Europe.

This is an article from The Independent (of all places) covering his speech but there was a much more detailed version on www.nato.int or somewhere similar as well.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 54621.html

In unreported remarks from a little-noticed annual summary of US strategy in Europe, General Breedlove said assets such as the U-2, along with another longstanding surveillance aircraft known as the RC-135 “Rivet Joint”, were needed to bolster the intelligence-gathering capabilities of America’s European command, known as EUCOM.

The general, a former US Air Force fighter pilot, said: “EUCOM finds itself in a shifted paradigm where the strategic threat presented by [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia requires we… provide a credible assurance against what remains the only nation capable of strategic warfare against the homeland.

“EUCOM needs additional intelligence collection platforms, such as the U-2 or the RC-135, to assist the increased collection requirements in the theatre.”

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by filmman » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:40 pm

The ongoing Mildenhall saga has nothing to do with efficiency or saving money; it was a European base shutting numbers game to justify Homeland (pork barrel politics) Rand Corporation base closures.
Because of that, the process has degenerate into a slow motion train crash as the real closure/rebasing costs and the political relocation problems mount. Dragging in the RAF should be viewed accordingly. Intelligence is a national asset and it is not by chance that some information is State Eyes only. The RAF might prefer to extend Waddington's effective runway, having already spent a fortune on it. There is also the ongoing US realisation/return of military assets to Europe: tanks/Apache, etc,. The re-posturing emphasis from Europe to the Pacific is no longer straight forward as a result of Russian resurgence. The next few years should be unpredictably interesting as the US works out what and where it would like to base assets with the permission of host states. Most of which are now planning a European/not NATO armed services.
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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by slogen51 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:18 am

Don't suppose the RAF Rivet Joint will take off from Waddington today as the USAF at Mildenhall are on holiday!

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by Fat Bob John » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:56 pm

Are you suggesting that Mildenhall was chosen for closure to protect a Base in America? Wouldn't the Rand Corporation which is effectively the USAF's research foundation want to maintain as many bases as possible regardless of where they are in order to maintain the USAF's global reach?

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by filmman » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:43 pm

No, actually the opposite. The Rand Corporation is an "independent" think tank that is paid by customers to produce analytical reports. As frequently happens the Hill (Congress and Senate) frequently disagrees with USAF policy. In this case there are numerous Homeland bases that the the USAF would like to shut but the Hill wants to keep open; the Federal spend benefits their constituents/votes. The USAF wants to spend the savings on planes. Being political realists the USAF "agreed" to shut overseas bases to facilitate shutting surplus Homeland bases, as RAND magically suggested. Unfortunately, the long UK base closure list were not really open, Heyford (Volvo car park), etc,. So they had to include an operational base, hence Mildenhall. Then things got complicated as USAF Europe cocould not/did not want to relocate all the units which it actually needed; moving costs exceeded cost savings because it involved building costs and possibly rent. The UK does not charge rent, pays the Community Charge and half of building costs. Europe is not so generous.
Shame our Tankers had their booms deleted and Waddington is too short for fully fuelled Rivet jointis; is MOD fit for purpose.
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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by andrewn » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:58 pm

If the EIC review had been held as little as 6 months later than it was then Mildenhall would not be closing. But the decision was made, and UK government will have been only too quick to accept the generous offer of free land for building the thousands more commuter homes that Cambridge growth requires. That, together with the hangover from Trump's campaign of America First and the anti-Nato rhetoric, means there's probably no way back for Mildenhall.

On the plus side I'm finding all this speculation about Fairford becoming a "mini Mildenhall" very interesting - we live in hope :)

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by page_verify » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:42 am

Good discussion points about US politics, thank you. To add to the debate, I agree with the USAF leadership mention that the decision to close Mildenhall would never have been reversed following the recent changes in European politics. It’s been at “at-risk” base for a while as it’s a small airfield which doesn’t offer any unique or combat capabilities. Hence, Fairford is actually likely to become a “big-Mildenhall”, it’s airfield is twice the size, it has some rare physical airfield properties as well as a bulk munitions supply chain.

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Re: RAF Mildenhall to close. Lakenheath to get F-35 by 2020

Post by filmman » Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:58 pm

Ah, but there is the gravel/sand deposits as can be seen excavated round the Base/area. Where I live is much the same. We have deep large pockets of gravel, often 1 million tons +, requiring deep holes as well as sand. No doubt if Fairford ever shut it would be quickly excavated. With regard to Cambridge housing, at some point Marshalls will build houses on their airfield as the profit becomes irresistible. That's life. I hope MOD have protected the farmland round Fairford otherwise it's munition safety zone will become compromised.
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