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Raf Molesworth

Volume 164: debated on Thursday 11 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the future of RAF Molesworth.

RAF Molesworth has been placed on a care and maintenance basis since the USAF 303rd tactical missile wing was disbanded in January 1989.The base was specially developed in 1985–87 to house the ground-launched cruise missiles of the 303rd tactical missile wing. Both the military and domestic infrastructure remain in excellent condition and there are a number of specialist facilities on the base which it would be difficult and expensive to remove. Some of these facilities are subject to inspection by the Soviet Union for the next 11 years under the terms of the INF treaty. However, the INF treaty does not prohibit the use of former GLCM bases for other military purposes.The Government have been discussing with the United States and NATO authorities alternative military roles for RAF Molesworth which would make good use of the existing facilities while remaining consistent with the terms of the INF treaty. As a result of these discussions the Government have agreed that, subject to the normal planning procedures, the United States European Command may develop the site as its joint analysis centre. The role of this unit is to process and analyse military information from a variety of sources for the benefit of the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO.The joint analysis centre will be constructed on a fresh site within the base at RAF Molesworth and will not be subject to Soviet inspection. Major construction work is planned to start in 1991 and completed in 1995. In addition, many of the existing facilities at the base will be modified to support the joint analysis centre and this work is planned to start shortly.Eventually some 700 United States personnel, some of whom are currently located at RAF Alconbury and some in West Germany, will be assigned to Molesworth. This is a similar number to those stationed at the base with the 303rd tactical missile wing.In addition, certain buildings at RAF Molesworth will be converted to accommodate the Northern region command centre, the wartime headquarters for the United States Third Air Force, while other buildings will be used for administrative purposes as an annex to RAF Alconbury. The Government consider that these developments will make optimum use of a valuable military installation for the benefit of the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO.