RAF Fairford to welcome 1200 as USAF reconnaissance squadron relocates

Photo shows USAF Thunderbirds demonstrating at the RAF International Air Tattoo in 2017
RAF Fairford

The US Air Force’s 95th Reconnaissance Squadron and 488th Intelligence Squadron will relocate its RC-135 RIVET JOINT mission from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Fairford as part of the European Infrastructure Consolidation.

The move is expected to begin in 2023 and be complete by 2024.

Approximately 530 military personnel and 740 family members will move to the areas around RAF Fairford. The relocation enables U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa to reduce excess capacity without any loss of operational capabilities.

All RC-135s are permanently assigned to the 55th Wing, Air Combat Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. They will use RAF Fairford as a Forward Operating Location and will deploy as required from the U.S. as they currently do at RAF Mildenhall. The 95th RS and 488th IS provide intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for the Cotswolds, welcomed the announcement that by 2023, 530 US Air Force (USAF) personnel and 470 dependents will relocate from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Fairford.

The USAF personnel will provide the support mission for the RC-135 RIVET JOINT aircraft, a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that can be employed in all theatres on strategic and tactical missions.

RAF Fairford is currently the USAF’s only European airfield for heavy bombers. It also hosts the annual Royal International Air Tattoo every July – the world’s largest military air show.

Sir Geoffrey said: “I am delighted that the Ministry of Defence has made the excellent decision to relocate US personnel to RAF Fairford. The presence of over 1,200 personnel and dependents to the area will bring substantial financial benefits to the local economy and our local community.

“I look forward to welcoming all incoming personnel to the Cotswolds and I hope this represents a continuation of our long-lasting and deep military cooperation with our American allies.”