UPDATED: RAF Croughton set for £200m upgrade

RAF Croughton. 081004M-B026
RAF Croughton. 081004M-B026

RAF Croughton could undergo a vast £200 million upgrade to intensify its top secret information channelling role between the USA and the rest of the world.

The former RAF bomber base, now fully operated by the USA, is set to become the centre for consolidated operations from other US intelligence groups based at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

Reports in The Independent newspaper say the new, ultra-secure Croughton could be staffed by 1,250 personnel covering operations in Africa, a current focus for US counter-terrorism activities.

The publication states the $318m project would include an ‘installation’ for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s main military espionage service, accentuating Croughton’s importance as a centre for clandestine and classified US communications in Britain.

RAF Croughton has been described as ‘a relay centre for CIA clandestine and agent communications’, used to ferry data including emails from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone back to the USA.

Newspaper reports on the base’s intelligence activities report British Telecom providing a sophisticated link between the base and Djibouti, East Africa from where drone strikes are launched.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it is aware of a UK proposal to relocate the Joint Analysis Centre and NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre from RAF Molesworth to RAF Croughton. Its spokesman, Robert Mead, said no final decision has been taken.

Mr Mead said: “The United States Visiting Force (USVF) is present in the UK at the invitation of the British Government.

“There are no circumstances under which UK military assets, including those bases made available to the US, could be used operationally by the US without the agreement of Her Majesty’s Government.”

Maj Gerardo Gonzalez, spokesman for US Air Force Europe, said: “There is currently pending legislation regarding future military construction projects.

“The US is cooperating with partner nations in considering several options for developing and maintaining a force that is effective and relevant to today’s challenges.

“Options include force drawdown, asset relocation, and reinvestment in facilities and programs that are part of maintaining that partnership between the US and its European allies, including the United Kingdom,” added Mr Gonzalez.

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending congressional legislation,” he said.

According to Free Range Activism Website (FRAW) RAF Croughton was built in 1938 and was originally known as Brackley Landing Ground.