RAF Upper Heyford, UK
In the early years of the Cold War the British and American governments reached an agreement under which elements of the USAF Strategic Air Command (SAC) would be based in the UK. Bases had already been established in East Anglia -- at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath -- but they were considered to be too vulnerable to bomber attack and airfields further behind the RAF fighter defences were sought. Four RAF airfields were selected to receive SAC units -- RAF Brize Norton, RAF Fairford, RAF Greenham Common and RAF Upper Heyford.
Throughout the 1950s, Strategic Air Command bomber units deployed on a regular rotational basis from the United States to the United Kingdom. The B-47 Stratojet was a familiar sight in the skies over RAF Mildenhall and RAF Upper Heyford at this time, as entire wings deployed on 90-day rotations.
Upper Heyford is a prime site for development as a freight airport rather than a passenger airport. It has nearby access to the M40, and the railway runs alongside one side of the site. From a developers point of view, the biggest problems are the scale of the underground facilities on the site - many of which have the same blast-hardened construction as the hangers. In November 2000 developers unveiled plans to build a settlement of 1,000 houses on the former site of RAF Upper Heyford. The plans involved the retention of about 250 existing houses on the base, about 750 new houses, provision of about 1,500 jobs, shops, social and leisure facilities and recreational and open space.
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