RAF Cosford plans to train private sector

Station Commander Jamie Johnson Station Commander Jamie Johnson said the base had already provided training for some companies

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RAF Cosford in Shropshire could sell its training expertise to the business community if the government moves its defence operations.

The base, near Albrighton, is home to the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering.

Its future was put in doubt after the government announced last year that RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire would open a training college in 2013.

The RAF said working with private firms could help Cosford survive.

Station Commander Jamie Johnston said: "We already have trained some elements of British industry.

"Industry are finding it harder to find trained people and it's expensive to train people. It makes sense to look at how we can do that in a smarter way."

Cost taxpayers £150m

RAF Cosford is estimated to contribute about £70m a year to the local economy.

The government has said the base could be used by soldiers returning from Germany, although that is unlikely to happen until 2020 at the earliest.

Shropshire councillor Malcolm Pate said it made sense to look at different ways to secure the base's future.

Mr Pate said: "Given the technical expertise that's at RAF Cosford, I think there's a great opportunity for Cosford to have a large income stream by selling its expertise to local companies and private business."

The government has revealed that a six-year review into the move of aeronautics training from Cosford to St Athan in south Wales cost taxpayers £150m.

Station Commander Johnston described it as a "large sum of money" and said the military had a duty to deliver best value for money for taxpayers.

Plans to move the training college were scrapped two years ago, news of which was welcomed by local business leaders, councillors and Conservative MP for the Wrekin Mark Pritchard.

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