A DECISION on the future of RAF Leuchars will be announced by July 19.
First Minister Alex Salmond has vowed the Scottish Government will stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the local community in the fight to save the base.
Mr Salmond met campaigners in Edinburgh on Wednesday and pledged he would do ‘everything in his power’ to defend both Leuchars and Lossiemouth, Scotland’s other threatened air base.
The future of Leuchars is unclear amid defence spending cuts, with recent speculation suggesting the historic base could be handed over to the army.
A final decision will be made before the Westminster summer recess begins on July 19.
Mr Salmond said: “RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth are of national importance and the Scottish Government stands shoulder to shoulder with communities who are campaigning to save their bases.
“The cross-party support for the retention of both bases reflects the overwhelming defence, social and economic case to keep them open.
“Decisions on these bases have yet to be made, therefore it’s important that we continue to press our argument with Westminster.
“Despite speculation that UK ministers considered there to be a ‘straight choice’ between Leuchars and Lossiemouth, the Prime Minister gave me an important assurance that this was not the case.”
Mr Salmond met UK Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox on Thursday as part of Dr Fox’s tour of Scotland — which included a visit to Leuchars.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, the First Minister said: “Since 1997, Scotland has lost more than 10,000 defence jobs and in this meeting I will continue to do everything in my power to defend Scotland’s bases.”
North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell welcomed Dr Fox’s visit and vowed to continue making the case for retaining an RAF presence in Leuchars.
He said: “I have consistently said that Leuchars is in the right place at the right time, doing the right job.
“No-one who examines the case rationally could reach any other conclusion.
“Along with others I shall continue to press the need for the retention of the base.”