WIDESPREAD concern over the future of two RAF bases was replaced by relief yesterday as the government confirmed that 4500 jobs in Scotland should be safeguarded for 40 years.

RAF Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth serve as the main economic driver in Moray. But fears had been raised over the long-term viability of both sites after the Ministry of Defence revealed in March that about 900 posts would be axed between them.

Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, told the Commons yesterday that both bases would become home to a new generation of aircraft.

The announcement was met with delight in Moray.

Jackie Jackson, an administration officer at RAF Lossiemouth who also chairs the Public and Commercial Service (PCS) trade union, which represents 140 personnel at the base, said: "We are really, really pleased. Some of ourmembers had been terrified - they couldn't make any plans because they did not knowwhat was happening."

Angus Robertson, the SNP MP for Moray, said the announcement was a victory for local campaigners.

"Local pressure helped tip the balance in favour of the Moray bases. It is well-known that there were people in the MoD who wanted closures and they were resisted."

The news was also welcomed in JNKKitchen Studio, across the road from RAF Lossiemouth's main gate, where John Hutton is the furniture designer.

"It is great news because even the youngest RAF personnel are buying property.

Then they start doing their houses up which is not just good for us, but for painters, DIY shops, joiners and plumbers.

"I would say that about onethird of our business comes from RAF personnel or civilians working for the RAF. But it is not just the economy. Plans for a medical centre at the base to be shared by Lossiemouth and the base are well advanced.

What would have happened to that if we had lost the base?"

Wing CommanderMarianne Evans, who has been at Lossiemouth for two years, said: "It is a nice Christmas present and a very exciting time as we build towards the next stage."

Mr Ingram said that RAF Lossiemouth will host the new fighter joint combat aircraft which is replacing the Harrier fleet. RAF Kinloss is to be home to a new version of the Nimrod MRA4 surveillance plane.

Mr Ingram said the decision "safeguards a very significant number of jobs in the Moray area". He added: "It is good news for Moray and underscores once again the Ministry of Defence's commitment to Scotland."

The MoD had drawn up a shortlist of five bases for the state-of-the-art joint combat aircraft but Mr Ingram said Lossiemouth, currently home to the Tornado GR4, was the most operationally satisfactory and cost-effective solution.

The Nimrod MRA4 is replacing the Nimrod MR2 around the end of this decade.

At RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Russ Torbet, station commander at RAF Lossiemouth, and Group Captain Chris Birks, station commander at RAF Kinloss, said the announcement would secure the bases for 40 years. In the case of Lossiemouth, it could be into the 2050s.

Group Captain Torbet said:

"This is excellent news for the station and the local community and will ensure an RAF presence for many years to come."

FIGHTING FIT RAF Lossiemouth Built at the start of the second world war, the station became a bomber command airfield. Post-war, it has been home to aircraft as varied as Shackleton reconnaissance planes, Jaguars, Hunters and Tornado strike squadrons. It now hosts three Tornado MR4 squadrons, an operational conversion unit to train their crews, Sea King search-and-rescue helicopters and two RAF Regiment ground defence units.

RAF Kinloss Known to its squadron members as "Ice Station Kilo", the airfield was a bomber training site in the second world war. It also operated Beaufighters and Mosquitos for Coastal Command. It is now home to the RAF's Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol fleet, many of whose aircraft have been used for battlefield surveillance over the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.