Less noise from new helicopters

NOISE from army aircraft in mid Suffolk will go down when new Apache helicopters are fully introduced at Wattisham Airfield, it was claimed today.Widespread fears that the £25million fighting machines will be a noisy nuisance to residents in the district have been quashed by one of the airfield's senior officers.

NOISE from army aircraft in mid Suffolk will go down when new Apache helicopters are fully introduced at Wattisham Airfield, it was claimed today.

Widespread fears that the £25million fighting machines will be a noisy nuisance to residents in the district have been quashed by one of the airfield's senior officers.

Lt Col Chris Claydon, commanding officer of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, says residents should instead notice a reduction in the amount of noise created by army aircraft.

He said: "When the Apaches are introduced fully the total number of aircraft here will be reduced by 30 per cent so noise levels will actually go down.

"People shouldn't fear the impact of apaches.

"No one is saying the Apaches are quiet but they are quieter, nothing like the jets residents round here are use to, and the fact there will be less aircraft means there will be less noise."

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The airbase, home to 3 and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, is gaining 32 of the £25million Apache helicopters, replacing outdated Lynx and Gazelle machines.

It already has seven Apaches and while more than half will be introduced by April next year, the full 32 will not be in place until restructuring is finished in December 2007.

Reassurances have also been made to residents about low level and night flying.

Although night flying is set to be extended from 1am to 1.30am, the army said it will be kept to a minimum.

It also said only 30per cent of its flying will be done below 250ft, and 10pc of that will be below 100ft – the height Apaches usually fly at when on operations.

Lt Col Claydon also said the restructuring means the numbers of soldiers at the base is increasing from 1,500 to 2,000 and he called for support from the community.

"With families, that number will double, or maybe treble and that's a large boost to the local economy.

"We are part of the community and need the community to accept us.

"One hundred soldiers in my regiment have bought houses in Suffolk – that's how embedded we are here.

"We value the support we get from locals and we are keen to be seen out and about at remembrance parades, fairs, fetes and schools."

Are you worried about the impact of apaches arriving at Wattisham? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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