Sir Stephen Dalton is under fire after using a 100-seater Royal jet to fly from RAF Lossiemouth to neighbouring RAF Kinloss, the day after swingeing defence cuts were announced.
Campaigners against the closure of Lossiemouth have responded by posting new allegations of MoD profligacy.
It is claimed that at one base, the crew of a search and rescue helicopter were told to dress in Santa suits, fly over the station commander’s home, and wave to his children.
Lossiemouth is facing the axe as a result of the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). It has already been announced that RAF Kinloss, just 15 minutes’ drive away, is to shut.
Dalton flew from London to Lossiemouth on October 20 aboard a 100-seater BaE 146 jet of 32 (The Royal) Squadron.
But rather than take the 30-minute return trip to Kinloss by car, Dalton used the jet. He flew from Kinloss to London later in the day.
It is understood the flight to Kinloss burned an extra third of a tonne of fuel worth between £200-£300.
And taking into account, boarding, taxiing and flying time, the trip is believed to have taken as long as the car journey would have.
Campaigners reacted furiously to the revelation, branding Dalton a “hypocrite”.
One angry former serviceman used an internet forum to complain about another example of waste one year at Christmas time.
He wrote: “I had to fill in forms in quadruplicate to get myself and the rest of the lads our tea and coffee rations of 4 cups a day. As I lived off base I was not entitled to a meal in the mess, so I had cheese on toast for my Christmas dinner.
“I didn’t complain as it was part of the job. I was a bit p***** off, however, when a Sea King was launched with all the crew dressed in Santa suits to fly over, and wave at the (then) Station Commander’s kids!”
Another wrote about Lossiemouth: “I worked on the maintenance contract twice and the waste was criminal. Anyone remember the old prefab accom blocks behind the north block? The fire doors and showers were replaced six weeks before they were demolished.”
One poster claimed the culture of waste had been going on for years. “I remember as a child our quarter being completely redecorated top to bottom,” she wrote. “And then two weeks later them coming to put new double glazing in. They had to come back and redecorate again a week later.”
Another said: “I can vouch for the money wasting first hand – I have been an RAF dependent 38 years (I am 38!) and I have witnessed it my whole life! I have been at 2 bases during closure (in Germany and England). The money wasting and the cutting is nothing new but it about time it was blown open!”
Dalton’s extra flight would have burned 21kgs of fuel simply switching on the 146’s four engines, according to BaE’s own brochure for the aircraft.
A further 68kgs would have been used taxiing to take-off. Adding take off, the flight itself, landing, and taxiing to a stop is likely to have consumed more than 300kgs of fuel at an estimated cost of £200 to £300.
Extra maintenance and crew costs could also have added to the bill.
BaE’s own brochure also suggests that from boarding the flight to stepping off would have taken at least 15 minutes, about the same time as the drive from Lossiemouth to Kinloss.
RAF Lossiemouth is fighting for its survival because the MoD is considering transferring the airbase’s Tornado fighter-bombers to Norfolk.
Holywood A-lister Ewan McGregor is among those backing the campaign to save the base.
A spokeswoman for the MoD denied there was anything wrong with Dalton’s flight.
She said: “Of course it’s true. He had to go to a number of places and this was the quickest and most cost-effective way. It was deemed necessary because of the number of events that day.”
Pressed on why the cheaper and possibly quicker option of a return car trip was not used, she said: “That was the decision made on the day.”
She added: “If time was a luxury he would have gone up the night before. He did not have the time to stay in Scotland.”