AROUND 600 of the 700 RAF personnel based at RAF Aldergrove are to move to England within the next two years. The move will also see around 140 civilian posts being lost.
An Army base in Antrim town is also to close, with soldiers moving into the vacated airforce accommodation.
The Armed Forces Minister said it had been decided to relocate 230 Squadron, currently based at RAF Aldergrove and equipped with Puma helicopters, to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire as part of long-term planning.
Around 500 family members will accompany the RAF personnel to England.
Space freed up will then be used to relocate 38 Engineer Regiment from Massereene Barracks in Antrim, which will subsequently be closed and sold off.
The relocation plan for both bases is expected to be carried out by 2010.
It's thought the move will result in around 140 of the 420 civilian staff currently employed at Aldergrove and Massereene being made redundant. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said they were attempting to minimise compulsory redundancies.
Negotiations have begun with the trade unions about voluntary redundancy and possible moves to other government departments in Northern Ireland. There will also be jobs available at RAF Benson for those who are prepared to move to England.
South Antrim MLA Thomas Burns said the closure of RAF Aldergrove was 'a significant blow to the local community'.
"The offer of relocation to Oxford is hardly going to be attractive to many local civilian staff" he said. "There could be 100 job losses and every civilian employee must be given a local reemployment opportunity or a good redundancy package.
"There will also be a negative impact on local schools and businesses, with so many families moving out of the country.
"However, the relocation will not be complete for nearly 18 months and we now have a golden opportunity to make this work positively for the local community.
"There are 600 or so homes of varying size at RAF Aldergrove which could meet a lot of demand for social and affordable housing in the area. This could be a great mixed tenure development and I would like to see the Housing Executive and housing associations getting involved in this debate.
"Furthermore, any available industrial land at Aldergrove must be given to InvestNI immediately and this development opportunity should be sold hard at the upcoming investment conference in May."