RAF Keevil could have a new runway built by the Ministry of Defence, to train pilots to deal with difficult conditions on bases in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The MoD is conducting a study into whether the airfield would be suitable site for a new rough strip runway, used to train Hercules pilots to cope with the lower standards of runways often found on operations.

The airfield is not permanently manned, but is owned by the MoD and used for training operations by the RAF and Army.

It already has three runways, only one of which is used regularly for training.

George Goodwin, clerk to Keevil Parish Council said: “I don’t think it’s a big surprise, some years ago it was first mentioned when the RAF weren’t able to use the strip on Salisbury Plain any more.

“People assumed that something would happen at some point. I think the majority of villagers would rather see the airfield used than disposed of.

“I don’t think it would add massively to the existing activities.”

Mr Goodwin said the parish council had a good relationship with the MoD, and that the military was normally very good about informing the village when the base was going to be used and could expect noise from aircraft. An MoD spokesman said: “There is an ongoing study taking place at RAF Keevil.

“The study, which is considering the location of rough strip landings necessary to fulfil MoD training requirements, is due to complete in autumn 2012.

“Until this is complete no final decisions can be made regarding the future use of the airfield.

“Keevil currently supports a range of military tasks and this use is not anticipated to change.”

The MoD will need to submit a planning application and it is understood talks have already been held with planning officers at Wiltshire Council.

The airfield opened in 1942, when it housed fighter planes including Spitfires and P51 Mustangs as well as transport and reconnaissance aircraft.

Gliders left from the base on the ill-fated Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

From 1955 to 1964 it was used by the United States Air Force and closed as a permanent base in 1965.