RAF Lossiemouth
Overview
 
RAF Lossiemouth is a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 station to the west of the town of Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth is a town in Moray, Scotland. Originally the port belonging to Elgin, it became an important fishing town. Although there has been over a 1,000 years of settlement in the area, the present day town was formed over the past 250 years and consists of four separate communities that...

 in Moray
Moray
Moray is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland. It lies in the north-east of the country, with coastline on the Moray Firth, and borders the council areas of Aberdeenshire and Highland.- History :...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. It is one of the RAF's biggest bases and is currently Britain's main base for Tornado GR4s. From 2013 the Northern QRA force of Typhoon F2
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

 will relocate to Lossiemouth following the closure of RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars is the most northerly air defence station in the United Kingdom. It is located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the university town of St Andrews.-Operations:...

. This will leave Lossiemouth as the only operational RAF base in Scotland.
Royal Air Force Lossiemouth was built during 1938 and 1939 with No.
Encyclopedia
RAF Lossiemouth is a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 station to the west of the town of Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth is a town in Moray, Scotland. Originally the port belonging to Elgin, it became an important fishing town. Although there has been over a 1,000 years of settlement in the area, the present day town was formed over the past 250 years and consists of four separate communities that...

 in Moray
Moray
Moray is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland. It lies in the north-east of the country, with coastline on the Moray Firth, and borders the council areas of Aberdeenshire and Highland.- History :...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. It is one of the RAF's biggest bases and is currently Britain's main base for Tornado GR4s. From 2013 the Northern QRA force of Typhoon F2
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

 will relocate to Lossiemouth following the closure of RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars is the most northerly air defence station in the United Kingdom. It is located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the university town of St Andrews.-Operations:...

. This will leave Lossiemouth as the only operational RAF base in Scotland.

Second World War

Royal Air Force Lossiemouth was built during 1938 and 1939 with No. 15 Flying Training School forming in April 1939. The first aircraft to use Lossiemouth regularly were Oxford
Airspeed Oxford
The Airspeed AS.10 Oxford was a twin-engine aircraft used for training British Commonwealth aircrews in navigation, radio-operating, bombing and gunnery during the Second World War.-Design and development:...

s and Harvard
North American T-6 Texan
The North American Aviation T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1950s...

s but, due to the location and good weather, many different types of aircraft were frequently diverted to the station. In April 1940, the station was handed over to RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

 and 20 Operational Training Unit was formed. Although mainly a training unit for bomber crews during the Second World War, some operational raids were launched from Lossiemouth, the most important being 617 "The Dambusters
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

" Squadron's successful attack on the Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

, pride of the German battle fleet, on 12 November 1944.

Cold War

At the end of the hostilities the Station became a satellite unit of Milltown in RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command was a formation within the Royal Air Force . Founded in 1936, it was the RAF's premier maritime arm, after the Royal Navy's secondment of the Fleet Air Arm in 1937. Naval aviation was neglected in the inter-war period, 1919–1939, and as a consequence the service did not receive...

, before being handed over to the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 in 1946 and becoming RNAS Lossiemouth (HMS Fulmar). The Fleet Air Arm used Lossiemouth as a training station with pilots receiving their basic training here before moving to RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk) for instrument training. The final stage of training, (deck-landing) was practised at Milltown, before students were allowed to land on HMS Theseus
HMS Theseus (R64)
HMS Theseus was a Colossus-class light fleet aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. She was laid down in 1943 by Fairfield at Govan, and launched on 6 July 1944.-Workup and initial service:...

 in the Moray Firth. On 28 March 1967, Blackburn Buccaneer
Blackburn Buccaneer
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a British low-level subsonic strike aircraft with nuclear weapon delivery capability serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force between 1962 and 1994, including service in the 1991 Gulf War...

 planes from Lossiemouth bombed the shipwreck
Shipwreck
A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English....

ed supertanker Torrey Canyon
Torrey Canyon
The Torrey Canyon was a supertanker capable of carrying a cargo of 120,000 tons of crude oil, which was shipwrecked off the western coast of Cornwall, England in March 1967 causing an environmental disaster...

off the western coast of Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 to make the oil blaze and to avoid an environmental disaster
Environmental disaster
An environmental disaster is a disaster to the natural environment due to human activity. It should not be confused with the separate concept of a natural disaster.-History:...

.

The Fleet Air Arm handed the Station back to the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 on 28 September 1972 and 'D' Flight, 202 Squadron
No. 202 Squadron RAF
No. 202 Squadron of the Royal Air Force presently operates the Sea King HAR.3 in the Search and rescue role at three stations in the northern half of the United Kingdom. It was originally formed as one of the first aeroplane squadrons of the RNAS before it became part of the RAF.-Formation and...

, the Helicopter Search and Rescue Flight, was the first RAF unit to return. May 1973 saw the arrival of the Jaguar Conversion Team (renamed 226 Operational Conversion Unit on 1 October 1974) and in August 1973, 8 Squadron Avro Shackleton
Avro Shackleton
The Avro Shackleton was a British long-range maritime patrol aircraft for use by the Royal Air Force. It was developed by Avro from the Avro Lincoln bomber with a new fuselage...

 transferred to Lossiemouth from nearby Kinloss. In December 1978, 48 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment arrived to provide short-range defence with their Rapier surface-to-air missiles
Rapier missile
Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and Royal Air Force. Entering service in 1971, it eventually replaced all other anti-aircraft weapons in Army service; guns for low-altitude targets, and the English Electric Thunderbird, used against longer-range and...

. In July 1979, 2622 (Highland) Royal Air Force Auxiliary Regiment was formed, tasked with the ground defence of the Station. From 1978 to 1981, 2 Tactical Weapons Unit flew Hawker Hunter
Hawker Hunter
The Hawker Hunter is a subsonic British jet aircraft developed in the 1950s. The single-seat Hunter entered service as a manoeuvrable fighter aircraft, and later operated in fighter-bomber and reconnaissance roles in numerous conflicts. Two-seat variants remained in use for training and secondary...

 from Lossiemouth prior to the reopening of RAF Chivenor.

On 1 July 1991 the Shackletons of 8 Squadron retired from service and on 1 October 1991 237 Operational Conversion Unit was disbanded. In 1992 however, another unit was added to the Station strength with the formation of 237 Field Squadron of the Territorial Army responsible for Airfield Damage Repair. Also during that year, the important links between RAF Lossiemouth and the District of Moray were further strengthened when the Station formally received the Freedom of Moray.

Post Cold War

Major changes took place in 1993 with the Blackburn Buccaneer
Blackburn Buccaneer
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a British low-level subsonic strike aircraft with nuclear weapon delivery capability serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force between 1962 and 1994, including service in the 1991 Gulf War...

 anti-shipping squadrons starting to be replaced by the Panavia Tornado
Panavia Tornado
The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy...

. On 1 October, 12(B) Squadron lost its Buccaneers but kept its squadron number-plate when re-equipped with Tornados. On 1 November, the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit, renamed XV(Reserve) Squadron arrived from RAF Honington
RAF Honington
RAF Honington is a Royal Air Force station located south of Thetford near Ixworth in Suffolk, England. Although used as a bomber station during the Second World War, RAF Honington is now the RAF Regiment depot and home to the Joint CBRN Regiment.-RAF use:...

 in Suffolk.

In April 1994, 208 Squadron
No. 208 Squadron RAF
No 208 Squadron is at present a reserve unit of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales. It operates the BAe Hawk aircraft.-World War I:...

 was disbanded and was replaced by 617 Squadron
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

, which transferred with their Tornados from RAF Marham
RAF Marham
Royal Air Force Station Marham, more commonly known as RAF Marham, is a Royal Air Force station; a military airbase, near the village of Marham in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia....

 in Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

. Although 48 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment left Lossiemouth for Honington on 1 July 1996, RAF Lossiemouth continued to be one of the busiest front-line stations in the RAF with 3 Tornado Squadrons, including XV(Reserve) Squadron, 16(Reserve) Squadron (previously 226 OCU) and 'D' Flight, 202 Squadron with their Sea Kings. This line-up continued until July 2000, when the Jaguars left for RAF Coltishall
RAF Coltishall
The former Royal Air Force Station Coltishall, more commonly known as RAF Coltishall , was a Royal Air Force station, a military airbase, North-North-East of Norwich, in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia, from 1938 to 2006....

 in Norfolk; however, with the increase in size of XV(Reserve) Squadron in 1999 following the closure of the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment at RAF Cottesmore
RAF Cottesmore
RAF Cottesmore was a Royal Air Force station in Rutland, England, situated between Cottesmore and Market Overton. The station housed all the operational Harrier GR9 squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and No 122 Expeditionary Air Wing...

, the arrival of the Tornados of 14 Squadron from RAF Brüggen
RAF Bruggen
The former Royal Air Force Station Brüggen, more commonly known as RAF Brüggen, in Germany was a major station of the Royal Air Force until 15 June 2001. It was situated next to the village of Elmpt, approximately west of Düsseldorf near the German-Netherlands border. The base was named after...

 in January 2001, RAF Lossiemouth has become the busiest fast-jet station in the Royal Air Force. In May 2001, 51 RAF Regiment Squadron
No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment
No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment is a field squadron of the RAF Regiment in the Royal Air Force. Its mission is protection of RAF bases from ground attack....

 was reformed and now sits with 2622 Auxiliary Squadron under the newly formed 5 Force Protection Wing Headquarters at RAF Lossiemouth.

Current structure

The RAF Lossiemouth structure as of April 2008:
  • 140 Expeditionary Air Wing
  • Air Combat 1 Group
    • No. 12 Squadron RAF
      No. 12 Squadron RAF
      No. 12 Squadron of the Royal Air Force currently operates the Tornado GR4 from RAF Lossiemouth.-History:No. 12 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was formed in February 1915 from a flight of No. 1 Squadron RFC at Netheravon. The squadron moved to France in September 1915 and operated a variety of aircraft...

    • No. 14 Squadron RAF
      No. 14 Squadron RAF
      No. 14 Squadron of the Royal Air Force currently operates the Beechcraft Shadow R1 in the ISTAR role from RAF Waddington.-World War I:...

    • No. XV Squadron RAF
      No. XV Squadron RAF
      No. 15 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Panavia Tornado GR4 from RAF Lossiemouth. Currently XV Squadron is the RAF's Operational Conversion Unit for the Tornado GR4. The OCU teaches pilots how to fly the aircraft and what tactics to use to best exploit the performance of their...

    • No. 617 Squadron RAF
      No. 617 Squadron RAF
      No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

       - The Dambusters
  • Air Combat 2 Group
    • No. 202 Squadron RAF
      No. 202 Squadron RAF
      No. 202 Squadron of the Royal Air Force presently operates the Sea King HAR.3 in the Search and rescue role at three stations in the northern half of the United Kingdom. It was originally formed as one of the first aeroplane squadrons of the RNAS before it became part of the RAF.-Formation and...

       - 'D' Flight - Sea King Search and Rescue
      Search and rescue
      Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

       helicopter
      Helicopter
      A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

      s.
  • RAF Regiment
    • No 5 RAF Force Protection Wing HQ
    • 51 Squadron
      No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment
      No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment is a field squadron of the RAF Regiment in the Royal Air Force. Its mission is protection of RAF bases from ground attack....

    • 2622 Squ RAuxAF
      Royal Auxiliary Air Force
      The Royal Auxiliary Air Force , originally the Auxiliary Air Force , is the voluntary active duty reserve element of the Royal Air Force, providing a primary reinforcement capability for the regular service...


Future aircraft

In November 2005, it was announced that Lossiemouth would be the main base for the RAF's fleet of F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...

s (designated the Joint Combat Aircraft
Joint Combat Aircraft
The Joint Combat Aircraft is the official designation of the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence used for the F-35 Lightning II, formerly the Joint Strike Fighter, and the result of the Joint Strike Fighter Program.-Programme history:...

 by the Ministry of Defence).

The President of Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is a company within Richard Branson's Virgin Group which plans to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public, along with suborbital space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites...

, Will Whitehorn
Will Whitehorn
Will Whitehorn was, until recently, the President of Virgin Galactic, a company which plans to offer space tourism flights to the paying public.-Biography:Whitehorn was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, Europe...

 stated in an interview with Space.co.uk on 29 April 2008 that the company was considering flying from RAF Lossiemouth during the summer months only.

Typhoon

On 18 July 2011 Defence Secretary Liam Fox
Liam Fox
Liam Fox MP is a British Conservative politician, Member of Parliament for North Somerset, and former Secretary of State for Defence....

 announced that RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars is the most northerly air defence station in the United Kingdom. It is located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the university town of St Andrews.-Operations:...

 would close, whilst RAF Lossiemouth in Moray would be spared as part of the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review. The recently formed Northern QRA force of Typhoon F2s
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

, which was stood up at Leuchars in March 2011, will now be moved to RAF Lossiemouth in 2013. Leuchars will be converted to a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 base and with RAF Kinloss
RAF Kinloss
RAF Kinloss is a Royal Air Force station near Kinloss, on the Moray Firth in the north of Scotland. It opened on 1 April 1939 and served as an RAF training establishment during the Second World War. After the war it was handed over to Coastal Command to watch over Russian ships and submarines in...

set for the same fate, RAF Lossiemouth will be the only operational RAF base in Scotland by the mid-2010s.

External links

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