MoD Boscombe Down

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MOD Boscombe Down
Amesbury, Wiltshire in England
A Eurofighter Typhoon at MOD Boscome Down.
A Eurofighter Typhoon at MOD Boscome Down.
MinistryofDefence.svg
EGDM is located in Wiltshire
EGDM
EGDM
Shown within Wiltshire
Coordinates 51°09′27″N 01°44′49″W / 51.15750°N 1.74694°W / 51.15750; -1.74694Coordinates: 51°09′27″N 01°44′49″W / 51.15750°N 1.74694°W / 51.15750; -1.74694
Type Military test and evaluation airfield
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator QinetiQ and Royal Air Force
Website https://www.ltpa.co.uk
Site history
Built 1917 (1917)[1]
In use 1917–Present
Garrison information
Occupants
Airfield information
Identifiers ICAO: EGDM, WMO: 03746
Elevation 124 metres (407 ft) AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
05/23 3,205 metres (10,515 ft) Asphalt/Concrete
17/35 2,091 metres (6,860 ft) Asphalt/Concrete
05N/23N 766 metres (2,513 ft) Asphalt

MoD Boscombe Down (ICAO: EGDM) is the home of a military aircraft testing site, located near the village of Amesbury in Wiltshire, England. The site is currently run, managed and operated by QinetiQ;[1] the private defence company created as part of the breakup of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 2001 by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). It is also the home of the Empire Test Pilots' School[1] (ETPS).

The site was originally conceived, constructed, and operated as Royal Air Force Station Boscombe Down, more commonly known as RAF Boscombe Down, and since 1939, has evaluated aircraft for use by the British Armed Forces (BAF).

History[edit]

An airfield first opened at the Boscombe Down site in October 1917 and operated as a Royal Flying Corps Training Depot Station.[2] The airfield was known as Royal Flying Corps Station Red House Farm and trained aircrews for operational roles in France during the First World War.[1] Between opening and early 1919 the station accommodated No. 6 Training Depot, No. 11 Training Depot and No. 14 Training Depot.[3] When the United States of America entered the war in April 1917, the Royal Flying Corps began training ground and aircrews of Aviation Section of the US Army at the airfield. During 1918 the 166th Aero Squadron and 188th Aero Squadron were present.[3] At the end of the war in November 1918, the airfield became an aircraft storage unit until 1920 when it closed and was returned to agricultural use.[2]

In 1930 the site reopened as Royal Air Force Boscombe Down as a bomber station in the Air Defence of Great Britain command, the fore-runner of RAF Fighter Command.[2] The first unit to operate from the new airfield was No. 9 Squadron which started operating the Vickers Virginia heavy bomber on 26 February 1930. A second Virginia unit, No. 10 Squadron, arrived on 1 April 1931 and also operated the Handley Page Heyford. Both squadrons generated crews to allow the creation of new bomber squadrons at other airfields and . The following RAF squadrons were based at Boscombe Down between 1930 and 1939:

The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) arrived from RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk on 9 September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War.[3] The move marked the beginning of A&AEE Boscombe Down and aircraft research and testing at the station, a role which it has retained into the 21st century. About fifty aircraft and military and civilian personnel had arrived by mid-September 1939.[15] The necessary facilities required for the specialist work carried out by the A&AEE was lacking at Boscombe Down and therefore it's expansion resulted in many temporary buildings being constructed at the station in an unplanned manner.[2]

Post war[edit]

The site has witnessed many significant developments in the British aviation industry, including trials of many aircraft flown by the British Armed Forces since the Second World War, such as the first flights of the English Electric P 1, forerunner of the English Electric Lightning, the Folland Gnat and Midge, Hawker P.1067 (the prototype Hunter), Westland Wyvern, and the BAC TSR.2. It was also formerly home to the RAF School of Aviation Medicine.

In 1992, the site was renamed the Aircraft and Armament Evaluation Establishment (AAEE), when experimental work moved to the Defence Research Agency (DRA). Responsibility for the site passed from the MoD Procurement Executive to the Defence Test and Evaluation Organisation (DTEO) in 1993, and subsequently to the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 1995.

Boscombe Down airbase has been associated with rumours concerning United States black projects. An incident is reported to have occurred there on 26 September 1994, although evidence is scarce, and both the British and American Governments have refused to comment on it.[19][20] According to witnesses, an aircraft crashed on landing due to nosewheel collapse. The Special Air Service (SAS) were scrambled to set up a perimeter around the airfield, and a C5 Galaxy was redirected to the station. It is speculated that the crashed plane was disassembled and carried back to the US by the C5 Galaxy. It was also speculated that the crashed aircraft may have been the rumoured hypersonic spy plane, the Aurora.[21]

21st century[edit]

Following the creation of QinetiQ in 2001, a twenty-five year Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) was established with the MoD. Boscombe Down remains a government military airfield, but operated by QinetiQ on behalf of the MoD. The Joint Test and Evaluation Group (JTEG) was established under the control of RAF Air Command, and together with QinetiQ, forms the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC). This unique partnership is charged with the test and evaluation of future and in-service military aircraft for all arms of the British Armed Forces. The military personnel of the JTEG play a central role in the test and evaluation process alongside their civilian QinetiQ colleagues.

From the 1 May 2007, Boscombe Down became the home of the Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron (JARTS); which was combined from the two Royal Navy and Royal Air Force elements who were responsible for aircraft moves and post-crash management.[22]

In October 2007, it was announced that RAF Boscombe Down would become a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) airfield from early 2008, offering round-the-clock fighter coverage for the South and South West of UK airspace.[23]

A small part of Boscombe's history is being preserved in the United States. The Anglo American Lightning Organisation (AALO) are returning to flight the former ETPS English Electric Lightning T.5, XS422.[24] The group is basing the restoration in the US, as the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to refuse permission for the aircraft to fly in the UK.[citation needed] The voluntary group, made up of RAF and former RAF engineers, as well as civilian volunteers, has been carrying out a 'floor-up' restoration, and as of spring 2008, were around 80% mechanically complete. The project is currently seeking investors and supporters.[24]

The Heavy Aircraft Test Squadron (HATS) at RAF Boscombe Down was responsible for the flight testing of heavy aircraft (multi-engine types). Prior to the title of Heavy Aircraft Test Squadron, the flight testing of multi-engined aircraft was conducted by 'B Squadron'.[clarification needed] Following-on from B Squadron, the department became known as Fixed Wing Test Squadron (FWTS); however, during the late 1980s, the title once more changed to that of the Heavy Aircraft Test Squadron.[citation needed]On 16 June 2009, HATS formally handed over its flight testing duties to the newly re-formed 206(R) Squadron, which forms part of the Air Warfare Centre, who are headquartered at RAF Waddington.

On 1 April 2010, the Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS) was amalgamated into No.41(R) Squadron to create a new entity, 41 Squadron Test and Evaluation Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby.

The following units were here at some point:

Facilities[edit]

The airfield site has two runways, one of 3,212 metres (10,538 ft) in length, and the second 1,914 metres (6,280 ft).

Units[edit]

Flying and major non-flying units based at MOD Boscombe Down.[25][26][27][28][29]

Royal Air Force[edit]

RAF Air Warfare Centre

Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (operated in partnership with QinetiQ)

No. 22 Group (Training) RAF

No. 38 Group (Air Combat Service Support) RAF

Operations[edit]

It is home to Rotary Wing Test Squadron (RWTS), Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS), Heavy Aircraft Test Squadron (HATS), Handling Squadron, and the Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS).[30] It is also currently home to the Southampton University Air Squadron[1] (SUAS).[28]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba "Boscombe Down (Red House Farm)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d "MoD Boscombe Down: 1917-2007". Royal Aeronautical Society Boscombe Down Branch. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c "RAF/MoD Boscombe Down". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 27.
  5. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 41.
  6. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 43.
  7. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 48.
  8. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 51.
  9. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 53.
  10. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 62.
  11. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 64.
  12. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 71.
  13. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 72.
  14. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 73.
  15. ^ Mason 2010, p. 6.
  16. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 37.
  17. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 55.
  18. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 78.
  19. ^ "RAF Boscombe Down's Black Day". Retrieved 14 September 2008. 
  20. ^ Bellamy, Christopher; Walker, Timothy (14 March 1997). "Secret US spyplane crash may be kept under wraps". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  21. ^ "STEALTH". Key Publishing Air Forces Monthly. 10 June 2016. 
  22. ^ Nadin, Michael (October 2009). "Crash and Smash no more" (PDF). RAF.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. p. 38. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  23. ^ Air base in front line fully-armed - Salisbury Journal, Monday 29 October 2007
  24. ^ a b "Anglo American Lightning Organisation". Lightning422supporters.co.uk. UK: AALO. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  25. ^ "MOD Boscombe Down". LTPA. Retrieved 29 June 2017. 
  26. ^ "Air Warfare Centre Units". RAF Waddington. Retrieved 29 July 2017. 
  27. ^ Nadin, Michael (October 2009). "Crash and Smash no more" (PDF). Royal Air Force. p. 38. Retrieved 29 June 2017. 
  28. ^ a b "Southampton University Air Squadron". RAF.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  29. ^ "Royal Air Force Centre of Aviation Medicine" (PDF). RAF Henlow. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  30. ^ "Empire Test Pilot School contact information". QinetiQ.com. QinetiQ. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Jefford MBE, Wg Cdr C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6. 
  • Mason, Tim. (2010). The Secret Years: Flight Testing at Boscombe Down, 1939-1945. Crowborough, UK: Hikoki Publications. ISBN 978-1-9021-0914-5. 

External links[edit]