RAF West Freugh

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RAF West Freugh is a Royal Air Force station located in Wigtownshire, five miles (8 km) south east of Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

It has always been an armaments training school, either for handling or deployment of ordnance.


During the First World War the site was a base for naval airships, known as RNAS Luce Bay. The base was provided with one huge airship hangar.

RAF West Freugh opened in 1937 as an armament training camp. During the Second World War, it expanded to include training facilities for observers, navigators, and bomb aimers; and served as a base for the Bombing Trials Unit.[1] The known history of units known at West Freugh is:[2]

  • 22 October 1939 - 10 Service Flying Training School formed. Moved November
  • 4 November 1939 - 4 Air Observer School formed
  • 11 January 1940 - re-designated 4 Bombing & Gunnery School
  • 14 June 1941 - 4 Air Observer School reformed
  • 11 June 1943 - re-designated 4 Observer Advanced Flying Unit
  • 21 June 1945 - 4 Observer Advanced Flying Unit disbanded
  • April 1957 - RAF West Freugh incident
  • 2001 - Airfield closed, all RAF operations cease
  • 2001 - operations taken over by QinetiQ[3]

In addition to the units listed above and with manpower possibly drawn from some of them a Mountain Rescue Team was based at West Freugh from 1945 to 1956 when the MRT at RAF Leuchars assumed responsibility for the area covered by West Freugh. The team was part of the RAF's Mountain Rescue Service.

Present day[edit]

In 1987, Exercise Purple Warrior forces utilised West Freugh.

West Freugh, now operated by QinetiQ since 2001[3] is used as a test range for bombs and Air-to-Ground missiles. Its ranges extend over Luce Bay, and an area of land at Torrs Warren.[4]

In 1988 and 1990 its ranges were used to test Phalanx CIWS weapons system with depleted uranium rounds. A subsequent radiological survey of beach, sand and seawater by staff from the Atomic Weapons Establishment concluded that there was no detectable contamination.[5]

RAF West Freugh has also been used on several occasions for exercises by 16 Air Assault Brigade.[citation needed]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°50′51″N 4°56′52″W / 54.84750°N 4.94778°W / 54.84750; -4.94778