RAF Lossiemouth

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RAF Lossiemouth
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Near Lossiemouth, Moray in Scotland
Tornado GR4 Over RAF Lossiemouth MOD 45150789.jpg
A Tornado GR4 of 617 Squadron (Dambusters) over RAF Lossiemouth.
RAF Lossiemouth crest.png
Thoir An Aire (Be Careful)[1]
EGQS is located in Moray
EGQS
EGQS
Shown within Moray
Coordinates 57°42′19″N 003°20′21″W / 57.70528°N 3.33917°W / 57.70528; -3.33917Coordinates: 57°42′19″N 003°20′21″W / 57.70528°N 3.33917°W / 57.70528; -3.33917
Type Royal Air Force station
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator

Royal Air Force 1939–1946 and 1972–Present

Fleet Air Arm 1946–1972
Website www.raf.mod.uk/raflossiemouth/
Site history
Built 1938 (1938)/9
In use 1939–Present
Garrison information
Current
commander
Group Captain Paul Godfrey OBE MA RAF
Occupants
Airfield information
Identifiers IATA: LMO, ICAO: EGQS, WMO: 03068
Elevation 13 metres (43 ft) AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
05/23 2,756 metres (9,042 ft) Asphalt
10/28 1,851 metres (6,073 ft) Asphalt

Royal Air Force Lossiemouth or more commonly RAF Lossiemouth or RAF Lossie (IATA: LMOICAO: EGQS) is a military airfield located on the western edge of the town of Lossiemouth in Moray, north-east Scotland.

Lossiemouth is one of the largest and busiest fast-jet stations in the Royal Air Force and known for its close proximity to flight training areas in Scotland and its favourable local flying conditions. It is now the only operational RAF station in Scotland and is one of two main operating bases for the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 in the United Kingdom. It is home to three front-line units which operate the Typhoon (No. 1 Squadron, No. 2 (AC) Squadron and No. 6 Squadron) each of which contribute to the Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) North capability which provides continuous protection of UK airspace.

The airfield opened in 1939 and was operated by the RAF, predominately as part of Bomber Command, until 1946 when it transferred to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and became known as RNAS Lossiemouth or HMS Fulmar. Lossiemouth was used as a training station by the FAA until it was handed back to the RAF in September 1972, after which it has largely operated as a fast-jet base.

Investment in infrastructure is planned at Lossiemouth in order to accommodate the RAFs new fleet of Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft, which are expected to enter service in 2020. A further squadron of Typhoons is expected to take up residence by April 2019.

History[edit]

Construction (1938–1939)[edit]

Construction started during the summer of 1938, when 220 hectares of agricultural land was acquired in order to accommodate the airfield. The land was cleared of vegetation and buildings and by the spring of 1939 several wooden huts were present. Group Captain P.E Maitland was the first station commander and took up post in March 1939, with the station formally opening on 1 May 1939.[2] The first unit to take up residence at Lossiemouth was No. 15 Flight Training School (FTS), initially equipped with thirteen Airspeed Oxfords and five Hawker Harts.[3] Aircraft were stored in the open until the first hangars were completed in August 1939. That same month tragedy struck when three crew members were killed during a mid-air collision between two Oxfords.[4]

Second World War (1939–1945)[edit]

At the outbreak of the Second World War a detachment of Seaforth Highlanders was sent to Lossiemouth to guard the station and anti-aircraft defences were installed. Flying activity increased with No. 15 FTS receiving further Oxfords and Harts and the introduction of the North American Harvard. Eleven Fairey Battles were also delivered for storage. The first front-line aircraft to operate from Lossiemouth were a detachment of twelve Vickers Wellington bombers belonging to No. 99 Squadron. They arrived for a short period in November 1939 to take part in attack missions targeting the German cruiser Deutschland, which was operating between Iceland and the Shetland Isles.[4]

January 1940 saw a detachment of No. 44 Squadron and No. 50 Squadron Handley Page Hampdens arrive to take part in offensive patrols over the North Sea. However the operation was short-lived as a result of bad weather, with the aircraft returning to their home base in mid February.[4]

Vickers Wellington bombers of No. 9 Squadron.

A detachment of No. 9 Squadron spent a short period of time operating Wellingtons during April 1940, before being replaced by No.107 Squadron and No. 110 Squadron which were equipped with Bristol Blenheims. During this period the first loss to enemy action of an aircraft operating from Lossiemouth occurred when three Blenheims were shot down over Norway.[5]

It soon became apparent that the frequent detachments of bomber aircraft were disrupting the training programme at Lossiemouth and therefore, due to the strategic importance of the station as a base for bomber aircraft, it was decided to relocate No. 15 FTS to RAF Middle Wallop in Hampshire. On 27 April 1940, after the unit’s departure, Lossiemouth transferred to No. 6 Group of RAF Bomber Command and No. 20 Operational Training Unit (OTU) was established, initially operating Wellingtons and Avro Ansons.[6]

No. 46 Maintenance Unit (MU) was also formed in April 1940. No. 46 MU’s role was to modify and fit-out new aircraft before they were forwarded to front-line squadrons. A variety of aircraft were serviced including Hawker Hurricanes, de Havilland Tiger Moths, Hawker Audaxes, and a de Havilland Hornet Moth. The unit primarily used six Robin and eight Super Robin hangars, however due to a shortage of space many aircraft were stored in fields outside the station.[6]

Lossiemouth's first satellite airfield, located at Bogs of Mayne 10 miles to the south and known as RAF Elgin, opened in June 1940.[6]

One officer and two aircrew were killed on 26 October 1940 when RAF Lossiemouth was attacked by the Luftwaffe for the first time. The attack by three Heinkel He 111s resulted in the destruction of two Blenheims and damage to two Miles Magisters, two Moths and a Hurricane. Three hangars were also damaged, the resultant holes from cannon fire still visible today.[7] One of the Heinkels crashed on the airfield, having either been hit by ground fire or destroyed by its own bombs. All four Luftwaffe pilots are buried in a Lossiemouth churchyard.[8] As a result of the raid, Hurricanes of No. 232 Squadron were moved to RAF Elgin to protect the area from future attacks.[9]

20 OTU Memorial at Bogs of Mayne.

Flying activity in early 1941 was limited due to the poor condition of the airfield, however improved weather in the Spring increased activity from No. 20 OTU and No. 46 MU, as well as from continued bomber detachments. Operational sorties were predominately undertaken by Blenheims of No. 21 Squadron, No. 82 Squadron, No.110 Squadron and No. 114 Squadron. However, by the winter of 1941 the airfield had become so muddy that the Wellingtons of No. 20 OTU were temporarily relocated to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.[10] The increased activity by No. 46 MU resulted in two satellite landing grounds (SLG) being established to store aircraft off-site. These were at RAF Black Isle (No. 42 SLG) where Bristol Beaufighters were kept and RAF Leanach (No. 43 SLG) near Culloden, where Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires were stored.[9]

Lossiemouth was used during 1942 as a base to launch several unsuccessful missions to sink the German battleship Tirpitz, which at the time was operating in Norwegian fjords. The first missions were undertaken in January 1942 by a detachment of thirteen Shorts Stirlings of No. 15 Squadron & No. 149 Squadron and thirteen Handley Page Halifaxes of No. 10 Squadron & No. 76 Squadron. Further attempts were made during March by Avro Lancasters of No. 44 Squadron and Halifaxes of No. 10 Squadron. Lancasters of No. 9 Squadron later joined the operation.[11] 1942 also saw numerous accidents involving No. 20 OTU aircraft, many of which resulted in death and serious injuries. These accidents were attributed to a combination of fatigued aircraft, inexperienced crews and poor weather.[11] Wellingtons of No. 20 OTU were also involved in strategic bombing raids on German cities throughout 1942, the training aircraft being required to help reach the target number of 1000 bombers per raid.[12] The airfield’s first surfaced runways were constructed by an engineering battalion of the US Army Air Force in late 1942 and helped to reduce interruptions to flying as a result of the grass strips being affected by poor weather. The three runways were 1,828 m (runway 06/24), 1,371 m (09/27) and 1,280 m (01/19) in length. A new control tower was also constructed.[11]

In September 1943, Wellingtons of No. 20 OTU's 'C' Flight moved to the second of Lossiemouth's satellite airfields, RAF Milltown, located 3 miles to the south-east. By now No. 46 MU were concentrating their work on Bristol Beaufighters and Lancasters and the SLG at RAF Leanach had been replaced with a new site at Dornoch golf course, which became known as RAF Dornoch (No. 40 SLG).[13] No. 20 OTU received its official crest in 1943, with two examples cast in concrete being constructed at Lossiemouth and RAF Elgin. The crest at Lossiemouth no longer exists and although little now remains of the airfield at Elgin, the concrete crest is still in place and acts as a war memorial for those who served there.[14][13]

A No. 617 Squadron crew and their Lancaster following the successful operation launched from Lossiemouth against the battleship Tirpitz on 12 November 1944.

Further operations against the still active Tirpitz took place between September and November 1944. Operation Catechism finally resulted in the German battleship being sunk near Tromsø on 12 November 1944. A total of thirty-eight Lancasters of No.9 Squadron and No. 617 Squadron launched from Lossiemouth, Kinloss and Milltown and successfully destroyed the vessel with their Tallboy bombs.[15] Nearly 50 years later No. 617 Squadron transferred to Lossiemouth and was permanently based there between 1993 and 2014. Examples of the Tallboy, Grand Slam and Up Keep bouncing bomb were on display within the squadron site during this time.[16]

In July 1945, after the end of hostilities in Europe, No. 20 OTU was disbanded and No. 46 MU continued to prepare aircraft for operations in the Far East where the war continued. After the war ended, No. 46 MU began the enormous task of breaking-up surplus aircraft for scrap. At one point there were around 900 aircraft present at the airfield awaiting disposal.[17] On 28 July 1945 Lossiemouth was transferred to No. 17 Group of RAF Coastal Command, with the arrival of No. 111 OTU from the Bahamas shortly thereafter. By August 1945 the unit was operating forty-one Consolidated B-24 Liberators, ten Halifaxes and a single North American B-25 Mitchell. The unit continued operating until July 1946 before it was disbanded.[17]

Fleet Air Arm years – HMS Fulmar (1946–1972)[edit]

Lossiemouth transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) on 2 July 1946 and became known as Royal Navy Air Station (RNAS) Lossiemouth or alternatively as HMS Fulmar.[17] On the FAA taking control, No. 46 MU moved to RAF Elgin. Lossiemouth was used as a training station by the FAA with pilots receiving basic training before progressing to RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk) in Cornwall for instrument training. RAF Milltown also transferred to the FAA and became known as HMS Fulmar II. It operated as a Deck Landing Training School and it was here that the last stage of training was practised before students could land on HMS Theseus in the Moray Firth.[18] The first FAA squadron, No. 766 Naval Air Squadron, arrived in August 1946 and predominately operated Supermarine Seafires and Fairey Fireflies until its departure to RNAS Culdrose in 1953.[19] In order to replace poor quality war-era facilities, seven hundred new married living-quarters were constructed in Lossiemouth and Elgin in the late 1940s, with the first opening in September 1949. This arrangement differed from the RAF, who typically constructed living-quarters within their airfield boundaries. In 1952 and early 1953 Lossiemouth's runways were upgraded and extended to their present lengths and during that time aircraft temporarily operated from Milltown.[20]

The Naval Air Fighter and Strike Training School transferred to the station in 1953 and over the next decade a wide variety of aircraft operated from Lossiemouth in the training role, including Supermarine Seafires, Fairey Fireflys, Hawker Sea Hawks, Hawker Sea Furys, Supermarine Scimitars, De Havilland Sea Venoms, and Hawker Hunters.[21] Four Gloster Meteors were used as target-towers.[22] One of the first squadrons of the recently established Federal Germany Navy was formed at Lossiemouth in May 1958 under NATO cooperative policy. No. 764 Naval Air Squadron had responsibility for training German crews on twelve Sea Hawks which operated in German Navy markings. A commissioning ceremony was attended by British and German naval and political figures.[22][23]

In 1958 it was announced that station facilities were to be upgraded at a cost of £3 million, including the refurbishment of living accommodation and the creation of the Fulmar Club social club. Princess Alexandra opened a new officers mess in July 1965.[24]

Blackburn Buccaneer S.1 of No. 700Z Squadron at RNAS Lossiemouth circa 1961

The Blackburn Buccaneer arrived in March 1961 when No. 700Z Naval Air Squadron was created as an Intensive Flying Trials unit to evaluate the aircraft's weapons, systems and performance. Initially the squadron operated two aircraft, increasing to five by the end of 1961.[25] The first operational Buccaneer squadron (No. 801 Naval Air Squadron) was established on 17 July 1962, followed by No. 809 Naval Air Squadron in January 1963 and No. 800 Naval Air Squadron in March 1964.[21] The Buccaneer was capable of delivering nuclear weapons as well as conventional weapons for anti-shipping warfare, and was typically active in the North Sea area during its service. Buccaneers also embarked on aircraft carriers HMS Victorious, Eagle, Ark Royal and Hermes.[26] On 28 March 1967 Buccaneers from Lossiemouth bombed the shipwrecked supertanker Torrey Canyon off the western coast of Cornwall to make the oil burn in order to avoid an environmental disaster. The mid-1960s saw further investment in facilities at Lossiemouth including new living quarters and messes.[24]

The 1966 Defence White Paper saw the withdrawal of most British military forces stationed East of Suez during the 1970s, reducing the need for aircraft carriers and fixed-wing naval aviation such as the Buccaneer. At the same time, the aircraft had been identified to fulfil a requirement by the RAF for a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft. As a result, No. 736 Naval Air Squadron began training RAF air and ground crews on the Buccaneer in 1969.[24] The late 1960s saw the FAA draw down its activities at Lossiemouth, although Fairey Gannets of No. 849 Naval Air Squadron were transferred from RNAS Brawdy to Lossiemouth on 13 November 1971. The last Buccaneers of No. 809 Naval Air Squadron left on 25 September 1972, leaving only the Gannets and search and rescue helicopters.[24]

Return of the Royal Air Force (1972–1991)[edit]

An Avro Shackleton AEW.2 of No. 8 Squadron.

The station was returned to Royal Air Force control on 28 September 1972, with the first RAF squadron operating from the new RAF Lossiemouth being 'D' Flight, No. 202 Squadron in the helicopter search and rescue role.[18] The Jaguar Conversion Team (designated No. 226 Operational Conversion Unit on 1 October 1974) arrived in May 1973 and was tasked with training the RAF's first SEPECAT Jaguar crews. By late 1974 two front-line Jaguar squadrons (No. 6 Squadron and No. 54 Squadron) were operational.[27]

In August 1973, No. 8 Squadron and their twelve Avro Shackleton AEW.2s, operating in the airborne early warning (AEW) role, moved to Lossiemouth from nearby RAF Kinloss. The Shackleton was an interim solution to the RAF's AEW requirement, which saw the gradual replacement of the Fleet Air Arm's Fairley Gannets, culminating in the disbandment of No. 849 Naval Air Squadron in November 1978.[27] Towards the end of the 1970s, two non-flying defence units took up residence at the station, starting with the arrival in December 1978 of No. 48 Squadron RAF Regiment equipped with Rapier surface-to-air missiles. July 1979 saw the formation of No. 2622 (Highland) Royal Air Force Auxiliary Regiment in the ground defence role.[18] From 1978 to 1980, before moving to RAF Chivenor in Devon, No. 2 Tactical Weapons Unit operated the Hawker Hunter from Lossiemouth.[18]

The Buccaneer made a return to Lossiemouth in the 1980s, this time operated by the RAF and in the maritime strike role. The first aircraft arrived in November 1980 when No. 12 Squadron transferred from RAF Honington in Suffolk, followed by No. 208 Squadron in July 1983. The remainder of the RAF's Buccaneer fleet arrived in October 1984 when No. 237 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), took up residence.[27] Although having the role as the Buccaneer training unit, No. 237 OCU was also assigned to Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in the overland laser designation role in support of the RAF's Jaguars.[28]

Operation Granby[edit]

A Buccaneer S2B in Gulf War colours
A Buccaneer S2B in Gulf War colours
Gulf War Buccaneer nose art.
Gulf War Buccaneer nose art.

During the 1991 Gulf War, personnel from all three Buccaneer squadrons found themselves taking part in Operation Granby, the aircraft's first combat operation.[28] Following a short-notice decision to deploy to the Middle East, the first batch of six aircraft were rushed to readiness in under 72 hours, including the adoption of desert-pink camouflage and additional war-time equipment. Nearly everyone at Lossiemouth was involved in preparation for the detachment, with personnel working non-stop, day and night, to the extent that the Station Commander, Group Captain Jon Ford was reported by colleagues to have hardly slept for three days. The first six aircraft departed from Lossiemouth for Muharraq in Bahrain at 04:00 on 26 January 1991. In the Gulf, twelve Buccaneers operated in the target designation role, and it became common for each attack formation to comprise four Tornados and two Buccaneers; each Buccaneer carrying a single Pave Spike laser designator pod and acting as backup to the other in the event of an equipment malfunction.[28] The Buccaneer force became known as the 'Sky Pirates' in reference to the maritime history of the Buccaneer. Each aircraft had a Jolly Roger flag painted on its port side, alongside nose art featuring female characters. In recognition of their Scottish roots, the Buccaneers were also named after Speyside whiskeys such as Glenfiddich, Glen Elgin and The Macallan.[29] With hostilities ending in late February 1991, the Buccaneers flew 218 missions during the war without loss, designating targets for other aircraft and later also dropping 48 of their own Paveway II laser-guided bombs.[30]

Transition from Shackleton and Buccaneer to Tornado (1991–1999)[edit]

The intended replacement for the ageing Shackleton AEW.2, the British Aerospace Nimrod AEW.3, suffered considerable development difficulties which culminated in the aircraft being cancelled during 1986, in-favour of an off-the-shelf purchase of the Boeing Sentry AEW1. This enabled the last Shackletons to be retired in July 1991 and the transfer of No. 8 Squadron to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire to equip with their new aircraft.[27]

Panavia Tornados landing at RAF Lossiemouth

It had originally been planned for the Buccaneer to remain in service until the end of the 1990s, having been extensively modernised in a process lasting up to 1989; the end of the Cold War stimulated major changes in British defence policy, many aircraft being deemed to be surplus to requirements. In order to allow for the early retirement of the Buccaneer, twenty-six Panavia Tornado GR1s were modified to GR1B standard allow use of the BAe Sea Eagle missile so that the aircraft could take over the RAF's maritime strike capability.[31] The draw-down of the Buccaneer fleet began on 1 October 1991 when No. 237 OCU was disbanded, followed by No. 12 Squadron in September 1993. No. 27 Squadron, then at RAF Marham, disbanded and immediately re-formed at Lossiemouth as No.12 Squadron, operating the Tornado GR1B.[18]

In 1992, No. 237 Field Squadron of the Territorial Army was formed with responsibility for Airfield Damage Repair (ADR). This squadron became part of No. 76 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) of the Royal Engineers, responsible for ADR in the north of England and across Scotland.[18]

The Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit, renamed No. 15 (Reserve) Squadron, arrived from RAF Honington in Suffolk on 1 November 1993.[32] The last Buccaneers were withdrawn in April 1994 when No. 208 Squadron disbanded. No. 617 Squadron then transferred to Lossiemouth from RAF Marham in Norfolk with its Tornado GR1Bs.[33]

No. 48 Squadron RAF Regiment and their Rapiers left Lossiemouth for RAF Honington on 1 July 1996.[34]

No. 15 (Reserve) Squadron increased in size in 1999 after the closure of the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) at RAF Cottesmore.[34] The squadron became the RAF's Tornado GR4 Operational Conversion Unit, training pilots and weapon systems operators before postings to front-line Tornado squadrons at Lossiemouth and RAF Marham. The squadron accepted aircrew straight from advanced flying training at RAF Leeming and RAF Valley and provided refresher courses for experienced aircrew returning to the Tornado GR4 following other tours of duty. The squadron also trained aircrew officers from foreign nations who are posted to the UK on two to three year exchange tours.[35]

21st century (2000 – present)[edit]

A SEPECAT Jaguar T4 of No. 16(R) Squadron landing at Lossiemouth.

In order to concentrate the entire Jaguar fleet in one location, No. 16(R) Squadron with eleven aircraft and around 100 personnel, departed Lossiemouth for RAF Coltishall in Norfolk in July 2000, bringing to an end Lossiemouth's 27-year association with the Jaguar.[36] After the arrival of No. 14 Squadron and its Tornado GR1s from RAF Brüggen in Germany during January 2001, Lossiemouth became the busiest fast-jet station in the RAF.[34]

In May 2001, No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment was re-established to sit alongside No. 2622 Auxiliary Squadron, under the newly formed No. 5 Force Protection Wing Headquarters.[37]

F-35 Lightning II and threat of closure[edit]

The Ministry of Defence announced in November 2005 that Lossiemouth would be the main operating base for the RAF's new F-35 Lightning II fleet, which at the time was expected to enter service in 2013.[38]

The Strategic Defence and Security Review, which was announced by the newly formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in May 2010, cast doubt on whether the F-35 would be based at Lossiemouth and raised fears in the local community that the station could close, with its Tornado squadrons moving to RAF Marham in Norfolk, where engineering work for the aircraft was already based. On 7 November 2010 up to 7,000 people took part in a march and rally in Lossiemouth in support of retaining the RAF station, including Scotland's then First Minister Alex Salmond and other political leaders.[39] With Moray being the area of Scotland which had the most dependence on defence spending, it was feared the closure of RAF Lossiemouth as well as the confirmed closure of nearby RAF Kinloss would lead to economic uncertainty and a significant increase in unemployment.[40] A petition with more than 30,000 signatures was delivered to 10 Downing Street by campaign members on 11 January 2011.[41]

After a significant public campaign to retain the airfield the Ministry of Defence announced on 18 July 2011 that both Lossiemouth and Marham would remain open with Lossiemouth's Tornados moving south to Marham. RAF Leuchars in Fife would close and transfer to the British Army, with the station's Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s and responsibility for Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) North (QRA) relocating to Lossiemouth.[42][43] It was subsequently confirmed by the Ministry of Defence in March 2013 that the F-35 Lighting II would be based at Marham rather than Lossiemouth.[44][45]

Potential use as spaceport[edit]

Commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic announced in July 2006 that they were interested in using Lossiemouth as a spaceport, with the intention to start flights in 2010.[46] Elected representatives for Moray, Angus Robertson MSP and Richard Lochhead MP lent their support to the proposals and held talks with the Scottish and UK Governments to promote the concept.[47] After a two-year review looking at the potential of commercial spaceflight in the UK, the UK Space Agency announced in July 2014 that Lossiemouth was among eight shortlisted sites throughout the UK that could potentially accommodate a spaceport.[48] However, in March 2015, the UK government ruled out Lossiemouth as well as nearby RAF Kinloss as candidates due to opposition from the Ministry of Defence, who cited overriding operational factors.[49] The decision was criticised by local politicians.[50]

RAF Lossiemouth Mountain Rescue Team (MRT)[edit]

With the closure of nearby RAF Kinloss and transfer of the station to the British Army in July 2012, the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) became the RAF Lossiemouth MRT. The team continued to operate from their existing purpose built base at Kinloss Barracks for over two years, until they moved into a 'D' Flight No. 202 Squadron hangar in February 2015.[51][52]

Transition from Tornado to Typhoon[edit]

A Typhoon FGR4 in 6 Squadron markings taking off from runway 23.

As a further consequence of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, No. 14 Squadron disbanded on 1 June 2011, reducing the number of Tornados based at Lossiemouth.[53]

In 2012 new combined mess facilities and accommodation for junior ranks as well as senior non-commission officers (SNCO) was completed, replacing separate buildings constructed in the 1960s, which were subsequently demolished.[54] The new facility was opened by the then station commander Group Captain Ian Gale and the Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Grenville Johnston.[55]

Following the announcement in 2011 that Lossiemouth would remain open, £17 million was spent in 2013 upgrading elements of the airfield in preparation for the arrival of the Typhoon, with a further £70 million set aside for following years. Work included the construction of new Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) facilities in the northern hardened aircraft shelter (HAS) complex, alterations to hangars 1 and 3 and new ground-support IT and communication systems.[56][57] During March 2014, three Typhoons from RAF Leuchars arrived at Lossiemouth to take part in Exercise Moray Venture, a week-long operation to test new facilities ahead of the aircraft's arrival later that year.[58]

In preparation for the phased transfer of Typhoons to Lossiemouth and draw-down of the RAF's Tornado fleet, No.12 Squadron and No.617 Squadron disbanded on 1 April 2014. A fly-past by four Tornados as part of a ceremony to mark the occasion and attended by Prince Andrew, Duke of York was cancelled due to bad weather. The disbandment of the two squadrons left XV(R) Squadron as the only remaining Tornado unit based at Lossiemouth.[59][60]

The No. 2 (AC) Squadron building and flight-line.

The first Typhoon unit, No. 6 Squadron, transferred from RAF Leuchars to Lossiemouth on 20 June 2014. Nine aircraft arrived in formation in the shape of a number 6.[61] No. 1 Squadron, followed on 8 September 2014, at which point the responsibility for Quick Reaction Alert (North) transferred from RAF Leuchars to Lossiemouth.[62]

The third Typhoon squadron based at Lossiemouth, No. 2 (AC) Squadron, arrived in January 2015.[63] In preparation for the squadron's arrival, work commenced in October 2014 to refurbish the southern HAS complex, which was formerly occupied by No.617 Squadron. At a cost of £23 million, the work involved the refurbishment of all nine aircraft shelters, construction of a hard-standing to create a new flight-line capable of accommodating eight aircraft, provision of new flood-lighting and the upgrading of dining facilities. A new headquarters building was constructed on the site of a World War II era K-type hangar (K20) which was demolished in 2010. The building features space for engineering and logistics facilities, a survival equipment section, classroom facilities and office space. The work was completed ahead of schedule in January 2016 and allowed No. 2 (AC) Squadron to operate independently from other squadrons at Lossiemouth.[64]

Tornado GR4 ZA602 F 'MacRoberts Reply' of 15(R) Squadron taxiing at Lossiemouth.

In May 2015 construction began on a new 250m x 16m section of taxiway to provide improved access between the QRA facilities in the northern HAS site and runway 23/05. The new taxiway was constructed by 53 Field Squadron, part of 39 (Air Support) Engineer Regiment of the British Army, based at nearby Kinloss Barracks.[65] The project was completed in September 2015 with the new section now designated as 'taxiway Q'.[66]

In preparation for the planned withdrawal of the Tornado GR4 from RAF service in 2019, No. 15 (Reserve) Squadron disbanded on 31 March 2017. Aircraft and crews were absorbed into front-line squadrons at RAF Marham where refresher training on the Tornado will be carried out when required.[67] To mark the occasion, on 17 March 2017, five Tornados from the squadron carried out a flypast of the former RAF base at Leuchars, the weapons range at RAF Tain and Aberdeen International Airport, before performing a simulated airfield strike on RAF Lossiemouth on-front of base personnel, families and friends. A disbandment parade was held on 31 March 2017, signifying the end of twenty-four years of Tornado operations at Lossiemouth. Over 750 current and former squadron personnel attended the ceremony where the “Sands of Kuwait”, a tune written to commemorate the 1991 Gulf War (the squadron's last battle honour), was played on the bagpipes and a Tornado fly-past took place.[68]

End of search and rescue (SAR) operations[edit]

Two 'D' Flight 202 Squadron Sea Kings outside their hangar at Lossiemouth.

In 2006 the Labour government announced its intentions to privatise the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service in the UK.[69] A ten-year contract worth £1.6 billon was signed in March 2013 with Bristow Helicopters who would run the service from 2015 with new AgustaWestland AW189 and Sikorsky S-92 helicopters. Consequently, SAR helicopter operations in the north-east of Scotland ceased at Lossiemouth and moved to Inverness Airport, located 30 miles to the west.[70] 'D' flight of No. 202 Squadron disbanded on 1 April 2015 with its Westland Sea King HAR3s being placed in storage at RAF Valley, Anglesey, bringing nearly 43 years of search and rescue operations at Lossiemouth to an end. Due to their prominent role, the Sea Kings were a familiar sight in the skies above Scotland, having been involved in several high-profile incidents such as the Piper Alpha disaster and Lockerbie bombing and regularly appearing in local and national media during search and rescue operations.[71]

Prior to the disbandment, a farewell party to be held by 'D' Flight personnel to thank the local community for their support, was cancelled by RAF officials. There was widespread criticism of the decision; however the RAF considered that the event could contravene campaigning rules for the upcoming UK general election, as it could be perceived as being political in nature.[72]

Local charity, Morayvia, successfully secured the purchase of former Lossiemouth Sea King 'XZ592' from the Ministry of Defence in March 2015. It is intended that the aircraft will be retained in Moray and used as an exhibit as part of Morayvia's planned Science and Technology Experience Project at Kinloss. The Sea King joined Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR2 'XV244' which the group also purchased.[73]

Future[edit]

Maritime patrol aircraft announcement[edit]

On 23 November 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced to the British Parliament that the RAF would be purchasing nine new Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.[74] The aircraft and 400 extra personnel are to be based at Lossiemouth and at least three aircraft would be operational by April 2020.[75][76] At the Farnborough Air Show on 11 July 2016 the Ministry of Defence and Boeing confirmed the a deal had been agreed and that they intend to work jointly to build a new £100m P-8A operational support and training base at Lossiemouth, creating more than 100 new jobs.[77][78]

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon procurement has also meant that another £400 million will be invested at RAF Lossiemouth. The money will be used to upgrade the runways and taxiways and provide additional buildings associated with the new aircraft.[79]

Additional front-line Typhoon squadron[edit]

The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced at the Scottish Conservative Conference on 4 March 2016 that Lossiemouth was a preferred option to accommodate an additional Typhoon squadron and 400 personnel.[80] The squadron would be one of two extra Typhoon squadrons for the RAF which were announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.[81] It is expected to be operational from April 2019.[76]

Lossiemouth Development Programme[edit]

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation formally announced the Lossiemouth Development Programme (LDP) on October 2016 through the publication of a prior information procurement notice. The LDP would deliver the buildings and airfield infrastructure to allow the additional Typhoon squadron and new Poseidon aircraft to operate from Lossiemouth, such as the new control tower, Defence Fire and Rescue Service facilities and single and family living accommodation.[76] Professional consultancy firm WYG Plc. have been appointed as programme manager of the LDP.[82]

In February 2017 an environmental impact assessment (EIA) screening opinion for redevelopment work was submitted to Moray Council in its role as the local planning authority. The submission to Moray Council outlined the following proposed works at at the station.

  • Redevelopment of existing buildings and construction of new buildings to accommodate the Poseidon aircraft and additional Typhoon squadron.
    • Construction of new buildings including a new hangar (with dimensions of approximately 165.86m x 103.85m x 19.15m) for Poseidon aircraft, which is to be located near the northern perimeter of the airfield.
    • Refurbishment and/or extension of hangar no.2 and support facilities for the additional Typhoon squadron.
    • Construction of a replacement airfield fire station
    • Construction of new living accommodation (for officers, senior non-commissioned officers, junior ranks and transit accommodation) providing approximately 450 bedrooms across three and four storey high buildings.
    • Construction of support buildings including Typhoon synthetic training facilities and in-flight catering facilities.
    • Demolition of buildings.
  • Construction of a replacement air traffic control (ATC) tower and control room facility, up to 26m high. The new tower is to be sited in a different location to the existing 1940's tower which is 14m high and which is to be demolished.
  • Existing aircraft taxiways are to be resurfaced, widened or re-routed and new aircraft taxiways and aprons are be constructed. There are no proposals to alter the existing runways.

Moray Council determined that the proposed works did not trigger the requirement to go through the EIA process.[83][84]

Facilities[edit]

The southern hardened aircraft shelter complex in 2006.

The RAF Lossiemouth site extends to 580 hectares[85] and accommodates two runways, the main runway (05/23) is 2756m long and the secondary runway (10/28) is 1851m long.[66]

Hangars at Lossiemouth date from the Second World War and comprise three C-type, one J-type, six L-type, four K-type and a Bellman type. The northern hardened aircraft shelter (HAS) complex has nine shelters and QRA facilities and the southern complex has a further nine shelters. Both HAS complexes were constructed in the 1970s.[86]

Former Super Robin hangar now in agricultural use at Silverhills Farm.

The airfield boundary has changed over time and several former Super Robin hangars, dating from the Second World War, still exist out-with current airfield boundary although are no longer in military ues. Examples include one at Silverhills Farm, one at Salterhill Farm and a third within the grounds of Gordounston School. Former airfield dispersals are also still evident in the same vicinity.[87] Hangar K20 which was located beside the southern boundary of the airfield was demolished in 2010. One L-type at the north of the airfield and a Bellman type (hangar 5) were demolished in the 2000s.

During the Second World War the airfield was defended with eight pillboxes, at least six of them Type 27 pillboxes, one rectangular and the other Type 22 or Type 24.[88][7]

The station commander's house, known as The Old Manse.

During the Tornado's tenure at Lossiemouth, the station was home to two Tornado GR4 flight simulators which are operated by Thales UK. BAE Systems operate a Typhoon Simulator Emulated Deployable Cockpit Trainer (EDCT).[89][90] Aviation fuel is supplied to Lossiemouth through a 40.6 mile stretch of the CLH Pipeline System which connects the airfield to a fuel depot in Inverness.[91]

In common with other defence establishments in Scotland and Northern Ireland, CarillionAmey, a joint venture between Carillion and Amey, provide hard facilities management and maintenance at Lossiemouth.[92]

A category B listed building, the Old Manse (formerly the Captain's House or Drainie Manse), acts as the station commander's house and is located close to the entrance to the station. The building dates from 1853 and was home to the first naval captain of the station after the Second World War and therefore became known as the Captain's House.[93][94]

St Aidan's Church is located on the station and provides personnel with spiritual guidance and support.[95]

Structure and operations[edit]

The current RAF Lossiemouth structure comprises:

Three wings support the flying squadrons and the RAF Regiment. The Engineering & Logistics Wing is responsible for maintaining engineering support and supply including weapons and survival equipment on aircraft. It is also responsible for the maintenance and repair of aircraft not currently flying on squadrons and the station support equipment and vehicles.[101]

The Operations Wing plans and controls all flying and major exercises on station and manages all activities that have a direct impact on flying operations. This includes intelligence gathering, weather forecasting and communications systems.[101]

The Base Support Wing manages all support functions for the station’s infrastructure and personnel, such as health and safety, medical centre, non-flying training, accommodation, family support and the deployment of Station personnel.[101]

RAF Lossiemouth is the parent station of Tain Air Weapons Range which is located approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the north west.[102]

A 6 Squadron Typhoon intercepts a Russian Bear aircraft.

Typhoon operations[edit]

The Typhoon FGR4 provides the RAF with a multi-role combat capability which can be deployed on range of operations such as air policing, peace support and high intensity conflict. Lossiemouth Typhoon squadrons have seen active duty against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Shader[103] and have also participated in the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission where they operated from Ämari air base in Estonia.[104]

Quick Reaction Alert[edit]

Lossiemouth’s three Typhoon squadrons are responsible for maintaining the Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) North mission (QRA(I)N). Aircraft and crews are held at a high state of readiness, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in order that they can respond to unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace. QRA missions range from civilian airliners which have stopped responding to air traffic control, to Russian aircraft such as the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack testing NATO air-defences.[105]

51 Squadron patrol the perimeter of Camp Bastion, Afghanistan in 2014.

No. 5 Force Protection Wing[edit]

No. 5 Force Protection Wing HQ provides operational planning and command & control to the two field squadrons attached to the wing, No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment and No. 2622 (Highland) Squadron's (RAuxAF), whose purpose is to protect RAF bases at home and abroad from ground attack.[37]

No. 2622 Squadron consists primarily of RAF Regiment gunners trained in infantry skills, but it also has a limited number of personnel in support duties. The unit’s role is to provide officers and gunners to supplement the regular RAF Regiment, on worldwide operations and exercises. It is the only squadron in the RAF or RAuxAF to have its own Pipes and Drums band, which formed in 1999 and is open to both Service and civilian members. It is also the only operational squadron to have spent its entire existence based at Lossiemouth.[106]

Both squadrons have seen action on Operation Telic in Iraq and Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, with No. 51 Squadron also involved in Operation Shader against ISIS.[107]

Air Training Corps – Highland Wing[edit]

Lossiemouth is home to the Highland Wing of the Air Training Corps. A new Air Cadet Regional Centre was opened in October 2014 which contains the Highland Wing headquarters, activity centre with a flight simulator, radio communications training room, IT Suite and several briefing rooms. Overnight residential accommodation for 48 cadets and 8 adult staff is also provided. The centre was named after and opened by retired Group Captain Phil Dacre.[108]

Squadrons and aircraft[edit]

List of past, present and future flying units and major non-flying units permanently based at Lossiemouth.

Source: Unless otherwise indicated details sourced are from: Hughes, Jim. (1993), Airfield Focus 11: Lossiemouth. Peterborough, GMS Enterprises. ISBN 1 870384 24 5, pp. 22–23

Service Unit Aircraft / Role From Date From Date To To
RAF No. 15 Flight Training School (15 FTS) North American Harvard, Airspeed Oxford, Hawker Hart, Miles Master Formed 1 May 1939 20 April 1940 RAF Middle Wallop
RAF No. 46 Maintenance Unit Various Formed 15 April 1940 15 February 1947 Disbanded
RAF No. 20 Operational Training Unit Vickers Wellington, Avro Anson, Westland Lysander, Miles Martinet Formed 27 May 1940 17 July 1945 Disbanded
RAF No. 57 Squadron Bristol Blenheim RAF Wyton 24 June 1940 13 August 1940 RAF Elgin
RAF No. 21 Squadron Bristol Blenheim RAF Watton 24 June 1940 29 October 1940 RAF Watton
RAF No. 82 Squadron Bristol Blenheim RAF Bodney 18 April 1941 3 May 1941 RAF Bodney
RAF No. 21 Squadron Bristol Blenheim RAF Watton 27 May 1941 14 June 1941 RAF Watton
RAF No. 21 Squadron Bristol Blenheim RAF Watton 7 September 1941 21 September 1941 RAF Watton
RAF No. 111 Operational Training Unit Consolidated Liberator, Handley Page Halifax, Vickers Wellington The Bahamas 27 July 1945 1946 Disbanded
FAA Station Flight Various Formed June 1946 February 1973 Disbanded
FAA No. 766 Naval Air Squadron Fairey Firefly, Hawker Sea Fury, Supermarine Seafire, North American Harvard, Miles Martinet RNAS Rattray 4 August 1946 3 October 1953 RNAS Culdrose
FAA No. 764 Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Sea Fire, Fairey Firefly Re-formed 18 May 1953 23 September 1953 RNAS Yeovilton
FAA No. 804 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk RNAS Lee-on-Solent 30 October 1953 10 May 1955 HMS Eagle (R05)
FAA No. 736 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk, Supermarine Scimitar RNAS Culdrose 4 November 1953 26 March 1965 Disbanded
FAA No. 738 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Fury, Hawker Sea Hawk, De Havilland Sea Venom RNAS Culdrose 9 November 1953 1 January 1964 RNAS Brawdy
FAA No. 802 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk RNAS Lee-on-Solent 23 November 1953 13 September 1956 RNAS Ford
FAA No. 759 Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Sea Fire, Hawker Sea Fury, Gloster Meteor, De Havilland Sea Vampire RNAS Culdrose 28 November 1953 12 October 1954 Disbanded
FAA No. 801 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk Re-formed 14 March 1955 10 October 1956 HMS Centaur (R06)
FAA No. 811 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk Re-formed 16 March 1955 16 May 1956 Disbanded
FAA No. 810 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk Re-formed 4 July 1955 6 August 1956 HMS Bulwark (R08)
FAA No. 804 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk Re-formed 6 February 1956 27 January 1958 HMS Ark Royal (R09)
FAA No. 803 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk Re-formed 14 January 1957 31 March 1958 Disbanded
FAA No. 806 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk Re-formed 14 January 1957 13 April 1959 HMS Eagle (R05)
FAA No. 764 Naval Air Squadron Hawker Sea Hawk, Westland Wyvern, Supermarine Scimitar, Hawker Hunter RNAS Ford 24 June 1957 27 July 1972 Disbanded
FAA No. 803 Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Scimitar Re-formed 3 June 1957 1 October 1966 Disbanded
FAA No. 807 Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Scimitar Re-formed 1 October 1958 15 May 1961 Disbanded
FAA No. 800 Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Scimitar Re-formed 1 July 1959 25 February 1964 Disbanded
FAA No. 804 Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Scimitar Re-formed 1 March 1960 15 September 1961 Disbanded
FAA No. 700Z Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Formed 7 March 1961 15 January 1963 Re-designated 809 NAS
FAA No. 801 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Re-formed 17 July 1962 27 May 1965 Disbanded
FAA No. 809 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Former 700Z NAS 15 January 1963 26 March 1965 Re-designated 736 NAS
FAA No. 800 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Re-formed 18 March 1964 23 February 1972 Disbanded
FAA No. 800B Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Scimitar Formed 9 September 1964 25 May 1965 HMS Eagle (R05)
FAA No. 764B Naval Air Squadron Supermarine Scimitar Formed 26 Match 1965 23 November 1965 Disbanded
FAA No. 700B Naval Air Squadron Buccaneer Formed 9 April 1965 30 September 1965 Disbanded
FAA No. 750 Naval Air Squadron Sea Venom RAF Hal-Far, Malta 23 June 1965 26 September 1972 RNAS Culdrose
FAA No. 801 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Re-formed 14 October 1965 21 July 1970 Disbanded
FAA No. 809 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Re-formed 27 January 1966 5 October 1971 RAF Honington
FAA No. 803 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer Re-formed 3 July 1967 18 December 1969 Disbanded
FAA No. 849 Naval Air Squadron Fairey Gannet RNAS Brawdy 19 November 1970 15 December 1978 Disbanded
FAA No. 849D Naval Air Squadron Fariey Gannet RNAS Brawdy 9 December 1970 26 January 1972 Disbanded
FAA No. 849B Naval Air Squadron Fariey Gannet RAF Luqa, Malta 16 December 1970 15 December 1978 Disbanded
RAF Jaguar Conversion Team SEPECAT Jaguar Formed 30 May 1973 1 October 1974 Re-designated No. 226 OCU
RAF No. 8 Squadron Avro Shackleton AEW2 RAF Kinloss 14 August 1973 1 July 1991 RAF Waddington
RAF No. 54 Squadron SEPECAT Jaguar Re-formed 29 March 1974 15 August 1978 RAF Coltishall
RAF No. 226 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) SEPECAT Jaguar Former Jaguar Conversion Team 1 October 1974 November 1991 Re-designated as No. 16 (Reserve) Sqn
RAF No. 6 Squadron SEPECAT Jaguar Re-formed 2 October 1974 15 November 1974 RAF Coltishall
RAF No. 2 Tactical Weapons Unit Hawker Hunter, Hawker Siddeley Hawk Formed 31 July 1978 1 August 1980 RAF Chivenor
RAF No. 202 Squadron (D Flight) Westland Whirlwind HAR10, Westland Sea King HAR3 RAF Finningley August 1978 1 April 2015 [71] Disbanded
RAF Regt. No. 48 Squadron (RAF Regiment) BAe Dynamics Rapier Anti-Aircraft Missile Re-formed December 1978 1 July 1996 Disbanded
RAuxAF No. 2622 RAuxAF Squadron Airfield Ground Defence Formed July 1979 Present
RAF No. 12 Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer RAF Honington 1 November 1980 1993 Disbanded
RAF No. 208 Squadron Blackburn Buccaneer RAF Honington July 1983 31 March 1994 Disbanded
RAF No. 237 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) Blackburn Buccaneer RAF Honington 18 October 1984 1 October 1991 Disbanded
RAF No. 16 (Reserve) Squadron SEPECAT Jaguar Former 226 OCU November 1991 20 July 2000 [36] RAF Coltishall
TA No. 237 Field Squadron (Territorial Army) Airfield Damage Repair Formed 1992 [18] 21 May 1999 Disbanded
RAF No. 12 Squadron Panavia Tornado GR1B/4 Re-formed 1 October 1993 [18] 1 April 2014 [59] Disbanded
RAF No. 15 (Reserve) Squadron Panavia Tornado GR1/4 Former 45(R) Squadron at RAF Marham 1 November 1993 [32] 31 March 2017 [67] Disbanded
RAF No. 617 Squadron Panavia Tornado GR1B/4 RAF Marham April 1994 [18] 1 April 2014 [59] Disbanded
RAF No. 14 Squadron Panavia Tornado GR4 RAF Brüggen, Germany January 2001 [34] 1 June 2014 [53] Disbanded
RAF Regt. No. 51 Squadron (RAF Regiment) Airfield Ground Defence RAF Honington June 2001 [37] Present
RAF No. 6 Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 RAF Leuchars January 2015 [61] Present
RAF No. 1 Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 RAF Leuchars September 2014 [62] Present
RAF No. 2 Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 Re-formed 12 January 2015 [63] Present
RAF RAF Lossiemouth Mountain Rescue Team Mountain Rescue Team RAF Kinloss February 2015 [51] Present
RAF To be announced (TBC) - Announced March 2016.[80] Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 Expected to be operational by April 2019.
RAF TBC - Announced November 2015.[75] Boeing P-8 Poseidon Expected to be operational by 2020.

Station commanders[edit]

A partial list of Lossiemouth station commanders.[109]

  • Group Captain Percy E Maitland AFC MVO, (1939)[2]
  • Group Captain J F Hobler (1944–1945)
  • Captain F. M. A. Torrens-Spence DSO, DSC, AFC, RN (1958)[110]
  • Captain Douglas G Brown (1965 – 13 September 1967)[111]
  • Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown CBE, DSC, AFC, Hon FRAeS, RN (13 September 1967 – March 1970)[111][112]
  • Group Captain M M J Robinson (29 September 1972 – 8 October 1974)
  • Group Captain Raymond J Offord (8 October 1974 – July 1975)
  • Group Captain J R Walker (July 1975 – 13 February 1976)
  • Group Captain R I Stuart-Paul (13 February 1976 – 1978)
  • Group Captain D E Caldwell (1978 – 8 August 1980)
  • Group Captain R A F Wilson (8 August 1980 – 8 October 1982)
  • Group Captain P D Oulton (8 October 1982 – 30 November 1984)
  • Group Captain K B Latton (30 November 1984 – 1986)
  • Group Captain B E A Pegnall (1988–1990)
  • Group Captain J A F Ford
  • Group Captain Graham A Miller
  • Group Captain A T Hudson
  • Group Captain Chris M Nickols CB CBE, February (2000–2003)
  • Group Captain Stephen J Hillier KCB CBE DFC (2003–2004)
  • Group Captain Russ J Torbet CBE (2004 – 8 December 2005)
  • Group Captain M L Roberts MBE MA MBA RAF (8 December 2005 – October 2007)
  • Group Captain Al Monkman DFC ADC MA BA RAF (October 2007 – 5 October 2009)[113]
  • Group Captain Andy C Hine OBE MA RAF (5 October 2009 – 24 November 2011)[114]
  • Group Captain Ian Gale MBE MA RAF (24 November 2011 – 8 November 2013)[115]
  • Group Captain Mark W J Chappell ADC RAF (8 November 2013 – 27 November 2015)[115]
  • Group Captain Paul A. Godfrey OBE, MA, RAF (November 2015 – present)[116]
  • Group Captain J R E Walls (expected to take role in November 2017)[117]

HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York has been Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Lossiemouth since 1996 and regularly makes formal visits to the station.[118]

Community relations and media[edit]

The 2009 Lossiemouth Raft Race

The RAF and local community of Moray enjoy good relations, as demonstrated in 1992 by the station receiving the Freedom of Moray from the then Moray District Council. The freedom was granted in recognition of the role RAF Lossiemouth has played in the defence of the nation and in particular, the greatly valued contribution which has been made by the station to the day-to-day life of Moray.[119] The strong connections between RAF Lossiemouth and Moray were further strengthened on the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant between Moray Council, other community partners and the RAF in 2012 and again in 2016.[120] The strong cooperation was recognised in November 2016 when the Ministry of Defence awarded Moray Council an award for its supportive attitude towards the armed forces.[121] The RAF contributes significantly to the local community both in terms of economic expenditure, employment and activities in the wider community. In 2010, Highlands and Islands Enterprise identified that RAF Lossiemouth contributed £90.3m to the local economy and supported 3370 jobs in Moray.[122]

The RAF organise the annual charity Lossiemouth Raft Race, which involves both military and civilian teams racing home-made rafts along the River Lossie, adjacent to Lossiemouth's East Beach. The race was established in 1976 and is attended by thousands of onlookers.[123] A Family and Friends Day also takes place where military families and civilians with connections to the station are invited to a small scale air-show, held annually during May.[124] The RAF have also provided photo opportunities for aviation enthusiasts during exercises such as Joint Warrior.[125]

The RAF Lossiemouth station magazine is called the Lossie Lighthouse, in reference to the nearby Covesea Skerries Lighthouse. The magazine is distributed to station personnel, their families and the local community. It is also available online at the RAF Lossiemouth web page.[126]

RAF Lossiemouth has featured in several television and radio documentaries –

  • Shackleton – The End of an Era was a 1984 programme produced for Granada TV examining the history of the Shackleton aircraft and featuring No. 8 Squadron whilst at Lossiemouth.[127]
  • The Old Grey Ladies of Lossiemouth produced by Grampian TV, captured the final months of Shackleton operations in 1990 before their withdrawal from service.[128]
  • Rescue was a thirteen part series which followed the Sea Kings of No. 202 Squadron 'D' Flight for a year and was shown on Grampian TV in 1990.[129]
  • The BBC TV series Perpetual Motion featured No. 8 Squadron and their Shackletons in an episode of the series in January 1992.[130]
  • 'Gloria Hunniford at RAF Lossiemouth' was a BBC Radio 2 programme broadcast in 1993 in which TV and radio presenter Gloria Hunniford talked to personnel from Lossiemouth and accompanied a helicopter crew on an air sea rescue training exercise.[131]
  • JetSet was a six-part series produced by STV in 2006 which followed trainee Tornado GR4 crews as they passed through a six-month operational conversion course with No.15 Squadron. The programme was narrated by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, whose brother Colin McGregor was a Tornado pilot at Lossiemouth prior to his retirement in 2007.[132][133]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Bishop, Chris and Chris Chant (2004). Aircraft Carriers: The World's Greatest Naval Vessels and Their Aircraft. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Zenith Imprint. ISBN 0 76032 005 5
  • Hughes, Jim (1993). Airfield Focus 11: Lossiemouth. Peterborough, GMS Enterprises. ISBN 1 870384 24 5
  • Hughes, Jim (1999). A Steep Turn to the Stars. Peterborough, GMS Enterprises. ISBN 1 870384 71 7
  • Jefford, C.G (ed.). "Seminar – Maritime Operations" Royal Air Force Historical Society, 2005. ISSN 1361-4231
  • Pine, L.G. (1983). A Dictionary of Mottoes. 1st edition. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X
  • Smith, David (1983). Action Stations 7: Military Airfields of Scotland, the North-East and Northern Ireland Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Publishing. ISBN 0-85059-563-0.

External links[edit]