Famous RAF Base Has Illustrious History Dating Back to WWI as One of Oldest Air Bases.
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) has announced the upcoming closure of the famous RAF Scampton air base outside the village of Scampton, Lincolnshire, UK. The base is among the oldest military air facilities in the world, having commenced operations in 1916 as Home Defense Flight Station Brattleby, or Brattleby Cliff to some. Reports in the local Lincolnite news outlet say the base will close by 2022.
RAF Scampton is currently home the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the famous Red Arrows. The world-renowned flight demonstration was first based at RAF Scampton in 1983, but was relocated to other airfields until they returned to Scampton in late 2000 where they reside today.
The closure of RAF Scampton joins the additional closure of RAF Linton-on-Ouse as a cost cutting measure estimated to save the British MoD as much as £3bn (nearly $4 billion U.S. dollars) by 2040 according to a report in the BBC World News. The report went on to say the two bases currently employ a combined total of approximately 900 people. There was no information on how those jobs may be affected by the two base closures.
The pastoral setting of RAF Scampton conjures iconic images of the RAF’s illustrious history. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force as one of the world’s oldest independent military air force. Celebrations and events commemorating the RAF’s history have been taking place all summer in the U.K. and will continue throughout the year.
RAF Scampton was home to the famous 617 Squadron in 1943. Known most famously as “The Dambusters” for their unique and daring raid, “Operation Chastise” on the large industrial dams of Ruhr Valley using early, rudimentary precision bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. The operation to strike the dams has been celebrated in books and film and even commemorated by flyovers of Lancaster bombers today.
In 1956, RAF Scampton underwent major renovation as the Cold War reached its most threatening era. A runway was lengthened to 10,000 feet to accommodate the majestic Avro Vulcan delta-wing heavy bomber made famous during the “Black Buck” air raids on the Falkland Islands from Ascension Island in the Atlantic.
BBC Defense correspondent Jonathan Beale wrote that, “This will not be a popular decision, but defense sources say the base is looking tired and in need of investment. The RAF has assessed money would be better placed on improving its existing core sites.”
While fans of the RAF and British military history will lament the base closure, they also have plenty to celebrate as the country welcomes the arrival of its new F-35B Lightning (in British service, the F-35 is known as the “Lightning”, not the “Lightning II” according the MoD website). Also worthy of celebration is the ongoing testing of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth toward the goal of full F-35 strike capability by the F-35 from the ship in 2020.
Top image: RAF Scampton has most recently been known as the home the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team. (Photo: UK MoD, Crown Copyright)