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Royal Air Force Station Ascension, more commonly known as RAF Ascension Island, and sometimes known as Ascension Island Base, is a Britishmarker military airbase on Ascension Islandmarker in the Atlantic Oceanmarker, near the Equator.

History

In 1939 Ascension became important as a HF/DF radio station covering trade routes. After the United States entered World War II, an air strip was built using a US task force.

The first aircraft to land on Ascension Island was a Fairey Swordfish from HMS Archer in 1942. In 1943 the United States Army Air Force set up Wideawake Airfield, by arrangement with the British government. The airfield was abandoned at the end of the war, and fell into disuse. The Americans returned in 1956, and reopened the airfield in 1957. The runway was lengthened and widened in the mid 1960s to allow for larger aircraft. USAF then, and later NASAmarker established missile tracking facilities based at Cat Hill. Although NASA usage ended in 1967, USAF continues its usage with several hundred personnel, mostly contractors.

RAF Ascension Island was re-garrissoned by the RAF in 1982 and used extensively as a staging base during the Falklands War. Operation Black Buck, the long range bombing raids, were carried out from there. The base continues this staging post role for the Falkland Islands, for both the RAF and the United States Air Force.

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