RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, about 65 miles west north-west of
London, England, United Kingdom, is the largest airbase of the Royal Air Force.
This RAF station is home to Air Transport, Air-to-Air refuelling
and Military Parachuting. The base is home to the RAF's heavy
, the C-17 Globemaster
, and to its Tristar
. It is close to the
Oxfordshire settlements of Brize Norton,Carterton and Witney about 5 miles away.
RAF Brize Norton was opened in 1937 as a training base. By the
1950s Cold War
tension was escalating and
the United States envisaged stationing nuclear bombers in the
United Kingdom as a deterrent to Soviet aggression.
the USAF Strategic Air Command (SAC) was based
Lakenheath, RAF Marham, and RAF Sculthorpe. The increasing tension of the Cold War led to a re-evaluation of these
deployments and by 1953 SAC bombers began to move further west,
behind RAF fighter forces, to Brize Norton, RAF Greenham
Common, RAF Upper Heyford, and RAF
with the other stations it occupied, SAC invested heavily in
extending the runway (6,000 ft to 9,000 ft), taxiways and
dispersals, as well as constructing accommodation and weapons
handling facilities. This work was completed in April 1951.
The first major USAF deployment was that of 21 Convair B-36
Peacemaker bombers in June 1952. B-29s and KB-29s
were based at Brize Norton on temporary duty from December 1952 to
In September 1953, B-47E
bombers deployed to Brize Norton accompanied by KC-97G
boom-equipped tankers and were based there until 1955, when repair
work began on the runways. B-47 Stratojets returned in July 1957.
Later deployments included KC-97
tankers and the first B-58
land in the UK.
Return of RAF
the RAF returned to Brize Norton and both 10 Squadron and 53 Squadron moved from RAF Fairford in May 1967.
RAF, RAAF and USAF C-17s and flight
crews at RAF Brize Norton in June 2007
reformed in 1966
with the Vickers VC-10 C.1
, a RAF
version which was a standard VC-10 with the Super VC-10 wings,
tailplane and engine as well as a strengthened floor. 14 were
produced which were later modified with underwing AAR
refuelling pods to refuel two aircraft
at once. The C.1 type was changed to C.1(K) to reflect this new
tanking capability. On 14 October 2005, 10 Squadron was disbanded,
the aircrew and aircraft were merged with 101 Squadron
Short Belfast C1
heavy lift turboprop
freighter until it was disbanded in 1976.
two squadrons 99 Squadron and
511 Squadron operating the
Bristol Britannia moved from
Both squadrons were disbanded in
115 Squadron moved from
the Hawker Siddeley Andover
in the radar calibration role. The squadron moved out
Benson in 1983.
reformed at Brize
Norton on 1 May 1984, it previously operated the Avro Vulcan
and participated in the Operation Black Buck
missions of the
. 101 Sqn flew converted
civil VC-10s, heavily modified and updated by British Aerospace
for military service
between 1983 and 1993. Of the 39 airline aircraft acquired by the
RAF, 13 were converted, while the remainders were used for spare
parts. These converted VC10s were all 3-point tankers; capable of
refuelling one aircraft (typically another large aircraft) using
the main hose or two smaller aircraft using the underwing pods. The
variants were known as K.2, K.3 and K.4.
Following the Falklands War, the RAF found itself lacking in the
strategic transport capabilities required to sustain the expanded
military presence there. As a result 216 Squadron
was reformed at Brize
Norton in November 1984, initially flying six ex-British Airways
Tristars, followed by three more from Pan-Am
On 23 May 2001 the RAF's first C-17
arrived at Brize Norton, one of
six to be delivered to 99
On 19 September 2005, Brize Norton was closed as part of a major
upgrade project. The runway was completely resurfaced [runway
length: 10007 ft] and new ground lighting and equipment installed
to meet Category II operation standards; the first RAF airfield to
receive this designation. Rotary Hydraulic
Arrestor Gear (RHAG) was also been installed to allow Brize
Norton to become the Military Emergency Diversion Airfield (MEDA)
for the southern UK, as part of the plans to close the current one
Unlike many UK military bases (eg. RAF Fairford, Faslane
Naval Base, RAF Lakenheath, Menwith
Hill) RAF Brize Norton has only been subject to limited
protest by peace demonstrators.
During the second Iraq war four anti-war protesters managed to
access the main runway in an attempt to prevent aircraft taking
off. There was a no flying day however, and no disruptions were
made to any flights.
A peace camp
was held at the base from 21
to 25 April 2005, along with a demonstration in Carterton, where
the base is situated. This demonstration had little impact on the
residents of Caterton, who are generally supportive of the RAF's
On 12 August 2006 the base's access was limited for several hours
by campaigners protesting about British policy in the Middle East.
Again, no disruptions were made to the unit's operational
Brize is already a major airbase for the RAF's transport fleet.
the closure of RAF
Lyneham in 2012 will see the consolidation of all of the
RAF's fixed wing transport assets to Brize, with the transfer of
the entire Hercules force, together
with the entry into service of the Airbus
A400M and the Airbus A330
In order to accomodate this expansion (which will
see the number of aircraft stationed at the airfield increase from
30 to over 70), a major infrastructure redevelopment called
"Project Future Brize" is under way that is overhauling virtually
every element of the airfield's infrastructure, including IT,
engineering, housing and personnel.
- Administrative wing
- Airport of Embarkation Wing
- Depth Support Wing
- Forward Support Wing
- Operations Wing
RAF Brize Norton Flying Club resides at the base providing low cost
flying for MOD personnel and training to PPL level and above.
Initially operating 2 x Cherokee aircraft today the fleet consists
of two Piper Warriors painted in a suido training black ( actually
dark blue) to enhance visibility in line with RAF training aircraft
Former Operational Royal Air Force Units and Aircraft