RAF Wittering

RAF Wittering

RAF Wittering is a Royal Air Force station near Stamford, Lincolnshire. Although Stamford is the nearest town, the runways of RAF Wittering cross the boundary between Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Wittering's use as a military airfield dates back to 1916. The current airfield was created by the merging of RAF Wittering and nearby RAF Collyweston, by the construction of a 1.7 mile runway between them. The Central Flying School was at Wittering until 1935, when it became a fighter base.

During the cold war RAF Wittering was a vital part of the strategic nuclear deterrent, with a runway long enough for the 'V' bombers (Avro Vulcan, Handley-Page Victor and Vickers Valiant). Until January 1969 two squadrons (100 and 139) of Victor 2 bombers equipped with Blue Steel stand off missiles were part of the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) force of the RAF. Two nuclear armed aircraft were permanently on 15 minutes readiness to take off. They were parked within 100m of the westerly runway threshold. In times of higher tension, four bombers could be stationed beside the runway on the ORP (Operational Readiness Platform). If the aircraft were manned they could all be airborne within 30 seconds, a feat often demonstrated at V force stations across the country. Since the incoming missile warning from RAF Fylingdales BMEWS was only four minutes before impact this ensured if the country came under attack, the bombers would be scrambled and able to retaliate.

Although known as the 'Home of the Harrier', Wittering is currently home only to 20 Sqn, the Operational Conversion Unit for the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron relocated to RAF Cottesmore in the late 1990s. In addition to the resident Engineering, Supply and Administrative Wings, it is also home to 5131 Bomb Disposal (BD) Squadron. This role will continue now that several support units within 85 El Wing, such as 2 MT Squadron, the Mobile Catering Support Unit (MCSU) and 5001 Squadron have moved to Wittering from RAF Stafford. Elements of the Armament Support Unit (ASU) are also returning to RAF Wittering from RAF Marham in Norfolk and the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU) based in Peterborough, continues to be attached to and parented by the Station.

RAF Wittering is also the birth place of the RAF Gliding and Soaring Association's Four Counties Gliding Club, originally set up in March 1955. Following several relocations, the club returned back to Wittering in late 2005.

RAF Wittering is also HQ of the Air Training Corps South East Midlands Wing.

The station commander of RAF Wittering is currently Group Captain Paul Higgins MA BA(Hons) RAF.

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