Royal Air Force Station Habbaniya, more commonly known as RAF Habbaniya, (originally RAF Dhibban) was a Royal Air Force station at Habbaniyah, about west of Baghdad in modern day Iraq, on the banks of the Euphrates near Lake Habbaniyah. It was operational from October 1936 until the 31 May 1959 when the British were finally forced to withdraw following the July 1958 Revolution.
It remained a major Iraqi military airbase.
In the late 1930s Imperial Airways established a staging post on Lake Habbaniya for the flying boat service from the UK to British India using Short Empires. The lake provided the necessary landing area for these aircraft in the middle of the Mesopotamian desert.
Roald Dahl was stationed there in 1940, as described in his book, Going Solo. After WWII, BOAC discontinued the flying boat service and the hotel buildings at the lake were acquired by the RAF and used as a Rest and Recreation Centre.
Among the Units located at Habbaniya at various times were:
According to the Federation of American Scientists the site was used to produce Mustard Gas (a chemical weapon). The site was built in 1983 - 1984. The factory produced the gas for use against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war. The factory produced 60-80 tonnes per year.
In present times, the former British base is used by both the United States Armed Forces and the New Iraqi Army as a forward operating base, and is now known as Camp Habbaniyah. From this outpost, combat operations are run from the outskirts of Fallujah to the outskirts of Ramadi. Since 2006 Camp Habbaniyah has grown into a Regional Training and Regional Support Center as well as the headquarters for the Iraqi Army 1st Division. On going Coalition and Iraqi construction projects have revitalized much of the base.
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