Red Arrows move to new Lincolnshire home

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Photographer: Cpl Phil Dye - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire has become the new home of the Red Arrows – maintaining a link with the county spanning almost 40 years.

This week, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team began permanently operating from the station.

It marks a new era for the team, which first performed in 1965 and displays to millions of people each season – aiming to showcase the RAF and represent the United Kingdom.

The Red Arrows’ personnel, aircraft and equipment have relocated from their previous base of RAF Scampton, north of Lincoln, to the new setting south of the city. 

Photographer: Cpl Phil Dye – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

Officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows showcase the excellence of the RAF and represent the United Kingdom both at home and overseas.

Group Captain Mark Lorriman-Hughes, Station Commander of RAF Waddington, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team to their new home here at RAF Waddington.

“The Red Arrows join a busy station with a thriving community and I am certain they will quickly become an integral part of the wider Waddington team.”

Lincolnshire has been home to the Red Arrows for most of the team’s history, having first moved to RAF Scampton in 1983 and with only one brief period away from that airfield – to RAFC Cranwell, also in the county – between 1995 and 2000.

Wing Commander David Montenegro, Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said: “Moving to RAF Waddington is an important development for the Red Arrows and we’re delighted to be maintaining a presence and strong connection with Lincolnshire that stretches back almost 40 years.

“Whenever we fly, we are always thrilled and humbled to see countless people taking pictures and showing interest and the Red Arrows remain extremely grateful for this continued support, so keenly demonstrated by communities across Lincolnshire and aviation enthusiasts far beyond the county.

“Like any move of home, there are many details, routines and learning to be done as we gradually settle into our new base and shape this activity. However, this is going very well, with no impact on the team’s training and performances, and ultimately demonstrating the RAF’s ability to always adapt and innovate.”

With RAF Scampton’s planned closure, RAF Waddington was unveiled as the Red Arrows’ new base two years ago and work has been carried out since then to ensure a smooth transition.

Following the conclusion to the UK display season in September, the majority of the team’s Hawk jets, technical gear and 146-strong personnel began the relocation.

Some 24 tonnes of equipment was moved by road, including 13 20ft-shipping containers, ground support apparatus and two full-size static aircraft – one of which is used for engineering training.

In addition to the Red Arrows’ own regular, reserve, Civil Service team members and contractors, various specialist RAF units handled these logistics, including 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron (2MT), Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron (JARTS) and reserve personnel from 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron.

Wg Cdr Montenegro said: “As a team, we’re excited to have become part of the RAF Waddington family and we’d like to pay tribute to all those involved in the process of helping to plan and relocate our world-class personnel, equipment and aircraft to this important Royal Air Force station over recent months and weeks.”

RAF Waddington is one of the RAF’s busiest locations and, as well as now being home to the Red Arrows, is the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance – known as ISTAR – and is the main operating base for airborne intelligence aircraft and systems.

At the moment, the Red Arrows have what is known as “initial operating capability” at RAF Waddington.

However, future investment at the station includes plans for the team’s hangar and headquarters building, which was previously used by No. 8 Squadron and its Sentry aircraft fleet.

These developments will further enhance these facilities and create a more bespoke environment for the team longer-term, working towards what is termed “full operating capability”.

The Red Arrows are now busy preparing for their next deployment this season, which will be displaying at the Bahrain International Airshow in November as part of a visit to the Gulf region.

The team consists of 11 pilots, nine of whom fly in the display, and more than 100 support personnel and technicians. Each of the pilots has previous fast-jet, operational experience flying the Tornado, Typhoon or Harrier, enabling the RAF to secure the skies and protect the nation and its interests, 365-days a year.

One of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, the Red Arrows has completed over 5,000 displays in 57 countries.

Engineers from the Red Arrows do a formal see off before the jets deploy to a training sortie. Photographer: Cpl Adam Fletcher UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

For more information on the Red Arrows, follow @rafredarrows on Twitter, like the team’s Facebook page at RAF Red Arrows, view pictures on Instagram @rafredarrows or visit www.raf.mod.uk/reds

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