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RAF Leeming
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
– WMO: 03257
Airport type Military
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
Location Leeming, North Yorkshire
Built 1940
In use 1940–present
Commander Group Captain Simon Reeves RAF
Elevation AMSL 132 ft / 40 m
Coordinates 54°17′33″N 001°32′08″W / 54.2925°N 1.53556°W / 54.2925; -1.53556

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Direction Length Surface
ft m
16/34 7,510 2,289 Asphalt

Royal Air Force Station Leeming or RAF Leeming is a Royal Air Force station located near Leeming, North Yorkshire, England. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is the Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Leeming.



This Stirling, N3641/MG-D, seen being prepared for a flight, was the second Stirling to be delivered to No. 7 Squadron at Leeming and took part in their first raid over Rotterdam on the night of 10–11 February 1941.

The station opened in 1940 as a bomber station during the Second World War. In 1943 the station was assigned to No. 6 Group Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with a sub-station at RAF Skipton-on-Swale. The main aircraft operated were Whitley, Stirling, Halifax and Lancaster bombers.

A detachment of No. 219 Squadron RAF used the airfield between 4 October 1939 and 12 October 1940 when the main section of the squadron was at RAF Catterick flying the Bristol Blenheim IF.[1]


Following the war, the station became a night fighter base, equipped initially with Mosquito and then with Meteor and Javelin aircraft before becoming a Training Command airfield in 1961. The station was then home to No. 3 Flying Training School, equipped with the Jet Provost aircraft.[9] There were also several other units using the airfield during the same period, these were:


Leeming functioned as a training base until 1988 when it became a front line base in the air defence role equipped with Tornado F3s. Initially it hosted Nos 11, 23, and 25(XXV) Squadrons, all flying the F3.

23 Sqn was disbanded on 1 March 1994, and was reformed at RAF Waddington in 1996 flying the Sentry E3D, This left two Tornado squadrons, which were half of the air defence fighter squadrons of the RAF. 11 Squadron was disbanded in October 2005, but it re-formed at RAF Coningsby on 29 March 2007 flying the Eurofighter Typhoon F2. The last Tornado squadron at Leeming (No XXV Squadron) disbanded on 4 April 2008.

The only remaining jets are the BAe Hawks of 100 Squadron which provides an air combat training service as well as support to the Joint Forward Air Control Training Support Unit (JFACTSU).

Currently Leeming is operating as a Forward Operating Base and as a Fast Jet Turnround facility. The remaining air defence bases are RAF Leuchars in Fife, Scotland which has also exchanged its Tornado F3s for Typhoons, and since June 2007 RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire which is home to Typhoon F2s. Coningsby took over from Leeming as England's main air defence base in April 2008 when 3 Sqn became fully operational. Leeming is also home to No 11 Air Experience Flight and Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron, with four Grob Tutor aircraft stationed there.

The future of RAF Leeming following the disbandment of its remaining Tornado squadron was not clear for a period. Under current plans by the UK Ministry of Defence, Air Combat Service Support units of 2 Group and personnel from RAF Boulmer and elsewhere who were destined to move to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire will now be stationed at Leeming due to problems with accommodation at Scampton. As of 2015 this move is underway. It is not clear whether Leeming, which was substantially rebuilt less than twenty years ago, will continue as a flying base. However, the Red Arrows, who are also based at Scampton, are relocating to Waddington, likely by the end of the decade.

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A number of options are believed to be on the table. Leeming is being developed as a communications hub with No 90 Signals Unit being the resident unit. Currently two flying squadrons remain, 100 Squadron and the Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron, and there are no plans to disband or move either of these squadrons.

No. 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) was formed at the station on 1 April 2006 and encompasses most of the non-formed unit personnel. The EAW does not include the flying squadrons or any other formed units. The station commander at RAF Leeming is also the commander of the wing.

The following squadrons used RAF Leeming during the same timespan:

The station's air traffic control unit was named the best in the Royal Air Force in February 2012, winning the Raytheon Falconer Trophy.[10]

Current flying units

Ground Units based at RAF Leeming

  • No. 609 (West Riding) Auxiliary Squadron (Force protection) 1998-
  • 34 Squadron RAF Regiment RAF 2001-
    • 135 Expeditionary Air Wing
    • Base Support Wing
      • Administrative Squadron
      • Plans and Business Squadron
      • Finance Department
    • Forward Support Wing
      • Forward Support Sqn
      • Logistics Sqn
    • Operations Wing
      • Operations Squadron
      • Air Movements Squadron
      • Airfield Support Squadron
    • 90 Signals Unit
      • Force Generation Wing
        • Engineering Support Sqn
        • Operational Evaluation and Conversion Sqn
        • Operations Sqn
      • Tactical Communications Wing
        • 1 Field Communications (FC) Squadrons
        • 2 Field Communications (FC) Squadrons
        • 3 Field Communications (FC) Squadrons
        • 4 Field Communications (FC) Squadrons
        • 5 Information Services (IS) Squadrons
    • 2 Force Protection Wing
    • 10 Field Squadron (Air Support) Royal Engineers (part of 39 Engineer Regiment)



  1. Jefford 1988, p. 72.
  2. Jefford 1988, p. 27.
  3. Jefford 1988, p. 26.
  4. Jefford 1988, p. 54.
  5. Jefford 1988, p. 37.
  6. Jefford 1988, p. 48.
  7. Jefford 1988, p. 90.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Jefford 1988, p. 91.
  9. History of Airfield from RAF Leeming Noise Insulation Grant Scheme survey report
  10. "Leeming's Air Traffic Control Squadron named best in RAF". Ministry of Defence. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 


  • Coupland, Peter. Straight and True: A History of Royal Air Force Leeming. London: Leo Cooper, 1997. ISBN 0-85052-569-1.
  • Jefford, C.G, MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.

External links

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