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RAF Lossiemouth

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg

Motto: Thoir An Aire
Motto: Thoir An Aire
– WMO: 03068
Airport type Military
Operator Royal Air Force
Location Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland
Built 1938
In use Since 1939
Commander Group Captain Ian Gale MBE MBA MA RAF
Elevation AMSL 42 ft / 13 m
Coordinates 57°42′19″N 003°20′21″W / 57.70528°N 3.33917°W / 57.70528; -3.33917Coordinates: 57°42′19″N 003°20′21″W / 57.70528°N 3.33917°W / 57.70528; -3.33917

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Direction Length Surface
ft m
05/23 9,039 2,755 Asphalt
10/28 6,070 1,850 Asphalt

RAF Lossiemouth (IATA: LMO, ICAO: EGQS) is a Royal Air Force station to the west of the town of Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland. It is one of the RAF's biggest bases and is Britain's main base for Tornado GR4s. From 2013, the Northern Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force of Typhoon F2 will relocate to Lossiemouth following the closure of RAF Leuchars. This will leave Lossiemouth as the only operational RAF base in Scotland.


Second World War

Royal Air Force Lossiemouth was built during 1938 and 1939 with No. 15 Flying Training School forming in April 1939. The first aircraft to use Lossiemouth regularly were Oxfords and Harvards but, due to the location and good weather, many different types of aircraft were frequently diverted to the station. In April 1940, the station was handed over to RAF Bomber Command and 20 Operational Training Unit was formed. Although mainly a training unit for bomber crews during the Second World War, some operational raids were launched from Lossiemouth, the most important being 617 "The Dambusters" Squadron's successful attack on the Tirpitz, pride of the German battle fleet, on 12 November 1944.

Cold War

At the end of the hostilities the station became a satellite unit of Milltown in RAF Coastal Command, before being handed over to the Fleet Air Arm in 1946 and becoming RNAS Lossiemouth (HMS Fulmar). The Fleet Air Arm used Lossiemouth as a training station with pilots receiving their basic training here before moving to RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk) for instrument training. The final stage of training, (deck-landing) was practised at Milltown, before students were allowed to land on HMS Theseus in the Moray Firth. On 28 March 1967 Blackburn Buccaneer planes from Lossiemouth bombed the shipwrecked supertanker Torrey Canyon off the western coast of Cornwall to make the oil burn in order to avoid an environmental disaster.

The Fleet Air Arm handed the station back to the Royal Air Force on 28 September 1972 and 'D' Flight, 202 Squadron, the Helicopter Search and Rescue Flight, was the first RAF unit to return. May 1973 saw the arrival of the Jaguar Conversion Team (renamed 226 Operational Conversion Unit on 1 October 1974) and in August 1973, 8 Squadron Avro Shackleton transferred to Lossiemouth from nearby Kinloss. In December 1978, 48 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment arrived to provide short-range defence with their Rapier surface-to-air missiles. In July 1979, 2622 (Highland) Royal Air Force Auxiliary Regiment was formed, tasked with the ground defence of the station. From 1978 to 1981, 2 Tactical Weapons Unit flew Hawker Hunter from Lossiemouth prior to the reopening of RAF Chivenor.

On 1 July 1991, the Shackletons of 8 Squadron retired from service and on 1 October 1991 237 Operational Conversion Unit was disbanded. In 1992 however, another unit was added to the station strength with the formation of 237 Field Squadron of the Territorial Army responsible for Airfield Damage Repair. Also during that year, the important links between RAF Lossiemouth and the District of Moray were further strengthened when the station formally received the Freedom of Moray.

Post Cold War

Panavia Tornados landing at RAF Lossiemouth

Major changes took place in 1993 with the Blackburn Buccaneer anti-shipping squadrons starting to be replaced by the Panavia Tornado. On 1 October, 12(B) Squadron lost its Buccaneers but kept its squadron number-plate when re-equipped with Tornados. On 1 November, the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit, renamed XV(Reserve) Squadron arrived from RAF Honington in Suffolk.

In April 1994, 208 Squadron was disbanded and was replaced by 617 Squadron, which transferred with their Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk. Although 48 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment left Lossiemouth for Honington on 1 July 1996, RAF Lossiemouth continued to be one of the busiest front-line stations in the RAF with 3 Tornado Squadrons, including XV(Reserve) Squadron, 16(Reserve) Squadron (previously 226 OCU) and 'D' Flight, 202 Squadron with their Sea Kings. This line-up continued until July 2000, when the Jaguars left for RAF Coltishall in Norfolk; however, with the increase in size of XV(Reserve) Squadron in 1999 following the closure of the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment at RAF Cottesmore, the arrival of the Tornados of 14 Squadron from RAF Brüggen in January 2001, RAF Lossiemouth has become the busiest fast-jet station in the Royal Air Force. In May 2001, 51 RAF Regiment Squadron was reformed and now sits with 2622 Auxiliary Squadron under the newly formed 5 Force Protection Wing Headquarters at RAF Lossiemouth.

Current structure

The RAF Lossiemouth structure:

Future aircraft

In November 2005, it was announced that Lossiemouth would be the main base for the RAF's fleet of F-35 Lightning IIs (designated the Joint Combat Aircraft by the Ministry of Defence).[1] However, in March 2013 a review concluded that RAF Marham in Norfolk would become the main operating base for the F-35 and that Lossiemouth would instead become home to three squadrons of Typhoons.[2][3] The President of Virgin Galactic, Will Whitehorn stated in an interview with on 29 April 2008 that the company was considering flying from RAF Lossiemouth during the summer months only.[4]


On 18 July 2011, Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced that RAF Leuchars would close, whilst RAF Lossiemouth in Moray would be spared as part of the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review. The recently formed Northern QRA force of Typhoon F2s, which was stood up at Leuchars in March 2011, will now be moved to RAF Lossiemouth in 2013. Leuchars will be converted to a British Army base and with RAF Kinloss set for the same fate, RAF Lossiemouth will be the only operational RAF base in Scotland by the mid-2010s. Work is being done for the move of No. 6 Squadron RAF in n May/ July 2014 and No. 1 Squadron RAF in August/September 2014 [5]

See also



External links

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