Base Overview

What is RAF Fairford?
RAF Fairford is the European forward operating location for USAF
and NATO contingencies and exercises. While the base has no
permanently assigned aircraft it’s mission is to maintain the
combat ready location and be ready to receive and support
operational units any time. It’s also assigned to NASA as a
diversion base for aborted Shuttle launches.

What is RAF Welford?
RAF Welford is a geographically separated unit of RAF Fairford
and is rumoured to be the largest munitions store in Europe.
It’s one of three weapons storage and maintenance hubs for the
European theatre and is approximately 35 miles from RAF
Fairford, near the town of Newbury in Berkshire.


What happens at RAF Fairford?
As well as being kept ready as the European forward operating
location RAF Fairford sees numerous flying visitors and
exercises throughout the year. In the past few years the base
has seen B-52s, B-1s, U-2s and MC-130s make visits and is also
home to the Royal International Air Tattoo, the largest annual
military air show outside of America held each July.

What has happened at RAF Fairford recently?
In the past few years the base has benefited from renewed
financial investment by both NATO and the US Government. The
runway was re-surfaced along with taxiway and fuel hydrant
upgrades, accommodation has and is being upgraded and other
‘quality of life’ improvements have been made. In recent years
Fairford has helped other airfield while their runways are
re-surfaced.  In 2004 the aircraft from RAF Mildenhall
deployed while in 2005 the RAF from nearby RAF Brize Norton
re-located while their runway was also worked upon. 

RAF Fairford made
the news headlines in 2003 when it was home to B-52s operating
in Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 1998 when B-1Bs and B-52s took
part in operations over Kosovo and again in 1990 when B-52s took
part in Operation Desert Storm. There were also U-2s deployed in
1995 as part of operations over the former Yugoslavia.


Where is RAF Fairford?
RAF Fairford is in the south central region of the UK in an area
known as the Cotswolds, approximately 100 miles west of the
capital London, 40 miles south of Oxford, 15 miles north of
Swindon and 5 miles north of Cirencester. The Cotswolds are a
hilly region where the local stone has influenced building
design over the centuries and provided visitors with picture
landscapes to see. RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath, the two larger
USAF bases in the UK, are about a 2 and a half hour drive away
and RAF Croughton is about an hour’s drive.

Why come to RAF Fairford?
People who’ve been here before have said that deployments to RAF
Fairford let you join a small but highly effective team where
everyone gets involved in a bit of everything. Its not un-common
for people to do more than their designated trade area and wear
‘multiple hats’, taking up opportunities that just wouldn’t be
open to them on larger bases.

RAF Fairford has at the most 500 Americans based and living in
the area, sufficient to make the local community feel and enjoy
your presence but not enough to make them feel over-powered by
Americans and lose interest in your residence. You’ll find the
local shops and pubs, just minutes walk from the base, welcome
you and feel proud to be your hosts.

Seeing England couldn’t be easier once you’re at Fairford.
Almost all of the major sights that people think up when they
think of England are within a 90 minute drive of the base, many
are much closer. Oxford, Stratford, London, Stonehenge and
Cambridge are just some of the popular destinations, all of
which are a simple drive or train journey away.


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