RAF Gibraltar is located on the northern end of the Gibraltar peninsula, situated between the Spanish border and the Rock of Gibraltar itself. The airfield has a 6000 ft runway, running from east to west, with about a third of it projecting outwards into the sea to the west. It is unusual in having a four lane public road (the main road into Spain) bisecting the runway. With prohibited Spanish airspace immediately to the north of the airfield and the 1360 ft high rock only a quarter of a mile to the south it poses a unique challenge to pilots of visiting aircraft. Indeed, under certain conditions, linked to wind speed and direction, aircraft are prohibited from landing due to severe turbulence generated around the Rock.
RAF Gibraltar’s core role is to maintain the airfield as an operational airhead and to provide administrative support for all RAF personnel on the Rock. The airfield is maintained as a forward operating base for UK aircraft and its unique position at the western end of the Mediterranean makes it an ideal staging post for aircraft on operations and a supporting base for major NATO exercises in the Mediterranean and Iberian peninsular areas.
Historically RAF Gibraltar has been a maritime airfield, associated with the Shackleton and Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft. Nimrods still visit the airfield on a regular basis, as do maritime patrol aircraft from other NATO countries. Other regular visitors include Falcon and Hawk aircraft, which work with RN ships in the local Gibraltar exercise areas and NATO aircraft including C130, P3 and C5 Starlifters.
As well as being a military airfield, run by the Royal Air Force on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, Gibraltar is also an international airport servicing scheduled civilian flights to and from the UK.