RAF Timeline 1960 -1969

Back to 1950-59


1 Jan 1960 - No. 38 Group is reformed as a specialised tactical airlift group within RAF Transport Command.

16 Feb 1960 - In a change to UK defence policy, the government decides that instead of a ground-based nuclear deterrent, air- and submarine-launched missiles will now be used. This decision was further amended on 13 Apr, when the UK abandoned development of submarine-launched missiles and opted for V-bombers armed with the new American Skybolt missile.

25-26 May 1960 - A Valiant of No. 214 Sqn makes the first non-stop UK - Singapore flight. Covering a distance of 8,100 miles (13,053 km) in 15 hr 35 min, the aircraft was refuelled over Cyprus and Karachi, Pakistan.

56 Squadron Lightnings Jul 1960 - The Lightning twin-engined, single-seat fighter enters RAF service with No. 74 Sqn at Coltishall.

31 Jul 1960 - Operation Firedog finally comes to an end. Aircraft involved flew a total distance of some 47,500,000 miles (76,452,599 km) in 375,849 sorties, amassing a total flying time of 361,422 flying hours.

Sep 1960 - During the Farnborough Airshow, scrambles by each of the RAF's V-bombers demonstrate an average of 1 min 47 sec to get four aircraft airborne.


Mar-Apr 1961

Aircraft of Transport Command and Air Forces Middle East airdrop supplies to famine- stricken people in Kenya.

1 May 1961 - Elements of Fighter Command, including fighter and missile squadrons as well as control and Vulcans reporting centres, are assigned to NATO under the command of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). Air Officer Commanding Fighter Command, Air Marshal Sir Hector McGregor, assumes the additional title of Commander UK Air Defence Region.

20-21 Jun 1961 - The first non-stop UK - Australia flight is made by a Vulcan of No. 617 Sqn. The flight involved three aerial refuellings (over Cyprus, Karachi and Singapore) and covered the 11,500 miles (18,510 km) in 20 hr 3 min - an average speed of 573 mph (922 km/h).


1 Feb 1962 V-force started its Quick Reaction Alert readiness commitment of one loaded weapon system and crew per operational squadron normally at 15 minutes readiness - an arrangement continued until 30 June 1969 and the basis of Bomber Command at the time.

Last Mosquito 5 Aug 1962 - The UK Government signs the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

Nov 1962 - The last Mosquito in RAF service is retired from CAACU.


February 1963

Vulcans of No. 617 Sqn, RAF Scampton, are equipped with the Blue Steel stand-off air-to- surface nuclear missile following cancellation of the American Skybolt project.


Jan 1964 - The Ballistic Missile Entry Warning System radar site at Fylingdales in Yorkshire becomes operational.

1 Apr 1964 - A unified Ministry of Defence is created; the Air Ministry is renamed the Air Force Department, and the Air Council becomes the Air Force Board.

27 Sep 1964 - First flight of the TSR2 supersonic strike/reconnaissance aircraft designed as a replacement for the Canberra. This highly advanced project was cancelled by the Labour government in Apr 1965 as part of a massive defence cuts programme citing rising costs as the main reason for termination.


7 Apr 1966 - The VC10 C1 transport aircraft enters service with No. 10 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton.


8 Sep 1967 - First flight of the prototype Westland Sea King helicopter at Avonmouth.

8 Nov 1967 - In its largest transport operation since the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, 50 RAF transport aircraft are used in the withdrawal of troops from Aden in Yemen. An evacuation of families from the region had taken place five months earlier.


1 Apr 1968 - RAF Odiham is the location of the 50th Anniversary of the RAF celebrations.

30 Apr 1968 - RAF Bomber and Fighter Commands are merged to create RAF Strike Command, located at the former Bomber Command HQ at High Wycombe.

14 Jun 1968 - In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the RAF, the Queen carries out a Royal Review of the Service at Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

Phantoms 23 Aug 1968 - No. 228 OCU at RAF Coningsby receives the first Phantom FGR2 aircraft destined for RAF service, this unit held the reserve Squadron No of 64 Sqn. The Phantom was ordered in place of the cancelled purchase of 50 American F-111 strike/reconnaissance aircraft, themselves ordered as a result of cancelling the TSR2 project in 1965.

28 Nov 1968 - Coastal Command merges with Strike Command to form No. 18 (Maritime) Group.


1 Apr 1969 - The worlds first vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, the Harrier, enters service with No. 233 OCU, RAF Wittering.

Harrier 4-11 May 1969 - A Harrier of No. 1 Sqn wins the Daily Mail London - New York transatlantic air race. The flight involves 4 air-to-air refuellings and took 6 hr 11 min 57 sec.

30 Jun 1969 - Responsibility for Britain's strategic nuclear deterrent passes to the Polaris submarines of the Royal Navy.

1 Sep 1969 - Withdrawal from Libya.

2 Oct 1969 - The first Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft is delivered to No. 236 OCU at RAF St Mawgan, Cornwall.

Vulcan with bluesteel 28 Mar 1969 - The three partner countries involved in the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) project, Britain, Germany and Italy, announce the formation of Panavia GmbH to manage the project.

October 1969 - The Buccaneer enters service with No. 12 Sqn at RAF Honington in the Maritime Strike role.

Forward to 1970-79

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