RAF Akrotiri

RAF Akrotiri crest, motto is 'Acra Semper Acria'

The Peninsula is Always Ready

THE STATION

RAF Akrotiri is home of the Cyprus Operations Support Unit which provides joint support to British Forces Cyprus and operations in the region to protect the UK's strategic interests.

RAF Akrotiri is an extremely busy Permanent Joint Operating Base that supports ongoing operations in the region as well as support for the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus. It is used as a forward mounting base for overseas operations in the Middle East and for fast jet training. 

RAF Akrotiri’s Griffin helicopters also play an important search and rescue function in collaboration with the Republic of Cyprus Police and National Guard Air Command.

Commander

Portrait of Group Captain Mike J Blackburn MA BSc RAF

Group Captain Mike J Blackburn MA BSc RAF

Group Captain Blackburn joined the RAF in August 1995. On completion of Navigator School he was awarded the Canham Trophy for the best Navigator on his course before being posted to the Nimrod Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF Kinloss in 1998.

Group Captain Blackburn took over command of RAF Akrotiri on 24 June 2016 after a post as the Chief of the Air Staff‘s Liaison Officer to the French Air Force.

ADDRESS

RAF Akrotiri, Akrotiri, BFPO 57, Cyprus.

Postal address: Station Commander, RAF Akrotiri, BFPO 57 (British Forces Post Office).

Who's based here

KEY DATES

  • 1955 - 'Unit' established.
  • 1963 - The Princess Mary’s Hospital opened.
  • 1986 - Surprise attack by a group of terrorists with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms - three British dependants were wounded although damage was negligible.
  • 2006 - Over 2,000 UK citizens left Lebanon on 18 to 19 July. The evacuees were taken by boat to a reception centre at RAF Akrotiri.
  • 2015 - Four boats carrying 140 refugees came ashore at RAF Akrotiri marking the first time since the crisis began that people have landed directly on what is considered British sovereign soil.

HISTORY

RAF Akrotiri began on 1st July 1955 when the first 30 personnel posted to the ‘Unit’ established themselves in the flat, dry, rocky scrubland on the windswept Akrotiri Peninsula.

Nicosia Airport was temporarily closed as a result of terrorist activity and the handling of the Island’s civil aviation was diverted to Akrotiri with a tented ‘civil airport reception centre' to match. An RAF Regiment Light Anti-Aircraft Wing was also brought in.

By the end of August 1956, Station strength had reached 260 officers and 2864 other ranks, a massive increase in 12 months. It brought with it 1430 personnel on the daily sick-parade, mainly a result of the over-crowding and insanitary conditions, as construction lagged behind the unforeseen demand for accommodation.

From its rough beginnings with caravans and mud tracks, the Station was laid out, roads made, hangars and some permanent buildings constructed. 

Following the withdrawal from east of Suez, the Station peaked in the 60s and 70s; Lightning, Vulcan, Hercules, Argosy, and Canberra aircraft and Whirlwind and Wessex helicopters all operated from RAF Akrotiri as permanently-based squadrons.

By the end of the 80s only the helicopters of 84 Squadron remained and the Station began its life as a training, forward operating and forward mounting base.

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