RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, north-east Scotland is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations which protect UK airspace. In general terms, RAF Lossiemouth protects the UK's northern airspace, and RAF Coningsby protects the south.
Aircraft and crews are maintained on high alert in order to scramble and intercept unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace.
RAF Lossiemouth personnel and aircraft also support operations worldwide and host numerous national and international exercises.
Group Captain Chris Layden joined the RAF in 1992. After flying training he was posted to XI(F) Sqn at RAF Leeming, where he flew the Tornado F3 on operational deployments enforcing the no-fly zones over southern Iraq.
He converted from the Tornado F3 to the Typhoon in 2010, first on 3(F) Squadron and then on XI(F) Squadron which he would later command. In 2015 he deployed to the Gulf as Chief of Staff (Operations) No 83 Expeditionary Air Group, responsible for approving UK air strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria. Thereafter, he has served in the UK Joint Force Air Component and UK Permanent Joint Headquarters. He began his tenure as the Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth in April 2020.
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RAF Lossiemouth has led a partnership which secured £370k in charitable funding to support Forces children in the region’s schools.
RAF Lossiemouth opened in May 1939, with the first flying unit being 15 Flying Training Squadron. The first Station Commander was Group Captain P E Maitland MVO AFC RAF.
Following the outbreak of World War Two and the increase in tempo, 20 Operational Training Unit became the major unit on base, utilising satellite airfields at Bogs O’Mayne, Milltown and Brackla.
RAF Lossiemouth became a staging location for Anti-Shipping missions, including the famous raid against the German u-boat Tirpitz, involving IX (Bomber) and 617 Squadrons.
In 1946 the Fleet Air Arm took over Lossiemouth and Milltown (HMS Fulmar, or Royal Naval Air Station Lossiemouth). It was during this time that the Station was commanded by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, a man who still holds many aviation world records to this day.
With the Defence Review of 1966 the Navy lost its aircraft carriers and in 1972 handed back the Station to the RAF.
Since the early 1970s the RAF used the Buccaneer, Shackleton, Jaguar and Tornado aircraft, both in training roles and operationally at Lossiemouth.
The Station has been involved in many modern conflicts, including both Gulf conflicts and Afghanistan. In addition, the RAF Regiment is deployed regularly from Lossiemouth.
Between June 2011 and March 2014 14 Squadron, 12 (Bomber) Squadron and 617 Squadron ‘The Dambusters’ were disbanded. The Tornado era ended at RAF Lossiemouth in March 2017 when XV (Reserve) Squadron disbanded.
In 2013/14, 1 (Fighter) Squadron and 6 Squadron relocated to Moray from RAF Leuchars as the Station prepared to become a Typhoon main operating base.
II (Army Co-operation) Squadron ‘stood-up’ and relocated to RAF Lossiemouth in January 2015. D Flight, 202 Squadron, Search And Rescue disbanded in April 2015. The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 announced the future basing of P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth.
From September 2014 RAF Lossiemouth’s primary role has been the provision of Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) North. QRA maintains aircraft and crews on high alert in order to scramble and intercept unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace. This is a duty that has been maintained by the RAF on a 24/7 basis for decades.
In 2019, IX (Bomber) Squadron was re-roled from flying Tornado at RAF Marham, to Typhoon at RAF Lossiemouth. This meant RAF Lossiemouth was home to four front-line Typhoon Squadrons.
With the formation of CXX Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, the Station took delivery of two of its nine P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The Pride of Moray (ZP801) and the City of Elgin (ZP802) touched down at Kinloss Barracks in February and March of 2020 respectively, where they will remain until the comprehensive resurfacing programme is in its final stages towards the end of the year.
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