RAF Spadeadam

Badge for RAF Spadeadam

THE STATION

RAF Spadeadam, located in Cumbria, is the only Electronic Warfare Tactics facility in Europe where aircrews can practise manoeuvres and tactics against a variety of threats and targets that they face in contemporary warfare. 

The facility attracts aircraft from the RAF, Royal Navy, British Army and NATO Forces. The survival of aircrews over Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, and the soldiers on the ground who depend on air support, are affected by the training provided by RAF Spadeadam.

RAF Spadeadam is the largest RAF Station (by land area) covering 9600 acres, and run by a small team of RAF personnel, civil servants and contractors (currently Landmarc) working in partnership.

Commander

Portrait of Wing Commander Tim McAuley MA RAF

Wing Commander Tim McAuley MA RAF

Wing Commander McAuley took command of RAF Spadeadam in August 2017. Before that he was Officer Commanding 92 (Reserve) Squadron in the Air Warfare Centre, having also previously completed a staff tour in Air Capability.

He is a Tornado GR4 Navigator and has served at both RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Marham, completing operational tours with No II (AC) Squardron, 14 (B) Squadron and 12 Squadron.

ADDRESS

RAF Spadeadam, Gilsland, Brampton, Cumbria, CA8 7AT. 

Council: Cumbria County Council

KEY DATES

  • 1976 - RAF Spadeadam opened.
  • 2000 - Following previous partnership with USAF, the base became solely RAF.
  • 2015 - A new Combined Single Living Accommodation Mess was opened.

HISTORY

RAF Spadeadam's first connection with modern defence came in the late 1950s when it was chosen as the site of the test establishment for the 'Blue Streak', Britain's intended Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). Until then, the area had no activity at all and was referred to as the Spadeadam Waste.

The initial site was built by the Ministry of Aviation and was managed on their behalf by Rolls-Royce. It is their name that is most often associated with the early years of the Station.

In 1960 the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile programme was cancelled but the project was immediately replaced by the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), in which Britain joined with France and Germany to provide a European alternative to the American and Russian monopoly on satellite launchers.

In 1972 Britain withdrew from the European Launcher Development Organisation and the consortium withdrew from Spadeadam. At that point the site was handed over to the Proof and Experimental Establishment, for static firing and range activities.

In 1976 Spadeadam became a RAF Station and the location for Western Europe's first full scale Electronic Warfare Tactics Range, in January 1977.

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