RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire is one of the RAF’s busiest Stations as the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and the main operating base for airborne intelligence aircraft and systems like the E-3D Sentry AEW1.

Air ISTAR is the RAF’s eyes and ears in the sky and provides British and NATO military commanders with critical information about activity on the ground, in the air, and at sea.

The Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington provides timely and contextual integrated mission support to front line commanders. 

The Air Battlespace Training Centre also prepares Service Personnel through demanding and immersive training scenarios across land, sea, and air. 

Approximately 3,500 Service personnel, civil servants and contractors work at RAF Waddington.


Group Captain Steve Kilvington BSc (Hons) MA RAF

Group Captain Kilvington was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1996. Following Officer and Navigator training he was posted to the Tornado F3 Force where he completed several operational tours in the Middle East and the Falklands. In Air Warfare Centre roles, he was the Trials Programme Manager for the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit and later commanded 92(R) Squadron (Tactics and Training) between 2013 and 2014.

Between 2014 and 2016 he commanded Number 8 Squadron, the UK’s E-3D Sentry Squadron based at RAF Waddington.

Group Captain Kilvington took Command of RAF Waddington in January 2020.


RAF Waddington, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN5 9NB.

Council: Lincoln County Council

Who's based here

  • 2503 Squadron RAuxAF Regiment
  • 5 RAF Police (ISTAR) Squadron
  • 8 Force Protection Wing
  • The Defence Warning and Reporting Flight


  • 1916 - RAF Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps training base
  • 1982 - The Vulcan XM607 (the Black Buck) made an 8,000 mile round trip refuelling three times from Victor tankers
  • 1992 - The E-3D was declared operational and has been involved in every major conflict since
  • 2012 - 13 Squadron stood up
  • April 2013 - Remotely Piloted Air Systems fleet undertook concurrent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • November 2013 - The first RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft was delivered
  • May 2021 - Stand up of the ISTAR Air Wing 


RAF Waddington has been almost continuously active since opening as a Royal Flying Corps training base in 1916 teaching hundreds of pilots to fly a wide variety of aircraft. With the run-down of squadrons after the War, the Station was put on a care and maintenance basis in 1920.

The airfield and the old WW1 buildings came back into use when it reopened as a home for No 503 (County of Lincoln) Special Reserve Squadron in November 1926. This Squadron flew a variety of bomber types at Waddington until 1938.

In 1935, Waddington was selected for expansion and a new complex of buildings was built on the NW corner of the airfield. This new technical site opened in March 1937, when the airfield operated Hinds, Blenheims, and from the start of the Second World War, Hampdens and eventually Manchesters until December 1941 when the first of the Avro Lancasters entered RAF service with 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at Waddington. It was with this unit that Squadron Leader John Nettleton earned the Victoria Cross in April 1942 after leading a daylight attack on a German U-boat engine factory in Augsburg.

Post-war Waddington hosted a variety of Lancaster, and Avro Lincoln squadrons, and a squadron of lend lease Washingtons, before preparations began for the arrival of the Vulcan bomber. In June 1955 two Canberra squadrons arrived and the first Vulcans arrived in May 1957.

By August 1961, three squadrons of Vulcans formed the Waddington Wing which remained here until March 1984 with the type’s planned retirement being postponed because of the Falklands conflict. RAF Waddington provided the three Vulcans for the Black Buck raids that bombed Argentine positions at Port Stanley airport. With many RAF tankers supporting the airbridge to the Falklands, six Vulcans were hastily modified for air-to-air refuelling duties to support training back in the UK.

Today, Waddington is one of the RAF’s busiest operational airfields and its squadrons and personnel are involved in supporting operations all around the world. Despite the demanding operational

tempo, the Station continues to maintain a high profile and has delivered record-breaking Air Shows until 2014.

The Station celebrated its centenary in 2016. A series of events marked the occasion, including the unveiling of a sculpture depicting some of the the aircraft from its past. The Station also exercises the Freedom of Lincoln alongside RAF Scampton.

Connect with RAF Waddington