RAF Waddington

Crest for RAF Waddington


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.


Portrait image of station commander, Group Captain Tom Burke BSc MA RAF

Group Captain Tom Burke BSc MA RAF

Group Captain Burke took over as Station Commander RAF Waddington in November 2017.

He joined the RAF as a University Cadet in 1991 and spent the first half of his career flying the Tornado in the strike/attack role. He has also served as a flying and weapons instructor on the Hawk training aircraft.

His most recent flying appointment was as an MQ9 squadron commander. Away from the cockpit, he has experience in Defence Safety, teaching at the US Air Force Staff Course, the Air Staff Strategy cell in MOD Main Building and Joint Forces Command Capability Development at Northwood HQ. With operational experience covering Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Balkans he has logged approximately 3,000 military hours and enjoys flying with all of the RAF Waddington based Force Elements.


RAF Waddington, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN5 9NB.

Council: Lincoln County Council

Who's based here

  • 7010 Squadron RAuxAF
  • 7630 Squadron RAuxAF
  • 92 Squadron
  • 2503 Squadron RAuxAF Regiment


  • 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.


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. The Station was put on a care and maintenance basis in 1920 and was enlarged when major RAF expansion began (with many buildings still in use today).

The Station re-opened as a bomber base in March 1937, when it operated Blenheims, Hampdens and Avro Manchesters until December 1941 when the first of the Avro Lancasters entered RAF service with 44 squadron at Waddington. It was with this unit that Squadron Leader John Nettleton earned the Victoria Cross in June 1942 after leading an attack on a German U-boat engine factory.

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

By August 1961, three squadrons of Vulcans were based at the Station and remained there until March 1984 with the type’s planned retirement being postponed because of the Falklands conflict. RAF Waddington provided the Vulcans for the Black Buck raids that bombed Port Stanley.  The Vulcans were hastily modified for air-to-air refuelling duties for these raids.

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 for 20 years.

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

Connect with RAF Waddington

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