The Red Arrows have officially begun operations from their new base at RAF Waddington, as the moving process from former home RAF Scampton comes to an end.
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, better known as the Red Arrows, has been preparing for a change of scenery since 2020, when it was announced that former home RAF Scampton would close by the end of 2022.
There were fears that the team would end up moving out of Lincolnshire, but the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Reds would in fact move across to RAF Waddington when Scampton closed.
A closure parade was held at RAF Scampton in September, ahead of the site shutting down and bringing to an end 106 years of history. It was many people’s final chance to witness the Red Arrows at the place they called home from 1983 to 1995, and then again from 2000 to 2022.
Moving from the north of Lincoln to the south of the city doesn’t seem like much for a team of quick jets, but with 24 tonnes of equipment and more than 100 personnel to move over to the new base, it was a long and complex process.
The move is a vital one for Royal Air Force lovers in Lincolnshire, who will still get to see the world famous display team operate from an RAF base in this county – maintaining a strong connection to the local area that spans almost 40 years.
Group Captain Mark Lorriman-Hughes, Station Commander of RAF Waddington, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team to their new home here at RAF Waddington.
“The Red Arrows join a busy station with a thriving community and I am certain they will quickly become an integral part of the wider Waddington team.”
RAF Waddington is already one of the busiest locations within the Royal Air Force, providing the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance – as well as being the Red Arrows’ new home.
At present, the team have “initial operating capability” from RAF Waddington, with future investment planned at the station for the Red Arrows’ hangar and headquarters building – formerly used by No. 8 Squadron and its sentry aircraft fleet.
Wing Commander David Montenegro, Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said the team were “really pleased” to be staying in Lincolnshire, calling RAF Waddington the “home of the Royal Air Force.”
He told The Lincolnite: “Moving house is quite stressful for anyone, but we’ve achieved it this week. This has been the end of two and a half years worth of planning, any good military operation is supported by a good logistics plan and we’ve had some terrific people supporting us.
“When you move from quite a small station, where we had a few hundred personnel, to what is here at RAF Waddington – a really large station of around 3,500 people doing a multitude of different defence tasks – the enabling assets that allow you to fly are different.
“Wherever we may have ended up we would have made it work, but we’ve been based here in Lincolnshire for 39 years out of our 58 year history, so it’s been the majority of the Red Arrows history.
“The most important thing is that it’s the home of the Royal Air Force, so when people come to see us, the Red Arrows, they also come to see the Royal Air Force as a whole, and there are other units that we can integrate into the visit profile that will be even more fascinating.”
Next up on the agenda for the Reds will be preparations for deployment to the Middle East, displaying at the Bahrain International Airshow in November and visiting Egypt for the first time in years.