Unit History: RAF Leeming
RAF Leeming is a Royal Air Force station in North Yorkshire, UK.
It opened in 1940 as a bomber station during the Second World War. In 1943 the station was assigned to No. 6 Group Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with a sub-station at RAF Skipton-on-Swale. The main aircraft operated were Whitley, Stirling, Halifax and Lancaster bombers. Following the war, the station became a night fighter base, equipped initially with Mosquito and then with Meteor and Javelin aircraft before becoming a Training Command airfield in 1961. The Station was then home to No. 3 Flying Training School, equipped with the Jet Provost aircraft. It functioned as a training base until 1988 when it reopened as a frontline air defence base armed with Tornado F3s. Initially it hosted Nos 11, 23, and 25(XXV) Squadrons, all flying the F3.
23 Sqn was disbanded on 1 March 1994, and was reformed at RAF Waddington in 1996 flying the Sentry E3D, This left two Tornado squadrons, which were half of the fighter squadrons of the RAF. 11 Squadron was disbanded in October 2005, it was redeployed to RAF Coningsby on 29 March 2007 flying the Eurofighter Typhoon F2. The last Tornado squadron at Leeming disbanded (No XXV Squadron) on April 4 2008.
The only remaining jets are the BAe Hawks of 100 Squadron which provides an air combat training service and a navaigator training unit as well as support to the Joint Forward Air Control Unit (JFACTSU).
Currently Leeming is operating as a Forward Operating Base and as a Fast Jet Turnround facility, the others being RAF Leuchars in Fife, Scotland which is also equipped with F3s and since June 2007 RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire which is home to Typhoon F2s. Coningsby took over from Leeming as England’s main air defence base in April 2008 when 3 Sqn became fully operational. Leeming is also home to the Air Training Corps No 11 Air Experience Flight /Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron, with four Grob Tutor aircraft stationed there.
The future of RAF Leeming following the disbandment of its remaining Tornado squadron was not clear for a period. Under current plans by the UK Ministry of Defence, Air Combat Service Support units of 2 Group and personnel from RAF Boulmer and elsewhere who were destined to move to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire will now be stationed at Leeming due to problems with accommodation at Scampton. As of 2008 this move is underway.
It is not clear if Leeming, which was substantially rebuilt less than twenty years ago, will continue as a flying base. However, the Red Arrows, who are also based at Scampton, are relocating to Waddington, likely by the end of the decade. A number of options are believed to be on the table. Leeming is being developed as a communications hub with No 90 Signals Unit being the resident unit. Currently two flying squadrons remain, 100 Squadron and the Northumbria University Air Squadron, and there are no plans to disband or move either of these squadrons.
No 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) was formed at the station on 1 April 2006 and encompasses most of the non-formed unit personnel. The EAW does not include the flying squadrons or any other formed units. The station commander at RAF Leeming is also the commander of the wing.