Unit History: RAF Machrihanish
RAF Machrihanish is a former Royal Air Force station located three miles (5 km) from the town of Campbeltown at the tip of Kintyre. It is now known as MoD Machrihanish and also incorporates Campbeltown Airport which has commercial flights to Glasgow, operated by Loganair.
Its runway is 3,049 m long. The United States maintained a Navy SEAL commando unit, a 20 person team known as Naval Special Warfare Detachment 1 (The other overseas Naval Special Warfare Detachments, 2 and 3 were based at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and Subic Bay, Philippines) at the base and the Royal Marines occasionally use the facility for training exercises. The civilian airport is located at the opposite end of the base from the hangars, bunkers and the SEAL building.
During the Cold War, Machrihanish was an strategically important North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airfield, with its location giving immediate access to patrol & support naval operation over the North Atlantic. Also as a stopping point for transatlantic military flights.
An answer to the House of Commons in 2004 reveals that the base was handed over by the United States Navy back to Ministry of Defence control on June 30, 1995.
The base is now on what is termed "care and maintenance" — this allows the airfield to be used by civilian airlines, which may conduct scheduled and charter flights from the aerodrome. The MoD are responsible for the upkeep of the aerodrome, which may sometimes be used by military detachment whilst on exercise. During times of conflict or national emergency, the aerodrome could revert to its intended military use. In 2005 the MoD was still reported to be considering reactivating the base.