Bookmark and Share
18/11/2009

RAF Flies Away From Aldergrove

News Image

The last RAF squadron based in Northern Ireland has left Aldergrove, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Yesterday, 230 'Tiger' Squadron took off in a helicopter diamond formation from Aldergrove for their new base at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.

The flight of the Pumas marked the end of the RAF's 91-year history of flying from Northern Ireland.

Last April, Armed Forces Minister, Bob Ainsworth said that 230 troops based at RAF Aldergrove will be moved to RAF Benson.

"This will establish a coherent Puma force on a single site, enabling the improvement of Puma force capability."

However, he also said that about a third of the existing civilian staff would lose their jobs.

He said that the Ministry of Defence also intended to close Massereene Barracks in Antrim after transferring 38 Engineer Regiment to a new home at RAF Aldergrove in their place.

It is expected that the move will be completed by the end of 2010.

Mr Ainsworth added that the changes will "not impact" on the force's Northern Ireland commitments in support of the civilian authorities and that Aldergrove will "remain a military flying station for the Army Air Corps for the foreseeable future".

He also said that the RAF would continue to use Northern Ireland airspace for training.

Yesterday, the RAF's Wing Commander Rich Maddison said an "important chapter in the RAF's history" had closed.

"This squadron could not have achieved all it has on operations over the past six years without the essential training we have been able to conduct in the province and we shall certainly miss being here," he said.

With the continuous operational deployments it has been required to participate in, Tuesday was the first time all of the squadron personnel had been together for six years.

The formation of Puma aircraft was seen by many people as the squadron flew from Aldergrove across parts of Counties Antrim and Down before heading over the Irish Sea.

In September, the RAF flag was lowered at Aldergrove and replaced by that of the Joint Helicopter Force.

The squadron's departure marks the end of basing at Aldergrove for the RAF and command has passed to the three-service Joint Helicopter Force.

The Royal Air Force has had a base at Aldergrove for the organisation's entire existence - 'to defend the UK and its interests and strengthen international peace and stability' - since the organisation was established on 1 April, 1918.

RAF Aldergrove was also set up in 1918 but was not designated as an operational RAF station until 1925.

Aldergrove's location made it an important station during the Second World War of RAF Coastal Command in the Battle of the Atlantic.

From the base, long-range reconnaissance aircraft were able to patrol the Eastern Atlantic for U-Boats.

From this month however, aircraft from all three services will continue to use facilities and a number of RAF personnel will remain based at Aldergrove.

See: Relocation! Relocation! For RAF Aldergrove

(BMcC/KMcA)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

27 July 2016
Circuit Of Ireland Rally Will Not Take Place Next Year
The Circuit of Ireland rally will not be taking place next year due to "funding uncertainty". Event Director, Bobby Willis, said the decision was the most difficult one he has ever had to make.
13 June 2011
A5 Road Scheme Gets All-Ireland Boost
A high-level all-Ireland body that met last week in Dublin has thrown a lifeline to a controversial cross-border road project. The Plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council, held at Farmleigh House, noted progress on both the delayed A5, 'North West Gateway' scheme and the A8 Belfast to Larne road expansion project.
30 August 2016
Lisburn Firm To Create 14 New Jobs
P2V Systems in Lisburn is to create 14 new jobs following support from Invest Northern Ireland. The firm, which provides IT services to public and private sector businesses, plans to double its workforce by 2018.
30 June 2004
Minister reveals Strategic Energy Framework for NI
Enterprise Minister Barry Gardiner has announced a new Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland. The framework builds on existing achievements and sets the energy agenda, including key priorities and principles, for developments in the energy sector in the coming years.
24 April 2008
Relocation! Relocation! For RAF Aldergrove
Ninety years after they first arrived, RAF personnel are to be relocated away from Northern Ireland - leaving behind just the Army Air Corps. Armed Forces Minister, Bob Ainsworth said that 230 troops based at RAF Aldergrove will be moved to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.
08 May 2008
MoD 'Snub' Over RAF Aldergrove Jobs
A leading Northern Ireland politician has tackled the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) decision to pull all RAF personnel from the Province's only such base. South Antrim MP William McCrea said at Westminster that the decision had been taken in a "cavalier fashion". The DUP representative said the move would leave many people out of work.
19 September 2008
RAF Aldergrove Issue Their 'Stamp Of Approval'
It's 'chocks away' this week as Royal Mail joins forces with the 'youngest' of the armed forces to celebrate the history of Royal Air Force uniforms with six new stamps. On sale now, the RAF Uniforms stamp issue is the second in Royal mail's Military Uniforms series, which examines the history of the uniforms of the UK's armed services.
05 August 2008
Arrests Follow RAF Aldergrove 'Hot Pursuit'
There were amazing scenes in Co Antrim today during what has been described as "a breach of security" at RAF Aldergrove.
24 August 2016
Member Of Armed Forces Arrested Over NI Terrorism-Related Offences
A serving member of the British armed forces has been arrested in England on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in Northern Ireland. The 30-year-old man was detained at an address in Somerset and has been taken to a West Country police station.
26 July 2016
Other News In Brief
SDLP MLA Meets With BoI Reps To Discuss Branch Closures An SDLP MLA has met with representatives from the Bank of Ireland (BoI) to discuss their decision to close a number of branches in Northern Ireland. BoI announced the closure of eight branches last week.
25 July 2016
PM Meets With Foster And McGuinness During Visit to NI
Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May has met with the First Minister and deputy First Minister during her visit to Northern Ireland. Mrs May said her meeting with Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness was in relation to the impact of the Brexit vote.
22 July 2016
Foster And McGuinness To Attend British-Irish Council Meeting
NI's First Minister and deputy First Minister are to attend a meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) in Wales to discuss the implications of Britain leaving the European Union (EU). Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness will travel to Cardiff today, 22 July, to take part in talks with representatives from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
03 May 2011
Woman To Kayak Around Ulster For Charity
A Northern Irish woman is to set off on a solo trip of 1,000 miles around Ireland in a kayak. Elaine Alexander is attempting to raise £10,000 for the Share Holiday Village where she works. The charity based at Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh, is a recreation facility for disabled and non-disabled people.
11 May 2010
Lights, Camera, Action!
A fast-growing lighting and sound business in Northern Ireland has just finished a major theatre installation. Production Services Ireland has supplied and installed the lighting and sound equipment at the new 400-seater Theatre At the Mill in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.
25 September 2009
NAMA Gets Assembly Debate
A controversal move to 'save' the crumbling economy in the Irish Republic is to have an airing in Northern Ireland.