Base Overview

What is RAF Fairford?
RAF Fairford is the European forward operating location for USAF and NATO contingencies and exercises. While the base has no permanently assigned aircraft it’s mission is to maintain the combat ready location and be ready to receive and support operational units any time. It’s also assigned to NASA as a diversion base for aborted Shuttle launches.

What is RAF Welford?
RAF Welford is a geographically separated unit of RAF Fairford and is rumoured to be the largest munitions store in Europe. It’s one of three weapons storage and maintenance hubs for the European theatre and is approximately 35 miles from RAF Fairford, near the town of Newbury in Berkshire.

What happens at RAF Fairford?
As well as being kept ready as the European forward operating location RAF Fairford sees numerous flying visitors and exercises throughout the year. In the past few years the base has seen B-52s, B-1s, U-2s and MC-130s make visits and is also home to the Royal International Air Tattoo, the largest annual military air show outside of America held each July.

What has happened at RAF Fairford recently?
In the past few years the base has benefited from renewed financial investment by both NATO and the US Government. The runway was re-surfaced along with taxiway and fuel hydrant upgrades, accommodation has and is being upgraded and other ‘quality of life’ improvements have been made. In recent years Fairford has helped other airfield while their runways are re-surfaced.  In 2004 the aircraft from RAF Mildenhall deployed while in 2005 the RAF from nearby RAF Brize Norton re-located while their runway was also worked upon.

RAF Fairford made the news headlines in 2003 when it was home to B-52s operating in Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 1998 when B-1Bs and B-52s took part in operations over Kosovo and again in 1990 when B-52s took part in Operation Desert Storm. There were also U-2s deployed in 1995 as part of operations over the former Yugoslavia.

Where is RAF Fairford?
RAF Fairford is in the south central region of the UK in an area known as the Cotswolds, approximately 100 miles west of the capital London, 40 miles south of Oxford, 15 miles north of Swindon and 5 miles north of Cirencester. The Cotswolds are a hilly region where the local stone has influenced building design over the centuries and provided visitors with picture landscapes to see. RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath, the two larger USAF bases in the UK, are about a 2 and a half hour drive away and RAF Croughton is about an hour’s drive.

Why come to RAF Fairford?

People who’ve been here before have said that deployments to RAF Fairford let you join a small but highly effective team where everyone gets involved in a bit of everything. Its not un-common for people to do more than their designated trade area and wear ‘multiple hats’, taking up opportunities that just wouldn’t be open to them on larger bases.

RAF Fairford has at the most 500 Americans based and living in the area, sufficient to make the local community feel and enjoy your presence but not enough to make them feel over-powered by Americans and lose interest in your residence. You’ll find the local shops and pubs, just minutes walk from the base, welcome you and feel proud to be your hosts.

Seeing England couldn’t be easier once you’re at Fairford. Almost all of the major sights that people think up when they think of England are within a 90 minute drive of the base, many are much closer. Oxford, Stratford, London, Stonehenge and Cambridge are just some of the popular destinations, all of which are a simple drive or train journey away.