The role of RAF Coningsby in the British response to the Ukraine crisis


As the Russian Foreign Office warns it is preparing to hit targets in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, one of the RAF bases in Lincolnshire is a key part of the UK’s response to the crisis.

RAF Coningsby is based in the East Lindsey district of the county, about half an hour’s drive from Boston, and is one of two Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations in the UK.

This means the base is in a high state of readiness throughout the year to respond to unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace, as well as RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

As part of this mission, RAF Coningsby is home to two combat-ready front line squadrons in the form of 3 Squadron and XI Squadron.

The former was the first frontline RAF squadron to operate the Eurofighter Typhoon and was first established in 1911.

It was moved to Coningsby in 2006 following deployments which included participation in Operation Allied Force in 1999, a major combat operation during the Kosovo War.

Home to nearly 3,000 service personnel, civil servants and contractors, RAF Coningsby also serves as a training station for Typhoon pilots.

On February 17, RAF Coningsby announced that it had sent four additional Typhoon aircraft to Cyprus that week and that they would patrol the skies over Poland and Romania alongside NATO allies.

He said it was part of “the shaping of the international community’s response to Russia”, which began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The deployments mark the latest chapter in the history of RAF Coningsby, which has been at the heart of the UK’s response to major European crises since the Second World War.

The last surviving British “Dambuster”, Squadron Leader George “Johnny” Johnson, at RAF Coningsby.

The base was built just before the 1939-1945 conflict and became the home of the Dambusters during the second half of it.

It was officially opened in 1941 and served as a bomber command post until the early 1960s when it became a fighter post with the arrival of the Phantom, one of the Kingdom’s main combat aircraft. United for much of the second half of the 20th century.

The base has since become the home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which is regularly used to celebrate and commemorate public and military events.

More recently, Typhoons operating from RAF Coningsby have continued to play a major role on the world stage.

The jets were deployed to Estonia in 2019 in support of NATO patrol operations in the region which began after Russia’s crime annexation in 2014.

Matt Peterson has been Group Captain at RAF Coningsby since May 2020, taking command after a career that included being Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff.

One of the regular activities noted by those who live close to the base is night flying, which can take place from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.

The flight takes place during military operations and aircrew training, generally taking place from Monday to Thursday for an average duration of one week.

Those who live close to RAF Coningsby can sign up for a mailing list to be informed of flying activities taking place from the base, while those wishing to watch the aircraft can do so from Dogdyke Road in the village .

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