THE STATION

RAF Akrotiri is home of the Cyprus Operations Support Unit which provides joint support to British Forces Cyprus and operations in the region to protect the UK's strategic interests.

RAF Akrotiri is an extremely busy Permanent Joint Operating Base that supports ongoing operations in the region as well as support for the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus. It is used as a forward mounting base for overseas operations in the Middle East and for fast jet training. 

RAF Akrotiri’s Griffin helicopters also play an important search and rescue function in collaboration with the Republic of Cyprus Police and National Guard Air Command.

Those living at RAF Akrotiri can apply for passes for guests visiting the Station via the Holiday Visitor Pass Booking Form

The Peninsula is Always Ready

Commander

​Group Captain S J Cloke MA BEng(Hons) RAF

Group Captain Cloke joined the Royal Air Force in 1994 having graduated from Bath University. His flying career commenced at Royal Air Force Lyneham on the Hercules force flying the C130K with 30 Sqn and 47(SF) Sqn. In 2004 he undertook an exchange tour with the United States Air Force as an instructor pilot flying the MC-130H 'Talon II' within their Air Force Special Operations Command. Promoted to Squadron Leader whilst in the United States he returned to the United Kingdom in 2007 to fly the C130J undertaking a flight commander appointment responsible for low-level and tactical training.

He has flown globally on the Hercules including support to operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Sierra Leone in both an air and ground role. Highlights include Operation BARRAS in September 2000 and deploying into the Task Group Headquarters at Bagram in December 2001. During his time in the United States he deployed to Afghanistan and South America.

​Staff appointments commenced as a desk officer in HQ Air Manning responsible for squadron leader multi-engine, rotary and ISTAR aircrew. More latterly he undertook an appointment in the Operations Directorate within the Ministry of Defence, London. The period covered numerous contingencies including more notably disaster relief in the Philippines, evacuations from Libya and the commencement of operations to counter ISIL.  He has attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course from 2012 to 2013.
 

He commanded Number 51 Squadron from November 2015 until July 2018, a period that included the Rivet Joint achieving full operating capability with the RAF. Promoted to Group Captain in August 2018, as DACOS A3 within COS Ops and subsequently 11 Gp, he was responsible for the support, oversight and force generation of all RAF operational activity. This included coordinating the TLBs response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In December 2020 he moved to the Senior Operator role within 1 Gp providing the Operating Duty Holder, AOC 1 Gp, with operator and operational risk to life advice for Combat Air, ISTAR and the Gp's display aircraft. In July 2022, he took command of RAF Akrotiri and the Cyprus Operations Support Unit.

Who's based here

KEY DATES

  • 1955 - 'Unit' established.
  • 1963 - The Princess Mary’s Hospital opened.
  • 1986 - Surprise attack by a group of terrorists with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms - three British dependants were wounded although damage was negligible.
  • 2006 - Over 2,000 UK citizens left Lebanon on 18 to 19 July. The evacuees were taken by boat to a reception centre at RAF Akrotiri.
  • 2015 - Four boats carrying 140 refugees came ashore at RAF Akrotiri marking the first time since the crisis began that people have landed directly on what is considered British sovereign soil.

HISTORY

RAF Akrotiri began on 1 July 1955 when the first 30 personnel posted to the ‘Unit’ established themselves in the flat, dry, rocky scrubland on the windswept Akrotiri Peninsula.

Nicosia Airport was temporarily closed as a result of terrorist activity and the handling of the Island’s civil aviation was diverted to Akrotiri with a tented ‘civil airport reception centre' to match. An RAF Regiment Light Anti-Aircraft Wing was also brought in.

By the end of August 1956, Station strength had reached 260 officers and 2864 other ranks, a massive increase in 12 months. It brought with it 1430 personnel on the daily sick-parade, mainly a result of the over-crowding and insanitary conditions, as construction lagged behind the unforeseen demand for accommodation.

From its rough beginnings with caravans and mud tracks, the Station was laid out, roads made, hangars and some permanent buildings constructed. 

Following the withdrawal from east of Suez, the Station peaked in the 1960s and 1970s; Lightning, Vulcan, Hercules, Argosy, and Canberra aircraft and Whirlwind and Wessex helicopters all operated from RAF Akrotiri as permanently-based squadrons.

By the end of the 1980s only the helicopters of 84 Squadron remained and the Station began its life as a training, forward operating and forward mounting base.

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