The Station

RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire is one of the RAF’s busiest Stations as the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and the main operating base for airborne intelligence aircraft and systems.

Air ISTAR is the RAF’s eyes and ears in the sky and provides British and NATO military commanders with critical information about activity on the ground, in the air, and at sea.

The Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington provides timely and contextual integrated mission support to front line commanders. 

The Air Battlespace Training Centre also prepares Service Personnel through demanding and immersive training scenarios across land, sea, and air. 

Approximately 3,500 Service personnel, civil servants and contractors work at RAF Waddington.

"For Faith and Freedom"

Lincoln Cathedral rises through the clouds, symbolising where the Station is located in Lincolnshire.


Group Captain Mark Lorriman-Hughes OBE BSC (HONS) MA RAF

Group Captain Mark Lorriman-Hughes commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1998. As a Junior Officer he worked with Permanent Joint Headquarters, 54(F) Squadron, RAF College Cranwell as an Initial Officer Training Flight Commander and Joint Helicopter Force in Kandahar and Bastion, Afghanistan.

On promotion to Squadron Leader in 2007 he was posted to Washington DC as a UK Liaison Officer. Two years later he was posted to the Air Warfare Centre, RAF Waddington.

Promoted to Wing Commander in 2013, Mark supported the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Ministry of Defence in numerous endeavours across the globe, in addition completing an eight-month operational tour embedded within US staffs in the Air Operations Centre.

In July 2019 Mark promoted to Group Captain and was posted once again to Permanent Joint Headquarters as Deputy Chief Operations.  On completion of an extremely busy two and half years delivering operations, which culminated in the evacuation of UK and Allied personnel from Kabul, Mark assumed the role of Station Commander RAF Waddington in January 2022.

Who's based here

Key dates

  • 1916 - RAF Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps training base
  • 1982 - The Vulcan XM607 (the Black Buck) made an 8,000 mile round trip refuelling three times from Victor tankers
  • 1992 - The E-3D was declared operational and has been involved in every major conflict since
  • 2012 - 13 Squadron stood up
  • April 2013 - Remotely Piloted Air Systems fleet undertook concurrent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • November 2013 - The first RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft was delivered
  • May 2021 - Stand up of the ISTAR Air Wing 


RAF Waddington has been almost continuously active since opening as a Royal Flying Corps training base in 1916 teaching hundreds of pilots to fly a wide variety of aircraft. With the run-down of squadrons after the War, the Station was put on a care and maintenance basis in 1920.

The airfield and the old WW1 buildings came back into use when it reopened as a home for No 503 (County of Lincoln) Special Reserve Squadron in November 1926. This Squadron flew a variety of bomber types at Waddington until 1938.

In 1935, Waddington was selected for expansion and a new complex of buildings was built on the NW corner of the airfield. This new technical site opened in March 1937, when the airfield operated Hinds, Blenheims, and from the start of the Second World War, Hampdens and eventually Manchesters until December 1941 when the first of the Avro Lancasters entered RAF service with 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at Waddington. It was with this unit that Squadron Leader John Nettleton earned the Victoria Cross in April 1942 after leading a daylight attack on a German U-boat engine factory in Augsburg.

Post-war Waddington hosted a variety of Lancaster, and Avro Lincoln squadrons, and a squadron of lend lease Washingtons, before preparations began for the arrival of the Vulcan bomber. In June 1955 two Canberra squadrons arrived and the first Vulcans arrived in May 1957.

By August 1961, three squadrons of Vulcans formed the Waddington Wing which remained here until March 1984 with the type’s planned retirement being postponed because of the Falklands conflict. RAF Waddington provided the three Vulcans for the Black Buck raids that bombed Argentine positions at Port Stanley airport. With many RAF tankers supporting the airbridge to the Falklands, six Vulcans were hastily modified for air-to-air refuelling duties to support training back in the UK.

Today, Waddington is one of the RAF’s busiest operational airfields and its squadrons and personnel are involved in supporting operations all around the world. Despite the demanding operational tempo, the Station continues to maintain a high profile and has delivered record-breaking Air Shows until 2014.

The Station celebrated its centenary in 2016. A series of events marked the occasion, including the unveiling of a sculpture depicting some of the the aircraft from its past. The Station also exercises the Freedom of Lincoln alongside RAF Scampton.

Connect with RAF Waddington