Wattisham Airfield

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Wattisham Airfield
Wattisham Flying Station
Flag of the British Army.svg
Wattisham, Suffolk
Suffolk UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Shown within Suffolk
Coordinates 52°07′37″N000°57′21″E / 52.12694°N 0.95583°E / 52.12694; 0.95583 Coordinates: 52°07′37″N000°57′21″E / 52.12694°N 0.95583°E / 52.12694; 0.95583
TypeArmy Air Corps airfield
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Controlled by British Army's Army Air Corps
Site history
Built1913 (1913)
In use1913-Present
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Airfield information
Identifiers ICAO: EGUW
Elevation87 metres (285 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
05/232,424 metres (7,953 ft)  Asphalt
Sources: World Aero Data [1]
The Suffolk Police helicopter and the East Anglian Air Ambulance at Wattisham. Policewattisham1.jpg
The Suffolk Police helicopter and the East Anglian Air Ambulance at Wattisham.

Wattisham Airfield( ICAO : EGUW) is the biggest centralised operational Army Airfield in the UK, located next to the small village of Wattisham in Suffolk, England. It is home to 3 Regiment Army Air Corps and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps. They are part of the Attack Helicopter Force (AHF) within the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC), whose headquarters is at Army Headquarters. They fly the Westland WAH-64 Apache helicopter.

ICAO airport code four-letter code designating many airports around the world

The ICAOairport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators, are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Wattisham village in United Kingdom

Wattisham is a civil parish near to the town of Stowmarket in Suffolk, England. From the 2011 Census the population of the parish was, according to the ONS, included in the civil parish of Hitcham.


Also located at Wattisham is 7 Aviation Support Battalion REME with a helicopter repair facility with worldwide capability, and 132 Aviation Supply Unit Royal Logistics Corps. The RAF maintains a presence at the airfield with the Brigade Parachute Squadron RAF.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Apart from the military, the police helicopter unit for Suffolk Constabulary also operates from Wattisham as well as the Anglia Gliding Club [2] (which is, in fact, the oldest serving member of Wattisham, having been there as a RAFGSA club when the RAF occupied). Also resident is No 1287 Sqn, Air Training Corps.

Suffolk Constabulary

Suffolk Constabulary is the territorial police force responsible for policing Suffolk in East Anglia, England.

The airfield covers a site of 1,072 acres (434 ha). There are 2,000 troops stationed on site with 600 houses for married personnel between Wattisham, Hadleigh and Ipswich. There are 300 HGV[ clarification needed ]s, 200 Land Rovers, over 40 military helicopters and the Suffolk Police Eurocopter as well as casual access for 2 Air Ambulances.

Hadleigh, Suffolk town in Suffolk, England

Hadleigh is an ancient market town and civil parish in South Suffolk, East Anglia, situated, next to the River Brett, between the larger towns of Sudbury and Ipswich. It had a population of 8,253 at the 2011 census. The headquarters of Babergh District Council were located in the town until 2017.

Ipswich Town and Borough in England

Ipswich is a historic county town in Suffolk, England, located in East Anglia about 66 miles (106 km) north-east of London. The town has been continuously occupied since the Saxon period, and its port has been one of England's most important for the whole of its history. The modern name is derived from the medieval name Gippeswic, likely taken either from an Old Saxon personal name or from an earlier name of the Orwell estuary. It has also been known as Gyppewicus and Yppswyche.

There is a museum [3] on site which tells the history of the airfield and this is open on Sundays during April to October.


Wattisham Airfield has had a long and distinguished history. First opening in April 1939 the airfield was used by the RAF before being lent to the United States Army Air Forces in 1942. After the Second World War Wattisham became one of the UK's front-line air force fighter airfields during the Cold War with aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert on a rotational basis with other UK fighter stations.

United States Army Air Forces aerial warfare branch of the United States army from 1941 to 1947

The United States Army Air Forces, officially known as the Army Air Forces, was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which on 2 March 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. The historiography of the conflict began between 1946 and 1947. The Cold War began to de-escalate after the Revolutions of 1989. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 was the end of the Cold War. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

Wattisham used to house 'B' Flight, 22 Squadron Royal Air Force with its Search & Rescue Sea King helicopters, until the privatisation of SAR provision in 2015, which led to 22 Squadron standing down. The closest SAR base under the new Bristow Helicopters contract is Manston Airport in Kent.[ needs update ]

As of 1 November 2018, there was 852 personnel assigned to 3 and 4 Regiments and 429 to 7 Aviation Support Battalion. [4]

Operational units

Flying and notable non-flying units based at Wattisham Airfield. [5] [6] [7] [8]

British Army

Joint Helicopter Command / Army Air Corps

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (16 Air Assault Brigade)

Royal Engineers (8 Engineer Brigade, 12 (Force Support) Engineer Group)

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  1. Airport information for EGUW at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
  2. Anglia Gliding Club
  3. Wattisham Airfield Museum
  4. Lancaster, Mark (29 November 2018). "Army:Written question - 194616". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  5. "3 Regiment Army Air Corps". The British Army. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  6. "4 Regiment Army Air Corps". The British Army. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  7. "7 Aviation Support Battalion". The British Army. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  8. "An introduction to...20 Works Group Royal Engineers" (PDF). Wittering View. Lance Publishing Ltd.: 18 Spring 2015.