Military Wiki
RAF Ascension

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
Wideawake Airbase/Field

File:RAF Ascension Island crest.png
Lua error in Module:Location_map at line 510: Unable to find the specified location map definition: "Module:Location map/data/Atlantic Ocean" does not exist.Location within the South Atlantic Ocean
Airport type Military
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force / Serco Group[1]
Location Georgetown, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Elevation AMSL 278 ft / 85 m
Coordinates 7°58′10″S 14°23′38″W / 7.96944°S 14.39389°W / -7.96944; -14.39389Coordinates: 7°58′10″S 14°23′38″W / 7.96944°S 14.39389°W / -7.96944; -14.39389
Direction Length Surface
ft m
13/31 10,019 3,054 Asphalt
No Instrument landing system (ILS)

RAF Ascension, more commonly known as RAF Ascension Island, and sometimes known as Wideawake Airfield or Ascension Island Base, is a British Royal Air Force station on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean, near the Equator.


View of part of the station in November 1983

In 1939 Ascension became important as a HF/DF radio station covering trade routes. After the United States entered World War II, an airstrip was built using a US task force[2] to supply and augment extensive amphibious aircraft antisubmarine patrol operations ongoing from the early days of the war, it was known as "Wideawake",[3] after a nearby colony of Sooty Terns (locally called 'Wideawake' birds because of their loud, distinctive call, which would wake people early in the morning).

The first aircraft to land on Ascension Island was a Fairey Swordfish from HMS Archer in 1942. In 1943 the United States Army Air Forces set up Wideawake Airfield, by arrangement with the British government. The airfield was abandoned at the end of the war, and fell into disuse. The Americans returned in 1956, and reopened the airfield in 1957. The runway was lengthened and widened in the mid 1960s to allow for larger aircraft. The U.S. Air Force then, and later NASA established missile tracking facilities based at Cat Hill. Although NASA usage ended in 1967, the Air Force continues its usage with several hundred personnel, mostly contractors.

RAF Ascension Island was re-garrisoned by the RAF in 1982 and used extensively as a staging base during the Falklands War. Operation Black Buck, the long range bombing raid, was carried out from there. The base continues this staging post role for the Falkland Islands, for both the RAF and the United States Air Force.


RAF TriStar refuelling at Ascension during a stop en route to the Falkland Islands.

The station comes under the overall jurisdiction of the Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands, an officer of one-star rank. Since 2011, this has been Brigadier William Aldridge CBE.[4] The RAF base on Ascension Island is run on a day-to-day basis by around seventeen RAF personnel. The flight, including the Ops Officer, consists of five officers and around twelve non-commissioned service personnel.

The RAF presence on Ascension is backed up by United States Air Force personnel, who contribute a similar number of service personnel to ensure the effective running of the station, under the command of Captain Eduard Rodriguez, who is responsible to the RAF Station Commander.

RAF Ascension Island is also the refuelling point for the Ministry of Defence's South Atlantic Air Bridge flights to RAF Mount Pleasant, on the Falkland Islands, from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, in the UK.[citation needed]

Ascension serves as a diversion airport for ETOPS aircraft crossing the Atlantic. In January 2013, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232LR en route from Johannesburg to Atlanta diverted to Ascension as a result of engine problems.[5]

Airlines and destinations[]

Airlines Destinations 
Hi Fly London-Gatwick, RAF Brize Norton, RAF Mount Pleasant

See also[]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links[]

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