|File:RAF Ascension Island crest.png|
|IATA: ASI – ICAO: FHAW
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force / Serco Group|
|Location||Georgetown, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha|
|Elevation AMSL||278 ft / 85 m|
|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.
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 to supply and augment extensive amphibious aircraft antisubmarine patrol operations ongoing from the early days of the war, it was known as "Wideawake", 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.
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. 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.
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.
Airlines and destinations
|Hi Fly||London-Gatwick, RAF Brize Norton, RAF Mount Pleasant|
- "Serco Business Review Page 20" (PDF). http://www.investis.com/reports/srp_en_ara_2002/downloads/part6.pdf. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- "Ascension Island - The Wide-Awake News". http://www.les-smith.com/Ascension-Island/WideAwakeNews.htm.
- "Ascension History". mysterra.org. Mysterra Magazine. http://www.mysterra.org/webmag/ascension-island/history.html. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
- "New Falklands’ British Forces commander played key role in UK 2009 floods’ rescue operations". Merco Press. 30 May 2011. http://en.mercopress.com/2011/05/30/new-falklands-british-forces-commander-played-key-role-in-uk-2009-floods-rescue-operations. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Hradecky, Simon (10 January 2013). "Incident: Delta B772 over Atlantic on Jan 9th 2013, engine trouble". Aviation Herald. http://avherald.com/h?article=45bee9df&opt=0. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wideawake Field.|
- RAF Ascension Island
- James Rogers and Luis Simón. The Status and Location of the Military Installations of the Member States of the European Union and Their Potential Role for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Brussels: European Parliament, 2009. 25 pp.
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