June – Construction work finally got underway on 26th June, the most recent delay having been caused by the need to rehouse a colony of Great Crested Newts! The £60m NATO contract, awarded to Alfred McAlpine, involves rebuilding the runway, construction of additional parking areas, tripling of fuel storage capacity and upgrading electrical systems (North American Military Aviation Review July 2000)
June – The runway at Fairford reopened on June 11th when N94, an FAA Bae 125 Flight Check aircraft arrived for a three day visit. During this time it calibrated the ILS and Tacan navigation equipment.
July – The runway at Fairford was officially re-opened on July 12 by Gen. John Jumper commander of Air Combat Command from Langley AFB. The General had started the project plans for Fairford in 1998 when he was in charge of USAFE. The day had started at 07.28 when B-1B 86-0104/MO (34 BS) landed after a flight from its home base. Just over an hour later it was joined by a KC-135 from Mildenhall. These formed the ground display by the west hangar. Other visitors were a C-21A 76AS and C-20H 89AW.
Sept – 5th to 26th Fairford was involved in Exercise ‘Cave Jackal’
Feb – Arriving on Feb 16 and departing Feb 18 was U-2S 80-1079/BB with the usual 9RW red tail marking. Call sign Deuce 04 (Possibly testing the new runway and facilities for future U-2 arrivals?)
March – 7th March saw the arrival of B-52H 61-0020/LA from the 2nd BW at Barksdale. After refuelling over the NE USA it had flown to Norway where Mines were dropped as part of a NATO Exercise off the Norwegian coast. The visit to Fairford was to give the crew, and other Barksdale personnel, a chance to get to know the refurbished base. The Buff departed as planned on the 11th March but after getting airborne the wheels failed to retract due to a Hydraulic problem. Because the aircraft cannot dump fuel it was forced to fly around SW England and Wales to burn off fuel before making a safe landing back at Fairford. It finally made it back to the States on the 15th.
No sooner had the Buff departed than the 352SOG moved in from Mildenhall for a two week TacEval. Aircraft and Helicopters operated mainly from the NE loop with odd forays into the SW corner to collect parachutists. Paradrops were carried out over South Cerney at both high and low levels by the MC-130Hs of the 7 SOS.
May – The base was formally reopened on May 21 in a ‘Declaration of Airfield Readiness’ ceremony. Aircraft in a small static display were B-1B 86-0121/EL from 28BW at Ellsworth AFB South Dakota and a KC-135R 62-3551/D from the 100 ARW at Mildenhall. A fly past in the afternoon consisted of – KC-135R 100ARW, RAF VC-10 and 2x F-15E 494FS. Also bringing in VIP’s was a C-21A HQ USECOM and Squirrel HT.1 DHFS Shawbury.
Three MH-6s operated out of Fairford from 7/5 until 14/5.
The painting of the KC-135, which for many years has adorned the Hangar Wall at Fairford, is no more. It has vanished under a coat of new paint and will not reappear.
Aug – A US Special Forces Exercise ‘Pegasus Ranger’ commenced from Aug 5th until Aug 16th. Comprised of 7th SOS, 67th SOS and 21st SOS.
August also saw the arrival of two U-2S visitors – 80-1099 and 68-10331.
Sep – Arriving on the 14th were B-1Bs 85-0084/EL and 86-0102/EL. ‘084 departed on 17th as ‘Bone 01’ on its way to Waterkloof in South Africa here it was involved in an exercise which included F-15s from Lakenheath and a KC-135R from Mildenhall. Bone 01 returned to Fairford from South Africa in the early hours of the 24th. It’s partner ‘102, ‘Bone 02’, remained at Fairford and was noted on the Garvie Bombing Range in Northern Scotland on the 20th carrying out several low level high speed passes.
Nov – Arriving at Fairford on Nov 15 for a weeks stay were three B-1Bs from the 7BW at Dyess, Texas. Aircraft involved were: 85-0074/DY 13BS, 86-0123/DY 9BS, 86-0124/GA – recently transferred from the 128BS at Robins due to the closure of the ANG B-1 unit.
July – 20th saw the arrival of 2x B-52Hs, 60-0041/BD & 61-0034/MT for flypasts at the Farnborough airshow that week. Leaving Fairford on the 27th.
Sep – 23rd September 2x B-52s (60-0048/LA 96BS/2BW & 61-0004) deployed to support Exercise Bright Star along with two supporting KC-135s.
2x B-1Bs (85-0073/DY & 86-0122/DY 9BS/7BW) deployed at the same time to take part in training missions. A third B-1B (86-0109) arrived on the 26th on its way home from the Airshow in Malta.
March – 20th saw the arrival of two B-1Bs from 7BW at Dyess AFB (85-0073/DY & 86-0140/DY)
22nd March saw the arrival of two B-2A Spirits (90-0040 & 93-1085), testing out the two new climate-controlled hangers at Fairford specifically designed for the Spirit. Both aircraft departed on the 24th.
Oct – 2nd and 3rd saw the arrival of 14x F-16Cs and 2x F-16Ds from the 555 Triple Nickel squadron based at Aviano, Italy, for Exercise Deployed Titan. As part of the Tac Eval for RAF Waddington, Fairford also saw arrivals of RAF and NATO AWACS plus a 51 squadron R.1. The NATO force was supported by their Boeing 707’s.
9th and 10th saw RAF Tornado F.3s and GR.4s, Harrier GR.9s and a Typhoon F.2.
The exercise wound down on the 18th by which time all of the RAF and NATO aircraft had departed. The Aviano F-16s departed on the 20th.
July – Two B-1Bs remained at Fairford for an extra week following RIAT (14th & 15th July), taking it turns to carry out flybys each day at the Farnborough Airshow, plus a trip to an airshow in Northern Spain on the 20th July.
Aug – 12th saw the arrival of 2x B-2As, 82-0167 & 89-0128 from the 509th BW at Whiteman. Both aircraft departed home on the 17th.
19th saw the arrival of 2x B-52Hs, 61-0014/MT & 61-0040/MT from the 23rd BS/5th BW at Minot. Both aircraft departed on the 22nd.
Feb – 352 SOG from RAF Mildenhall held an exercise at Fairford between 15th February and 1st March, comprising 6x C-130 (3x 67th SOS & 3x 7th SOS) aircraft and around 400 personnel
May – A small exercise was held from May 14th to May 23rd with 4x C-130E Hercules from the 37th AS at Ramstein in Germany. Numerous flights were made between Fairford and West Freugh, carrying vehicles and Parachutists
Oct – Sunday October 18th saw an interesting NOTAM suddenly appear
U2268/09 – AD AND RWY 09/27 OPEN. AVBL AS DIVERT ALTERNATE ONLY. 18 OCT 18:00 2009 UNTIL
18 OCT 19:00 2009. CREATED: 18 OCT 18:16 2009
The visitor was GINO 08 a C-32B FEST aircraft, serial number 99-6143. It made an approach to Mildenhall but continued to Fairford where it landed. It’s believed to have come from Stuttgart. It remains unknown why it was unable to land at Mildenhall and looks like there was an urgency to find an alternate airfield, with Fairford being readied at very short notice. It remained at Fairford until October 21st when it departed around 0600.
The purpose of the visit remains a mystery.
Further details on Fighter Control www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=1101