RAF West Freugh is a former Royal Air Force station located in Wigtownshire, 5 miles (8.0 km) south east of Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

MOD West Freugh
Near Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland
West Freugh Airfield - geograph.org.uk - 434249.jpg
Radomes and hangars at West Freugh
MOD West Freugh is located in Dumfries and Galloway
MOD West Freugh
MOD West Freugh
Shown within Dumfries and Galloway
Coordinates54°50′50″N 4°56′54″W / 54.84722°N 4.94833°W / 54.84722; -4.94833
TypeResearch establishment and weapons range
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force (1937-2001) QinetiQ (2001-present)
WebsiteLPTA West Freugh
Site history
Built1937 (1937)
In use1937 – present
Airfield information
IdentifiersICAO: EGOY, WMO: 03132
Direction Length and surface
06/24 1,841 metres (6,040 ft) - Inactive 
12/30 914 metres (2,999 ft) - Inactive 

It has always been an armaments training school, either for handling or deployment of ordnance.

The site is now known as MOD West Freugh and is operated by defence contractor QinetiQ, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.[1]


During the First World War the site was a base for naval airships, known as RNAS Luce Bay. The base was provided with one huge airship hangar.

RAF West Freugh opened in 1937 as an armament training camp. During the Second World War, it expanded to include training facilities for observers, navigators, and bomb aimers; and served as a base for the Bombing Trials Unit.[2] The known history of units known at West Freugh is:[3]

  • 22 October 1939 - 10 Service Flying Training School formed. Moved November
  • 4 November 1939 - 4 Air Observer School formed
  • 11 January 1940 - re-designated 4 Bombing & Gunnery School
  • 14 June 1941 - 4 Air Observer School reformed
  • 11 June 1943 - re-designated 4 Observer Advanced Flying Unit
  • 21 June 1945 - 4 Observer Advanced Flying Unit disbanded
  • April 1957 - RAF West Freugh incident
  • 2001 - Airfield closed, all RAF operations cease
  • 2001 - operations taken over by QinetiQ[4]

In addition to the units listed above (and with manpower possibly drawn from some of them) a Mountain Rescue Team was based at West Freugh from 1945 to 1956. After 1956 the MRT at RAF Leuchars assumed responsibility for the area covered by West Freugh. The team was part of the RAF's Mountain Rescue Service.

Satellite Earth StationEdit

A satellite earth station is located at West Freugh and was established to receive and distribute data from the European Space Agency's ERS radar satellites. In September 2005 it was announced that the earth station at West Freugh was the first outside Canada to be certified to provide imagery from the Canadian RADARSAT commercial satellite.[5]

Present dayEdit

In 1987, Exercise Purple Warrior forces utilised West Freugh.

West Freugh, now operated by QinetiQ since 2001[4] is used as a test range for bombs and Air-to-Ground missiles. Its ranges extend over Luce Bay, and an area of land at Torrs Warren.[6]

In 1988 and 1990 its ranges were used to test Phalanx CIWS weapons system with depleted uranium rounds. A subsequent radiological survey of beach, sand and seawater by staff from the Atomic Weapons Establishment concluded that there was no detectable contamination.[7]

The airfield is no longer licensed or active, however it is available for military exercises.[1] West Freugh has also been used on several occasions for exercises by 16 Air Assault Brigade under the Exercise Joint Warrior banner.[8]


  1. ^ a b "MOD West Freugh". LPTA. QinetiQ. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  2. ^ Mull of Galloway, History, Myths & Legends Archived 9 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 March 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  5. ^ "RADARSAT ground station in the UK officially in business". Royal Astronomical Society. Royal Astronomical Society. 25 February 2005. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. ^ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 3 Apr 2002 (pt 1)
  7. ^ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 12 Dec 2002 (pt 6)
  8. ^ Eklund, Dylan (7 April 2014). "Air Assault Training". RAF. Retrieved 11 January 2017.

External linksEdit