RAF Feltwell


RAF Feltwell
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
Near Feltwell, Norfolk in England
Radomes at RAF Feltwell.
Radomes at RAF Feltwell
United States Air Forces in Europe.svg
RAF Feltwell is located in Norfolk
RAF Feltwell
RAF Feltwell
Shown within Norfolk
Coordinates52°28′46″N 000°31′09″E / 52.47944°N 0.51917°E / 52.47944; 0.51917Coordinates: 52°28′46″N 000°31′09″E / 52.47944°N 0.51917°E / 52.47944; 0.51917
TypeRAF station (US Visiting Forces)
Area137 hectares (340 acres)[1]
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorUnited States Air Force
Controlled byUS Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa
Site history
Built1936 (1936)
In use1937–1966 (Royal Air Force)
1960s – present (US Air Force)
Garrison information
Occupants73rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Squadron (Detachment)
Airfield information
Elevation16 metres (52 ft) AMSL

Royal Air Force Feltwell or more simply RAF Feltwell is a Royal Air Force station in Norfolk, East Anglia that is used by the United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa. The station is located about 10 miles west of Thetford, and is in the borough of King's Lynn and West Norfolk at approximate Ordnance Survey grid reference TL 715 900.

A former Second World War bomber station, the airfield is used as a housing estate for United States Air Force personnel stationed nearby at RAF Mildenhall as part of the 100th Air Refueling Wing and RAF Lakenheath as part of the 48th Fighter Wing, while also containing the Mathies Airman Leadership School for USAF personnel in the UK, as well as being the home of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service's sole furniture store in the country. It also houses the only Middle school for Lakenheath and Mildenhall, which covers most of the station.


Royal Air Force use

Aerial photograph from the west, World War II

The airfield was built during the period of expansion of the RAF in the late 1930s and is similar in layout to many of the other RAF airfields of the period (for example RAF Marham, RAF Watton and RAF West Raynham). The airfield was home to a number of heavy bomber squadrons of the RAF during the Second World War. Post war RAF Thor Missiles were stationed here 1958-1963. After the departure of the Thor missiles in 1963, the RAF's Officer Cadet Training Unit was based on the station, transferring from RAF Jurby, Isle of Man, in September 1963.[2]


United States Air Force use

Between 1989 and 2003 it also hosted the US Air Force's 5th Space Surveillance Squadron (5 SPSS) which was subordinate to the 21st Operations Group (21 OG) and the 21st Space Wing (21 SW), both at Peterson AFB, Colorado. These organisations in turn are subordinate to the 14th Air Force (14 AF) at Vandenberg AFB, California which reports to HQ Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), also at Peterson AFB, CO.

The 5 SPSS (initially designated "Detachment 1, 73rd Space Surveillance Group", or "Det 1 SSURGP") was part of the USAF's Passive Space Surveillance Network which tracked the physical location of emitting satellites in orbit. This data along with that from other systems was used to adjust the orbits of various satellites and manned vessels (for instance the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station) to reduce the risk of on-orbit collisions.

However other USAF systems and capabilities ultimately superseded DSTS and it was removed in 2002 and the unit was de-activated shortly thereafter. The 21st Space Wing now has a detachment at RAF Fylingdales, UK, to coordinate cooperative missile warning and space surveillance with RAF counterparts.

RAF Feltwell was administered by Detachment 4 of the 18th Intelligence Squadron, which was a space control intelligence organization of the United States Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and which has one other geographically separated detachments: Detachment 2, Osan AB, Korea.[4] The 18th IS was deactivated during September 2020 and then reactivated as the US Space Force's 73rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, which is assigned to Space Delta 7.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Defence Estates Development Plan 2009 – Annex A". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 15. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Jurby - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae "Feltwell". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  4. ^ Richelson, Jeffrey. The United States Intelligence Community, 3rd edition
  5. ^ "73rd ISRS activates, becomes part of U.S. Space Force". Wright-Patterson AFB. US Air Force. 17 September 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2021.