Royal Air Force Marham, or more simply RAF Marham (IATA: KNF, ICAO: EGYM), is a Royal Air Force station and military airbase near the village of Marham in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia.
It is home to No. 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (138 EAW) and, as such, is one of the RAF's "Main Operating Bases" (MOB). No. 138 EAW primarily consists of three squadrons of Panavia Tornado GR4/GR4A multi-role fast-jet ground-attack aircraft.
The station crest depicts a glaring blue bull, symbolic of a deterrent and awarded in 1957 with the arrival of nuclear capability; the station motto is simply Deter. The crest also figures in the name of RAF Marham's local radio station - Blue Bull Radio 1278 AM.
In 2008 RAF Marham was officially granted the Freedom of the City of Norwich and, as such, is allowed to march through the streets of Norwich with 'bayonets fixed'; this is usually carried out on occasions such as the annual Battle of Britain parade held on 12 September every year. RAF Marham 'took over' the Freedom of the City of Norwich after the former holder, RAF Coltishall was officially closed in 2006.
Opened in August 1916 close to the former Royal Naval Air Station Narborough, later RAF Narborough, the Marham base was originally a military night landing ground on an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site within the boundary of the present day RAF Marham. In 1916, the aerodrome was handed over to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The aerodrome was closed in 1919 when the last units moved out.
In 1935 work started on a new airfield which became active on 1 April 1937, with a resident heavy bomber unit from within 3 Group, RAF Bomber Command. The first squadron, No 38, arrived in May 1937 with Fairey Hendon bombers. In June No. 115 Squadron RAF re-formed at Marham with the Handley Page Harrow. 38 Squadron received Wellington I bombers in December 1938, followed in 1939 by 115 Squadron. The Wellingtons moved out in 1941 and Mosquitos from No. 105 Squadron arrived. Marham became part of the Pathfinder force. They also tested and proved the Oboe precision bombing aid.
During March 1944 RAF Marham closed for the construction of new concrete runways, perimeter track, and dispersal areas, marking the end of its wartime operations.
In the postwar period the airfield was home to RAF units operating the Boeing B-29 Washington aircraft, and later the V bomber force and tankers: Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor. The station is also one of the few large enough for the operation of United States Air Force Boeing B-52, and a number of these aircraft visited on exercises in the 1970s and 1980s.
During 1980-82 24 Hardened Aircraft Shelters were constructed to house future strike aircraft, which would eventually see the arrival of the Panavia Tornado in 1982. These shelters were equipped with the US Weapon Storage Security System (WS3), each able to store 4 WE.177 nuclear bombs.
No. 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (138 EAW) was formed at RAF Marham on 1 April 2006; encompassing most of the non-formed unit personnel on the station. The EAW does not include the flying units at the station.
The current Station Commander is dual-hatted; as the commander of both the EAW and Station.
Queen Elizabeth II is the Honorary Air Commodore of Marham and has made a number of visits to the airfield, most recently on 1 February 2016.
Six Wings are currently lodged at RAF Marham:Operations Wing (Ops Wg)
Base Support Wing (BSW)
Depth Support Wing (DSW)
Forward Support Wing (FSW)
Tactical Imagery-Intelligence Wing (TIW)
3(RAF) Force Protection Wing (3 FPW)
No. 9 Squadron RAF - operating Tornado GR4/GR4A
No. 12 Squadron RAF - operating Tornado GR4/GR4A (reformed 2015)
No. 31 Squadron RAF - operating Tornado GR4/GR4A
The GR4A is the reconnaissance variant of the Panavia Tornado but the modern reconnaissance equipment used on the Tornado is interchangeable between the GR4 and GR4A variants, and as such each squadron uses a mix of the two variants (the reconnaissance equipment originally used in the GR4A variant is now obsolete).No. 93 (Expeditionary Armament) Squadron (93 EAS)
Formerly the Tactical Armament Squadron (TAS), its mission statement is "To deliver and develop specialist, expeditionary armament capability to support UK defence policy". It has approximately 130 staff and is a sub unit of No 42 (Expeditionary Support) Wing.No. 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment (2620 RAuxAF Regt)
Tornado Technical Services (a joint Royal Air Force and BAE Systems team).
The UK fleet of F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will be based at RAF Marham from 2018. RAF Marham, will be provided with 300 million pounds by the MOD, for new and enhanced infrastructure. The aircraft will be operated by 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (the Dambusters) and 809 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, alongside at least another frontline squadron from each service. All four squadrons will have a mix of RAF and Royal Navy personnel, and will deploy "detachments" aboard the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers., though it is believed that inherently, the Royal Navy may undertake the majority of routine embarkations in the new vessels. Additionally, Marham will the be the only RAF station with a Royal Navy Met Office.
RAF Marham is the 'parent' station ofRAF Holbeach Bombing Range
RRH Neatishead (formerly parented by RAF Coltishall)