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  • united kingdom MoD St. Athan

    St. Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales

    United Kingdom


    Satellite and aerial maps of MoD St Athan with nearby locations

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    6.5097EGFF Cardiff, Wales
    7.6341 Taskforce Skirmish, Wales
    10.2083 Barry Comprehensive, Wales
    16.0010 Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Wales
    16.9040 Pentyrch, Wales
    19.9070 Roald Dahl Plass, Wales

    1938 to present

    51° 24' 17'' N - 3° 26' 9'' W
    3nm S of Cowbridge
    Elevation: 163 feet

    History of this Location

    Land east of Llantwit Major was purchased in 1936 and RAF St Athan opened as a training centre for ground based fitters and flight engineers at 4 School of Technical Training, in 1938.

    Aircraft maintenance has also been a feature of the work at St Athan on RAF and RN fixed-wing aircraft, including Harriers, Sea Harriers, Hawks, Jaguars, Tornados and VC-10s. Engineering work also involved repair and overhaul of aero-engines, mechanical and structural components, as well as providing upstream design and manufacturing services.

    A grand plan emerged under DARA auspices to save cost and centralise all RAF 2nd line maintenance at St Athan. MoD had declared an intent to close St Athan but the then Welsh Development Agency was suckered into buying the site from the MoD and leasing parts of it back. With this arrangement in place, DARA then committed to build the Super hangar as a state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance facility, which opened in Apr 2005. Once built, the RAF declared it had no intention of participating and consolidated all its Tornado fast jet work at Marham. With the lack of critical mass, that project began to unravel and this also spelt the end for DARA.

    The Welsh Assembly was now looking for a use for the site and buildings it had inherited and was seeking to use the facilities and skills of the workforce to create an Aerospace Centre of Excellence here (it is also quite close to Cardiff International Airport).

    An MoD Defence Training Review concluded this would be an ideal location for a tri-service engineering / training consolidation, which was also cancelled, in Oct 2010.
    As a result of the UKSRR SAR service main contract award from Apr 2015, Bristow has been building new SAR facilities due to transition here from 22 Squadron A Flt Sea Kings (from the RMB Chivenor site), on 1 Jul 2015.
    During Apr 2015, the base was host to a number of UK helicopters during the later phases of Exercise Joint Warrior 15-1, including RAF Chinook and Puma and 846 NAS Merlin HC.3.

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    List of units at MoD St Athan

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    YearsRotary Wing Aircraft Unitbold : Current Model
    normal: Unit no longer at this base
    2015/    St. Athan sectorAW189 2018/   
    AW139 2015/18
    1999/08Defence Aviation Repair Agency

    MoD St Athan News

    500th Mission for St Athan SAR Base, 07-Sep-17 : St Athan HM Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter team completed its 500th mission since operated by Bristow from October 2015

    Bristow SAR First Year at St Athan, 04-Oct-16 : First anniversary of Bristow SAR AW139 operations on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency from St Athan

    UKSAR St Athan Service Launch Ceremony, 15-Oct-15 : The launch of the St Athan civilian UK search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service was marked with a ceremony held at the new SAR base at St Athan airfield.

    Bristow St Athan Conducted First SAR Sortie, 05-Oct-15 : An AW139 SAR helicopter based at St Athan in Wales carried out the first operational mission. Bristow Helicopters commenced SAR helicopter operations on behalf of HM Coastguard October 4.

    Construction Began on New SAR Base at St Athan, 03-Dec-14 : Construction of a new Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter base at St Athan began. Two helicopters operated by Bristow on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will be operational from 2015

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