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RAF Leeming began operations as a bomber station in July 1940 operating Whitley, Sterling, Halifax and Lancaster aircraft during the Second World War. After the War the Station became a night fighter base, equipped initially with the Mosquito and then with the Meteor and Javelin before becoming a Training Command airfield in 1961. The Station was then home to No. 3 Flying Training School, equipped with the Jet Provost, until the mid-1980s when a major refurbishment programme began to prepare the Station for Tornado F3 operations.
The Station reopened in 1988 as a Tornado F3 Main Operating Base and today is part of No. 11/18 Group within Strike Command and home to two Tornado F3 Squadrons - No. XI(F) Squadron and No. 25(F) Squadron. The squadrons are part of the UK's air defence fighter force and are declared to both the UK's Joint Rapid Reaction Force and NATO's Immediate Reaction Force (Air). Leeming is also home to two other high-readiness units with both national and NATO commitments - No. 34 Squadron RAF Regiment

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and No. 2 RAF Tactical Survive To Operate HQ. Also at Leeming is No. 100 Squadron, equipped with Hawk aircraft in the target facilities role along with exercise and training support, and the Joint Forward Air Controllers Training and Standards Unit, which also utilizes the Hawk. Other units at Leeming include the Air Defence Support Squadron, an RAuxAF unit, and Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron and No. 11 Air Experience Flight, which are equipped with the Tutor aircraft. Finally, the Station also has a Mountain Rescue Team consisting of 5 permanent staff and about 20 volunteers from around the Station.