RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria has been operating since the mid 1970s as an Electronic Warfare Range, and is the only facility of its kind in Western Europe. Consequently it is regularly used by UK military operators but is also used by other NATO forces.
The range stretches over 9,000 acres of mainly forested and marsh lands, and has a number of electronic warfare systems and simulators in use, as well as missile launch systems to provide realistic opposition to the units who use the facility.
There is a mock airfield marked out within the range, and it is this “airfield” that is of the most interest, as it has a number of aircraft scattered about on it, providing an added amount of realism for “attacking” aircraft.
There are also other aircraft placed elsewhere including a Mi-24 Hind helicopter at Berry Hill, and a T-33 jet trainer at Wiley Sike.
Most of the aircraft are not visible from the single track public roads that surround the range, however there are a few places where you can safely park your vehicle off the road if you fancy stretching your legs. Good footwear is advised as the terrain is a mixture of forested hills and marshy heathland, and can be pretty treacherous underfoot in places. Also, there is very patchy mobile phone signal availability, so be very prepared in advance.
A single T-33 at Wiley Sike is located a few hundred yards from a public road, and is the only aircraft visible without a long trek. The other outlying aircraft is the former Iraqi AF Mi-24 Hind which is situated at Berry Hill, alongside a forestry commission track.
The majority of the aircraft are situated on the mock airfield. They are occasionally moved around, but are parked, along with other ground equipment and RADAR and SAM systems, to represent a live operational airfield. A “flightline” area houses a number of parked Mystere IVAs along with a Su-22. The former French Air Force Mystere IVAs had been purchased using MDAP funds, so when retired from active use had to be returned to US ownership. The Su-22 was a former German Air Force example that had been acquired through German unification after the Cold War.
Another pair of Mystere IVAs are parked on the end of the “runway”, positioned as if ready to start their take off run.
The final batch of aircraft is a nearby quartet of T-33 Shooting Stars. These are former Belgian and Dutch Air Force examples and like the Mystere IVAs, have been painted with Soviet Air Force stars on them, although they are VERY faded nowadays.
The three most useful car parking locations are:
Wiley Sike: 55.020655, -2.572087
Berry Hill: 55.054326, -2.502109
Mock Airfield: 55.073424, -2.530672
Be aware that the Spadeadam Range is in regular active use, for ground forces as well as air activity, so it is not the sort of place to go traipsing around at will, despite any views you may have on the “right to roam”.
Details of the aircraft involved are taken from EuroDemobbed.
RAF Spadeadam – Wiley Sike, Cumbria
16 miles ENE of Carlisle
FT02 Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star 12
RAF Spadeadam – Berry Hill, Cumbria
18 miles ENE of Carlisle
3137 Mil Mi-24D Ex Iraqi AF
RAF Spadeadam – mock airfield, Cumbria
15 miles ENE of Carlisle
139 Dassault Mystere IVA AC10, 8-MR, 8-MD
180 Dassault Mystere IVA AC8, 9, 8-NB
184 Dassault Mystere IVA AC7, 8-NU
207 Dassault Mystere IVA AC4, 6, 8-NS
282 Dassault Mystere IVA AC3, 8-MW, 8-NW
61 Dassault Mystere IVA AC2, 8-MI
64 Dassault Mystere IVA AC1, 8-NO
81 Dassault Mystere IVA AC9
98+10 Sukhoi Su-22M-4K SU1, ex GAF, ex NVA 820
FT06 Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star AC12, 10
FT07 Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star AC11, 18
FT10 Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star AC6, 11, 77
FT11 Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star AC5, 01, 80