RAF Waddington will no longer hold its international air show, after the Ministry of Defence judged security concerns and the risk to operations to be too great.
The base near Lincoln has been picketed by protestors, with some members of the group “End the Drone Wars” breaking into the site and being arrested earlier this year.
39 Squadron’s Remotely-Piloted Air Systems are controlled from the base, although the unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly called drones - such as Reaper - do not fly from Britain. They are hangared in the USA and the Middle East.
As the UK's main operating centre for airborne intelligence systems the base is also home to Sentinel R1 and E-3D Sentry aircraft.
This year’s display was cancelled while Waddington’s runway was closed for major refurbishment. Now, after a review of air show commitments, the Royal Air Force says the event will not be returning, but could be replaced by a show at nearby RAF Scampton – although not before 2017.
First held in 1995, the display developed into the largest of all Royal Air Force shows, attracting more than 140,000 visitors and exhibitors from around the world each year. Its main purpose was to raise public awareness and understanding of the RAF and its role today.
The seven-hour flying spectacular traditionally featured the Red Arrows and aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, as well as ground exhibitions of planes, classic cars and a funfair.
85% of all proceeds were split between the RAF Benevolent Fund and the RAF Association; the remaining 15% was donated to local worthy causes. The event has raised almost 3 million pounds in total.
A petition to the Ministry of Defence to save Waddington’s air show attracted more than 4,600 signatures, with supporters saying its loss would tarnish the image of Lincolnshire forever.
In a statement, the RAF said that it “appreciates that the cancellation of the air show at RAF Waddington will be a disappointment to many; however, it is hoped that the intent to establish an alternative air show at RAF Scampton is evidence of the RAF’s commitment to maintain its traditional and modern links to ‘Bomber County’.”