RAF Laarbruch (motto: Ein' Feste Burg - "A Fortress Sure"), located on the Germany/Netherlands border, was home to various first-line squadrons, including II (AC) Squadron flying F-4 Phantom II; and 15 and 16 Squadrons flying BAe Buccaneers and 25 Squadron 'C' Flight with Bloodhound surface to air missiles in the 1970s, followed by Jaguars in the 1980s. These were replaced by Tornadoes with four squadrons (2, 15, 16,and 20) resident. After the first Gulf War, many of the squadrons were relocated, No. 2 Sqn going back to RAF Marham; and 15, 16, and 20 becoming reserve squadrons. When RAF GŁtersloh closed, the Harriers of 3(F) and IV(AC) squadrons moved in along with the helicopters of 18(B) Squadron. Laarbruch was also home to 1 and 26 Squadron RAF Regiment. 18 Squadron returned to RAF Odiham in 1997 with the remaining Harrier squadrons departing to RAF Cottesmore in 1999.

After closing in 1999 the airfield found a new civilian lease of life as the budget airline airport Flughafen Niederrhein (Lower Rhine Airport), now known as Airport Weeze after the nearest large village. Civil operations began in May 2003.

I was lucky enough to have a tour of the airfield, One of the buildings we visited was the wing operations center or "WOC"

© Dan McKenzie 2008