The draw down: 1994 to 2005
Little Rissington was identified as surplus to requirements in the Government’s “Options for Change” package and the entire site was put up for sale. The domestic and main technical sites of the station were sold to a property developer and became a business park.
Revival: 2006 to present
Following a Defence Review, the planned disposal of RAF Little Rissington was stopped, and so the immediate future of the aerodrome was secured. Several buildings received some minor upgrades. At the end of 2006, an civilian aircraft maintenance firm called ‘Devonair’ moved in under an agreement with the Ministry of Defence.
Today, RAF Little Rissington remains active for elementary flying training, and aircraft maintenance. With the increasing reduction in military aerodromes, RAF Little Rissington is steadily becoming more active for military flying and ground training. Much of the original station is still almost untouched, though the control tower and several hangars have been demolished.
In 2008, RAF Little Rissington was designated a Core Site up to 2030, under the Defence Estates Development Plan 2008. While nothing has yet been confirmed, RAF Little Rissington has been looked at to support various changes:
* Satellite for RAF Brize Norton in supporting Project CATARA with C130 Hercules training and maintenance.
* Satellite for RAF Benson, to provide a relief landing ground for helicopter training, and potentially relief storage pending the future decision on the Lyneham estate.
Rumours of an underground hospital
It is a local belief that a nuclear-proof underground hospital built by the United States Air Force lies underneath RAF Little Rissington. In fact it is little more than a rumour, no such hospital exists. What did exist was a Flat Pack American Field Hospital stored in one of the hangers for about 7 years as part of the Cold War but it was never used.
However, it is widely accepted that tunnels were dug during the Second World War for the Royal Observer Corps. Whether this tunnel network was developed during the 1980s is unknown.
A bunker is attached to the Sick Ward/Medical Centre at the main technical site. It is commonly mistaken for the rumoured underground USAF(E) hospital. The ward/bunker is covered in earth for protection and to remove the need to move patients during air raids. It dates back to the station’s construction in the 1930s. Consequently it is above the surface and it is not nuclear-proof.