A SCULPUTRE highlighting the global reach of RAF Brize Norton was unveiled to celebrate 80 years since the base was opened.

A crowd comprising servicemen and women, cadets and dignitaries gathered at the base on Friday evening as its new ‘gate guardian’, designed by Aston Upthorpe-based artist David Harber, was revealed.

The metallic sculpture shows a globe circled by four of the base's key aircraft: The A400M Atlas, the Voyager, the C-17 Globemaster and the C-130 Hercules.

Station commander, group captain Tim Jones, was delighted to be marking the occasion in what has become a year of anniversaries for the base.

In recent months RAF Brize Norton has twice been visited by Princess Anne to celebrate the centenary of two air force squadrons: 101 and 99.

Gp Capt Jones said: “It’s a real privilege to be unveiling something I think represents everything Brize Norton stands for. It reflects the global nature of the base. It’s lit, as well, which is important, because the base is working 24 hours a day.

“I think it looks fabulous. It was important to have an Oxfordshire-artist and he’s done a wonderful job with it. It’s everything we hoped it would be.”

Mr Harber, who designed the AirTanker sponsored monument, thanked the team of 30 who had helped create the base’s new gate guardian.

Construction of the airfield at the Brize Norton site began in 1935. Although most of the site lay within the parish boundary of Carterton, it was thought that there would be confusion with RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire, and it was decided to name the station after the next nearest village, Brize Norton.

The official opening of RAF Brize Norton took place on August 13, 1937.

More recently, major infrastructure redevelopment began in 2010 ahead of the closure of RAF Lyneham in 2012, at which point Brize Norton became the sole air point of embarkation for British troops.