RAF ST ATHAN, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is the largest Station in the Royal Air Force, employing more than 4,000 Servicemen and civilians.

The Station is extremely important to the financial well-being of the surrounding area both as an employer and supporter of local businesses. As a very large maintenance base it has a budget of around £100 million a year (excluding spares) and about £50 million of this is injected directly into the local economy.

The St Athan base is now the RAF's only aircraft maintenance unit, and carries out comprehensive maintenance and modifications on all of the RAF's and RN's front-line fixed-wing aircraft, including Tornados, Harriers, Sea Harriers, Jaguars, Hawks and VC10's.

The highly trained and skilled workforce also conducts a wide range of in-depth repair and overhaul for aero engines and mechanical and structural components, as well as providing design and manufacturing expertise.

Defence initiatives in recent years has seen the workload at St Athan grow considerably as other bases have been closed. As more Servicemen have been transferred to front-line duties MOD Civil Servants have replaced them and the base now has around 1,500 Servicemen and approximately 3,000 civilians.

The excellent Civilian Technical Training School provides three-year apprenticeships and shorter conversion courses for civilian workers offered employment at the base.

The proper title of the fixed wing operations unit is DARA St Athan. DARA - the Defence Aviation Repair Agency - was created in 1999 when the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force combined their aviation repair sites.

DARA runs a popular Saturday Engineering Club at its St Athan Training Centre, where young men and women have the opportunity to gain practical experience in aeronautical engineering.