Formed in 1943 at RAF Scampton, specifically for an attack on dams in the Ruhr Valley using the Barnes Wallis-designed Upkeep 'bouncing bomb'. Flown on 16th-17th May, the raid destroyed the Eder and Möhne dams.
Then flying from RAF Woodhall Spa, 617 Squadron began dropping the 12,000lb Tallboy and, later, the 22,000lb Grand Slam bombs. As well as bombing, the unit supported the D-Day assault with Operation TAXABLE, a radar-spoofing mission. Between them, IX and 617 Squadrons, both employing Tallboys, sank the battleship Tirpitz in November 1944.
After flying combat missions over Malaya in 1955, 617 Squadron returned to the UK and disbanded.
Re-formed in 1958 at RAF Scampton with the Vulcan B1 bomber, taking the Vulcan B2 from 1961. Introduced the Blue Steel stand-off missile into service in 1963, then switched to low-level missions from 1968.
Deployed to the Gulf in 1990, under Operation GRANBY, and fought in the campaign to free Kuwait from Iraqi invasion in early 1991.
In 2003, contributed to the RAF Tornado GR4 force deployed for Operation TELIC, flying missions against Iraqi targets from Kuwait. Flew the first operational Storm Shadow mission on 21 March. The squadron continued rotating into theatre until 2009, when regular rotations to Afghanistan, under Operation HERRICK began.
Began preparation in 2014 to become the UK’s first frontline Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning unit.
In June 2020, 617 Squadron embarked operational Lightnings aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time.