RAF Air Power 2018

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Air Power 2018 | Building the Next Generation Air Force

Air Power 2018 Building the Next Generation Air Force

First to the future

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Air Power 2018 Building the Next Generation Air Force

Editor Simon Michell Project Manager Group Captain James Beldon MBE, Director of Defence Studies (RAF) Editorial Director Barry Davies Art Director J-P Stanway Managing Director Andrew Howard Printed by Pensord Front cover image: F-35B Lightning II (SAC Tim Laurence/Crown Copyright/MOD)

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Š 2018. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. The views and opinions expressed by independent authors and contributors in this publication are provided in the writers’ personal capacities and are their sole responsibility. Their publication does not imply that they represent the views or opinions of the Royal Air Force or Global Media Partners and must neither be regarded as constituting advice on any matter whatsoever, nor be interpreted as such. The reproduction of advertisements in this publication does not in any way imply endorsement by the Royal Air Force or Global Media Partners of products or services referred to therein.



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His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge KG KT


General David L Goldfein The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force highlights the strength and depth of the USAF and RAF relationship

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP Secretary of State for Defence

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KCB CBE DFC ADC MA RAF, Chief of the Air Staff


Guto Bebb MP


Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier

Minister for Defence Procurement


Paul Everitt Chief Executive, ADS Group


Simon Michell



Building the Next Generation Air Force Air Commodore Richard Barrow explains why building the Royal Air Force of the future requires a more innovative and efficient use of people and processes



Lightning Force Air Commodore David Bradshaw, UK Lightning Force Commander, provides an update as 617 Squadron – The ‘Dambusters’ – re-enter centre stage as the United Kingdom’s most advanced air combat squadron

Editor, RAF Air Power 2018


Growing the front line Air Marshal Julian Young, Chief of Materiel (Air) at Defence Equipment and Support, describes how his department works with the Royal Air Force


F-35 Program Office update Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer, discusses the valuable support provided by the UK and the RAF. With UK perspectives from Group Captain Willy Hackett and Wing Commander John Butcher




F-35 maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade



BAE Systems highlights the extensive role that the company plays to ensure the global fleet of F-35 aircraft will be available wherever and whenever it is needed


Setting requirements for the Next Generation Air Force Scott Winship, Sector Vice President, Northrop Grumman – Advanced Programs, highlights the challenges facing air forces as the speed of adversary technology development gains pace


Rear Admiral G Dean Peters, US Navy

Air Commodore Jules Ball reveals how Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) will bring in a next generation air combat training package


P-8A Poseidon– filling the Maritime Patrol capability gap




Spatial awareness As a new space race takes hold, the RAF is transforming itself into an air and space force capable of defending UK military assets and civilian critical national infrastructure

MQ-9B Protector Air Commodore Ian Gale on why the Protector will usher in the next-generation unmanned aircraft capability


The Defence Growth Partnership


Allan Cook, Industry co-Chair of the Defence Growth Partnership, explains how the organisation is helping to maintain the necessary skills and innovation to build the Next Generation Air Force


Future Combat Air System Air Vice-Marshal Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle discusses how the Future Combat Air System fits in with the overall effort to ensure the UK retains its seat at the top table of air power proponents

Group Captain Jim Walls DSO, Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, describes preparations to receive the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft


The fifth generation of training arrives in the UK Lockheed Martin’s Paul Livingston explains how F-35 training is increasingly being undertaken in synthetic environments

Former Program Executive Officer for Air ASW, Assault & Special Mission Programs, PEO (A)


ASDOT – training the Next Generation Air Force

MFTS – training for the future Air Commodore Dave Bentley outlines how the United Kingdom Military Flying Training System will ensure that the growing demand for trained air crew is met

Combat air power Air Marshal Stuart Atha underlines the importance of Network-Enabled Warfighting to the Next Generation Air Force


QRA QED The UK’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) interceptors are busier now than they have been since the end of the Cold War, as Typhoon Force Commander Air Commodore Mark Chappell explains





Air Marshal Leo Davies AO, CSC The Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force talks about the links between his organisation and the RAF


Dismantling Daesh Air Commodore Roddy Dennis highlights how the RAF has helped in the international effort to counter Daesh and has contributed to the increasing effectiveness of Iraqi Security Forces


Hurricane relief – Operation Ruman The story behind the British-led response to the two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that hit the Caribbean in September 2017 – one of the largest humanitarian missions ever mounted


FOCUSING ON PEOPLE Including Air Chief’s Perspective from Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force


Projecting power From his base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, Group Captain Simon Strasdin discusses how the RAF projects power and remains essential to the counter-Daesh campaign


Turning data into information


ISTAR – satisfying an insatiable thirst for data

So why be a Reservist? Flight Lieutenant Helen Trudgeon explains why being an RAF Reservist is a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience


Training the Next Generation Group Captain Tone Baker, RAF Cosford’s Station Commander, talks about the mission to deliver affordable, effective and flexible technical training to meet the needs of all three of the UK’s Armed Forces

Brigadier Ben Kite, Commanding Officer of the Joint Forces Intelligence Group, describes how the RAF is helping to turn raw data into actionable intelligence


Diversity based on meritocracy – building a Royal Air Force fit for the future Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, the RAF’s Chief of Staff for Personnel and Air Secretary, reveals how she is laying the foundations for recruiting a diverse and modern air force

Simon Everest The interim Head of the Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO) highlights industry’s close relationship with the RAF




The RAF is focusing the way it manages its intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) assets, to meet the continual demand for data that forms a key part of modern military operations

Air Cadets – a foundation of the Next Generation Air Force Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets, describes her pride in providing young people with the life skills to fulfil their potential



100 years of RAF air power Group Captain James Beldon, the RAF’s Director of Defence Studies, assesses the Service’s contribution to air power throughout its first century


The Royal Air Force: inspiring others Colonel John Andreas Olsen of the Royal Norwegian Air Force explains why the RAF is a role model and inspiration for air forces around the globe





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Gavin Williamson CBE MP Secretary of State for Defence

wake of the shocking attack on innocents in Douma. They are maintaining our efforts to deal the death blow to Daesh – contributing up to 40 per cent of our operational effort. Today, they are involved in 15 separate missions in 23 countries across five continents. They are not just doing good across the globe, but also closer to home, where their experts have been helping in the clean-up of Salisbury after an appalling chemical attack. Salisbury is a reminder of the increasing assertiveness of the Russian state. The Kremlin is challenging us in every domain. Since 2008, the RAF has been scrambled on more than 80 separate days to respond to Russian military aircraft sorties, which are supplemented by sinister submarine activity and underhand

“The RAF is not just doing good across the globe, but also closer to home” At the forefront of the fight for freedom


t has been a momentous year for Britain’s remarkable Royal Air Force. On 1 April 2018, we marked a century since the bombers of 101 Squadron took off for the battlefields of the Western Front. Those brittle biplanes with the famous red, white and blue insignia carried out the new RAF’s very first operation. In the decades since, our brave aircrews have saved our nation in its darkest hour, shown constant vigilance at the height of the Cold War, helped topple a cruel dictator in the Gulf and stopped terrorists turning Afghanistan into a base from which to attack our streets. In 2018, you’ll find our RAF busier than ever and at the forefront in the fight for freedom. They’ve been policing Black Sea skies in defiance of Russian aggression. They’ve been striking hard against Assad’s deadly chemical stockpiles in Syria in the

attacks on our media, telecoms and energy sectors. Yet the Kremlin is far from the only menace we face. China is rising. Iran is sowing instability. North Korea is posing nuclear challenges. Around the world, extremists are using missiles to attack airports and cyber to proliferate their poisonous propaganda. We’re not just being challenged in the air, but in space too, where cyber and electromagnetic attacks can be directed at our satellites to cause chaos back on earth. So, with the dangers multiplying at speed, we will increasingly turn to the precision, versatility and range of the RAF’s great airmen and women to see us through. That’s why in 2018 the RAF has been following the advice of the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Conference, and ‘Building the Next Generation Air Force’. In the past few months we’ve seen our future fleet emerge from the hangar. And, earlier this year, the first turf was cut for a multi-million-pound facility at RAF Lossiemouth, which will play host to our nine new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. We’ve seen the RAF expand its horizons from the upper BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson (centre) visits RAF Lossiemouth, future home to the P-8A Poseidon MPA fleet (PHOTO: SAC CONNOR TIERNEY RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

atmosphere to outer space – not just operating the revolutionary, low-Earth orbiting Carbonite 2 satellite, but assuming command and control of UK military space operations. We are now primed and ready to deter intensifying threats in space. The RAF’s motto ‘Through adversity to the stars’ has never seemed so apt. And on the anniversary of D-Day in June, we capped an extraordinary few months for the RAF, as four of our F-35 Lightning stealth fighters crossed the Atlantic before touching down at their new home of RAF Marham in Norfolk. By the end of this year, the pilots of these fifth-generation fast jets, 617 Squadron – of ‘Dambusters’ fame – will be fully operational in the UK. F-35 flight trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth are just months away. Together with



the Royal Navy we have revived the UK’s carrier strike capability. As our Global Britain stretches its wings, we now have an unparalleled means to strengthen old friendships and build new alliances. But the RAF has always been far-sighted. They are not just looking years but decades ahead. And, as part of our Modernising Defence Programme, our new Combat Air Strategy will give our aviators the future firepower, the industrial capability and the world-class skills to keep our cutting edge. At the dawn of the age of air power, the fledgling RAF kept Britain safe. And, as we enter a new age of warfare, I have no doubt our vastly experienced and ever-evolving RAF will continue making the fortunes of our great nation soar.

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As those who served in the past and those who serve today know, the RAF is a relentlessly forward-looking Service – had we not been so in the past, we would not have enjoyed the unparalleled operational success that has continuously defined us. This focus on the future is a vital part of the ethos that Lord Trenchard embedded in the organisation from the outset. And, whilst it is easy to focus on the technological advances that have illustrated the RAF’s history over the last century, there is greater substance in the people, training and structures through which our success has been forged. In keeping with that notion, many of the articles focus on how we will deliver air and space power

“The RAF is a relentlessly forwardlooking Service”


t is an enormous privilege to be leading the Royal Air Force during its centenary year, and I am delighted to introduce this centenary edition of Air Power. During this milestone year in the Service’s history, we are commemorating the achievements of all those men and women from around the world who have served in the RAF over the past 100 years and built the reputation for operational excellence that has been our hallmark throughout. We are, of course, also celebrating the success of our current generation of men and women from the RAF’s Whole Force – regulars, reserves, civil servants and contractors – in delivering the air power capabilities that allow us to deter and act swiftly and decisively on behalf of the nation. You will read much about what we have been up to in this Centenary edition of Air Power, including appraisals of our operations against the Daesh threat in Iraq and Syria, to several perspectives on our rapid and pivotal response to the hurricane relief effort in the Caribbean during autumn 2017.

better in the future, safeguarding our operational edge and allowing us to deliver the air power effects that offer tactical, operational and strategic advantages for our country. As the articles on our new Military Flying Training System and Air Support to Defence Operational Training show, we are absolutely determined to ensure that the training we deliver will remain operationally relevant, efficient and world-leading, ensuring our potency throughout the RAF’s second century. And we recognise the importance of industry’s involvement in all our endeavours, important aspects of which include the development of the Combat Air Strategy and the Space Strategy. Technological innovation and industrial partnerships have always been vital components of the RAF’s make-up, and I should like to express my thanks to all those from business and industry who have contributed to this publication – I do not recall a time when the RAF and industry have worked so well together in taking forward our national air and space power capabilities. And I am delighted, too, that so many military BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



As in 1918, when the Service was established, people remain the principal competitive advantage of the Royal Air Force (PHOTO: LUKA WAYCOTT/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

and naval partners from around the globe have also contributed to this journal – as experience has taught us, we are stronger and more secure together. As in 1918, people remain our principal competitive advantage. I continue to be immensely impressed and inspired by the quality of the people who choose to join the RAF as regulars or reserves, and the commitment they show to one another and to the Service. Flight Lieutenant Helen Trudgeon’s story (p109) crystallises the mutual benefits to civilian employers and the RAF of Reserve service. Back to the future: our Air Cadets continue to be an outstanding part of the RAF Family across the length and breadth of our country – they and their staff are simply magnificent, and they represent a vital part of our future, both as a Service and as a nation. I therefore commend Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty’s article (p112) to you.



Finally, the Royal Air Force’s conceptual component is the lynchpin on which all other aspects of our capability depend. Colonel Professor John Andreas Olsen of the Royal Norwegian Air Force (p116) and the RAF’s Director of Defence Studies, Group Captain James Beldon (p114), provide objective assessments of the RAF’s pivotal role in advancing air and space power throughout its history. The conceptual component remains just as important today, which is why the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies, under whose aegis Air Power 2018 is produced, provides such a valuable service to the RAF in the development of air and space power research and practice. People, partnerships, concepts and technology will provide the foundations on which the Next Generation Royal Air Force is being built, and that is why together they constitute the central theme of Air Power 2018.

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– a training specialist ready to support force readiness

Writing about CAE is always fascinating – and sometimes challenging. Fascinating because the company has such a wide bandwidth of solutions and expertise in the training and simulation fields. Challenging because the company is constantly evolving because it needs to in order to maintain traction in an increasingly globalised market For years, CAE has centred its efforts on servicing its longstanding defence customer base, while simultaneously expanding it by entering new global markets. The United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Brunei figure among its more far-flung important markets, but closer to home the company has a strong footprint in what it considers to be its ‘home’ markets: Canada, the United States, Australia, Germany and, importantly, the United Kingdom. “We are chasing some pretty significant programmes in the UK,” says Andrew Naismith, a retired Royal Air Force Group Captain and recently appointed as Managing Director for CAE’s Defence and Security business in the UK. In this role he oversees all the considerable business the company is currently delivering to support the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) as well as steering the business development activities. He emphasises the fact that CAE in the United Kingdom “is a UK company in the defence, civil aviation and healthcare markets, offering a broad spectrum of well-crafted training and simulation solutions. We are seen, I think, as a truly global company which, while headquartered

in Canada, makes a huge effort to properly understand our home market customers to significantly enhance our capability of being a valued partner.” That’s easy to say, of course, but in CAE’s case, Naismith can back that up with indisputable fact. The Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility (MSHATF), which CAE runs at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, was the very first military ‘private finance initiative’ (PFI) programme and has been successfully running for very nearly 20 years. “The MSHATF remains a fantastic programme, well-known and respected around the world as a showcase for how a true public-private partnership can work effectively to deliver cost-effective, realistic and relevant training,” Naismith observes. Another great example of CAE’s longterm support in the UK involves the C-130J programme. The Royal Air Force (RAF) was the launch customer for the C-130J – an aircraft that now has two dozen international operators – and CAE has been with the RAF from the beginning to support the training of Hercules aircrews. That training solution required CAE and the UK

MOD to work in extremely close collaboration – what Naismith describes as “partnering and innovative development” – and that pretty much describes the company’s ethos and vision. CAE is quick and proud to point out that the company’s vision guiding its strategy is to be the training partner of choice for its customers. There are a number of relatively simple principles the company seeks to follow in order to achieve this vision. Among the most important is what some executives at CAE are fond of saying: “we help put old heads on young shoulders.” In other words, CAE’s simulationbased training solutions accelerate experience and allow professionals in mission critical occupations to be better and more prepared to do what they need to do. That applies to just about everything CAE does, in any of its markets. It resonates more completely, perhaps, in the UK, where recruitment and retention challenges, coupled with challenging budget and resource availability, are forcing defence planners to consider new methods of achieving and maintaining force readiness.

CAE A F at AF Benson has been running as a successful partnership for nearly 20 years

The issue of ensuring that defence forces have the opportunity to benefit from specific mission-oriented training solutions becomes an imperative when one considers the changing threat envelope and the effect this will have on future conflict. he past two decades have seen great strides in the ability of armed forces to wage e peditionary, counterinsurgency, asymmetric and hybrid warfare. But British planners today – alongside many of their NA peers – eye a growing China and resurgent ussia with concern, and are forced to consider methods of revisiting training solutions for a vast range of conflict scenarios, including potential cyber warfare threats. his means there is currently the will to consider wholesale modification and enhancement of e isting training solutions – and the possibility of bringing as many of them as possible into closer harmony via networking and interoperability initiatives. he integration and interoperability of synthetic training systems is an area where CAE has significant e perience, so in Naismith s view, it offers opportunity for both CAE and its industry partners. he UK s efence perational raining Capability C initiative has a number of programmes looking to truly enable the total force – maritime, land and air – to better train together synthetically, thus allowing the UK s defence forces

to rebalance its live and synthetic training,” said Naismith. An important part of C is the Core ystem and ervices C pro ect, which will establish the foundation for enabling networking and interoperability. his is something s uarely in CAE s e perience and e pertise.” he fact that a company like CAE would pursue a programme like C should not surprise the UK . uite the opposite, it should please the that a training specialist with focus and e pertise is one of the options available. Naismith certainly agrees. raining and simulation is what we do, so we are not distracted building platforms. e are also independent and platformagnostic, which can be critical for networking and interoperability. e can speak from e perience after 20 years of training operations at A F where three different E helicopter platforms are involved. Conse uently, being training-focused has led CAE to be a strong proponent of open, industry standards, which support the delivery of modern solutions that are not proprietary or restricted in any way by international tra c in arms A regulations.”

CAE UK plc nnovation


“An important part of DOTC is the Core System and Services (DCS&S) project, which will establish the foundation for enabling networking and interoperability. This is something squarely in CAE’s experience and expertise.” – Andrew Naismith

All of CAE s internal research and development is in specific training and simulation techni ues, capabilities and solutions for live, virtual and constructive C training, cyber warfare, individual and collective skills training – things that matter to training,” as Naismith says. he opportunities now being pursued by CAE give hope that the UK market is ready for a fundamental change. t is time to challenge some of the established business models where it has been easy to simply bundle training capabilities into the overall package with the original e uipment manufacturer. articularly when it comes to cross-platform networking and interoperability, we believe specialist suppliers like CAE can offer a much better focus, service and value for money,” says Naismith. hat the company has a distinctly British flavour, a UK-centric pedigree and the resources, capabilities and vision to bring the British ta payer the best possible value for the investment they seek to make cannot now be doubted. Britain is a CAE ‘home market and the company hopes to earn the opportunity on new programmes to demonstrate why its vision is to be the training partner of choice.

rive, Burgess ill, est usse EMAIL: cae plc cae.co.uk WEB: www.cae.com CAE efence LINKEDIN: linkedin.com showcase cae-defence- -security


Guto Bebb MP Minister for Defence Procurement


his is quite a fantastic year for the Royal Air Force. One hundred years of exemplary service to the nation is rightly being celebrated across the length and breadth of our country. And such is the RAF’s renown that events marking its centenary are being held across the globe. We should not be surprised: the spirit of professionalism, precision and bravery throughout the past 100 years have earned the RAF a place in the heart of the people of this nation, the Commonwealth and freedom-loving people everywhere. Moreover, its future is just as bright as its sparkling history, not least because of numerous important developments occurring this year. First of all, we are making significant strides in reconstituting the RAF’s maritime patrol capability. Already the decision to procure a new fleet of nine P-8A Poseidon sub-hunters is proving to be strategically astute, as our nation’s and our allies’ security is becoming increasingly threatened, not least by Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic. We are investing £3 billion in the Poseidon capability, and I was delighted in May this year to visit



RAF Lossiemouth and witness the fantastic progress that is being made there, ahead of delivery of the RAF’s first Poseidon in 2019. The visit was important for another reason too: we were able to take forward the partnering aspirations we share with our allies, which will amplify the capabilities each party can contribute to meet our common defence and security needs. So, in addition to meeting RAF personnel connected with the Poseidon programme, I was delighted to meet members of the US Navy, which has been a key partner in helping us bring back to life our sovereign maritime patrol capability, and, in particular, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence’s State Secretary, Tone Skogen, with whom I discussed ways in which our two nations can work together to ensure that our training is optimised, our support arrangements are complementary, and our operations are successful. Partnerships of this kind deliver economies of scale and generate high operational tempo, an especially vital factor in the UK’s and NATO’s endeavours to counter adversary submarine activity. We will also be fostering the partnerships that are already flourishing between the Royal Air Force and the UK Defence industry too. The success that the RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) has built with its industry partners is a case in point: the RCO works in collaboration with its businesses to deliver urgent solutions to the warfighter in the shortest possible timeframe. Their combined solutions to better protect our fast jets are world-leading. For example, the BriteCloud expendable active decoy helps protect our fast jets against sophisticated radar-guided threats, while improvements in the end-to-end manufacture of advanced flares has maintained our UK sovereign capability as leaders in countering infra-red missile threats. It is such innovation that is at the heart of our new Combat Air Strategy, through which we are setting operational capability and national technological advantage, industrial capability and skills at the heart of our vision, in order to deliver enduring battle-winning combat air capability to the RAF. We will also ensure that we exploit opportunities to collaborate internationally, where our requirements can be harmonised, and maximise the export opportunities that will stem from keeping the UK at the forefront of combat air technology, manufacturing and know-how. Furthermore, our Modernising Defence Programme will ensure that the investments we are making will be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. We will continue to


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The Royal Air Force will take delivery of its first P-8A Poseidons in 2019 – the result of a £3billion investment in the capability (PHOTO: THE BOEING COMPANY VIA MOD)

exploit the dividends that the Defence Growth Partnership is delivering to ensure that both the Combat Air Strategy and Managing Defence Programme are translated into the best outcomes for our Armed Forces and the defence industry. Finally, let me remark on another major milestone that the RAF is marking this year: the arrival in the UK of its first F-35B Lightnings. Inter-Service and international partnerships are again at the forefront of this hugely important programme, which represents a revolutionary development in the RAF’s and the Royal Navy’s air power capability. This autumn, the first flight trials of the Lightning will take place on-board HMS Queen Elizabeth, marking the start of a new era of Carrier Strike for the United Kingdom. It is no coincidence that the first front-line Squadron to operate the Lightning will be the RAF’s 617 Squadron: the Dambusters. In May, we commemorated the 75th anniversary



of their famous inaugural raid against the great dams in the Ruhr Valley. The rapid modification of the Avro Lancaster bombers – some of which only arrived at RAF Scampton on the day of the raid itself – showed what could be done when the RAF and industry joined forces to deliver highly innovative and effective solutions to seemingly impossible problems. The genius that Dr Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bomb epitomised is alive and well in the British aerospace industry today, and the courage, skill and determination shown by Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC’s Dambusters has never faltered in the RAF. As we celebrate and commemorate so many pivotal moments in the RAF’s history this year, I confidently look forward to a future in which the RAF’s reputation for operational excellence will continue to soar, borne on the wings built by an aerospace industry that is second to none.

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Paul Everitt Chief Executive, ADS Group

UK industry, supporting the Royal Air Force for 100 years


DS is the United Kingdom’s leading trade body for aerospace, defence, security and space industries and, as such, we maintain an excellent relationship with the RAF, with our members continuing to play a vital role in supporting the Service. UK industry has a long and proud history of providing the RAF with world-leading technology and equipment, from the Service’s first combat aircraft 100 years ago to those it flies today in its mission to keep the UK safe. Across the globe, our members help support and deliver many of the RAF’s military capabilities, from providing maintenance, refit and engineering services across the fleet, to delivering global connectivity and state-of-the-art digital systems. Industry’s relationship with the RAF is highly collaborative and UK industry is fully supportive of the Whole Force Approach that aims to bring them closer together with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to improve efficiency and effectiveness. This



will only continue to grow in importance as the RAF integrates new capabilities, such as the F-35, and operates alongside the other front-line commands as new and innovative capabilities are brought into service in the coming decade. As our armed forces continue to transform, we are encouraged to see even more collaboration between the private and public sectors. Industry will continue to help shape the future capabilities of the RAF and contribute to the vision that will maintain the UK’s presence as a world-leading military air power. Nowhere better is this collaboration demonstrated than in the Defence Growth Partnership. This joint Government-Industry initiative works to secure a truly competitive, sustainable and globally successful UK Defence sector. As a key part of this, the Defence Solutions Centre acts as a centralised coordinating and strategic planning function for industry, providing a coherent view of future requirements. This collaborative approach is helping the UK defence industry offer our international partners the highest-quality comprehensive solutions for their requirements. An important part of this future is the delivery of the Combat Air Strategy. Successful implementation of this will rely upon a deep partnership between industry and Government, not just across the MOD, but across a number of areas in the public sector. It is important that the Strategy pulls from the defence industrial, civil aerospace, digital, and education sectors, to name but a few, in order to leverage the technologies and initiatives that will feed into the next generation of capabilities. The Combat Air Strategy will set a number of challenges, both to industry and Government, to create the national environment within which the next-generation capabilities can be developed in the UK. To best position itself for future success, it is vital that industry and Government align priorities and collaborate in order to ensure national resources – be that financial support, skills, or anything else – are used efficiently and effectively. An innovative and robust industrial base is not only vital to the success of a Combat Air Strategy, but also to national prosperity. Defence aerospace remains a huge contributor to our national economy, providing roughly 85 per cent of UK defence exports and 35,000 direct jobs in 2017. The UK Defence Industry remains highly productive, innovative, and comprised of a workforce inspired to support the vital work of the RAF. Our industry looks forward to expanding and deepening this important relationship in the future.


Simon Michell EDITOR, RAF AIR POWER 2018

Building on the past 100 years


even months before the end of the First World War, the United Kingdom became the first country to establish an independent air warfare organisation – the Royal Air Force. A century later, it remains one of the most highly admired and emulated air forces in the world. Not only did the RAF play a crucial role in paving the way for victory during the Second World War, but since then it has been involved in operations across the planet. It is a truly global force, and it demonstrates this reach on a daily basis: from the South Atlantic to the Baltics, in the Caribbean, across the Middle East, in Africa, the Far East and even Australasia – nowhere is too far for the RAF. Even space is becoming a domain in which it is increasingly active, as evidenced by its recent appointment as the lead organisation for UK Defence in that domain. This centenary edition of RAF Air Power presents a flavour of the myriad tasks, missions and operations in which the RAF is involved. And although the technology of the current RAF is very different to that available to the early Trenchard-era force,

many of the fundamentals remain the same. As Air Marshal Stuart Atha explains in his article (Combat air power, p80), the ability to master Network-Enabled Warfare remains as important today as it did during the Battle of Britain. Air Marshal Julian Young (Growing the front line, p40) also highlights in his article how making sure that the right equipment is procured in a timely and efficient manner is vital for maintaining capability and relevance. Once again, I am extremely grateful to the host of RAF personnel who have given up their time to offer their insights into how the RAF is maintaining its effectiveness and relevance today, and also preparing for and delivering the Next Generation Air Force. In particular, I am grateful to Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Chris Elliot, AVM Simon Rochelle and Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty. AVM Chris Elliot revealed the RAF’s efforts to generate a diverse air force fit for the future (Diversity based on meritocracy, p107), and AVM Rochelle has shed light on the future combat system that will play a part over the next century (Future Combat Air System, p76). For her part, Air Commodore McCafferty (see p112) has highlighted the importance of the Air Cadets in preparing the nation’s youth for adulthood and, perhaps, even a career in the Next Generation Air Force – a trail blazed by so many of their predecessors, not least Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, former Chief of the Defence Staff, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff. The process of building the nation’s Next Generation Air Force has begun. The arrival in the UK this year of the RAF’s first low-observable fast jet, the F-35B Lightning, is a seminal moment in the RAF’s history, as is the programme to re-establish fixed-wing maritime patrol with the P-8A Poseidon – an aircraft that will play vital roles in safeguarding our nuclear deterrent and addressing threats from the sea. Aircrew training is also undergoing a radical overhaul with the UK Military Flying Training System, now starting to deliver instruction having taken delivery of most of the aircraft types on order. Operational (Aggressor) training will also soon be refreshed under the ASDOT programme, which is currently under competition. Moreover, the introduction of the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, from the decks of which the F-35 will fly later in 2018, underlines the UK Government’s intent and aspiration to remain an important actor on the global stage – to project soft and hard power; to come to the rescue of those in need; and to protect our nation, our friends and our allies from those who wish to do us harm. BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



Building the Next Generation Air Force requires not just consolidating the interoperability of equipment and technology, but also a more innovative and efficient use of people and processes. Air Commodore Richard Barrow explains

Building the Next Generation Air Force

A Although the equipment has changed over the past 100 years, the four core roles of air power remain the same – control of the air, ISR, attack and mobility (PHOTOS: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


s the RAF embarks on its second century, the multitude of events that continue to celebrate our Centenary have given us time to reflect on how air power has evolved from its first precarious forays in slipping the surly bonds of earth. One cannot fail to be awed by the incredible changes that those 100 years have wrought in terms of technological advancement. But, if the aircraft have changed, the roles of air power and the nature of those who we rely upon to deliver it has not. By the end of the First World War, the four key roles of air power had been identified, developed and utilised. Similarly, the qualities of innovation, courage, determination and duty displayed by our forebears are evident today in the intensity of operations in which we have been engaged continuously for over three decades. This edition of Air Power utilises the framework of the RAF Strategy to brigade its articles. People, Capability and Excellence are at the heart of the RAF Strategy and underpin our strategic objectives. To set the scene, in this opening article I will expand on the strategic objective delivering the ‘Next Generation Air Force’, which will define the Royal Air Force’s advancement in its second century.


What does the ‘Next Generation Air Force’ mean? It is easy to define this in equipment terms, but this fails to recognise the enduring nature of the challenge. The Next Generation Air Force does not start tomorrow, next week or next year, because the challenge of delivering the Next Generation Air Force is not new: the RAF has been working on this problem for 100 years, and our success over that time has largely been enabled through our unerring focus on meeting future challenges. A deep-rooted aspect of the RAF’s approach has been its constant ability to adapt, evolving rapidly, often in contact, to meet the challenge. Technological advances have been an enduring theme in our story, but alone are not the complete answer. Another constant is our people: agile and proactive airmen and women who we continue to attract from across all sections of our society to give the RAF its fighting edge.

TESTING OUR BOUNDARIES Today, the challenges have never been greater: while we have been engaged in constant operations for the last three decades, potential adversaries have developed, adapted and proliferated technologies at an unprecedented rate and scale. They have observed our way of war and seek to disrupt it. Testing our boundaries below the threshold of direct military




The Next Generation Air Force will need to inspire today’s and tomorrow’s young people and harness their unique talents (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

confrontation, they attempt to undermine our and our allies’ cohesion by exploiting the seams between strategic competition, confrontation and conflict. In the face of these threats, we must be able to secure the homeland and our overseas territories, whilst strengthening alliances in the Euro-Atlantic arena and projecting our influence across the globe. To do this, we must make the best use of information, applying knowledge to data to develop understanding and generate decision superiority for our commanders. The rate at which we move information around our systems will drive the pace of our decision-making, and this will determine our degree of advantage. Information is the lifeblood of the Next Generation Air Force, but systems integration and interoperability will ensure the right information reaches the right person at the right time. Digital communication technologies are the glue which fuses Air, Space and Cyber domains together and are at the core of the UK’s Joint Force.

At this critical time... we must continue to adapt as an organisation 36


Air power’s unique attributes of speed, flexibility and responsiveness have ensured the RAF’s relevance across the continuum of conflict, from sub-threshold to full conventional warfare. For decades we have enjoyed the luxury of air superiority, providing a protective canopy for our surface forces, who have been able to exploit the freedom of manoeuvre that air power provides. But the enemy retains a vote, and our potential adversaries may not be so accommodating; through advanced long-range surface-to-air missiles and advanced combat aircraft, they are certainly able to challenge us to a degree not seen since the end of the Cold War. This has implications for the freedom of manoeuvre of the whole Joint Force and, as the UK’s custodian of Air Power, we must ensure our colleagues across Defence understand this. At this critical time, we need to maintain pace with the rapidly evolving threats in increasingly contested and degraded environments, and we must continue to adapt as an organisation. Change is the nature of the Next Generation Air Force, uncertainty is an omnipresent feature of our business, and we must learn to exploit the opportunities that operational and strategic ambiguity presents. Lengthy conceptdesign-production timelines are a feature of current complex programmes, often to the detriment of agility and flexibility. Instead, the spiral development approach to programmes, accepting more risk in


the early years, but with planned opportunities to upgrade and adapt the in-service capability, offers the choices we need. In parallel, we must continue to pioneer rapid capability development and ‘designin’ from the outset the ability to grow and adapt at pace. Smart, networked weapon systems, with changeable payloads, offer the ability to counter a changing threat, whilst reducing or removing costly and time-consuming platform integration activities. Similarly, platforms must be designed to accept Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) packages that can be quickly fitted and updated to keep pace with a changing threat.

We know that the insatiable demand for information will not reduce. The demand for collect capability continues to exceed our ability to deliver, but simply collecting more data is not the answer. Instead we must focus on flexible, multi-domain, multi-faceted Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, supported by analysis that can rapidly exploit, fuse and disseminate information. This will generate real-time actionable intelligence and situational awareness for those who need it, from the operational commander in a HQ to the tactical team leader in contact with the enemy. This should be supported by increased development and utilisation of space-based capabilities

The RAF’s new F-35 aircraft are part of its continual quest to maintain pace with rapidly evolving threats (PHOTO: CPL ANDY HOLMES/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




The RAF Chinook helicopter (foreground) offers unparalleled tactical transport and Medevac capabilities (PHOTO: SAC NICHOLAS EGAN RAF/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

and enabled by Air Mobility to provide rapid global reach and influence, including within contested environments. We are reinvigorating our electronic warfare capabilities, and if we are to fight, survive and win in future we must continue to develop our capacity in this critical arena of warfare. By harnessing the electromagnetic spectrum across Air, Cyber and Space-based capabilities, we will preserve our freedom of manoeuvre across an operational battle space. Of course, this includes our defensive Cyber capabilities, but also the potential to develop offensive tools and the capability to deliver Cyber effects from our Air platforms.

INTEROPERABILITY AND INTEGRATION As already highlighted, interoperability and integration is critical for mission effectiveness, whether as a UK Joint Force or when operating with our allies. In this regard, connectivity between C2 (command and control) and Air platforms is an essential enabler. Air C2 platforms are the force multipliers that draw together allies and components. These capabilities are vital; they must have the necessary capacity to be robust and resilient. Open information architectures will allow new technologies to be exploited and allow effectors and decision-makers to be seamlessly connected in near real time wherever they are. Our people must be prepared and ready for the challenge. Training must be realistic and demanding, and we should recognise that the live-training environment may not be able to offer sufficient



challenge for the Next Generation Air Force. Ultimately, it is the people who will provide the intellectual edge and they, like the hardware, must be adaptable, agile and resilient. In seeking the headroom to move into new and novel areas, we must ruthlessly prioritise, stripping away redundancy and duplication and driving out inefficiency. Developing better, more flexible ways of working is an essential ingredient in unlocking the full capacity of the work force and will help us to retain the skills we need in the future. Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, autonomous systems and other disruptive technologies offer opportunities. We must engage with these concepts, using them to our advantage, but remaining conscious of the ethical challenges that they may bring. Air Power and the RAF have continuously evolved over the past 100 years. Delivery of the Next Generation Air Force is not a new concept; it has been our strategic objective since the inception of the Service. Throughout, the equipment of the day has marked the passage of time and provides tangible evidence of innovation and progress, but it has been the RAF’s quest to seize the future that has secured its reputation for excellence. The men and women of the RAF continue to be the constant decisive factor in our development and success. The aircraft of today would be unrecognisable to our forebears, but they would recognise in our people, words and deeds the spirit of innovation and operational excellence that have been the Royal Air Force’s hallmark since 1918.


Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force

General David L Goldfein The United Kingdom is one of our closest Allies. From flying alongside each other in the strategic bombing campaign of the Second World War and the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War, to safeguarding our NATO Allies today, the United States Air Force (USAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF) have a special bond unlike any other. Our unparalleled partnership is deeply rooted in the rich history of our nations’ mutual democratic norms and unwavering commitment to peace, security and prosperity. This has not and will not change. We will continue to work together and fly in formation to meet future challenges and threats. The United States and United Kingdom defence relationship is as strong as ever. The depth of the USAF and RAF relationship will only grow as – together – we face an increasingly complex and dangerous international security environment. No nation will be able to combat future threats alone. It is innovation and the interoperability of our combined efforts that will allow us to find ways to address complex challenges over the next decade. The USAF will continue to work and train with the RAF bilaterally and through NATO to build interoperability and ensure collective security and deterrence. Technological advances are changing the character of warfare and increasingly congesting the operating environment. Future challenges and adversaries must be met with a fully integrated fourthand-fifth-generation force anchored by the unmatched F-35 Lightning II and

global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. The RAF has been, and will remain, a top-tier partner of the USAF in developing and integrating these key assets in the next generation of NATO air force capabilities. We will continue to work and train together to enhance interoperability, deter adversaries and,

“The USAF will continue to work and train with the RAF bilaterally and through NATO to build interoperability”

when required, defeat future threats to global peace and security. The RAF has played a monumental role in shaping aviation and world history. Had it not developed out of the ashes of the first Great War, world history could have taken a dramatically different turn. The United States looks to the United Kingdom to play an active role in the world, as it always has, and the world looks to the transatlantic community to address its most serious challenges. The UK is one of our closest and most capable NATO Allies, and history shows that we are stronger because we are united with common values and resolute in our commitment to freedom.




Air Marshal Julian Young, Chief of Materiel (Air) at Defence Equipment and Support, tells Simon Michell how his organisation is helping to grow the Royal Air Force’s front line

Growing the front line The DE&S innovative contract for the F-35B will introduce a fifthgeneration fast jet into the RAF’s growing front line rapidly and with reduced risk (PHOTO: SGT P J GEORGE MA ABIPP/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)



eamwork, transparency and trust. These are the three most important characteristics in our work with our front-line customers. They underpin everything we do,” says Air Marshal Julian Young, who oversees the introduction of new and upgraded air systems into the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces from his office in Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S). “They are important because DE&S is fundamental in the introduction of new capability into the hands of our military. We act as the project manager. We advise


on setting the requirement, and then manage the competitions and negotiate the contract to get the best deal possible for our customers. Moreover, we use our technical expertise to assist with the certification and qualification of the equipment through initial to full operating capability.” DE&S starts off each project by helping its customer, predominantly the Royal Air Force, but also the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Royal Navy (RN), describe their requirement. In Air Marshal Young’s words, “DE&S helps the customer express the technical specification in a way that is narrow enough to


ensure that it will satisfy the requirement, but broad enough to enable the bidders to be innovative and imaginative with their proposals.” Once the winner has been selected, DE&S then calls upon its commercial experts to go head to head with the provider to thrash out the best deal possible for both parties. They are not just looking for affordability and value for money; they also want to ensure that the equipment arrives when it is needed and that the deal helps the customer introduce the new capability quickly and with minimum risk. The F-35 contract is a prime example. To get the aircraft into operational service as rapidly as possible, over 140 RAF and RN air and ground crew have been working alongside the US Marine Corps in America for up to four years, learning how to maintain, fly and manage the aircraft. Likewise, the introduction of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will be eased substantially, thanks to the seedcorn aircrew that have been invited to fly in US Navy Poseidons over recent years as part of that negotiation. Growing the front line is not a straightforward activity, and the unexpected can suddenly throw even the most secure plans off course. The fall in the sterling/dollar exchange rate that followed the Brexit referendum is a case in point. Despite hedging against currency fluctuations, DE&S was forced to recalibrate two of its flagship programmes – P-8 and Protector. F-35 was unaffected, thanks to a combination of efficiency savings and unit-price reductions achieved

The Typhoon will remain the RAF’s backbone until 2040 (PHOTO: SGT NEIL BRYDEN RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

per aircraft by the contractor. Thankfully, efficiencies in the P-8A programme have meant that the initial operating capability (IOC) will not be delayed, although the aircraft at the front end of the contract will be delivered six months late. Unfortunately, the groundbreaking Protector remotely piloted air system will now enter service later than originally envisaged. BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



A400M has been successfully certified and qualified for active service with one aircraft now based in the Falkland Islands (PHOTO: ANDREW LINNETT/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

Typhoon and A400M are areas of exciting growth. At the time of writing, 19 of the RAF’s 22 A400M transport aircraft have been delivered and there are now only four areas of capability still to be fully developed. Although two of these – a defensive aids suite and airborne helicopter refuelling – do not impact on the RAF, issues relating to airflow when parachuting people out of the side doors simultaneously are being worked on, as are software teething problems on the X-Locks cargo handling system.

JOINT TYPHOON SQUADRON An area of tangible excitement results from the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, which gave the green light for the RAF to hold on to Tranche 1

The deal to sell Typhoon to Qatar will establish a joint Typhoon squadron at RAF Coningsby 42


Typhoons. This has enabled the establishment of two more squadrons. Additionally, the deal to sell Typhoon to Qatar will establish a joint Typhoon squadron (12 Squadron, RAF) manned by UK and Qatari pilots at RAF Coningsby. If all goes well, the new squadron will fly to its home base in time to patrol the skies during the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals. Air Marshal Young concedes that the deal will put additional pressure on the Military Flying Training System (MFTS), as more fast-jet pilots (including Qataris) will need to be qualified, but it is something that his team and Air Command are looking into. In preparing for the future, Air Marshal Young has two key challenges. “We have got to get much more responsive in the way we manage the millions and millions of lines of software code in our systems – not just dealing with the volume, but also getting rapid flight clearance once we have introduced modifications, to sustain the platform’s capability edge,” he explains. This will, of course, cover Project Pyramid, which is developing the Mission System software for future aircraft systems, including the Typhoon replacement in 30 years’ time. The other area is space. The front line is set to expand even further beyond the earth’s atmosphere and, to get ready for this growth, DE&S has been asked to establish a Space Delivery Team.


Leonardo and production through technology in areas such as rapid prototyping, advanced manufacturing and design. Most importantly, we’re increasing our investment in high-level skills and training to ensure our dedicated workforce, based in six locations across the country, remains at the global forefront of their domain. We’re also continuing to lay the groundwork for our future business by recruiting young people into the business. We offer highly accredited apprenticeship and graduate schemes, with well over 400 young people currently enrolled at Leonardo’s facilities throughout the UK.

Norman Bone Chairman and Managing Director, Leonardo MW Ltd

HOW DO YOU SEE THE STATE OF THE DEFENCE AND SECURITY INDUSTRY IN 2018? We understand the pressures on the United Kingdom and our allies, facing increasingly complex threats and, at the same time, financial constraints. That’s why it is more important than ever that industry meets these competing demands by simultaneously providing capability and value for money. At Leonardo, we’re also generating value in the UK through investment in leading-edge technology, creating intellectual property that is incorporated into our products and services sold worldwide. That way, Leonardo contributes both to the economic success and resilience of the nation.

HOW ARE YOU GOING ABOUT DEVELOPING UKBASED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY? As well as investing in the development of world-leading defence technology, such as our helicopter rotor blades, part of our investment goes to improving productivity

HOW IS THIS INVESTMENT BENEFITING THE RAF? Our focus on developing the next generation of technology will ensure that the RAF maintains access to the equipment needed to face peer and near-peer adversaries in both current and future conflicts. However, this technology is not being developed in isolation. A major reason behind the success of Leonardo in the UK is our collaborative approach, building partnerships with industry, the customer and the end user. A great example of this in action is our work with the RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). Working closely with the RCO led to our new BriteCloud protective active decoy technology being brought into service on-board the Tornado GR4 aircraft, less than 12 months after discussions began. This partnered approach is also helping us succeed overseas, with 50% of our revenues coming from export sales. This global success

allows us further to invest in UK-based technologies, knowledge and skills.

CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF OVERSEAS SUCCESS? A notable example is our airborne radar business. From the UK, Leonardo is Europe’s leading supplier of airborne radars, currently supplying Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to over 30 countries across the world. This success then allows us to continually invest into the technology, ensuring we meet the future needs of the customer. Another area in which Leonardo is a world leader is helicopters, with Leonardo’s UKdesigned and built AW159 is in operational service with UK Armed Forces, as well as being exported to countries such as South Korea and the Philippines.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR LEONARDO IN THE UK? It’s a very exciting time for Leonardo in the UK. Through our ability to build mutually beneficial and long-term partnerships, we’re able to provide innovative solutions to complex problems, working with customers to achieve shared objectives that deliver value for money. We look forward to further developing our Strategic Partnering Arrangement with the UK MoD for our UK helicopter business, as well as the output of the Modernising Defence Programme and the Combat Air Strategy review. We will continue to leverage our collaborative approach to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of aerospace and defence, whilst also ensuring we protect and grow the prosperity of the nation.

“We’re able to provide innovative solutions to complex problems” Website: www.uk.leonardocompany.com



Ben Palmer Chief Executive (Acting), Northrop Grumman Europe

WHAT DOES THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE MEAN TO YOU? For us at Northrop Grumman it’s a compelling vision for transforming how we think about air power. It’s about harnessing technology to outpace the rapidly evolving threat. It’s about networking, integrating and getting more out of the sum of the parts of today’s Typhoons, tomorrow’s F-35s and whatever other air platforms the UK decides to acquire in the future. It’s about multi-functional sensors and novel effectors and it’s about new and enhanced ways of delivering air battle management (BM), and command and control (C2). But, above all, it’s underpinned by a much closer focus on the critical importance of being able to collect, fuse, analyse, disseminate and generate military effect from the vast troves of information that proliferate across today’s battlespace. Connectivity, networking and interoperability lie at its heart, but it will only be realised by harnessing the innovation and imagination of the whole force. Website: www.northropgrumman.com

Northrop Grumman is a pre-eminent player in advanced aerospace, strike, autonomy, C4ISR and cyber technologies. Our leading roles on programmes such as the B-2, F-35, Global Hawk, Fire Scout and X-47B clearly demonstrate that. Most obviously for the UK, we provide the sensing and communications capabilities – via the APG-81 AESA radar, the AN/ AQ37 EO Distributed Aperture System (EODAS), and the Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) suite with its Multi-function Advanced Data Link (MADL) – that make the F-35 such a potent strike and ISR asset. Added to that, we are working with the RAF in support of its Babel Fish trials, the communications interoperability exercise between fifth- and fourth-generation fast-jet aircraft, to think through how most effectively to network the force, enable and exploit the combat cloud and understand the potential of next generation Air C2 and BM. Looking ahead, we’re also very interested to see how the UK decides to shape its future combat air force mix.

HOW IMPORTANT A CATALYST IS F35 FOR THE KIND OF TRANSFORMATION YOU OUTLINE? Having been personally involved with the carrier strike programme since 2002, I’ve been delighted in the past few weeks to be able to witness the stand-up of 617 Squadron and the arrival of the first operational jets at RAF Marham. The F-35 Lightning II is going to transform the way we think about the role of the fast jet: as aircrew and operational commanders alike explore the potential afforded by its survivability and C4ISR

functionality, doctrine and tactics are going to be rewritten. Its arrival is driving the disruptive thinking that runs through the next generation air force. That makes this, the RAF’s Centenary year, a tremendously exciting time to be involved.

PICKING UP ON YOUR POINT ABOUT DISRUPTION, WHAT OTHER TECHNOLOGIES DO YOU SEE HAVING SIMILAR TRANSFORMATIVE IMPACT? It often takes time for new technologies to be widely adopted, but I think we are getting there. In fact, we are on the verge of a number of ‘horse-and-tank moments’. The potential of autonomy is well-known; we

“The F-35 is going to transform the way we think about the role of the fast jet” will see it becoming increasingly prevalent across the battlespace in the coming years. So too, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data; and we are truly excited about the game-changer that is machine learning and how human-machine teaming will expand decision-making effectiveness in the future. Beyond that, the need to invest in technologies that exploit the cyber and electromagnetic spectrum is obvious. And I’m personally intrigued to see what additive manufacturing, open systems architectures, agile software development and synthetic biology will do to the extant industrial business model. We need collectively to ensure that our procurement and other processes allow, rather than stifle, those changes.


617 Squadron – The ‘Dambusters’ – re-enter centre stage as the United Kingdom’s most advanced air combat squadron. Air Commodore David Bradshaw, UK Lightning Force Commander, provides an update on their progress

Lightning Force Wing Commander John Butcher, Officer Commanding 617 Squadron, is the first to arrive at the Lightning Force’s home base of RAF Marham on 6 June 2018 – two months ahead of schedule (PHOTO: LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS VIA MOD)


he UK’s first front-line Lightning unit, 617 Squadron, is an exciting mix of highly experienced Royal Air Force and Royal Navy (RN) personnel from varied aviation backgrounds, including Typhoon and F/A-18, as well as young sailors, airwomen and airmen fresh from training. The squadron, now well established at RAF Marham in Norfolk, re-formed at a simple yet highly poignant ceremony at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC on 17 April 2018, as part of RAF100 celebrations in the US, and returned with great acclaim to RAF Marham in the UK with four Lightnings on 6 June.

By design, the squadron reflects the inherently joint nature and ethos of the Lightning Force, with a mix of RAF and RN personnel at every rank and in every trade. Based on experience from past and present forces, we have created a truly Joint Force. To demonstrate the absolute commitment made by both Services to this unique endeavour, Wing Commander John Butcher, the first Squadron Commander of the new Dambusters, will be succeeded by an RN Commander. The corollary will be true for our second front-line squadron, 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), when it reforms in 2023: an RN Commander will be followed by an RAF Wing Commander and so forth.




Members of 617 Squadron arrive in UK airspace aboard four F-35B Lightnings, having departed MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, earlier the same day (PHOTO: CPL TIM LAURENCE/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

The Lightning Force will continue to grow over the coming years to be fully operational by the end of 2023. In the meantime, 207 Squadron – formerly No 7 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service, until the RAF formed in 1918 – will re-enter the fray in mid 2019 as the F-35 Operational Conversion Unit. By early 2023, 617 Squadron will have grown to sufficient size to split into two parts, with 809 NAS – ‘The Immortals’ – re-forming as a result. The comprehensive redevelopment of RAF Marham to be able to support F-35 is progressing well. Project Anvil is delivering numerous facilities, including squadron buildings, a maintenance hangar, refurbished runways and an upgraded power supply to the Station, as well as an Integrated Training Centre that sits at the very heart of our ambitious synthetic training strategy.

What takes Lightning into the vaunted Next Generation is its stealthy design 46


The first of these facilities, the Lightning Operations Centre, was opened by Her Majesty The Queen in February 2018. The only aspects of Anvil that are unique to the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B are the three heat-resistant Vertical Landing pads, which have recently emerged from the Marham mud; in every other regard, RAF Marham will be able to support visiting RAF and allied aircraft, including US Air Force F-35As from neighbouring RAF Lakenheath.

STEP CHANGE IN CAPABILITY The F-35 Lightning is a high-performance fast jet that can simultaneously attack myriad surface targets and enemy aircraft using increasingly potent precision bombs, missiles such as AMRAAM, and less kinetically destructive electronic attack techniques. And while the RAF’s Typhoon will keep pace with current and emerging threats through a programme of upgrades, Lightning represents a step change in capability. What takes Lightning into the vaunted Next Generation is its stealthy design allowing access deep into highly defended enemy airspace with relative impunity. With internal fuel, and weapons carried in two bomb bays, the F-35 does not suffer from the same vulnerabilities as current aircraft with their radar reflecting pylons, bombs and drop tanks. But F-35 goes one step, if not many leaps, further: by fusing numerous advanced sensors and mission systems by


Providing enhanced capability and future security

Lockheed Martin (LM) means that this first key stage in the life of the F-35 is now complete.

What new capabilities does the F-35B provide to UK Defence?

Peter Ruddock Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin UK

What milestones will the UK’s F-35B achieve in 2018? The UK’s F-35Bs arrive at RAF Marham this summer and the most important milestone will be achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on land by the end of 2018. Thereafter, we will be focusing on IOC for F-35 on the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, and we start that process in the autumn, when HMS Queen Elizabeth sails to the east coast of the US to start flight trials. Beyond those two key landmarks is the award from the F-35 Joint Program Office of a $1.4 billion sustainment contract in 2018 to support operations for the F-35 fleet across the globe. However, in terms of the overall F-35 programme, perhaps the key milestone we have already achieved was the conclusion of the System Development and Demonstration programme, which

F-35 is the first low-observable aircraft to enter RAF service. Both pilots and engineers from the Lightning Force will benefit enormously from the maturity of the aircraft’s stealth and sensor fusion technology. Pilots will be able to get much closer to their intended targets without being noticed or shot at. F-35 is also the fourth generation of stealth, following F-117, B-2 and F-22, and so stealth engineering has come a long way in just over 25 years since the first flight of F-117 in June 1981 and that of the F-35 in December 2006. Another very important feature is situational awareness. By that I mean the ability for the aircraft to fuse numerous sensor data feeds, analyse them and then present that analysis in a clear manner to the pilot. This is a huge step up from the way a fourth-generation combat aircraft handles data, most of which the pilot does not have time to absorb, let alone act upon.

Can you outline the economic benefits the F-35 programme brings to the UK? The UK struck platinum when it became the only Tier 1 partner in the programme some 18 years ago. For 10% of the planned development cost, the UK has secured an

industrial, business and financial benefit that supports over 500 UK companies in the supply chain alone. That translates into more than 20,000 jobs over the production phase of the programme. To date, more than $13.55 billion has been invested in the UK by the F-35 programme.

Tell us about LM’s activities at RAF Marham LM also provides the full-mission simulators that are being installed at RAF Marham. These will be used to deliver about half the overall flying time the pilots undergo. Also, LM is prime contractor for the infrastructure upgrade that is bringing the air base up to the standards needed to support a 21st-century fighter.

Where do you see LM providing future capability to the UK? It is up to the customer to decide, but LM spends more on defence and security R&D than any European nation, bar France and the UK. We are heavily involved in hypersonics, directed energy weapons, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber and cyber EW (electronic warfare), not forgetting ballistic missile defence systems. One area we are particularly keen to grow in is Space. Lockheed Martin has put more than 800 satellites into orbit, and here in the UK we already have more than 300 staff dedicated to Space, which, if you pardon the pun, is a very good launchpad indeed.

“Lockheed Martin spends more on defence and security R&D than any European nation, bar France and the UK” Website: www.lockheedmartin.com


UK F-35B Lightnings will declare a land capability in 2018 and a seaborne capability from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers in 2020 (PHOTO: LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS VIA MOD)


design, the aircraft can generate incredible levels of situational awareness, not only for the benefit of the pilot, but also for others in the air and on the surface.

FUTURE RELEVANCE Of course, when F-35 is in a stealthy configuration, certain constraints apply, notably to weapon payload. This means that combat aircraft such as Typhoon will remain very relevant far into the future. However, by integrating F-35 with Typhoon and other allied combat and ISTAR aircraft, we can extract the maximum Air Power punch from this potent mix. 617 Squadron will declare a land-based expeditionary warfighting capability by the end of this year. However, this will be anything but a solo effort. The Dambusters will receive a huge amount of support


from across the Lightning enterprise. Teams of UK personnel – including 17 Squadron; the UK’s F-35 test and evaluation unit at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California; and the ACURL, the combined UK/Australian Reprogramming Laboratory at Eglin AFB, Florida – will play key roles in ensuring the Force remains at the cutting edge of capability from the very outset. While maintaining high readiness for landbased operations, 617 Squadron will commence their work-up onboard the purpose-built HMS Queen Elizabeth in earnest to be ready to declare an embarked warfighting capability in December 2020. Shortly thereafter, 617 Squadron will be joined by a USMC F-35B squadron for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden operational deployment as part of the UK’s resurgent Carrier Strike capability in 2021.


F135 – affordable, available and adaptive

Pratt & Whitney

John Wiedemer Vice President, F135 Program, Pratt & Whitney

HOW IS THE F135 PERFORMING OPERATIONALLY? The affordable, available and adaptive fifth-generation F135, which powers all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II, is the most advanced fighter engine in the world, delivering more than 40,000lbs of thrust and unparalleled capability to the warfighter. The engine is performing exceptionally well in the field, with propulsion mission availability consistently above 95% and current production engines already exceeding key 2020 reliability requirements. From a flight safety perspective as well, the F135 engine has set a new standard, with key safety metrics 13 times better than fourth-generation fighter engines. When we talk to warfighters about the F135, they continue to tell us it might be the best engine we’ve ever built.



We are laser-focused on sustainment and maintaining mission readiness for our customers’ fleets, while continuing to drive engine sustainment costs down. We’ve worked closely with our partners and customers to stand-up F135 propulsion capability at 14 bases in five countries, with more coming over the next few months. Earlier this year, a joint team consisting of Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce and the F-35 Joint Program Office successfully completed the rollout of a major upgrade to the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS v2.0.2.4) – which integrates the F135 propulsion system for the first time – to all F-35 operational bases. Pratt & Whitney is also leveraging our experience in supporting over 30,000 fielded commercial and military engines and our in-depth knowledge

We’ve delivered over 400 F135 engines to date and expect to deliver just over 100 engines this year. In the coming years, our supply base, partners, and assembly lines will be ramping up to produce over 160 engines per year, plus the spare modules and parts to sustain the growing F-35 fleet. From an affordability perspective, we’ve reduced the production cost of the engine by 52% and are continuing to drive down costs as our manufacturing processes and supply chain drive down the learning curve and become more efficient.

WHAT IS THE LATEST ON THE UK’S FLEET OF F35BS? The F135 propulsion system for the F-35B includes the Rolls-Royce lift system which provides short take-off and vertical landing capability (STOVL) to the Royal

“We are laser-focused on sustainment and maintaining mission readiness” of the F135 design to bring sustainment solutions that will drive operating costs down. One example is the Digital Depot initiative, which captures detailed data from engine shop visits to drive costoptimised maintenance work scope, feed accurate forecasts for parts availability, and inform future design improvements for even higher reliability and time on wing. Initiatives like this will help enable us to provide the incredible fifth-generation capability of the F135 at operating costs in line with legacy fourth-generation engines.

Air Force. Coupled with an adaptive control system that allows the aircraft to transition from hover to flight mode at the push of a button, these technologies enable the F-35B to operate from land bases as well as Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, and truly provides nextgeneration airpower capability to the RAF. Pratt & Whitney and our Rolls-Royce partners are working closely with the RAF as it progresses toward first aircraft arrival and Initial Operational Capability later this year. Website: www.pw.utc.com


Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer, discusses the valuable support the United Kingdom and the Royal Air Force continue to provide to the F-35 program. His UK National Deputy, Group Captain Willy Hackett, provides historical context to UmeK involvement in the F-35 story, and Wing Commander John Butcher, Officer Commander No 617 Squadron, gives his perspective on the UK’s first front-line Lightning Squadron as it moves to RAF Marham permanently

F-35 Program Office update aerospace industry leaders. A vectoredthrust turbofan engine was later refined and became part of the first vertical takeoff and landing jet – the Harrier. Today, the B-model lift fan is a descendent of that engine and is developed by Rolls-Royce. For six years, the UK has operated its F-35Bs and flown with the broader F-35 community, where each partner nation speaks the same language of operating a next-generation stealth aircraft. The good work and the strong relationships formed today will help ensure that the UK is ready to operate and sustain the world’s finest fighter aircraft well into the future.

GROUP CAPTAIN WILLY HACKETT, UK F35 NATIONAL DEPUTY VICE ADMIRAL MAT WINTER USN, F35 PROGRAM EXECUTIVE OFFICER The steadfast US and UK partnership continues to grow stronger as we recognise the standup of F-35 facilities at RAF Marham and the deployment of the first UK operational squadron to its home base. Placing these 2018 milestones within the historical framework of the Royal Air Force entering 100 years of service and marking 75 years since the historic ‘Dams Raid’, which gave 617 Squadron their popular name, is a connecting line of British aviation know-how and ingenuity that carries on today in the game-changing capabilities of the F-35. A key technology of the B-model – which can execute short take-offs and vertical landings – came directly from UK


Since the establishment of the Royal Air Force in 1918, the Service has been an engine of aerospace technology, and the F-35 is the latest addition to a line of iconic aircraft, such as the Sopwith Camel and Supermarine Spitfire. The UK has been deeply involved in the development of the F-35 and the systems that make it such a potent warplane. Although it offers an array of kinetic options for future Royal Air Force and coalition operational commanders, perhaps its biggest strength is its ability to share transformational situational awareness of the battlespace with other networked users. As part of a kill web, the F-35 can unlock the potential of other platforms on the battlefield. However, it has been the skill, dedication and tenacity of the personnel of the Royal Air Force – ably assisted by our sister Service, the Royal Navy – which has helped develop


the F-35 into one of the most potent systems in the world today. UK Lightnings, based on land or sea, will enable us to remain highly effective in modern warfare anywhere around the globe, keep close to our primary ally, the United States of America, and allow us to continue at the forefront of coalition operations.

WING COMMANDER JOHN BUTCHER, OFFICER COMMANDER NO 617 SQUADRON This summer, the UK’s first front-line F-35B Lightning Squadron stands up its permanent home at RAF Marham in Norfolk, England. The Squadron – which was reformed in Washington, DC on 17 April at the RAF100 celebrations – will move more than 100 people from locations across the US and nine jets from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, where the majority of the training is conducted to prepare for Initial Operating Capability (IOC). The operation to move these people and aircraft is known to the Squadron as Operation Crimson, historically named after the crimson route from the Second World War – a set of joint US and Canada transport routes planned for ferrying planes and material from North America to Europe. Once home at RAF Marham, they will begin working towards IOC, which is expected in December 2018. The Operational Conversion Unit for the UK’s Lightning fleet will stand up in 2019, and will train future RAF and Royal Navy Lightning pilots. The UK will be ready to fight the fight... and win


For more than 80 years, Pratt & Whitney has been proud to power the Royal Air Force fleet. From the iconic Wasp engine that powered the T-6 Harvard to today’s game changing F135 propulsion system for the F-35 Lightning II, our engines bring cutting-edge technology to address the complex and diverse needs of the Royal Air Force. Pratt & Whitney is proud to commemorate this historic milestone with the Royal Air Force.

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BAE Systems highlights the extensive role that the company plays to ensure the global fleet of F-35 aircraft will be available wherever and whenever it is needed

F-35 maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade


hen the first four United Kingdom F-35B Lightning aircraft touched down at RAF Marham on 6 June 2018, a new chapter opened in the history of BAE Systems’ relationship with the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm. The arrival, two months ahead of schedule, found the station with facilities and teams of people primed to deliver training, maintenance and operational support as the Lightning Force prepares to meet its target of Initial Operating Capability by the end of the year.

“For those of us closest to it, ensuring we have a workable sustainment solution for the UK has been something we have been living and breathing for a long time,” explains Steve Worsnip, Vice-President for Sustainment at BAE Systems Air. “The arrival of the first jets at Marham makes it real, and what they have arrived at is a solution that is ready to deliver as part of the Whole Force team, with industry and the customer working together. We have brought the experience that we have gathered from delivering availability support on UK Typhoon and Tornado, and we are evolving that to meet the specific needs of the UK Lightning Force and the wider global support solution,” he continues.


One of the four F-35B Lightning aircraft that touched down at RAF Marham on 6 June 2018, ushering in a new era in RAF capability (PHOTO: LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS VIA MOD)



To enable the service required to be delivered from these new facilities at RAF Marham, BAE Systems –together with its industry partners, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce – has recruited more than 100 people to deliver airframe and propulsion support to the UK, operating as Team Lightning UK. This team includes maintainers, instructor pilots and training staff, all of whom have undergone rigorous training, including working on F-35s in the United States, ready to ensure the UK’s Lightning Force has the pilots and available aircraft ready when and where it counts. Worsnip adds, “In the coming weeks, we will have the first jet into the Maintenance and Finishing facility at Marham, ready for its initial upgrade – another huge delivery milestone for the team. But BAE Systems has gone beyond this to ensure we are best placed to deliver what the UK needs by investing company money to make sure we are equipped to meet the inevitable


availability challenges that arise when aircraft enter service, before they become an issue. As a business that has been a part of the F-35 programme since day one, we know what is required to ensure we deliver and we are confident in our ability to continue to do this.” Away from RAF Marham, BAE Systems’ partnerships continue as part of Sealand Support Solutions, a joint venture with Northrop Grumman, its fellow Tier 1 partner on the F-35 programme, and the UK Government through the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA). This partnership has an established facility at MOD Sealand, North Wales, ready to deliver maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) services on avionics and aircraft components for the global F-35 fleet. This same joint venture, bidding under the name Team UK, recently submitted a bid to deliver further work from the facility, which has a team of experts from DECA already operating from the site. According to Worsnip, “BAE Systems’ story in delivering sustainment for the F-35 fleet stretches to

“This programme is the largest defence contract in the world” every corner of the globe. We are delivering in the UK from Marham and Sealand, whilst in the United States our experts have secured work to ensure the readiness of critical electronic warfare capability, and then our team in Australia has also been selected to deliver sustainment on avionics and digital mission systems for the Pacific region. This programme is the largest defence contract in the world and wherever an F-35 aircraft flies you will find BAE Systems people playing a part to ensure customers get every drop of capability it has to offer.”

Engineering technicians inspect one of the four F-35Bs that arrived at RAF Marham on 6 June 2018 (PHOTO: SGT NIK HOWE/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




Scott Winship, Sector Vice President, Northrop Grumman – Advanced Programs, highlights the challenges facing air forces as the speed of adversary technology development gains pace

Setting requirements for the Next Generation Air Force


n the future, it will be more important for the Royal Air Force to be able to operate in contested environments against increasingly capable adversaries and at ranges considerably more distant than today. Both the air and space domains will be challenged, requiring even greater cooperation with allied nations. It will be extremely important for today’s leadership in the RAF to identify the right balance of requirements for its future aircraft, through an optimum mix of range, payload, endurance and an ability to survive in these environments. The requirements set today will ultimately shape how the next generation of airmen and women in the RAF will operate. With the advent of fifth-generation aircraft, including the F-35 Lightning II, adversary countries are rapidly advancing weapons capabilities. As these countries develop their own stealth-capable strike aircraft and new surface-to-air missile systems, it will make it much harder to conduct operations successfully with aircraft and systems not optimised for this environment. The technological leaps these countries have made in such a short time is cause for great concern as they may gain parity or even overtake the United Kingdom and its allies’ technologies, should apathy or a “stay the course” mentality reign. No longer can any air force afford to make decisions with a view to the past or based on what the



leadership may think is the right combination. Those requirements cannot be set without rigorous analysis to inform the decision-makers as to what is really needed versus what is achievable in the near future.

FOCUS ON PEOPLE As with any requirement that is transformed into a capability, the people of the RAF will have to put this capability into action. Focusing on the people and what is needed for future mission success is a compelling vision expressed by the RAF’s leadership. The new challenges presented in the future will make it even more important for information, people and processes to be the underpinning of a future RAF capable of defending the nation. Additionally, conflicts in the future will require the UK to work more closely with its allies. This will also drive the need to ensure systems are able to swiftly share information and allow for quick decisions to be made. Combined with the changing way conflicts will be fought, taking into account the growth of multilateral and bilateral alliances also plays a factor in developing future requirements. At Northrop Grumman, the company’s focus has been to deliver capabilities and analysis that allow the UK to make decisions and endure on the battlefield, while offering options to conduct operations without detection. As continued


Autonomous systems, such as the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system, are designed to offer decisive advantage to the operator in highly contested and congested airspace (PHOTO: COPYRIGHT NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION)

expansion to the force network takes place, we must take the people operating these platforms into consideration, so they can achieve success. Through the company’s leadership in long-range survivable and persistent ISR and strike, autonomous systems, C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and cyber technologies, we are challenging today’s requirements and constraints to deliver future interoperable and collaborative technologies that can give the RAF a decisive advantage. It often takes time for new technologies to be widely adopted. However, we are on the verge of

a number of significant changes. The potential of autonomous systems and stealth technologies will be increasingly realised across the battlespace in the coming years. Future autonomous systems represent an opportunity to further combine the capabilities of operators and machines to enable decisions to be made more effectively across every domain. Via these capabilities, forthcoming conflicts require the RAF to set mission – and technology – requirements today in order to overcome tomorrow’s challenges. It will be vitally important for the RAF to find the right, and affordable, balance to properly exploit these capabilities. BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



Program Executive Officer for Air ASW, Assault & Special Mission Programs, PEO (A)

Rear Admiral G Dean Peters, US Navy On behalf of the men and women of the Naval Air Systems Command, please accept our most sincere congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. It has been our honour to stand by your side over so many decades, in times of war and in times of peace. I also congratulate the RAF on the selection of the P-8A Poseidon to recapitalise the long-range, fixed-wing maritime patrol capability formerly filled by the Nimrod MR2. The Poseidon’s wide range of mission capabilities will ably accomplish the RAF’s broad mission requirements – from defending the UK coastline and providing Search and Rescue, to defending the UK’s capital assets and supporting operations throughout the globe. The selection of the P-8A enables even greater collaboration with the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force, as well as the opportunity to leverage the worldwide 737 commercial fleet for logistics support, significantly reducing life-cycle costs for this robust capability. We envision a continuous series of upgrades throughout the P-8A lifecycle in order to keep pace with our adversaries and take advantage of new technology. With 50 years of experience managing upgrades and sustainment on the P-3 Orion, the Poseidon was designed with “room to grow” in space, cooling and power. This will facilitate easier introduction of future configuration changes. As an example, we are currently introducing an air-to-air refuelling capability and the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Weapons Capability (HAAWC) is currently in test, and will be fielding within the next couple of years. A follow-on phase of development includes substantial improvements to


ASW, targeting and communications. We will also see the introduction of improved Anti-Surface Warfare weapons capabilities, and changes will be made to the mission system computing architecture to enable even more rapid insertion of nextgeneration technology. The RAF will benefit from these upgrades, and we hope to see even closer cooperation in the future. Commonality is the most effective form of technical interoperability and a tremendous enabler of Defence Security Cooperation. With Poseidon, and the decision to maintain a common configuration, the RAF now has the foundation for interoperability with the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force. In addition, the RAF has gone beyond interoperability with Project SEEDCORN – a measure that allows RAF aircrew to fly with allied air forces to maintain experience in maritime patrol aircraft operations. Since their arrival in 2012, SEEDCORN personnel have been deeply integrated into our operational


test and training squadrons. The aircrews learned a tremendous amount from each other, raising the technical expertise of both of our Fleets. The SEEDCORN crews are full partners in the establishment of the P-8 training programme and in the design, execution and reporting of our operational test program. They have directly influenced US Navy programme priorities and profoundly improved the capability of the entire P-8A system. For that we are truly grateful, and the RAF should be very proud of their performance. Again, we congratulate you on the RAF’s centennial, and thank you for your long-standing support and partnership. I trust that, in the next generation, the US Navy and RAF will become ever-closer partners in the defence of life and liberty worldwide.

Rear Admiral Dean Peters was succeeded by Brigadier General Gregory L Masiello on 7 May 2018


Michael J Gething asks Group Captain Jim Walls DSO, Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, about the preparations to receive the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the first of which is scheduled to arrive in early 2020

P-8A Poseidon – filling the Maritime Patrol capability gap


he UK Ministry of Defence announced its intention to buy nine Poseidons in November 2015. Like the Nimrod before it, the Poseidon traces its roots back to a civil airliner – in this case the Boeing 737, combining the wing of the 737-900 series aircraft with the CFM56-7B27A turbofan engines and fuselage of the 737-800 series... but there the resemblance ends. The wing features raked wing extensions and hardpoints for air-to-surface weapons, while the fuselage is equipped with an internal weapons bay beneath the forward section, as well as the latest sensors – including the AN/APY-10 maritime surveillance radar, a retractable MX-20HD digital electro-optic/ infrared turret, AN/ALQ-240 electronic support measures and the DIRCM missile defence system – plus the avionic systems to process that information.

New facility for UK’s Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland Jobs:


local jobs at peak of construction



additional personnel will be based at RAF Lossiemouth when fleet is fully operational



• Operational Conversion Unit • Squadron accommodation

Contract value:

Defence Equipment & Support

Infrastructure will include:

• Tactical Operations Centre

jobs in total at RAF Lossiemouth

£132 million

• Training and simulation facilities UK have ordered 9 P8 Poseidon MPA aircraft

• Three bay aircraft hangar

The £400 million Lossiemouth Development Programme will install all the infrastructure required to operate and support the new P-8A (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

“At the moment, we’re in the acquisition phase, bringing together all the elements of the programme to develop the capability,” explains Group Captain (Gp Capt) Jim Walls, Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth. “The Royal Air Force is due to accept the first aircraft in late 2019 at the US Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida – home of the US Navy’s P-8A Fleet Replacement Program,” he confirms. “That’s where our people will be training at the time and where we also have some of our Seedcorn personnel.” At the time of the Nimrod’s withdrawal, the RAF located a number of aircrew to Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and US Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) communities to maintain ‘corporate experience’ under Project Seedcorn. “We’ve had people flying in the P-8s specifically and we’re bringing them back together,” he says. “We’re also training a lot of new people and, at the beginning of 2019, we will start to train the crews for the first RAF squadron at Jacksonville.” The first RAF unit will be 120 Squadron and, according to the Gp Capt, “They will come home in early 2020, with a second aircraft expected later that year. Then we’ll start to see them on a rolling programme to a total of nine. The second Poseidon unit will be 201 Squadron.”

Work has begun at Lossiemouth to create the base infrastructure to accommodate and support the Poseidon. “The P-8 Strategic Facility will be the main infrastructure for the P-8, containing the maintenance hangar, training facilities, simulators, engineering support and the operations buildings. One very large facility, with all the P-8’s infrastructure in it,” Gp Capt Walls discloses. “There are a number of other changes happening. We need to upgrade runways, taxiways and dispersals, but it’s more than that. We also need to do quite a lot of work to the




The P-8A Poseidon represents a massive step forward in the way the UK is able to patrol the seas in search of enemy surface ships, submarines and those in need of rescue (PHOTO: PAUL HARVEY)

“We’re planning for short- and long-term success. Poseidon is very popular – we’ve had lots of volunteers” rest of the base incorporated in the Lossiemouth Development Programme. Under this £400 million programme, as well as the P-8 infrastructure, we’re also adding a new front-line Typhoon squadron here.” This is one of the two additional Typhoon units announced in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. Gp Capt Walls is particularly excited about this, as he points out that the interoperability with the Typhoons based at Lossiemouth is a prime



example of air power employing the ‘thinking to win’ concept. “Having us co-located will be valuable for working together, combining our strength, and getting the most out of air power,” he says. Other infrastructure changes will include a new air traffic control tower and fire section, plus the base support that needs to go with that. “We see at least 470 more personnel coming here by the time we reach full capability, around 2024. So, there’s a lot of growth in the station as a whole. There’s quite a lot of activity and it’s a huge programme over the next few years.” When asked about the selection of aircrew, Gp Capt Walls highlights the vision: “We’re planning for short- and long-term success. Poseidon is very popular – we’ve had lots of volunteers join the programme. We have a mixture of new and experienced personnel from the Seedcorn process and even some re-joiners, who have decided they’d like to return to the RAF. We’ve got a nice mixture of people that are going to grow the future, and people from the past as well.” The initial crews will be trained at Jacksonville, until the UK programme is established, when all training will revert to Lossiemouth.


Air Commodore Ian Gale, Assistant Chief of Staff Capability, Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, tells Mark Daly why the Protector will usher in the next-generation unmanned aircraft capability

MQ-9B Protector

P By December 2017, the MQ-9A Reaper had achieved 100,000 hours of flight and a decade of service (PHOTO: © CROWN COPYRIGHT / SERGEANT ROSS TILLY (RAF))

rotector is the name of the Royal Air Force’s brand-new remotely piloted air system (RPAS), which will enter service in the next decade. It is the latest in the series of RPAS developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) and will introduce a major advance in reconnaissance and surveillance operations with the capability to take on a range of new roles. This new aircraft builds on experience dating back to 2004, when the RAF established its first RPAS flight with aircraft loaned from the US Air Force. MQ-9A Reapers were procured from 2007,

equipping No 39 Squadron and No 13 Squadron, first for operations in Afghanistan and then deployed over Iraq and Syria. These have proved extremely capable of high-intensity continuous operations, with the small force of 10 Reapers reaching 100,000 hours of operational experience in December 2017. The forthcoming Protector, although having the same airframe outline and layout as the Reaper, is an entirely different aircraft in construction, software and systems. It is based on a General Atomics design known as SkyGuardian. “Protector is a quantum leap from Reaper – it takes RPAS into a truly fifth-generation age,” says Air Commodore Ian Gale, Assistant Chief of




with industry representatives alongside the US Air Force, have been working on the testing and evaluation of the Protector system in the US during 2018. With Protector, a much higher degree of autonomy will certainly be achieved, although the RAF emphasises that full and constant human control is always at the centre of RPAS operations. RPAS operate with a crew of pilot, sensor operator and mission analyst at the Ground Control Station. “People are always involved at the heart of this,” says Air Commodore Gale. “Compared to the cockpit of a fast combat aircraft, this is a better environment to make calmer, more measured decisions.” The suggestion that these types of aircraft operate as unsupervised ‘drones’ has always been rejected by RAF officers and the Ministry of Defence. The MQ-9B Protector may look similar to the MQ9A Reaper, but it is an entirely new and significantly more capable aircraft (PHOTO: GENERAL ATOMICS AERONAUTICAL SYSTEMS INC)

Staff Capability, Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. The RAF is expected to acquire more than 20 Protector aircraft, supported by several new advanced Ground Control Stations. Unlike the Reaper, which evolved step by step from a simple design in the tradition of a light aircraft, the MQ-9B is designed and built nose to tail with the construction standards stipulated for an airliner. It incorporates many features of a full commercial aircraft, proofed against bird and lightning strikes and fitted with de-icing systems for adverse weather operations. All the control surfaces have multiple redundancy, tolerant of the failure of any single channel. Most significantly, the air vehicle has provision for the fitting

BROADER ROLES With certification of Protector will come the ability to handle much wider roles, such as search and rescue, border patrol and peacekeeping, although the main role envisaged for Protector in the future will continue to be Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations using its powerful sensors and great endurance. According to figures released by General Atomics, Protector can fly for periods of more than 40 hours at airspeeds of up to 210 knots, reach altitudes of more than 40,000 feet, and carry just over two tonnes of payload under its wings. When weaponised it is expected to carry Brimstone 2 air-tosurface missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.

“Protector is a quantum leap from Reaper – it takes RPAS into a truly fifth-generation age” of a what is known as a Due Regard Radar, giving a capability known as Detect and Avoid, aimed at gaining certification for flight in UK and European airspace, unlocking and transforming the future operations of RPAS. This capability is likely to come in stages and, in April 2018, came the contract for integration and component level testing for UKspecific parts of the MQ-9B Protector programme.

FIRST FLIGHT The first Protector test aircraft flew in the US during 2017, and the second and third aircraft were scheduled to fly in 2018. The Protector Combined Test Team of RAF pilots, sensor operators and engineers, together



Protector is bringing other advances and modes of operation. While Reaper needs on-board monitoring cameras and highly skilled hand-flying by the operating pilot for landing and take-off, Protector has a fully automatic take-off and landing capability. The control system for Protector is the Advanced Cockpit Ground Control Station, with touchscreens and 3D maps, comparable to the glass cockpits in the latest combat aircraft. Protector will also have the capability to selfferry to theatres of operation through controlled airspace, and there is the potential for handing control of an aircraft from a home ground control station to another at a remote base.


General Atomics – Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) Dr Jonny King Vice President, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems UK Ltd On 4 December 2017, 10 years after it entered operational service with the Royal Air Force, the Reaper remotely piloted air system (RPAS) reached the 100,000 flying hours milestone. Dr Jonny King, General Atomics’ UK Vice President, is proud of this achievement: “Reaper continues to be in very high demand on coalition operations and so we have developed a growth path to keep its capabilities relevant and to maximise its reliability right up to the point where it is replaced by our nextgeneration MQ-9B Protector RG Mk 1 RPAS.” GA-ASI is already preparing for the seamless transition from Reaper to Protector and is hoping to build on the relationship it enjoys with the RAF by offering up its training facilities at Grand Forks, North Dakota. The pre-production aircraft that is being used to develop Protector, YBC-01, has had a very busy year, and has achieved its own important milestones. On 16 August 2017, it became the first RPAS to be granted FAA approval to fly unescorted through America’s A-class civil airspace. This was the first of many flights being used to ready Protector for certification in 2021. Three months earlier, on 16 May, the same aircraft achieved a cleanwing endurance flight of 48 hours. “This long endurance capability is vital for Protector’s future flexibility as a multi-role asset,” explains Dr King. “Beyond the armed ISTAR role, for which the RAF has bought Protector, lies the possibility of integrating it within maritime surveillance airborne and sea-based assets. Successful anti-submarine warfare (ASW)

The RAF will replace its Reapers with the ‘certifiable’ MQ-9B Protector RG Mk 1 next-generation RPAS

demonstrations were completed in October 2017 with US Navy-deployed sonobuoys transmitting signals monitored via an MQ-9 and relayed over SATCOM to a ground station. “This is really exciting as it further expands the maritime role for Protector. Customers have already been using our RPAS to undertake surface surveillance tasks, but this proves its potential to help search for submarines as well. Protector’s endurance also makes it ideal for search and rescue operations and for monitoring exclusive economic zones (EEZs).” Perhaps the most exciting trials however, took place in December 2017, when GA-ASI successfully demonstrated SkyGuardian’s (GA-ASI’s name for MQ-9B) automatic take-off, landing and taxi capability via a SATCOM data link. The implications for this are enormous. “Being able to taxi a Protector out onto the runway under SATCOM control at a forward operating base (FOB) and then take off

under the control of a flight crew stationed at a main operating base, such as RAF Waddington, is a game-changer. No longer will you have to deploy valuable flight crew to the FOB, you can keep all of your crews in the same place,” confirms Dr King. Not only does this give more flexibility in how to rotate crews to cover longendurance flights, it also means only a light footprint of people is needed at the FOB to refuel and service the aircraft. The SATCOM trials have an interoperability implication as well. “A flight crew could divert a Protector to an airfield being used by another MQ-9 operator for it to be refuelled or serviced before taking off again to continue its mission,” Dr King reveals. This SATCOM link will be used for yet another game-changing milestone. Having been granted permission by the CAA and other authorities, GA-ASI will fly the YBC-01 (SkyGuardian) from the US across the Atlantic to Fairford in time for the RIAT air show. Website: www.ga-asi.com


Allan Cook, Industry co-Chair of the Defence Growth Partnership, explains to Simon Michell how the organisation is helping to maintain the necessary skills and innovation to build the Next Generation Air Force

The Defence Growth Partnership Since its launch at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow (FIA), the Defence Growth Partnership has been powering ahead with its implementation plans to develop and grow the United Kingdom’s defence sector and its export opportunities. Recent news that its engine room, the Defence Solutions Centre (DSC), has procured the next phase of UK Government investment is, according to the DGP’s co-Chair Allan Cook, extremely exciting: “This has effectively doubled our funding and will enable us to take our technology roadmaps to the next phase.” On the back of this investment, the DSC will now be hiring dedicated employees to complement the industry secondee intake, allowing for a more resilient and flexible team to support the DGP and its members. The ongoing work by the DGP Skills arm is good news for the Royal Air Force as it will focus on supporting and upskilling the engineers and technologists needed to build the Next Generation Air Force. Sharpening, developing and retaining defence-sector skills in the UK is as vital to the RAF as it is to the UK’s trade balance. Cook reveals that there will soon be an important announcement on Defence Export capabilities: “We will be launching the next level of qualification that will help us develop export capabilities within the industry,” he explains. The details are expected at this year’s FIA. With a remit to help boost defence exports, it is no surprise that the DGP enjoys a very close working relationship with the DIT DSO (Department of International Trade Defence and Security Organisation). The Defence industry adds a small ‘s’ to the abbreviation transforming it to s-DSO


Allan Cook, CBE DSc, Industry co-Chair of the Defence Growth Partnership

to underline the ‘strengthened’ capability it has now developed thanks to the additional resources (including secondees) the DGP is able to contribute. “Already there are several programmes that the DGP is

“The RAF has, and will always have, a massive role in the future vision of the DGP” working on with the s-DSO,” Cook confirms. This forms part of the dual approach of focusing the s-DSO on the zero-to-fiveyear timeframe, while directing the DSC to target the five-to-15-year horizon. The DGP also coordinates its activities with the Aerospace Growth


Partnership (AGP) and its engine room, the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). Key areas of crossover include High Value Design (HVD), dual-use technology, career development, and skills and value chain development – all of which feature significantly in civil and military aerospace projects. More specifically, wing design, lightweight materials and engines are all areas in which the two organisations are collaborating and coordinating efforts. Although the DGP is active across the land, sea and air domains, Cook highlights the dominance of aerospace in the UK’s defence-sector capabilities. “Aerospace exports account for over 75% of the UK’s overall defence exports,” he says. “The RAF has, and will always have, a massive role in the future vision of the DGP.” The new Combat Air Strategy is a case in point. The DGP’s role in this development deepens the partnership between the two organisations even more.


As the Royal Air Force begins to grow its front line, it needs more trained air crew. Air Commodore Dave Bentley outlines how the United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) will ensure that the demand is met

MFTS – training for the future Ab initio training has already begun on the brand-new Grob 120TP Prefect turbo-prop at RAF College Cranwell (PHOTO: GORDON ELIAS VIA AFFINITY FLIGHT TRAINING SERVICES)


he UKMFTS is a recapitalisation of the entire flying training system. Including the Hawk T2 and Avenger that entered service in the first half of this decade to train fast jet pilots and Royal Navy observers respectively, UKMFTS comprises seven new aircraft types supported by stateof-the-art synthetic training devices, new or refurbished infrastructure and a training system designed holistically from the outset.

UKMFTS represents a Whole Force approach to training, with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) contracting Ascent Flight Training as its Training Service Partner, while itself remaining responsible for the provision of dependencies such as airfields, military instructors and air traffic controllers. While the MOD ‘owns’ the Hawk T2 and Avenger, the supporting Training Systems form part of UKMFTS and have been delivering fast jet pilots and RN observers of the very highest quality to the front




A pair of Hawk T2 training aircraft fly over North Wales (PHOTO: CPL PAUL OLDFIELD RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD )


line for over five years. In 2016, the MOD and Ascent signed long-term contracts (to 2033) for the remaining elements of UKMFTS – the Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing packages. Progress since those deals were agreed has been rapid. In the Elementary Flying Training role, the Grob 120TP Prefect has replaced the Grob 115E Tutor. Based at the Royal Air Force College (RAFC) Cranwell and RAF Barkston Heath as part of No 3 Flying Training School, the aircraft are already in service and training the first ab-initio students. The instructional cadre on the Prefect are exceptionally excited by the aircraft. With its turbo-prop engine and glass cockpit, its performance is well beyond that of the Tutor and, allied to an optimised synthetic training suite, there is real excitement about ‘what’ and ‘how much’ could eventually be taught on the aircraft.


Multi-engine pilot training will be conducted on the Embraer Phenom 100 by 45 Squadron, again part of No 3 Flying Training School at RAFC Cranwell. The Phenom 100 is already in service with other flight training academies around the world, and in line with the Prefect, it has an advanced glass cockpit with the latest navigational systems. The first flight of the Phenom in RAF service occurred in April 2018, and with the development and testing of the supporting courseware under way, we will commence ab-initio student training later this year. 45 Squadron will also be responsible, along with the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury, for training our rear crew. The new rear-crew training system – effectively the rear fuselage of the A400M – is already in place at Cranwell, with training again scheduled to commence


The benefits that will be realised from UKMFTS are significant. By design, it is a lean system in 2018. The final element of the Fixed Wing programme will see the T-6C Texan II (to be known as the Texan T1 in RAF service) replace the Tucano in the Basic Fast Jet Training role. The Texan will be based at RAF Valley alongside the Hawk T2, enabling UKMFTS to adopt a four-Base strategy (Valley, Shawbury, RNAS Culdrose and Cranwell/Barkston Heath), as opposed to the current five, with RAF Linton-on-Ouse currently the home of the Tucano. With the first two Texans already delivered to RAF Valley, we expect to see the aircraft achieve its military release to service in 2018, with ab-initio student training commencing in 2019.

HELICOPTER CREW TRAINING The Rotary Wing programme is equally exciting, with the Airbus Helicopters H135 Juno and H145 Jupiter replacing the venerable Squirrel and Griffin that have served DHFS so well for the past 20 years. These new platforms enable a step-change in our training capability, especially given their Helionix integrated avionics system. While, previously, many of our students had to convert from the single-engine Squirrel to the twin-engine Griffin, both the Juno and Jupiter are twin-engine aircraft with essentially the same cockpit. This will allow us to remove some of the ‘legacy’ training requirements, reduce conversion time and focus on training the skill sets required by front-line squadrons. All the Juno and Jupiter aircraft have been ‘taken on charge’, and with the aircraft accepted onto the military register in 2017, some of our crews have already gained considerable experience on type. In line with the Prefect, our instructors are effusive about the capabilities of the aircraft. Also, in harmony with the Fixed Wing elements of MFTS, the Juno and Jupiter will be supported by a suite of Flying Training Devices and Rear Crew training aids based at RAF Shawbury. Whilst DHFS is principally focused around Shawbury, RAF Valley will continue to support 202 Squadron in its delivery of the mountains and maritime element of Rotary Wing training. Significantly, the first ab-initio training commenced on the Juno in April 2018. The benefits that will be realised from UKMFTS are significant. By design, it is a lean system utilising fewer bases, aircraft and military instructors. The procurement

of cutting-edge synthetic training devices will enable us to optimise the live/synthetic flying balance but, more importantly, by immersing our students in the synthetic environment, we will draw greater benefit from the live sorties that they fly. The recapitalisation of the entire training fleet means that we close the capability gap between our front-line platforms and our training aircraft and, with the system designed holistically from the outset, we will also reduce time in training for our students and reduce overall training costs. The training elements outlined above match the Defence aviation requirement post Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2010. The outcomes of SDSR 2015 saw an increased demand signal placed on the UKMFTS, both in terms of the numbers to be trained and also new training pipelines, such as Weapon System Officers for the P-8 Poseidon. Herein

The final element of the Fixed Wing programme is the T-6C Texan II – to be known as the Texan T1 in RAF service (PHOTO: TEXTRON BEECHCRAFT)




The Airbus H135 twin-engine Juno helicopter replaces the venerable single-engine Eurocopter Squirrel (PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KELLER/AIRBUS S.A.S)

lies another of the benefits of MFTS – it is flexible and scalable. The MOD and Ascent are currently exploring truly innovative ways in which the various pipeline capacities can be increased in a timely manner.

FURTHER TRAINING INNOVATION While MFTS represents a transformation in UK Defence flying training, this is merely the start of the journey. Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, the RAF faced enormous financial challenges, and the first Chief of the Air Staff, Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard, underlined that “steady and uninterrupted progress in research is vital to the efficiency of the Air Force”. As we continue to deliver UKMFTS, we will start to understand the real capabilities of our new training system, the potential for further training innovation and the offload and download of training between



systems and training media. And, as it did in those early pioneering days of flying training and instruction, the CFS continues to explore innovation in training. The Smith-Barry Research and Development Centre of the CFS, in association with other militaries, universities and private companies, is researching cutting-edge technology and instructional techniques to ensure that instructors have the most efficient methods available to teach the front-line crews of tomorrow. Current research projects include exploring new briefing and debriefing techniques, using 3D cameras and Virtual Reality headsets to deliver immersive instructor and student training, research into eye-tracking and gaze technology to speed up training, and the development of psychological methods to improve both instructor delivery and student acquisition of techniques.


Ascent Flight Training – UKMFTS

Dave Boden Managing Director, Ascent Flight Training The United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) is designed to provide world-class flying training that optimises the overall time in training and reduces the technology/capability gap between the training aircraft and the front-line platforms that the pilots and crew will go on to fly. Dave Boden is Managing Director of the joint-venture (JV) company, Ascent Flight Training, that is working in partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Royal Air Force’s 22 Gp to deliver the programme. He explains what this entails, “Ascent has designed and procured the new system. That includes infrastructure, synthetic training devices and aircraft, as well as the IT systems and courseware that supports the training. The company will also manage the day-today delivery of the programme using our Training Management Information System to ensure efficient scheduling and delivery.” According to Boden, the JV will also provide on-site management and all the ground staff for teaching classroom lessons, as well as a significant proportion of the

airborne instructors. Additionally, it manages the aircraft service providers who deliver aircraft availability to Ascent for its flying programme. “Overall, Ascent manages the end-to-end delivery of UKMFTS from elementary through to advanced training across four bases to deliver aircrew to the Operational Conversion Units on the front line,” he explains. This system differs from the one it replaces in that Ascent has responsibility for managing and delivering all the resources under a single integrator, as opposed to the previous model, where training systems were delivered by a mixture of different supply chains and contractors. Consequently, UKMFTS is considerably easier to manage and offers students a much-improved experience within the training system. Equally significant is the fact that Ascent will manage the training pipeline for all crew positions for all three UK armed services throughout their flying training, ensuring the output standard at the end of training is achieved in a uniform and timely fashion. It will also optimise the time in training, ensuring the right balance is struck between value for money and length of training.

“Ascent also manages the training design and, therefore, the syllabus,” adds Boden. “This means that we track every specific training output standard back to the syllabus, as well as the route to achieving that standard. As a result, not only can we respond rapidly and effectively to any change in requirements made by the MOD, we can also more easily deliver a continuous improvement methodology to enhance the efficiency of the system throughout its lifetime.” Since the start of the year, Ascent has seen a number of significant milestones. The facilities at RAF Cranwell and Barkston Heath have been officially opened by Air Marshal Reynolds and Rear Admiral Blount, and the first flights of ab-initio students in the Grob 120TP Prefect aircraft have taken place at RAF Cranwell. The main infrastructure at RAF Shawbury, where the first ab-initio student flight in the H135 Juno helicopter has recently taken place, is now complete. Moreover, the Phenom aircraft has also been placed on the military register, enabling the ramp-up of the MultiEngine Pilot Training to commence.

Embraer Phenom 100 aircraft will be used for multi-engine pilot training

Website: www.ascentflighttraining.net

Providing operational readiness expertise for over 30 years

COBHAM AVIATION SERVICES Cobham will continue to evolve, innovate and assure, supporting the operational requirements of the Royal Air Force. cobham.com/aviationservices


The Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) will raise the bar to usher in a next generation air combat training package. Simon Michell talks to Air Commodore Jules Ball to find out how this will be achieved

ASDOT – training the Next Generation Air Force

ASDOT must prepare the armed forces to operate against highly advanced peer or near-peer adversaries (PHOTO: CORPORAL TONY HAWKE RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


SDOT will deliver a step change in how we conduct our live forcegeneration activities.” This is how Air Commodore (Air Cdre) Jules Ball, the Sponsor for delivering the Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT), succinctly encapsulates the benefits of the new ‘aggressor’ contract, which is currently under competition. When it achieves full operational capability,

ASDOT will field aircraft and synthetic capabilities that not only deliver embedded Electronic Attack (EA) effects, but also mirror the ‘kinematic characteristics’ of a potential foe in terms of the numbers of aircraft and the height and speed at which those adversary aircraft are expected to fly. Air Cdre Ball, whose office is in the aptly named Spitfire Building at RAF High Wycombe, is coordinating his efforts closely with Michelle Ostergaard of the




“The training we deliver must prepare our people for every eventuality” The RAF will retain some military aggressor capability even after the ASDOT contract reaches full operational capability, including RAF 100 Squadron Hawks and a number of Typhoon hours annually (PHOTO: CPL PAUL OLDFIELD/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


Delivery Team in the MOD Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) establishment in Abbey Wood, near Bristol. Together, they are leading the teams that are assessing the competing solutions and guiding the programme through to delivery. The current airborne aggressor and Electronic Warfare (EW) training package, delivered by Hawk T1 aircraft flown by the RAF’s 100 Squadron and the Royal Navy’s 736 Naval Air Squadron, alongside Falcon 20s operated by the Cobham Group, has worked very well over the years, but a new generation of aircraft and synthetic systems is now required. “The existing model is simply unsustainable and doesn’t effectively replicate or remain in step with the rapidly changing threat landscape,” explains Air Cdre Ball. “As we look forward to developing the next


generation of capabilities, it is necessary to raise the bar even higher,” he continues. “Most acutely, the lack of an integrated EW capability in the current aggressor package prevents us from delivering the level of representation we aspire to achieve.” Apart from the passage of time since the older training model was put in place, two critical factors have now come into play. Firstly, the UK’s military posture has reoriented itself from the challenging, yet relatively low-intensity, campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq onto a contingency footing designed to configure UK forces to be able to defeat highly capable peer or near-peer military forces, who will be able to field capabilities that can match, and at times overmatch, those of the UK. Put in military terms, UK combat operations must be able to achieve mission success in a contested and degraded operating (CDO) environment, either by itself or within an alliance. Air Cdre Ball elaborates, “We have to be trained and ready to conduct the full spectrum of operations against a potential adversary, either in a purely national context or, more likely, as part of an international coalition. Interoperability and credibility with our partners is fundamental and the training we deliver must prepare our people for every eventuality.” The second game-changer is, of course, the impending introduction of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning, which has implications for all flying training programmes, including UK MFTS (Military Flying


Delivering ‘aggressor’ training

Inzpire Ltd operate Apache and Wildcat helicopters and we conduct aviation tactics training for the European Defence Agency.


Hugh Griffiths CEO, Inzpire Ltd

WHAT EXPERIENCE DOES INZPIRE BRING TO THE ASDOT COMPETITION? Inzpire has tremendous military aviation experience, covering all three Armed Services and just about every mission that the UK Armed Forces are involved in. Around 77% of our employees are ex-military and many are QWI/FWI/ QTI qualified. They are extremely knowledgeable and experienced people. Inzpire already supports the MOD at the very leading edge of the UK’s military training. We have a deep and tacit understanding of the operational training environment and a profound appreciation of what is required to train effectively. We are training UK aviators every single day. We have been part of the ‘Whole Force’ for years. At the Air Battlespace Training Centre, and at the Air Warfare Centre, we have embedded teams who design and deliver complex tactical training exercises in live and synthetic domains. We are teaching the British Army to fly and


By careful design! We carried out a comprehensive, worldwide, assessment of similar adversary training services and distilled from that study an excellent team. Each team member brings with them specific and complementary capabilities. Top Aces has outstanding, proven, international experience of successfully delivering adversary air training to military customers, including Canada, where they recently won the Combat Air Training Services contract. They

UK Force elements to meet emerging threats over the coming years.

WHAT IS RED ACES’ APPROACH TO ASDOT? Our approach is simple. A truly radical partnership, the like of which the MOD has not yet experienced, and a costeffective, tactically relevant, training service that actually delivers what the end users want. Entrepreneurial innovation, speed of reaction, flexibility and customer responsiveness will be front and centre of everything we do as we build something amazing and future-proof. Our vision is to provide an outstanding service, delivered at affordable prices, by people who are emotionally invested in the result.

“Together, we will offer an innovative and adaptable training capability” have an excellent safety record and offer a tremendously professional, fully safety-certified solution. Like Inzpire, they are primarily military aviators. Experience matters. Leonardo is a hugely impressive global multinational with world-leading technology, especially in the radar and electronic warfare (EW) areas, and outstanding experience of managing complex programmes. They add size, muscle and a phenomenal technical capability to the bid. Our consortium is called Red Aces. Together, we will offer an innovative and adaptable training capability to the whole ASDOT user community (Royal Navy, Army and RAF) in order to prepare

HOW WILL THE RED ACES TEAM SUPPORT THE RAF’S OBJECTIVE TO BUILD A NEXTGENERATION AIR FORCE? The RAF is the world’s oldest independent air force. Many of us at Inzpire have spent much of our working lives serving in it and we are very proud of that. We understand the importance of ASDOT and we will build an advanced aggressor training capability that addresses all aspects of the stated requirement, and more, within the budget envisaged (including Gen 4, if required). Our solution will be safe, ingenious, highly scalable and tactically relevant. We will wholeheartedly support the UK as it builds its next-generation air force. Website: www.inzpire.com


Dassault Falcon 20s, owned by Cobham, currently deliver threat simulation sorties under a contract due to end in 2019 (PHOTO: COBHAM)


Training System) and DOTC(Air) Defence Operational Training Capability (Air) (DOTC(Air)), both of which are being introduced over similar time frames as ASDOT.

THE ASDOT ASPIRATION When asked about the qualities that competitors will need to exhibit to be successful, Air Cdre Ball replies, “What we are looking for is unbridled innovation, professionalism, adaptability and flexibility, all underpinned with a passionate commitment to safety and security.” This demanding aspiration covers a multitude of training disciplines. ASDOT is not just about providing aircraft that will act out the role of airborne enemy attackers to test all three Services’ combat skills. The two-phase contract, which could reach as high as £1.25 billion, calls for a single provider to offer a comprehensive solution that replicates the extensive capabilities of major potential adversaries – Russia being the most obvious example. There is also the need to support other disciplines, including training for Aerospace Battle Managers (ABMs) and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs). “As a baseline, we remain committed to maintaining NATO and international standards such as those for ABMs and JTACS,” explains Air Cdre Ball. “Our personnel must be trained to an agreed standard, which will be internationally compliant by design, such that they can lead from the front and integrate with our NATO and other international partners in a common battlespace.” The successful solution will therefore need to clarify how it will integrate the training assets over the long term, while remaining flexible enough to respond quickly to changing conditions. “We are looking for


industry to articulate a clear capability roadmap that will allow us to generate a fully coherent Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) capability,” adds Air Cdre Ball. In other words, the RAF is looking to obtain a clear understanding of how the training provider will combine the real world (people and assets) with a computer-based virtual world, and how this will be adjustable over the 10 to 15 years of the contract. Air Cdre Ball elaborates, “We may need to surge at short notice, train in new locations and be able to rapidly adapt our capability in response to new threats.”

DEEP PARTNERSHIP Even before the official launch of the competition in November 2017, a number of companies had been establishing teams to compete for the ASDOT contract. Whoever wins will not only have to convince Michelle Ostergaard and Air Cdre Ball that they have the right mix of aircraft and synthetic assets, combined with the appropriate roadmap and vision, they will also have to assure DE&S and the RAF that they are able to commit to a deep partnership arrangement where trust is paramount. “The ability to interact with Typhoon and Lightning presents a range of security issues and caveats, which we will have to manage throughout the life of the contract,” says Air Cdre Ball. “Ultimately, if the opportunities are going to be realised, the ethos of the relationship will need to be more partnership-based than transactional. These aspects are fundamental to achieving our objective of being a truly fifth-generation-enabled air force and the air power coalition partner of choice.”


Paul Armstrong, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Cobham Aviation Services, outlines the company’s air operational training capabilities and its electronic warfare systems expertise

Cobham Aviation Services

Paul Armstrong Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cobham Aviation Services With over 30 years’ experience of training the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN) within a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment, Cobham has a proven capability from which to build a new training construct for advanced capability programmes such as the United Kingdom’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme. Paul Armstrong, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Cobham Aviation Services, outlines Cobham’s activities, “The company currently operates a fleet of modified Falcon aircraft, which provides unique and highly specialised support to UK operational readiness training through the accurate synthetic replication of potential peer threats in the live environment. We combine our technical expertise in the production of world-class electronic warfare (EW)

systems with a close working relationship with the RAF’s Air Warfare Centre. This helps us deliver innovative and advanced EW techniques from a suite of pods. Not only do our crews provide the RAF and RN tailored, realistic and cost-effective threat training, but, by working closely alongside them, we are able understand their training needs and methods intimately.” The increasing prevalence and sophistication of EW threats makes this type of training essential in today’s battlespace. But training in this environment introduces higher levels of risk, and any future training partner must be able to operate in that sort of regime without restriction or limitation. Armstrong explains, “Our deep experience

only be conducted in secure spaces, and therefore access is limited. Armstrong highlights this by pointing out that only an ASDOT provider that guarantees this access can maximise its training value. In his words, “Draken International is therefore a natural ASDOT partner for Cobham. They not only complement our EW and aggressor service by delivering the next-generation agile platform element, but they have unique experience, working with the USAF, especially their F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation aircraft.” According to Armstrong, Cobham can help develop the next-generation of British air power by providing an ASDOT solution that continues to evolve

Cobham has a proven capability from which to build a new training construct and proven record, alongside the careful selection and training of our operators, is vital in delivering an unparalleled, credible, capable and safe operating environment.” Cobham has recently teamed up with Draken International – the only current commercial air adversary provider to the United States Air Force (USAF). Significantly, the UK and US already have a special training relationship, one that will deepen with the advent of the F-35B. Moreover, UK elements regularly deploy to US restricted training events, where Draken provides an aggressor service to the USAF at Nellis AFB. This is noteworthy, as classified operational training can

its training methods in order to deliver realistic, cost-effective threat training for operational readiness. This, he says, will allow the UK to retain freedom of action and sovereign tactical capability. However, it requires maintaining a realistic replication of threats in the live, synthetic and constructive environments of every platform and system. It is timely, then, that Cobham will soon announce the addition of technology partners that, Armstrong says, “will create a dynamic and exciting LVC (Live Virtual Constructive) environment that will both meet the changing dynamics of military training and prepare the RAF and RN for future combat.” Website: www.cobham.com


With the F-35 revolutionising combat aviation for allied nations worldwide, Lockheed Martin’s Paul Livingston reveals how the training is increasingly being undertaken in synthetic environments

The fifth generation of training arrives in the UK


As much as 50% of F-35 training is being completed in synthetic environments (PHOTO: LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS)


he F-35 is revolutionising combat aviation for allied nations across the world, but 2018 is an historic time for air power in the United Kingdom. Not only is the Royal Air Force celebrating its Centenary, but it is also the dawn of a new era of fifth-generation capability for the UK Armed Forces. The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have been central to the development of the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) technology, and to the test and validation of the F-35B as part of the Joint Operational Test Team and the Integrated Test Force in the US over the past decade. This year sees the transition from US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, to the UK home of the F-35s at RAF Marham, where 617 Squadron has formed the first operational Lightning squadron. The first four F-35 aircraft arrived in June, with further aircraft due in the summer. The F-35’s primary advantage, other than its stealth, manoeuvrability and multi-role capability lies in its sensor fusion. Whereas legacy fighter pilots would have to manage and correlate multiple sensor inputs, a comprehensive picture of the battlespace is now presented to aviators in the F-35. With these benefits to joint forces in the multi-domain environment comes the need for a sophisticated and effective training system. An integrated team, comprising military and industry members, continues to qualify personnel to operate the F-35 across the world, with more than 640 pilots and 5,700 maintainers from 10 nations having been trained so far. And, as the F-35 programme


matures and more nations join the partnership, more training operations are being established, with over 20 training facilities becoming operational by 2021. In the UK, elementary, basic and advanced pilot training is being delivered through the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS), run by Ascent Flight Training – a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock. In January, the MOD announced the first two F-35 ab initio pilots, who had successfully completed UKMFTS, would commence the F-35 training at Beaufort. The pilots were the first UK pilots to complete the whole UKMFTS syllabus and successfully transition to the F-35. At RAF Marham, the UK Integrated Training Centre (ITC) is being completed ahead of the first UK-based


F-35 training courses with 617 Squadron. The ITC, which is one of three buildings Lockheed Martin is delivering at RAF Marham, contains four F-35 Full Mission Simulators (FMS), two Deployable Mission Readiness Trainers (DMRT) and several maintenance trainers, all designed and delivered by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin fully supports the vision to increase the utilisation of simulation in the training of F-35 aircrew and maintainers. The inherent capabilities of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Full Mission Simulators at RAF Marham will allow UK aircrew to exercise the full spectrum of operational tasks and F-35 capabilities in a virtual distributed environment, while maintaining operational security. Training complex tasks and maintaining proficiency in this way will optimise the balance between live and virtual training, delivering increasing levels of affordability. The capabilities of modern simulation in Lockheed Martin’s training systems is now enabling F-35 customers to execute up to 50% of training tasks in the synthetic environment. The innovation in learning is just as apparent for maintenance professionals – technology that

did not exist 12 years ago is now fully developed, tested and validated, and we are training maintainers differently to how we did on legacy fighters. New maintenance training devices are enabling students to train on tasks difficult to practise solely in a live environment, ultimately producing more well-rounded maintainers that drive better outcomes for their units. A majority of the F-35 maintenance training is completed virtually in the Aircraft Systems Maintenance Trainer (ASMT), helping reduce the inefficiencies of using live aircraft for maintenance training. In addition, there is a variety of other devices specifically designed to train the full complement of maintenance tasks, including loading weapons, maintaining the egress system and landing gear, and more. It is incredibly humbling and rewarding to see the partnership between Lockheed Martin and the UK drive positive results for our respective and joint forces. As we celebrate the RAF’s Centenary year, seeing the fundamentals of flight training paired with the readying for the all-important F-35 mission makes 2018 a truly significant and special time to be a part of UK air power.

Four Lockheed Martin Full Mission Simulators are revolutionising pilot training at RAF Marham (PHOTO: LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS)




Simon Michell asks Air Vice-Marshal Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle about the Future Combat Air System and how it fits in with the overall effort to ensure that the United Kingdom retains its seat at the top table of air power proponents

Future Combat Air System


he Future Combat Air System (FCAS) technology initiative is rooted in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which states that the United Kingdom will work independently and with partners across the Atlantic, in Europe and elsewhere to mature “high-end technologies”. It is one of several initiatives that are currently in place to ensure that the UK will not only have the military might to defend itself against a full spectrum of future threats, but that UK industry maintains its technological edge to be able to deliver the required capability, either independently or as part of an international grouping. It covers manned and unmanned aircraft as well as the complex software required to develop advanced mission systems applicable to multiple future air platforms.

The F-35B Lightning’s exceptional situational awareness will be shared with Typhoon and other assets in real-time to enable safer passage through contested and congested airspace. (PHOTO: LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION VIA MOD)



FCAS both informs and is informed by the Modernising Defence Programme that grew out of the National Security Capability Review. It is also linked to the Combat Air Strategy which is being readied for public release in Summer 2018. Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle, who, as the RAF’s Chief of Staff for Capability, has a vested interest in the outcomes of all of these initiatives, succinctly sums FCAS up as follows: “The RAF’s FCAS is a system approach to how we are going to meet our future Combat Air needs.” He continues, “Combat Air is a very important area; we need it to stay an effective military fighting force. Not only that, our Combat Air reputation is respected and draws in other nations wishing to train and operate with us.”

MANNED AIRCRAFT FCAS is, therefore, key to the UK’s position as a Tier 1 air power operator and supplier. AVM Rochelle explains: “FCAS describes an air force with Typhoons and F-35 Lightnings. Typhoons are very important, not just because of their current role, but also because they are due to become the backbone of the RAF’s Combat Air capability as we retire Tornado in 2019.” Once Tornado has been withdrawn, it will be vital that the RAF sustains and upgrades the Typhoon to develop its capabilities, so it can operate alongside the F-35. The intention is, as AVM Rochelle points out, that Typhoon and Lightning will operate “symbiotically”. By that he means there are capabilities on the Typhoon that will support the Lightning to ensure and optimise its capabilities. The reverse is, naturally, true as well. “In terms of how they operate, there are capabilities on Typhoon that will assist an F-35 in a contested environment, whilst protecting its low-observable nature. Likewise, F-35 has very impressive ISR (intelligence,


surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities, bringing outstanding situational awareness that can be shared with Typhoon to offer it safer passage in that same contested environment,” AVM Rochelle reveals. As always, timing is everything and the proximity of the Combat Air Strategy release date prevents more details being released at this point. That said, the RAF will continue to press for greater depth of Combat Air capability. “As far as the Modernising Defence Programme is concerned, we continue to have conversations regarding the potential for introducing additional squadrons into the force mix.”

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT For some, FCAS has been integral to the development of a future remotely piloted air system (RPAS). And, while the RAF has announced the Protector RPAS as Reaper’s replacement, the RAF is “always interested in

new technologies to see which ones buy themselves into the force mix”. Indeed, the BAE Systems Taranis programme has gone a long way to show that the UK has, according to AVM Rochelle, “sufficient technological edge to generate a reasonable capability specification”. The key for the head of RAF Capability in terms of the initiatives currently in play is that the UK does not degrade its military and defence industrial prowess. “From my perspective, it is vital that we end up with the ability to generate the absolute best capability we can to enhance our current and future platforms, but also stay commercially competitive should we wish to get involved in any form of international programme. You can’t do that unless you have a very clear view of where you want to be in the future. These questions are being asked. Hopefully, around the time of the Farnborough International Air Show in July we will be able to tell everybody the answers.”

With the imminent withdrawal of Tornado (top), Typhoon (bottom) will become the backbone of the UK’s Combat Air capability (PHOTO: CPL BABBS ROBINSON RAF/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




As a new space race takes hold, the Royal Air Force is transforming itself into an air and space force capable of defending UK military assets and civilian critical national infrastructure. Mike Bryant reports

Spatial awareness

L RAF Fylingdales in Yorkshire is a key element in the US Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/CPL ALEX SCOTT)


ocated in ‘The Bunker’ at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, the Space Operations Centre (SpOC) plays a key role in providing the space situational awareness (SSA) necessary for defending the nation from the threat of interference with the UK’s Space assets. That threat to national Space capabilities – communications satellites; position, navigation and timing satellites (such as those that provide GPS data); and Earth observation satellites – comes from both state and non-state actors. It also comes in the form of accidental collisions with manmade hardware orbiting the planet (including space junk) and from solar activity (coronal mass ejections, solar flares and solar winds).


Under way at the SpOC today is a wide-ranging process of capability growth, amid a transformation of the RAF’s and the nation’s space-related capabilities, explains Group Captain (Gp Capt) Steve Blockley, HQ 1 Group, Battlespace Management Force Director Ops & Plans, and the officer responsible for, among other things, the SpOC’s day-to-day operations. The SpOC is expanding rapidly in size and capability: in response to what amounts to a new space race, there is no time to lose in a domain in which both the quantity and quality of vehicles launched by both military and commercial actors is increasing exponentially. It is estimated there are around 2,000 active satellites in space today, but there


could be as many as 10,000 by 2025 – commercial and civilian state-owned, as well as military assets. The opening of RAF Fylingdales, with its Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) capability, in 1967 marked the start of the RAF’s involvement in space, but the past few years have seen a greatly increased focus on Space as a theatre of operations for Defence (and as a concern for national security as a whole).

SPACE EXPANSION The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review marked “a turning point for us”, recalls Gp Capt Blockley, with the recognition of the importance of the Space domain to both military and civilian capability – the damage to the economy and many elements of critical national infrastructure that would be immediately apparent if, for example, the data of geopositioning satellites were jammed or otherwise impeded, is a case in point. The need for investment and development in the national Space domain has become apparent, although any activity involving Space is, of course, “very expensive”, Gp Capt Blockley emphasises. At the time of writing, in March 2018, there were 16 personnel working across various shifts in the SpOC to provide 24/7 coverage, but room is being made for an increase in numbers in the Operations Centre; personnel numbers working in the SpOC will reach 33 within a couple of years. Across Space as a whole, the current count of about 80 people in the RAF devoted to the domain will double by 2021. One of the new operators to be welcomed to the Centre will be a soldier, who will represent the British Army’s first direct involvement in the SpOC and national SSA capability as a whole (civilians of the UK Space

Agency are already working at RAF Fylingdales, and one is working as an orbital analyst in the SpOC – a specialised role that requires years of training and particular skills that can most readily be sourced from the private sector). Combining the best that Defence and the UK Space Agency can offer, the SpOC must act as a “genuine Joint Force enabler”, says Gp Capt Blockley. While Gp Capt Blockley is in charge on the operations side of the SpOC, Wing Commander

Manned mainly by the RAF, the SpOC helps to ensure that vital space assets, such as the Skynet 5 satellites, are safe and secure (PHOTO: AIRBUS S.A.S)

It is estimated there are around 2,000 active satellites in space today Gerry Doyle, Air Capability – SO1, has responsibility for the development of the capability side of the SpOC and the RAF’s Space assets – ie delivering the optimised capability that will be required by UK Government going forward. He confirms that the plans to develop the SpOC will result in expansion both “rapid and substantial” and that private industry is helping the RAF to “envision the future”, assessing the optimum methodology and resources required to deliver a significantly increased Space-based capability. BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



The man in charge of the RAF’s operations, Air Marshal Stuart Atha, underlines the importance of Network-Enabled Warfighting to the Next Generation Air Force

Combat air power Major General Edward Ashmore’s pioneering work in developing Britain’s air defences in the First World War paved the way for the networked Dowding System, which was instrumental in the RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940 (PHOTO: AIR HISTORICAL BRANCH-RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)



s the Royal Air Force completes 100 years of distinguished operational service, we have an opportunity to reflect on the thematic threads that connect operational success in the past, through the present and into the future. The themes may be many, but none is more relevant than NetworkEnabled Warfighting, an approach that featured in our formative years, our finest hour and will be a critical feature in the future decades. The German Gotha raids against London in 1917 revealed the weakness of Britain’s air defences and highlighted the need for an Integrated Air Defence System. Prioritising this shortfall ahead of support to the trenches, the Prime Minister agreed to the establishment of the London Air Defence Area and a complex network of fighter aircraft, ground-based


guns and searchlights under the sole command of Major General Ashmore. This Air Defence network evolved in the inter-war years, including through the employment of science, operational research and improved technologies, but the fundamental elements – unity of command and the network of sensors, aircraft, artillery and decision-makers – remained. While much is made of the narrow margins by which the Battle of Britain was won, and much emphasis is placed on technological advances, such as the use of Radar Direction Finding and the development of the Hurricane and Spitfire fighter aircraft, the basis of that success, the Dowding system, was a consequence of the network that connected them together. More recently, the air security plan for the London Olympics in 2012 considered a wide array of air threats, ranging from jumbo jets to miniature drones. Certain


elements of the Air Defence Force attracted much attention, such as the controversial siting of groundbased air-defence (GBAD) missiles in the parks and on roofs, the carriage of snipers in our helicopters, and the forward deployment of Typhoons to RAF Northolt. But, yet again, the power of the capability was enabled through the way in which the sensing, decision and execution nodes were connected. In short, the fundamentals of the 2012 network would have been familiar to both Ashmore and Dowding. Looking to the future, and as we consider the shape of the Next Generation Air Force and the future adversaries we may face, we must not let the complexity and array of multi-domain threats and technologies blind us to the simple principles of Network-Enabled Warfighting and the lessons of the past. The RAF Strategy of 2017 should insure us against this through the Strategic Objective, which sets a high bar on our ambition to become an integrated Air Force that recognises information is its lifeblood, with people, processes and practices that allow it to respond rapidly and decisively to changing threats at all levels of warfare. Satisfying this objective will require many strands of activity, such as: ensuring our people, particularly those in combined air operations centres (CAOCs), cabins and cockpits are properly trained; that our structures and processes are adaptable; and that our platforms can operate throughout the spectrum of conflict. The network will connect a range of actors, drawn from a variety of organisations and nations. The legal consequences of this diverse group acting together will, therefore, need deep consideration, as will the determination of delegated authorities. If authority is overly centralised, the potential tempo of decisionmaking throughout the network will suffer and the collective power of the network will be diminished. The RAF Strategy describes an approach that is as relevant to securing the homeland as it is to expeditionary operations. A new operational paradigm is emerging that suggests such distinctions and terms as ‘home and away’, ‘war and peace’, ‘physical and virtual’, ‘strategic and tactical’ are increasingly less relevant in the face of a state competitor that operates effectively across these boundaries, without regard to the international norms of behaviour.

COMPUTERS THAT FLY Similarly, the arrival of aircraft such as the F-35B Lightning demands that we further evolve our lexicon from one that includes the descriptions ‘fighter’ and ‘bomber’ to one that better reflects the ability of such aircraft to deliver all air power roles. Our aircraft will be increasingly described by what they contribute to the network and how they exploit the network, and less by how fast and far they fly. As the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General David L

Goldfein, has said: “When I see the F-35, I don’t see a fighter. I see a computer that happens to fly.” Network-Enabled Warfighting delivers decision superiority through our ability to move rapidly from understanding to decision to execution, across all domains. Delivering this capability is as much a challenge of imagination as it is of technology; we should, therefore, exploit the good in concepts that range from ‘Uber Air Power’ to the Combat Cloud. We must also evolve our structures to place decision-making in a multi-domain environment at the heart of the RAF’s organisation. The network will be a ring main that connects ‘computers’, whether the F-35 or other decision-making nodes, delivers situational awareness and allows communication across the air, space, cyber, surface and sub-surface domains. Most of all, it requires people who continue to be tactically excellent, competent in the art of campaigning, and who ‘think to win’. This is a future that I believe will inspire the Next Generation. Network-Enabled Warfighting is not new. From the early days of our formation, through every chapter of our history, the RAF has built and exploited networks that deliver operational success. The Next Generation Air Force may not enjoy the same degree of technical superiority of recent years, but we can retain our competitive advantage by better integrating man and machine into our networks and ensuring we keep our intellectual edge sharp.

The protective umbrella that kept the 2012 Olympics free from attack from the air was based on wellrehearsed sensing, decision-making and tactics (PHOTO: SAC PHIL MAJOR RAF/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




BAE Systems Chris Boardman Group Managing Director, BAE Systems Air

HOW IS BAE SYSTEMS HELPING THE RAF KEEP TYPHOON RELEVANT AND AVAILABLE? As part of Centurion, we are working with our partners in Europe and alongside the RAF to integrate new weapons and new technologies to enhance the ‘brains’ of the aircraft – the software, the sensors and the avionics – ensuring Typhoon is highly potent and keeps our pilots safer than ever. We are also working alongside teams at RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth – the two UK Typhoon bases – to upgrade synthetic training devices, allowing pilots to train with these new capabilities now. In terms of availability, we are two years into the 10-year Typhoon Total Availability eNterprise (TyTAN) agreement with the MOD to provide a support contract to the UK Typhoon fleet. Over the course of the agreement, TyTAN will reduce the cost per flying hour of Typhoons for the RAF by a third, with those savings re-invested back into development of the jet.

HOW IS HAWK ASSISTING THE RAF’S TRAINING SYSTEM? Every fast jet pilot in the RAF today will have flown Hawk – a great testament to the aircraft’s capability. At RAF Valley, the digital brain that makes Hawk the world’s most proven fast jet training aircraft is putting pilots at the controls of radar, weapons systems and defensive aids using simulation technology. This not only delivers a seamless transition from basic training to the front line, it does so at a fraction of the cost and delivers pilots with a higher skill level sooner. Alongside Hawk’s unrivalled pedigree at the heart of the RAF’s training pipeline, Website: www.baesystems.com

we are ensuring the availability of the T1 and T2 fleet in partnership with Babcock.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE RECENT HIGHLIGHTS OF THE F35B PROGRAMME? The main highlight for the UK has been the arrival at RAF Marham of the first of the F-35 Lightning fleet as part of an advanced squadron deployment in early June. Earlier this year, we handed over the first operational F-35 facility at the station, the Lightning Operations Centre, and other facilities will come online later this year. As further jets arrive at Marham, our job is to turn these facilities into a service that can ensure the UK has its F-35s, pilots and ground crew available where it counts. We were also very proud it was BAE Systems’ F-35 test pilot, Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson, who flew the final sortie back in April to complete the SDD flight testing phase, a great reflection of our contribution to the programme.

HOW IS BAE SYSTEMS MAINTAINING A GLOBAL AIR PERSPECTIVE WITH THESE THREE AIRCRAFT? In all our markets, across all of our platforms and services, we are committed to being at the forefront of emerging thinking and technology. Last year, we spent more than £1.5 billion on research and development and created a new chief technology officer organisation to even further optimise how we stay at the forefront in a rapidly changing world. This includes our commitment to continued investment in military aircraft technologies and capabilities in both the manned and unmanned areas. Our expertise here contributed to our 15% workshare on the F-35 programme, work with Turkey on an indigenous aircraft programme and with France on a future technologies programme. Our Taranis unmanned demonstrator remains the UK’s most advanced aircraft to date.


As the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) interceptors see an increasing amount of ‘trade’, their pilots are once again getting the chance to earn a very special badge. Alan Dron talks to the Typhoon Force Commander, Air Commodore Mark Chappell



very day of the year, two pairs of Eurofighter Typhoons stand at permanent readiness at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, ready to scramble in case a radar track becomes of interest to air traffic controllers. Those tracks can belong to foreign air arms, or to civilian aircraft whose behaviour is giving cause for concern. In either case, the Typhoons can, within minutes, be taxiing out of their QRA sheds and thundering down the runway, afterburners trailing blue blowtorch-like flames behind them. The Royal Air Force has stood watch over the United Kingdom’s skies for a century, but after a lull in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Typhoons are once again being steadily employed in watching and shepherding Russian military aircraft away from the UK’s coasts. “It’s a measure of the increase in Russian aerial activity over the UK’s area of airspace responsibility in recent years that a flying suit patch that had all but disappeared from QRA shelters

is making a comeback,” says the Typhoon Force Commander, Air Commodore (Air Cdre) Mark Chappell. “In the 1980s, a ’10-Bear Badge’ was common,” confirms Air Cdre Chappell. “It was, unofficially, awarded to aircrew who had made 10 interceptions of the giant Tupolev Tu-95 Bear long-range strategic bomber.” Ursine meetings at 30,000 feet were rare in the 1990s, but, Air Cdre Chappell continues, “During my time at Lossiemouth in 2011, we were able to re-issue the first 10-Bear Badge for about 15-20 years.” Further badges have gradually appeared in crew rooms in recent years as Russia’s Long-Range Aviation has picked up its tempo of operations, with Bears interspersed with Backfire and Blackjack swing-wing bombers, together with occasional Foxhound longrange fighters. However, these encounters are very restrained. “The RAF goes out of its way not to provoke any aerial arguments. We’re very de-escalatory, particularly with the Russians,” Air Cdre Chappell explains. Although old, the Tu-95 has been upgraded by the Russian Air Force and has even been used to

A Russian Bear aircraft is escorted by a Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon (PHOTO: SGT FENWICK/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




The Typhoon Force will shortly receive a boost in the form of the Meteor missile The Mount Pleasant Airfield on the Falkland Islands hosts a flight of Typhoons that patrol the skies over British territories in the region (PHOTO: CPL ASHLEY KEATES RAF/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


deliver new weaponry in attacks against Daesh terrorists in Syria. In September 2017, the ITAR-TASS Russian News Agency reported that Russian Defence Ministry officials had confirmed that Bears had fired Kh-101 long-range cruise missiles at “terrorists’ command centres, areas of concentration of militants and their weapons, as well as munitions depots”, showing how the aircraft remains a capable asset to Russian defence planners. Demonstrating their strategic reach, the officials also revealed that the Kh-101 cruise missiles were delivered by Tu-95MS Bears that “took off from Engels airfield in Russia”. The other main task for the Typhoon QRA force is to defend against ‘non-state actors’, namely terrorists who might take control of a civilian aircraft with evil intent. Any civilian aircraft that fails to follow its prescribed flightpath or contact air traffic controllers is likely to find a Typhoon sliding into formation off its wingtip. Almost invariably, the cause of a silent aircraft is a technical glitch, but the policy of ‘better safe than sorry’ prevails.


OVERSEAS QRA The UK’s five-squadron Typhoon force is scheduled to be increased by two further squadrons in the 2018-19 timeframe, together with a third, UK-Qatari joint unit, which has been designated 12 (B) Squadron. This will provide training for the Gulf state’s pilots as they prepare to receive 24 Typhoons from 2022 and will also provide aerial security for Qatar during the 2020 World Cup tournament there. As part of the Typhoon Force’s roster of duties, foreign deployments are becoming increasingly common, says Air Cdre Chappell. Last year saw four aircraft spending four months in Romania: “We were there to assist Romania in the delivery of what they call QRA, but we weren’t actually doing QRA for them,” he specifies. A variety of training missions was carried out, including some involving other visiting air forces. RAF Typhoons also deploy to the Baltics on NATO air patrol duties. A further four Typhoons provide QRA cover for the Falkland Islands from the Mount Pleasant Airfield, 35 miles south-west of Port Stanley. Should the QRA mission ever become a live operation against a verified threat, the Typhoon Force will shortly receive a boost in the form of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, which will provide the aircraft with a major increase in capability, compared to its predecessor. Not only will Meteor allow Typhoon to engage targets at substantially greater ranges than today, it has a particularly large ‘no-escape zone’ – the area of warhead lethality. That, together with a rolling programme of technical updates, will help the Typhoons keep the skies around the UK safe for years to come.


Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force

Air Marshal Leo Davies AO, CSC

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) modelled itself on the Royal Air Force (RAF) at inception. Since 1909, our two Air Forces have maintained strong historical, personal and capability linkages. Most recently, this relationship is evidenced by two ends of the spectrum – continued real-world operations in the Middle East and the combined RAF 100th/RAAF 97th birthday celebrations held in Canberra, Australia. Our closely aligned military requirements, shared values and the dedication and professionalism of our people continue to ensure our Air Forces can work together in both form and function. We both remain future aware and are evolving in parallel. Our common recognition that the relative size of the technically advanced world has shrunk, bringing our potential adversaries closer, requires and underpins

the need for an even deeper relationship. A shared awareness of evolving threats continues to draw our technical and operational teams closer together to solve difficult problems. Complementing the RAAF’s platform modernisation, our recent establishment of the RAAF Air Warfare Centre (AWC) and the already very strong relationships with the RAF AWC, will continue to actively contribute to advanced warfighting concepts and tactics development. Likewise, our common platforms – such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and P-8A Poseidon aircraft – provide opportunities to jointly accelerate modern warfighting concepts.

A COMMON APPROACH The RAAF and Royal Air Force both remain agile and adaptable, with strong technical, professional and personal relationships at all levels. By providing ongoing senior

leadership alignment, we maximise our technical interoperability and agility advantages as we evolve to the next generation of warfighting, particularly in non-traditional domains such as cyber. A common RAF and RAAF approach to achieving next-generation outcomes lies in our combined workforces now established in Florida, USA, with RAF/ RAAF F-35 reprogramming. This evolution of advanced mission load development is key to achieving allied warfighting excellence and interoperability necessary in next-generation warfare. We have learned from the RAF’s ability to evolve high-end warfighting capabilities, while at the same time providing humanitarian assistance around the world. Both of our nations have been, and will continue to be, confronted by the possibility of operating across all types of operations on any one day – including humanitarian, peacekeeping and combat – as we continue to provide differing, but appropriate, support across our global commitments. The RAAF’s future strategy is based on five key pillars: joint war fighting, people, communications and information systems, infrastructure developments and international engagement. Underpinned by these five pillars, our Air Force will remain potent, competent, effective and essential, with an operational and tactical focus on optimising our interoperability and joint effects. Importantly, within our personnel, we have a very well-developed, but still maturing and changing, Air Power culture. The education of our airmen and airwomen is fundamental to the levels of technical and professional mastery we require in our fifth-generation Air Force. We look forward to working together with the RAF for another 100 years and look forward to the impending challenges and opportunities that our new platform introductions will provide.




From its base in Qatar, 83 Expeditionary Air Group has been a leading partner in the international effort to counter Daesh and dismantle its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Air Commodore Roddy Dennis explains how the RAF has helped bring Daesh to its knees, and contributed to the increasing effectiveness of Iraqi Security Forces

Dismantling Daesh

T RAF Typhoons and Tornados demolish buildings and a defensive position used by Daesh in eastern Syria. (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


he UK is playing a leading role in the Global Coalition – a unified body of 75 partners committed to defeating Daesh militarily – and 83 Expeditionary Air Group (EAG), its four Expeditionary Air Wings (EAWs) and Force Elements, have proven pivotal to its success. The Group delivers UK National and Defence objectives across the Middle East, and it will also come as no surprise that, as the Air Component Commander, I expect a great deal from the men and women under my command. I ask them to deliver day in, day out, and I continue to be extremely impressed by how they perform. The exceptional quality of our people is one of the defining elements that have led to this operational success story. The tempo and level of commitment demonstrated by our military and civilian personnel epitomises the Royal Air Force’s war-fighting ethos, and the RAF’s contribution means Daesh has lost the vast majority of the territory it once held across Iraq and Syria. Although the Government of Iraq declared liberation in December 2017, the fight against Daesh continues and remains a UK priority.


The terrorist organisation has not yet been totally defeated and still presents a threat to the UK. As such we will continue to deliver battle-winning air power across the Middle East. As we celebrate the RAF’s centenary, I can think of no more fitting tribute to those who have served before us than our continued success and commitment to both Operation Shader (the UK’s effort to degrade and defeat Daesh through military action) and Operation Kipion (the UK’s primary deterrence and presence operation in the Middle East). We achieve this through our deployed capability, commitment to reassuring our regional partners and maintaining and developing our Coalition relationships.

AN INDEPENDENT AIR CONTRIBUTION Using a range of state-of-the-art aircraft and equipment, the military and civilian personnel of 83 EAG deliver an independent air contribution and support to land and maritime forces using the full spectrum of air power roles – from attack and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) to air mobility. 83 EAG provides a significant proportion of air power to the counter-Daesh Coalition by allocating strike capability in support of partner forces on the ground, using eight Tornado GR4s, six Typhoon FGR4s and Reaper Remotely Piloted Air Systems. These air platforms have carried out more than 1,600 air strikes in Iraq and Syria, using Hellfire, Paveway IV and Brimstone precision weapons to strike a range of Daesh targets. These strikes continue to provide partner forces with the freedom of manoeuvre required to support the Government of Iraq, and have played a central role in the success of the operation by neutralising Daesh positions, interdicting resupply and reinforcement efforts, and hitting Daesh reserves, thereby preventing its ability to counter-attack. In addition, 83 EAG provides highly advanced and niche ISR aircraft in support of the Coalition effort in Iraq and Syria, using the Sentinel R1.


As well as enabling air transport operations for Operation Kipion, 83 EAG supports Hercules aircraft on Operation Shader. These tactical transport aircraft enable a vast array of counter-Daesh activity, moving around many of the 1,000+ personnel deployed on Operation Shader, as well as essential kit and equipment, across the whole of its Area of Operations. This is a vital capability to support UK personnel that are training Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish Security Forces, in infantry skills, Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices, weapons maintenance and combat medical techniques. Developing Iraqi security institutions is part of our long-term commitment to stability in the region, and Hercules aircraft play a key part in this. The Voyager aircraft, which is the RAF’s air-to-air refuelling tanker, enables UK and Coalition strike aircraft to reach and remain over target areas to provide air support to forces on the ground. While the Tornados and Typhoons strike Daesh targets on the ground, the Voyager allows them to make the trip from RAF Akrotiri to the skies over Iraq and Syria. 83 EAG air operations, and the variety of capabilities it provides, have helped realise the strategy of working ‘by, with and through’ local forces in Iraq and Syria. The RAF has created the space required for the Iraqi government to regain control and begin to shape the country’s future. The RAF is, therefore, a critical enabler in building partner capability (BPC). Moreover, by transporting personnel and equipment to BPC centres in Iraq and sustaining support elements in the broader Middle East, RAF air operations are creating favourable conditions that increase the likelihood of long-term success. Our success is further enhanced by our key engagement with our allies and regional partners. Originally forming in 1943, the Group provided critical

air support to the Allied landings in Normandy on D-Day and beyond. As such, 83 EAG has a history of understanding the benefits of collaborations and delivering upon shared interests with our allies and partners. This continues in 2018, with personnel increasingly working with a mixture of Coalition nations, being exposed to the Joint operating environment and gaining access and insight in significant posts, such as in the Combined Air Operations Centre. Furthermore, it remains vital for us to continue our special relationship with the US and prove our standing as their natural partner of choice. All these factors allow our people to demonstrate the value of the RAF’s contribution to the mission, while building critical operational experience. In turn, our people continue to develop their professional skills, gaining an edge over the enemy and crucially evolving in line with the aspirations of the RAF Strategy 2017, which rightly espouses that “the Royal Air Force has a highly talented and motivated workforce which would be the envy of any organisation”. Our relationships with host nations around the Middle East remain vital in enabling our objectives to defeat Daesh. By actively engaging with our international partners as often as possible, we contribute to stability and security, and promote interoperability – a facet very much reflected in our 83 EAG motto: A Deux Plus Forts (Two Heads Are Better than One). Daesh is not yet defeated, but 83 EAG is making it increasingly difficult for it to operate. I am immensely proud of the dedication and professionalism of all personnel within the Group, and we will continue to deliver world-class air power wherever and whenever it is required, maintaining our valuable contribution to the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh.

Two RAF Typhoons arrive to receive fuel during a mission in support of the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




The two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that hit the Caribbean in September 2017 wrought damage on an unprecedented scale. Simon Michell reveals the story behind the British-led response to the disaster – one of the largest-ever humanitarian missions

Hurricane relief – Operation Ruman

B UK humanitarian aid began arriving on Anguilla the day after the hurricane (PHOTO: PAUL CROUCH/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


oats flying through the air, ISO containers skidding down roads, homes smashed to pieces and, worst of all, lives lost. The hurricane season of 2017 brought with it a succession of cyclones, storms and hurricanes that visited “biblical scenes of desolation and destruction” upon the many islands of the Caribbean, according to Chris Austin from the Department for International Development (DFID) – the man in charge of Operation Ruman. The worst of the storms, Hurricanes Irma and Maria, struck within a fortnight of each other on 6 and 22 September. Both were measured on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale as Category 5, with wind speeds of over 157 mph.


Almost all of the Caribbean islands were impacted by the adverse weather, with the British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Turks and Caicos (T&C) particularly hard hit. In all, more than 70,000 people were affected on these three island groups. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship Mounts Bay was first to respond on behalf of the UK Government. She moored off Anguilla the very next morning, when Irma had not even fully departed. Immediately, her crew of sailors and Commandos disembarked the humanitarian supplies with which she had been pre-loaded. While this was happening, her Wildcat helicopter started the grim process of assessing the damage. Within moments, it became apparent that


For most of the time, with civilian airports and ports out of action, the RAF had to fly everything across a 1,000-mile area much more help was needed. As Mounts Bay left for the BVI, a plan was being hastily put together in London. An emergency COBRA meeting gave orders for a massive and immediate mobilisation of regular and reserve military and civilian personnel to be sent to help: soldiers, sailors and airmen from the armed forces, alongside civilians – including electricians, engineers, firefighters, humanitarian relief practitioners, medics, police officers, prison warders and public health experts. The term, ‘holistic response’ is most appropriate to describe the resultant Operation Ruman. Government departments from the Cabinet Office, DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department of Health, the Home Office and, of course, the Ministry of Defence were all put on notice to contribute as a matter of extreme urgency.

ABOVE The RAF Puma was an essential tool in the relief operation (PHOTO: LPHOT JOEL ROUSE/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

AT THE CENTRE OF OPERATIONS A Joint Force Head Quarters (JFHQ) contingent was dispatched straight to the independent island nation of Barbados to orchestrate the mission. They were flown out on the first Operation Ruman flight from RAF Brize Norton. On arrival, the Barbadian authorities offered facilities at the Grantley Adams International Airport, as well as space on the Barbados Defence Force’s Paragon Base. The RAF’s 38 Expeditionary Air Wing – a spearhead group of air mobility specialists that stepped off the first plane to arrive in the Caribbean – was also offered facilities and aircraft parking bays at the airport, where they were able to manage the daily relief flights in and out. These two command and control centres were critical for the remainder of the operation. “The RAF air operation was truly impressive,” says Austin. “From a standing start they not only supported the UK mission, they also helped to choreograph Canadian, Dutch, French and US air operations as they contributed to the British-led plan.” The plan was hatched out and monitored at twice-daily briefings at the JFHQ. “It never ceased to amaze me at these briefings how many air movements there had been that day and how many were planned for the next,” comments Austin. As personnel and equipment relentlessly streamed in over the coming days and weeks, the relief work began. “The textbook way to deal

LEFT When HMS Ocean arrived on the scene she brought with her more RAF Chinook helicopters required for heavy lift duties. (PHOTO: LPHOT JOEL ROUSE/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

with a crisis of this nature is first to save lives and people in distress,” explains Austin, “then bring temporary relief supplies and equipment and, finally, facilitate more permanent reconstruction.” The military from all Services were active in each of these roles – initially, as a shoulder to cry on when the battered islanders emerged from their shelters in stunned disbelief, then as a reassuring and visible sign that law and order was being maintained. Once people began to take stock, the Operation Ruman relief force helped to support and motivate the local authorities and islanders back into gear to assist with the clear-up. For most of the time, with civilian airports and ports out of action, the RAF had to fly everything to the isolated islands across a 1,000-mile area. This task became somewhat easier once HMS Ocean arrived with more stores and equipment and, crucially, more RAF Chinook and Puma helicopters. BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) remains an agile and integrated force whose reach and power is essential to Canadian Armed Forces operations at home and abroad. The RCAF strategic reach is a critical enabler of Canadian Armed Forces global expeditionary operations, enabling joint action through control of the air, force protection, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility and air attack. Through NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), the RCAF makes substantial contributions to continental defence, generating the vital capabilities required to detect, deter and defeat threats to both Canada and the United States. The RCAF, like the Royal Air Force, generates space-based and air surveillance of its territory and its approaches, maintains 24/7 aerial search and rescue response capabilities, and stands ready to assist civil authorities in responding to a wide range of challenges and threats, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. The RCAF has received strong support and guidance in its latest Defence Policy (Strong, Secure, Engaged – SSE), where the importance of air and space power to Canada is fully acknowledged, and the Policy commits significant new resources to supporting RCAF personnel and introducing new capabilities to enable operations. The RCAF and RAF are integrated at the most senior of leadership levels through our annual staff talks, Air Power Conferences and “Five Eyes” Air Chief Symposiums, which enhance information sharing and cooperation. We also have a robust reciprocal exchange programme that enables the sharing of information and experiences at a functional level. There are many similarities between the SSE and the UK’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and



Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger

Security Review 2015, beginning with the primacy that both our nations are members of NATO, which ensures the protection of our sovereign territories. Among many shared goals and challenges, both our Air Forces are responding to the changing demographics and changing societal norms of society and, thus, our membership and their families. We are developing creative means to attract and retain quality personnel and regularly share information and experiences regarding this and many other common issues. This summer, as the RAF marks its 100th anniversary, the RCAF will undertake Public Duties in the UK to honour and protect the Sovereign of Canada. The contingent will Mount the Guard at several locations and also be granted Freedom of Entry to the town of Folkestone. Along with RCAF aircraft and crews – including the 2018 CF-188 Demonstration Hornet, which highlights the 60th anniversary of the NORAD agreement – the contingent will participate in the Royal International Air Tattoo.


This summer will also see the RCAF deploying an Air Task Force to join the UK and other nations on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). This is but the latest example of Canadian Air Force personnel standing shoulder to shoulder with their RAF counterparts, as was the case during the First and Second World Wars and, more recently, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, and in support of the UK’s response to the effects of devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean last autumn. The partnership between the RCAF and RAF, harkening to the earliest days of our Air Forces’ existence, remains strong and we will continue to advance these close ties. Our shared history and heritage throughout the past century has resulted in common concepts about air power: its intellectual development and operational employment. I have every confidence we will continue to build upon and enhance our long-standing and close relationship as the RAF embarks on its second century of service.


Logistics in action

As the UK’s strategic air transport hub, RAF Brize Norton was tasked with dispatching relief supplies to the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria (PHOTO: PAUL CROUCH/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

For everyone living and working at RAF Brize Norton, 7 September 2017 started off as a normal day. Over the coming week, the base’s A400M Atlas, C-17 and Voyager aircraft were due to keep military supplies flowing for the peak of the annual Defence training season in North America and Africa. They would also maintain logistic supplies to Operation Shader against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, as well as to Operation Kipion in the Gulf, while ensuring support to British Forces in the South Atlantic – 42 aircraft movements in five days. This was a challenging, but relatively straightforward, task. By the end of the day, however, Brize Norton was in a state of frenetic, yet focused, activity. The Station Commander had received a phone call with orders for the station to manage the logistic supplies for one of the largest humanitarian operations in a generation – Operation Ruman. This was a mission to bring relief and reassurance to the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean that had just been hit by the biggest Atlantic hurricane on record – the category 5 Irma. That same day, Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Stuart Gregory assumed command of No 1 Air Mobility Wing,

which would coordinate the logistic activity at RAF Brize Norton. His first day on the job would be spent trying to introduce clarity of purpose into what he calls “a very ambiguous and dynamic situation”. He had fewer than 24 hours to start getting aircraft off the runway and over to Barbados, with the men, women and equipment needed not only to undertake the relief mission, but also to support them while they were doing it. In addition, those 42 air movements already planned into the schedule were still expected to happen, as was the normal flight schedule after them.

RELIEF FLIGHTS BEGIN A giant C-17 was the first aircraft to deploy on 7 September. On board, it carried the Joint Force HQ, troops with most of their personal equipment and aid packages, along with a team of RAF air movements specialists from UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron (UKMAMS). A Voyager followed a couple of hours later, carrying the leadership team from 38 Expeditionary Air Wing (38 EAW) as well as more troops and equipment. Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Miranda Cope from UKMAMS and three more movers were also on this Voyager. Expecting to return that same day, they did not see Brize Norton again until 12 October. In command of the 140-strong 38 EAW was Wg Cdr





was hosted by the Barbados airport authorities (PHOTO: LPHOT JOEL ROUSE/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD) ABOVE Creating

space for the relief aircraft in Barbados required some expert problem solving (PHOTO: LPHOT JOEL ROUSE/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


Gareth Burdett. He too, was on a sharp learning curve as 38 EAW was, as he says, “not expected to be formed until the following November”. Extra manpower and expertise was key to success, and so reservists including logisticians from 4624 Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) Squadron, were surged in to Brize Norton to support global tasks and relieve pressure on UKMAMS. And, while Wg Cdr Gregory and his teams in the UK established the reception area and embarkation point for the 2,000-plus civilians and troops that were transported to Barbados with their kit – plus all of the aid, food, water, shelters, tools and whatever else was needed – Wg Cdr Burdett had to enable numerous airfields to receive and distribute the passengers and supplies using a host of aircraft from Barbados (twin-prop aircraft), Britain (A400M, C-17, Voyagers), Canada (C-130 and P-3C (CP140) Aurora) and the US (MC-130, V-22 Osprey). Although Barbados had not been hit by the hurricane, Grantley Adams International Airport, at which 38 EAW was based, was not ideal for an operation


of this scale. “Throughout the operation, space was at a premium. At times, as many as 15 aircraft were being operated out of nine bays,” explains Wg Cdr Burdett. There was also the added complication of operating alongside the existing commercial schedule. Burdett’s team, however, remained undaunted and, armed with laptops, mobile phones, a credit card and a rucksack full of money, they set up their HQ from which to command and control the massive in-theatre airlift effort. Simultaneously, Flt Lt Cope’s UKMAMS detachment went about enabling the Barbados hub and a series of airfields (or spokes) out on the islands – the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos and US Virgin Islands. This task required bringing some of the facilities back to life almost from scratch. “A team of tactical ATC specialists was a vital part of this work, particularly on the British Virgin Islands,” confirms Flt Lt Cope. Flexibility was paramount. On both sides of the Atlantic, aircraft loads were being adjusted even as aircraft were on the verge of leaving. According to Wg Cdr Burdett, “The shifting priorities in the Caribbean required balancing the dispatch of equipment and manpower for the airfield activities against the need for humanitarian aid.” That said, by the time 38 EAW packed up their HQ in Barbados, an astonishing total of 54,459 kg of DFID aid and 813,549 kg of military stores was ferried across to Barbados in 67 flights – including five chartered An-124 aircraft. RAF Brize Norton also processed 2,768 passengers. Adding in the movements that took place on the islands, from 8 September to 22 October, it amounts to a staggering 346 flights, 11,560 passenger movements and 1,874,907 kg of freight – not forgetting the 42 aircraft that already scheduled to leave Brize Norton before Operation Ruman began.


Airbus Defence and Space UK HOW IS THE A400M ATLAS PERFORMING OPERATIONALLY? We have delivered 20 A400Ms to the RAF out of 22 on order and they are now playing a core role in the UK’s air mobility operations. Fleet availability has been steadily increasing and, in late 2017, RAF Brize Norton-based 70 Squadron deployed two Atlas aircraft to the Caribbean on hurricane relief duties in Operation Ruman. They were extremely effective, carrying loads of around 20 tonnes onto runways as short as 4,000ft with no difficulty. A frequent mission was to fly around 1,000 miles from Barbados to the Turks and Caicos Islands, which were very

Colin Paynter Managing Director, Airbus Defence and Space UK

WHAT IS AIRBUS’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ROYAL AIR FORCE? Airbus is proud to have a long-standing relationship with the Royal Air Force and we are its leading supplier of large military aircraft. All three of the company’s flagship military platforms are flown by the RAF – the A330 Voyager Multi Role Tanker Transport, the A400M Atlas turboprop transport aircraft and the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet. Airbus also supplies Puma HC2 for the RAF, as well as H135 and H145 helicopters for the next-generation helicopter flying training. In this historic Centenary year for the RAF, Airbus is playing a leading role as a supporter of activities to Commemorate 100 years of success, Celebrate the professionalism and dedication of today’s RAF and Inspire future generations by promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and associated careers.

“A400Ms are playing a core role in the UK’s air mobility” severely storm-damaged and where refuelling was at risk. But the A400M could easily do that with a substantial load while being confident of returning without refuelling, unlike other aircraft. More capabilities in terms of, for example, paratrooping, low-level flight, and self defence are being added all the time.

WHAT ROLE DOES AIRBUS HELICOPTERS PLAY WITH THE RAF? Deliveries of the 29 H135 and three H145 Juno and Jupiter helicopters for operations by Ascent as part of the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) notched up a new record, with the largest number of H135s delivered in one year to a single customer. Today, aircrews from across the RAF, British Army and Royal Navy are already being trained on these machines.

We’re on track to provide half a century of rotary-wing training to the UK’s Armed Forces’ helicopter pilots, starting in the early 70s with Gazelles used by the RAF Central Flying School, followed by AS350BB Squirrels in the late 90s used by the Defence Helicopter Flying School, to today’s H135 and H145 operated by Ascent for the UKMFTS rotary-wing element. Meanwhile, RAF front-line crews continue to operate the Airbus Puma 2 helicopter on operations around the world.

WHAT OTHER RAF PLATFORMS IS AIRBUS INVOLVED WITH? On Eurofighter Typhoon, we are one of the companies involved in the programme, but BAE Systems takes the lead with the RAF while we lead with the German Luftwaffe, for example. Our A330 Voyager has proven itself to be a highly capable air-to-air tanker on combat operations in Operation Shader, but is also configured to take passengers, including a VIP cabin on one aircraft that can transport Government ministers and members of the Royal Family. The Space side of what we do in UK defence is crucial too. Airbus Space Systems is the UK’s largest space company and we provide Skynet 5 secure satellite communications to British Armed Forces, as well as to the US and NATO. We are currently working towards a contract for the next generation, Skynet 6A, that will secure delivery of a sovereign and secure capability for the UK. We also supply a cryptographic key management product to enable secure communications for five front-line RAF types: A400M, Voyager, F-35B, C-130J and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Our Taranis unmanned demonstrator remains the UK’s most advanced aircraft to date. Website: www.airbus.com/defence


Air Mobility – delivering the goods

Able to squeeze into the smallest of landing areas, RAF Puma helicopters could reach where they were needed most (PHOTO: LPHOT JOEL ROUSE/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


The nine-hour flight to Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados from RAF Brize Norton was just the first stage of the UK’s relief mission. On arrival, soldiers, marines, civilian aid workers, BT engineers, utility infrastructure specialists and UK policemen, along with their equipment and aid supplies, were offloaded onto the temporary waiting bays before being rapidly reloaded onto other aircraft. This complex and seemingly confused merry-go-round was choreographed by 38 Expeditionary Air Wing (38 EAW). Aircraft were reloaded and reconfigured as the requirements changed for each destination. As soon as the airfields on the Caribbean islands were re-activated by 38 EAW’s movements and tactical ATC experts, flights of A400M, C-17 and C-130 aircraft were sent off in rapid succession to deliver their emergency cargo, delivering Royal Marines and aid to


the affected areas within 48 hours of the decision to send troops. Three main island airfields had been hastily enabled on the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Turks and Caicos (TC) and the US Virgin Islands (USVI).

HELICOPTERS TO THE RESCUE On arrival at the island airfields, the men and women of Joint Helicopter Force took over the reins from the fixed-wing crews. Apart from the Wildcat on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, RFA Mounts Bay, which had pre-deployed in the area, the first helicopters to arrive on scene were the Pumas and Chinooks that were flown over from RAF Brize Norton inside C-17 and charter Antonov aircraft. Of these, the Pumas were the first to get to work, thanks to their incredibly fast turnaround times. The officer in charge of the land-based helicopters from Joint Helicopter Force 3 (JHF 3), Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Andy Baron, confirms, “It took us a mere 18 hours from getting the telephone call to being ready to deploy our Pumas to RAF Brize Norton. And then, within four days, they were delivering emergency supplies direct to the islanders.” Once both his helicopter types were ready, Wg Cdr Baron split JHF 3 in two, sending the pair


of Chinooks to the Turks and Caicos Islands, where they were needed to help with the extensive heavy rebuilding effort. The three Pumas were deployed daily from USVI to BVI as Pumas were ideally suited to the work on BVI, being able to squeeze in and out of tight spots to deliver their supplies and passengers. And, having been recently upgraded with more powerful engines, their maximum payload had increased significantly in higher temperatures. Command and Control (C2) of the overarching operation was provided by the Joint Force HQ, 450 miles away on Barbados. However, to expedite

further two RAF Chinooks from RAF Odiham, which worked as an independent JHF. These aircraft were put to work on BVI before HMS Ocean sailed down to Anguilla to deliver much-needed relief supplies there.

SAVING LIVES Not only did the helicopters take the supplies and personnel that last mile almost exactly to the point of need, they also helped the local health services. The hurricanes that had laid waste to the islands had also taken out hospital power and water supplies. Consequently, those patients deemed most critical

RAF Chinooks (front)were based on the Turks and Caicos, where their heavy lift capability proved invaluable (PHOTO: LPHOT JOEL ROUSE/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

Collaboration between partners highlighted the international nature of the British-led mission operations, the JHF 3 was given permission to work directly with the Commander Officer (CO) of 40 Commando (Cdo) on BVI and the CO of 24 Cdo Royal Engineers on Turks and Caicos. This delegation of authority maintained the much-needed momentum, as it meant that Wg Cdr Andy Baron could, in his words, “report directly to the officer in charge on the scene who understood the requirements as they evolved�. JHF 3 was not the only helicopter unit bringing relief supplies. When HMS Ocean arrived off the coast of BVI on 22 September, embarked were four Royal Navy Merlins from the Commando Helicopter Force and a

were ferried out to other medical facilities, where their treatment could be guaranteed. At least three of these trips were time-critical, life-saving journeys. Moreover, one of the casualty evacuation missions was conducted from the island of Dominica to a hospital on the French island of Martinique. This collaboration between partners highlighted the international nature of the British-led relief mission, which was implemented to help everyone, regardless of nationality, or whether they were in an independent nation or an overseas territory belonging to Britain, France, the Netherlands or the US. BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018



Simon Michell talks to Simon Everest, interim Head of the Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO), about the special relationship with the Royal Air Force

Supporting defence exports

Simon Everest

“The Royal Air Force (RAF) is a hugely important partner to DIT DSO. We couldn’t provide the support to the United Kingdom’s industry that we do without the involvement of the RAF,” says Simon Everest, the current interim head of the organisation. Unlike most other UK exports – for example, automotive, pharmaceutical and agricultural – defence sales tend to be conducted on a government-togovernment basis, as opposed to directly to the end user. This high-level interaction can often be daunting for many of the small and medium-sized enterprises that DIT DSO is trying to help. Navigating through the somewhat byzantine regulations and protocols that exist in overseas markets can be an enormous challenge, even for some of the bigger primes. The DIT DSO acts as a trusted partner and gateway to these opportunities. It is a facilitator to which all UK defence and security companies can come for advice and support. This is particularly noticeable at exhibitions, both overseas and at home. DIT DSO attends around 20 international shows throughout the world, in places as diverse as Dubai, India, Paris, Singapore and the US,


often in partnership with the UK defence and aerospace trade association – ADS. “At overseas exhibitions, we will often have a stand at which UK companies can exhibit and we can invite potential customers to visit,” says Everest. “We also have a significant presence at three UK exhibitions: DSEI, the Farnborough International Airshow and the Home Office’s Security and Policing exhibition.” Here, the department’s role encompasses the vital task of inviting and hosting potential customers in the form of national delegations.

EQUIPMENT SPECIALISTS This is where the pivotal role played by the RAF is most visible. Uniformed RAF Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers can be seen escorting the delegations, highlighting the key exhibits and explaining the equipment on display. However, the RAF’s contribution is far deeper and wider than that. DIT DSO has a cadre of military personnel seconded to it who act as equipment specialists. This function covers a range of activities. They can help potential customers define and refine their actual defence requirement and can also explain how the UK armed services employ any given solution on operations. This insight is invaluable. Air Vice-Marshal Nigel Maddox explains, “The military cadre here at DIT DSO is key to potential customers in helping them to shape their requirement. We can describe our approach to a capability and explain how we use a specific type of equipment.” Perhaps the biggest reason that the RAF is so important to DIT DSO is down to the figures. Of the £90 billion defence and security exports sales that have been achieved over the past decade, more


than 80% have been in the air domain. DIT DSO works extremely closely with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on export campaigns; indeed, the MOD leads on Typhoon, complex weapons (missiles) and F-35. These days, many campaigns are wrapped within a more extensive package of products and services with which DIT DSO can assist. The UK also has much more leading-edge technology on offer – not least the Hawk trainer, Wildcat and EH-101 helicopters, and A400M transport aircraft, as well as communications, electronic warfare and sensor systems. The list goes on. A key area on which the UK is focusing is in helping countries to design and build their own indigenous fast jet combat aircraft. The recent success BAE Systems enjoyed on the Turkish TF-X programme points the way to other potential opportunities. These types of relationships are essential to ensure that the UK can maintain its leadership in the aerospace sector, and the vital research and development work that this entails. This is not the only growth area in which DIT DSO is supporting UK industry. Cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a huge sector, as Everest outlines: “Cyber is the largest-growing part of what we are doing in DSO. And, it has come from a standing start. Seven years ago, it was very low level with few UK companies engaging internationally, but it has grown exponentially. Of the £4.3 billion worth of security exports we achieved in 2016, over 40% was in the cyber domain.” As the RAF marks its 100th anniversary, the DIT DSO remains a close partner. “Our relationship with the RAF has been pivotal in ensuring that the UK defence and security industry has enjoyed the success it rightly deserves,” says Everest.


Simon Michell talks to Group Captain Simon Strasdin from his base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to find out how the Royal Air Force projects power and remains essential to the counter-Daesh campaign

Projecting power

I As a sovereign base, RAF Akrotiri offers UK forces flexibility and the government valuable options (PHOTO: CPL L MATTHEWS/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

nching their way back to base at the end of a night operation, a group of friendly forces were suddenly stopped in their tracks by a Daesh sniper team. An American Forward Air Controller, working in conjunction with the soldiers, quickly made contact with a flight of Royal Air Force 903 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) Tornado aircraft to ask for help. Between them, they pinpointed the sniper team’s firing position – a window fewer than 25 metres away. Balancing a high surface-to-air threat, low fuel and a confusing and dangerous situation on the ground, the Tornado crews decided that, without their swift action, the situation was perilous. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, well-honed warfighting skills and a determination to help save the

lives of those endangered friendly forces, the crews quickly ascertained the exact locations of both the friendly and enemy forces. Having confirmed that the friendly forces were in a ‘Danger Close’ situation, the crew launched a single Dual-Mode Seeker Brimstone low-collateral precision missile, and skilfully guided it through the window of the building from where the enemy were firing. The target was neutralised within six minutes of the call for assistance, undoubtedly saving the lives of the friendly forces. This is just one example of how the Royal Air Force is helping to degrade, dismantle and, ultimately, defeat Daesh from a facility some 2,500 miles from the United Kingdom. RAF Akrotiri – a major element of the British Overseas Territory on the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus – is home to 903 EAW, currently headed by




Pro f



Comm s an






Operations – Deliver Air Effect – Coalition Partners – Regional Influence – Develop warfighters – Efficiency throughout

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903 EAW MISSION: Sustained delivery of mission-ready Air capabilities to meet UK and Coalition objectives across the Middle East and North Africa


g uc a tion and Trainin

Safety – Everyone returns home – Tolerable & ALARP – Environmental challenges – Activity challenges – Force protection and Sy

People – One Team – Supported – Respectful – Disciplined – Valued

Group Captain (Gp Capt) Simon Strasdin. The men and women of 903 EAW have a long history of this type of work. The Wing was originally raised back in 1944 to help drive the Japanese out of Burma. Sixty years later, 903 EAW was in Afghanistan’s Camp Bastion helping to eliminate Taliban influence in the region. And, after a brief hiatus, it was re-established on 14 December 2014 at RAF Akrotiri – this time to defeat Daesh. Under the supervision of the Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC), USAF Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, in the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at Al Udeid, Qatar, 903 EAW’s mission is, according to Gp Capt Strasdin, “the sustained delivery of mission-ready Air capabilities to meet UK and coalition objectives across the Middle East and North Africa”. He continues, “More broadly, we are here to conduct the CFACC’s intent in countering Daesh – degrading, dismantling and defeating them.” This is all part of what the UK has called Operation Shader, instigated in September 2014 after the Iraqi Government requested help with the defence of its territory. In order to protect UK



citizens at home and abroad, the UK is committed to keeping up the pressure on Daesh in Syria and Iraq. In an effort to promote stability and security into the Middle East, the region has become a busy place for the RAF, and 903 EAW is just one of four EAWs in the area providing a variety of functions in support of UK operations. However, 903 EAW is, as Gp Capt Strasdin puts it, “very much at the sharp end of the UK’s counter-Daesh effort”. The majority of the RAF’s aircraft involved in the fight fly from Akrotiri. On any given day, it is highly likely that at least one of each of the RAF’s major operational aircraft may be present – A400M, C-17, C-130J, Voyager transport aircraft, E-3D Sentry and Sentinel R1 ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) aircraft, as well as Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4 fast jets fulfilling Air Presence and Attack roles. “With a relatively small footprint and with an average of just 500 regular and reservist personnel, we really do span the four roles of air power – control of the air, mobility, intelligence/situational awareness and attack. However, it is the dedication, professionalism and sheer determination of those deployed personnel that give the RAF the asymmetric advantage; they never fail to impress me with their ability to solve highly complex problems with the absolute minimum of fuss,” Gp Capt Strasdin affirms. Such has been the recent success of Operation Shader and the wider coalition Operation Inherent Resolve that Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, was able to declare victory over Daesh in Iraq on 9 December 2017. However, operations will continue in both Iraq and Syria until Daesh is no longer able to ruthlessly exploit and terrorise the civilian population.

COMPLEX SITUATION In Syria, the Global Coalition is supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces, but with Russia supporting Assadregime forces the situation is complex and the areas of operations congested. With the liberation of Iraqi towns and cities, such as Mosul, last summer and then the rapid fall of Tal Afar and Raqqa, Daesh has been squeezed into the Middle Euphrates Valley in Syria. “This is really the last stand for the remnants of the so-called Daesh caliphate,” predicts Gp Capt Strasdin. However, again, that doesn’t mean the end of operations. “A global terrorist organisation like Daesh does not necessarily need to hold territory to be a threat,” he says. “The job is not yet done and the UK, as a leading member of the Global Coalition, will continue to do what is necessary to protect the British people from Daesh. We want to make sure they don’t return by helping to provide the foundations for a strong and stable Middle East.” The US can’t do this by itself. We are therefore here as a reliable coalition partner for as long as we are needed.”


Patrick Allen talks to Brigadier Ben Kite, Commanding Officer of the Joint Forces Intelligence Group, to find out how the Royal Air Force is helping his organisation to turn raw data into actionable intelligence

Turning data into information


aving reached full operating capability in 2014, the Joint Forces Intelligence Group (JFIG) is now an integral part of Defence Intelligence. This relatively new organisation is underpinned by strong international partnerships, a culture of innovation – driven by its Centre for Intelligence Innovation (CII), and the expertise of its staff.

The current commander, British Army Brigadier Ben Kite, outlines its purpose: “Our role is firstly to provide the most accurate and predictive intelligence we can for both warfighters and senior decisionmakers.” He continues, “As you can imagine, this work is undertaken on the basis of strict prioritisation, articulated by the Chief of Defence Intelligence. This strong focus on outputs is nevertheless balanced by

The Joint Forces Intelligence Group helps to make sense out of the raw data that the UK military collects on a daily basis. The Sentinel R1 is just one of many air, land, sea and space-based platforms at its disposal (PHOTO: ANDY HOLMES/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




a large effort in ensuring we deepen our professional skills and continuously innovate. A significant element of this is done through the CII that works with Joint Forces Command [JFC] and Defence partners to identify and exploit commercial and technological opportunities.” JFIG’s manpower is 65% military and 35% civilian and, of the military component, a substantial proportion is from the Royal Air Force intelligence, communications and engineering disciplines. “Having these RAF professionals working collaboratively and innovatively within a joint and international environment is enabling effective changes, such as ‘Visualisation of Intelligence Products’ and ‘Dissemination by Design’ to be delivered to a wide audience,” says Brigadier Kite. “The RAF contributes in so many areas, it is hard to capture them all,” he continues. “One area about which we are tremendously excited is our work with

in a timely manner. That requires high-quality analysts, familiar with their intelligence targets and supported by the most up-to-date processing capabilities.”

DISCOVERING SYNERGIES Brigadier Kite outlines how the recent creation of the NCGI is adding extra layers to the JFIG output: “The creation of NCGI brings together GEOINT [geospatial intelligence] capabilities in a coherent way. We now have Foundation GEOINT, incorporating air charts and cartography, working much closer with our Analytical GEOINT capability and, unsurprisingly, we are finding remarkable synergies. Perhaps most importantly, combining these skills with a Deployable GEOINT capability that includes 42 Engineer Regiment (Geo), as well as RAF and Intelligence Corps imagery analysts, means that front-line commanders from all three Services can access these

“The creation of NCGI brings together geospatial intelligence capabilities in a coherent way” the RAF on Carbonite 2. This small-cubed satellite concept demonstrator involving Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the RAF and National Centre for Geospatial Intelligence [NCGI] is allowing us to innovate in a number of interesting ways, particularly on the areas that JFC and Defence Intelligence will remain responsible for in Space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, that of tasking, coordination and the processing, exploitation and dissemination of the product. It is a great example of how the RAF and JFC work together on joint endeavours.”

DATA FUSION JFIG uses a mixture of open and confidential data to create intelligence. “We are utilising open-source intelligence much more than before,” says Brigadier Kite. “It has great advantages in speed, breadth of coverage, dissemination, visualisation and in the future Artificial Intelligence opportunities. But human intelligence, electronic warfare and imagery intelligence also have unique qualities, and the key is to collectively use all these disciplines to tip, cue and corroborate each other, as well as fuse them together and disseminate them



impressive national capabilities much more easily. “Unlike its disparate and individual predecessors, the NCGI now has a status similar to its international counterparts, such as the much larger American National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and I predict that the centre will grow in importance. The centre’s products are used by Other Government Departments and the Cabinet Office, but its main focus is Defence and the warfighter. It is, therefore, a tremendous asset to have within Defence Intelligence.” The RAF not only contributes personnel, it also hosts the JFIG, for which Brigadier Kite is extremely grateful. “I should mention the Station HQ and support staff at RAF Wyton – we are the largest unit on station and probably the biggest pain in the neck!” he jokes. “But the life-support and enabling functions they provide are superb. I also find it humbling to be in the main base from which the Pathfinder Force operated during the Second World War, and meeting the few surviving veterans has been one of the most memorable moments of my time at RAF Wyton. They offer members of JFIG a compelling example of service and innovation.”





The Royal Air Force is focusing the way it manages its intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) assets, to satisfy the insatiable demand for data that is becoming a paradigm of modern military operations

ISTAR – satisfying an insatiable thirst for data

The three large RAF ISR aircraft – Sentinel (above), Sentry and Rivet Joint – are at the heart of the BigWing concept (PHOTO: CPL GRAHAM TAYLOR RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)



o be a force for good in the world, the United Kingdom has to stay ahead of those states or organisations who don’t share our values,” insists Air Commodore (Air Cdre) Dean Andrew, the Royal Air Force’s ISTAR Force Commander. This is what lies behind an enhanced focus on synchronising the RAF’s three larger ISTAR assets (the RC-135W Rivet Joint, Sentinel R1


and E-3D Sentry AEW1), known collectively as the ‘Big-Wing’ ISTAR assets. According to Air Cdre Dean Andrew, “By synchronising the missions of our larger assets to collect and process a broader spectrum of data, we are able to generate a much richer intelligence picture that gives the UK competitive advantage.” RAF Waddington is home to the Big-Wing ISTAR aircraft – the Rivet Joints of 51 Squadron, Sentinels


Delivering situational awareness, communication systems and training

L3 Technologies

Ron Cook Managing Director, L3 Technologies UK Group Ltd Ron Cook CBE is the Senior Vice President who for the past 13 years has run the UK-based corporate office of L3 Technologies, the leading provider of a broad range of communication, electronic and sensor systems used on military, homeland security and commercial platforms. L3 is also a prime contractor in aerospace systems, security and detection systems and pilot training. Ron says that the past year has been an important one for the company, with Christopher E Kubasik taking over as the Chief Executive Officer and President in 2018. This follows the business rebranding to its current L3 Technologies name in late 2016 to reflect its evolution into a leading global provider of a broad range of technology solutions. This year has also been an important one for the UK business, with a new L3 Technologies UK Group Ltd being created with Ron as

managing director of the board. This is one of three new L3 Technologies international boards, the other two located in Australia and Canada. The global company celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and now employs 31,000 people globally, including approximately 1,500 in the UK. L3 Technologies’ partnership with the RAF remains a central focus of the UK business and, given Ron is a retired Air Commodore, it is very close to his heart as the Service celebrates its 100th anniversary. A principle feature of this relationship is the provision of the RC-135 manned electronic surveillance aircraft under the Airseeker Programme, which, equipped with a variety of sensors, gives the RAF a high level of situational awareness and both tactical and strategic intelligence. In so doing, it performs a critical role in fulfilling defencewide decision-making requirements.

in Southampton, Bournemouth and Coventry in the UK, and Minnesota and Florida in the US, Hamilton in New Zealand, and Bangkok in Thailand. The business sits within L3 Technologies’ Commercial Aviation Solutions Sector, headed by former L3 CTS President Alan Crawford. This wider business also includes the Aviation Communications & Surveillance Systems (ACSS) joint venture and L3 Technologies’ Aviation Products Division. Ron is additionally keen to emphasise L3 Technologies’ most exciting new products and services and focuses specifically in this regard on the Rapid Aircraft Payload Deployment System (RAPDS). This represents L3 Mission Integration’s (MI) commitment to continually improve its products through internal investment. RAPDS

L3 Technologies’ partnership with the RAF remains a central focus of the UK business Ron is also keen to highlight the work in the UK of L3 Commercial Training Solutions (L3 CTS), the world leader in providing intelligent total training solutions for pilots and maintainers across a wide range of commercial platforms. Under new President Robin Glover-Faure, L3 CTS provides a full spectrum of state-of-the-art training solutions, including cadet pilot training, airline training, aircrew resourcing, training centres and high-fidelity simulation products. Headquartered in Crawley, the business delivers training, resourcing and systems production from global centres

features MI’s next-generation aircraft design and architecture, enabling the execution of a wide range of missions from a single platform. The design is modular and flexible, thereby allowing a variety of current and future sensor payloads to be accommodated with minimal redesign, while maintaining airworthiness certification. RAPDS is a key focus of L3 Technologies with regard to Small Manned Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (SMISR) requirements, both in the UK and internationally. Website: www.l3t.com


The RAF E-3D Sentry command and control aircraft monitor the airspace for adversary aircraft and friendly assets (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

of 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron and the Sentrys of 8 Squadron. Along with the smaller aircraft including Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems of 13 Squadron and Shadow R1s of 14 Squadron and the ISTAR training role played by 54 Squadron, the Station is very much the centre of gravity of Britain’s strategic and tactical air intelligence collection assets. The three large aircraft types – Sentinel, Sentry and Rivet Joint – in particular, are increasingly coordinated to provide the UK and its allies with multi-asset, focused, strategic intelligence. These platforms collect a wide array of data that can be analysed in the air, in real time, and processed postmission in more detail by specialists from 1 Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Wing.

INTRAFORCE COOPERATION Tasked from National or NATO Headquarters, the RAF’s ISTAR Force Elements provide intra-Force cooperation through multi-layered missions, giving the Alliance assurance on its eastern flank. Sentry aircraft routinely patrol the skies of Eastern Europe as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, providing a live, detailed ‘Recognised Air Picture’ to partner nations. The Sentry forms a critical ‘two-way link’ between higher headquarters and the other Big-Wing aircraft. RAF Rivet Joint aircraft coordinate and deconflict flying time with NATO and, in particular, USAF assets, to



ensure they can provide live, actionable intelligence to UK and partner forces in the region of interest. In addition, Electronic Warfare information can be used to cross-cue other assets, such as the Sentinel R1, to enhance the intelligence picture through sensor fusion. This is significant, as the Sentinel R1 capability provides all-weather, wide-area GMTI (ground moving target indication), pattern-of-life and high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery. Moreover, Sentinel aircrew exploit time-sensitive information while still in the air, before that data is then further analysed on the ground by 1 ISR Wing’s Process, Exploitation, and Dissemination (PED) capabilities. According to Air Cdre Andrew, the value added by the Big-Wing aircraft is in the fusion of multiple feeds of information from platforms, hunting across the breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum, processing data collected from around the globe and providing civil and military commanders with actionable intelligence in real time. Working together, these assets provide agile global data collection that, after analysis, provides high-quality intelligence to enhance decision-making in situations as diverse as flood response in England to operations against terrorists in the Middle East. In 2016, the Defence Board gave direction to “develop a Single Intelligence Environment (SIE)... to sustain decision advantage”. The concept is still in its early days and, although a challenging task, success


Richard Daniel, Chief Executive Officer at Raytheon UK, tells Simon Michell how the company is working to offer greater agility and flexibility to the Royal Air Force

Raytheon UK currently helping to keep an eye on Daesh forces in Iraq and Syria,” says Richard Daniel, CEO, Raytheon UK. “This tempo of operations is a challenge. It makes the ‘Whole Force’ approach essential, as well as mutually beneficial. It is our relationship with RAF V(AC) Squadron that has made the aircraft the success it is,” he explains.


Richard Daniel Chief Executive Officer, Raytheon UK During the 1930s, the company designed and delivered the Chain Home Radar network on the south coast of England, a decisive factor in the RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain. Today, Raytheon still plays a key part in the UK’s defence as a supplier of guided munitions, as the prime contractor for the Allied System for Geospatial Intelligence (ASG) programme, as well as delivering and supporting manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft. Sentinel R1 is one of two manned ISR platforms that the company delivered to the RAF – the other being Shadow R1. Both these aircraft have been extremely busy since their introduction into service, and keeping them available has been a challenge. “Sentinel R1 has been used extensively in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali, and it is

Sentinel R1 is also a prime example of Raytheon transferring US technology to the UK and creating jobs and investment here. The expertise gained in helping to develop and produce the first aircraft in the US subsequently gave Raytheon UK the knowledge and skills to deliver the rest of the fleet in Broughton, north Wales, and then, after that, the Shadow R1 ISR turbo-prop aircraft as well. Moreover, the skills base in Wales and the north-west of England is now being expanded into what Daniel refers to as a UK ISR hub. “We have just recently increased our capacity in Broughton and I want to use this to advance our export strategy.” he says. To do this, Raytheon is investing its own money into developing an advanced mission software architecture to provide greater flexibility in addressing potential export requirements. The plan also envisages the potential for developing Sentinel R1 into a multimission aircraft, should the RAF extend the out-of-service date. Further north, in Scotland, the Glenrothes facility is preparing to ramp up its support of the F-35B when it arrives in the UK. “We have already gone through the integration of the Raytheon

Paveway IV on the airframe,” confirms Daniel. “In addition, we are also integrating Paveway IV onto the Protector UAV.” The increased demand for Paveway and AMRAAM (advanced mediumrange air-to-air missile) has enabled the Glenrothes facility to be transformed into a ‘Global Factory’, whereby every enhanced missile is manufactured in Scotland for Raytheon customers worldwide. This includes Paveway II and IV guidance units and the control sections for AMRAAM. “Supplying a worldwide customer base not only offers economy of scale, it has also enabled us to triple capacity in Scotland, which is good for jobs,” Daniel points out.

FUTURE FLEXIBILITY Looking to the future, the head of Raytheon UK is aligning investments and strategy to give the RAF the flexibility it will need. That is what the Sentinel and Shadow mission software suite will provide. The company is also investing in increasing the operational flexibility of Paveway by introducing a new penetrator warhead, GPS anti-jam protection and other improved functionality utilising UK technology to maintain its position as the premier precision-guided freefall strike weapon. “Apart from Sentinel and Shadow upgrades, we are also investing in a number of other sensitive areas that will enhance the MoD’s ISR collection and processing capabilities,” says Daniel, “as well as improving the survivability of Typhoon and the combat effectiveness of the RAF’s future F-35 aircraft and weapons systems.” Website: www.raytheon.com/uk/


Electronic emissions from communications and other systems are collected by the RAF’s three RC-135W Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft (PHOTO: SGT NEIL BRYDEN RAF/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


will see a new era for RAF ISR, where people, platforms, pipelines and processes form a fully integrated ISR enterprise across the UK and allies as follows: – People: ‘Information-age’ warfare requires information-age operators. RAF ISR will see increases in intelligence personnel numbers and integration of manned and remotely piloted mission crews with distributed reach-back PED teams, led by 1 ISR Wg, to provide UK-based multidomain intelligence exploitation to other Joint ISR, strike and Command and Control (C2) assets. – Platforms: RAF data collection will increase with the introduction of the Protector and P-8A Poseidon aircraft, upgrades to the Rivet Joint, the transfer of Islander and Defender aircraft from the Army to the RAF and development of high-altitude pseudo-satellites and space-based surveillance. This growth will require expansion of commensurate PED capabilities for multi-domain data access and collaboration, the Imagery Exploitation Programme to federate Geospatial intelligence PED and access to vital coalition IT networks and ‘apps’ to ensure shared situational awareness. – Pipelines: As demand for real-time intelligence increases, the need to move data from collector, to processor to the final user grows. ISR needs pipelines with sufficient bandwidth that can assure cross-domain interoperability, integrated tasking, C2 and PED – not just nationally, but


with our NATO and broader coalition partners as well. By utilising critical enablers, including UK and US IT networks, voice, ‘chat’ and data services, the RAF will empower operators and analysts to provide decision-support across tasking, collection and PED operations. – Processes: As the SIE expands, and synergies between different information domains are harvested, the RAF will capitalise on pan-Defence PED initiatives to modernise processes and break down legacy intelligence stovepipes. 1 ISR Wg and the ISR Squadrons will continue to enhance relationships with allies, optimising federated PED and providing expertise to the UK Joint Intelligence Operations Centre. RAF ISR will be at the centre of innovation and collaboration, through Project Maven, to unlock automated Activity-Based Intelligence/ Structured-Observation Management solutions to enhance analytical capacity. Air Cdre Andrew is convinced that by organising the RAF’s ISTAR assets in this way, “The whole is definitely more than the sum of the individual parts.” Moreover, he believes the insatiable demand for information from national, NATO and coalition commanders not only requires, but demands, this kind of innovative and agile optimisation of contemporary data collection from air platforms.


Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, the Royal Air Force’s Chief of Staff for Personnel and Air Secretary reveals how she is laying the foundations for recruiting a diverse and modern air force fit for the future. Jenny Beechener reports

Diversity based on meritocracy – building a Royal Air Force fit for the future

The RAF is a meritocracy that provides opportunity and a challenge for every person to be their best (PHOTO: LUKA WAYCOTT/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


n 2017, 21% of applicants joining the Royal Air Force were female. This exceeds the target set by the UK Government for each of the Armed Forces to increase female personnel intake from 11% across the board in 2016 to 15% of total intake by 2020. But it’s not just in gender diversity that the Royal Air Force is making substantial headway. “For the first time, we are starting to see a difference,” says Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Chris Elliot, who ensures that the RAF has sufficient people,

skills, and experience to deliver air power in an increasingly complex environment. “Our ethnic minority recruitment is turning the corner. All of our roles are open, and we respect that people from diverse backgrounds bring their experience and increase effectiveness. It’s about the individual.” The Government target for ethnic minorities is set slightly lower at 10% of total intake by 2020. Diversity has an important role to play in helping the Armed Forces tackle the multifarious security challenges facing the country. Non-traditional threats,




The RAF has also introduced mentors in the recruitment process, called Candidate Relationship Managers, to help candidates navigate the application process – a strategy that helps minority groups in particular. The ‘No Ordinary Job’ campaign, launched in 2016, primarily targets the 16-to-24 age range and includes a website with videos showing the diversity of opportunities available to people from all walks of life. Retention of experienced Service personnel is equally important to AVM Elliot, who says the longer people stay, the better the operational capability and better the return on investment. “Improvements to our people-focused policies and greater use of data to understand our organisational behaviours have been supported by expanding the role played by reservists, who form an integral part of the operational capacity of the Whole Force.”


The RAF is already exceeding its target intake for female recruits (PHOTO: CPL GRAHAM TAYLOR RAF/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

such as cybersecurity and remotely piloted air systems demand new skill sets, while dispersed locations call for more linguists and intelligence analysts, and a different way of thinking about things. “This is about making sure you have teams made up of the right mindsets and the right people, operating in an inclusive environment that values their contribution”

TECHNICAL SKILLS The technical skill sets are also evolving. Nine new Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, due to arrive in 2020, carry advanced navigation, surveillance and signals intelligence capability. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of RAF pilots are training on the fifth-generation F-35B Lightning stealth jets. “We need a workforce that is not just about traditional engineers,” AVM Elliot observes. “These are software-heavy systems that need people that are savvy with technology. It’s an information age and the past four to five years have demanded we move to a different set of skills.” The change is subtle, with a strong social element. The 2017 Royal Air Force Strategy document sets out to “retain and recruit the right people with the skills we need, both now and in the future”. This begins with more distinct recruitment strategies that include different social platforms, engagement with multiple age groups (starting as young as engagement in primary school to develop interest in STEM-related careers) and partnering to deliver joint roadshows with defence contractors such as BAE Systems.



Reservists contribute about 4,000 personnel, in addition to the regular trained and untrained strength of 32,880, a figure that will reduce to 31,750 by 2020 as a result of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. “Getting that balance between the right requirement and retention is critical,” explains AVM Elliot. “We’ve got to be an employer of choice, and make sure people understand what we have to offer, which is a career where you can develop as a person, as well as a professional. It’s not just about delivering the next generation of aircraft; it’s communicating that, as well as the opportunities and challenges of operational service, you and your family will be included and supported, and you can still live your life as part of the Royal Air Force family.” Ex-regulars make up the majority of part-time voluntary reservists, providing a valuable source of skills and experience. They also add agility when needed, generating capability depending upon what skill sets are required. “If we need something quickly that we can’t generate through a regular capability, we can look at a more agile solution in the short term that will allow us to grow that capability in the longer term.” Understanding the needs of individuals and families is as important as broadening the appeal of the Royal Air Force to a more diverse audience. For AVM Elliot, increasing the number of women applying to join the RAF is just part of the story. “We need to keep working on being a better, modern employer and one that people identify with, and understand the fulfilling careers we offer: that we are a meritocracy; that we offer flexibility throughout a Service career to help juggle what can at times be competing demands of Service commitments and life pressures; and that when the time is right, help people to leave well – whether that is on retirement, to other civilian employment or into reserve service.”


Jenny Beechener asks Flight Lieutenant Helen Trudgeon why being an RAF Reservist is a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience

So why be a Reservist? “Without a shadow of a doubt, I am in my current civilian role as a direct result of my reservist experience,” says Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Helen Trudgeon, Infection Prevention and Control Nurse with Bristol National Health Services (NHS) Foundation Trust. “The RAF paid for my infection control course, and I deployed with the Ebola treatment unit to Sierra Leone. It put me ahead of everybody else and I know it’s the main reason I have the job I’m in now.” Flt Lt Trudgeon was one of four reservists working alongside regulars for three months during the Ebola outbreak in 2015, when she put new skills into practice and called on valuable experience from the civilian sector. Flt Lt Trudgeon, like many reservists, launched her career in the RAF, but after a while found it hard to reconcile full-time regular service with a family life. After completing training, work shuttled her to numerous locations largely determined

“If you like to sit in front of the TV and have an easy life, then it’s not for you” by military necessity. So, Helen decided to transfer to a full-time role with the NHS close to family and friends in Bristol, while remaining attached to 4626 Squadron RAuxAF at Brize Norton. “You have the stability that you don’t necessarily get in the regulars. But, you also have opportunities that the NHS cannot offer,” she says. These have included trips to Belgium and Canada in 2018, and deployment opportunities every few years.

Fl Lt Helen Trudgeon (left) with colleagues outside one of the Ebola Treatment Centres built by the British military in Sierra Leone (PHOTO: WONN ANNE EVANS)

A reservist commits to 29 training days a year, spread between continuous sessions and weekends. The training can bring direct benefits to a civilian role. “For me as an officer, I would not get the same level of management and leadership experience in my civilian role. You are often working with colleagues you don’t know, which means you get used to getting along with people quickly. This helps with communications, confidence and awareness of different behavioural sets.” During her time as a nurse, Flt Lt Trudgeon has adapted RAF organisational concepts to the NHS environment to create more efficient lines of communication that enable it to operate more effectively. When the situation is reversed, the RAF can benefit from skills learnt in the civilian world. “In a war zone, you deal with

a narrow patient type; generally, young, fit, healthy men. In the NHS, you have a complete variety of patients; from old to young, accident & emergency, cardiac to cancer. You have to be adaptable and flexible.” Flt Lt Trudgeon says the NHS environment can be stressful and resources can be stretched. “The pace and pressure of work alongside the acuity of patients is massive. You need to be able to make decisions, prioritise quickly and calmly... When you deploy with the RAF, you know you will be able to cope.” Flt Lt Trudgeon warns that the role is not suited to everyone. “If you like to sit in front of the TV and have an easy life, then it’s not for you. But, if you want a challenge, if you want to travel and push yourself, and you want skills not available from your own workplace, then absolutely.”




RAF Cosford is at the centre of the Royal Air Force’s mission to deliver affordable, effective and flexible technical training to meet the needs of all three of the UK’s Armed Forces. Group Captain Tone Baker, Cosford’s Station Commander, tells Chris Aaron why this is so important

Training the Next Generation


n his famous memorandum on the ‘Permanent Organisation of the Royal Air Force’, prepared for Winston Churchill in 1919, the then Chief of the Air Staff, Lord Trenchard, insisted that training would be an essential element for a “sound framework on which to build a service”, nurturing an Air Force spirit and identity, and minimising flying accidents through the thorough “training of mechanics in the multiplicity of trades necessitated by a highly technical service”. The depth of Trenchard’s foresight is reflected today in the structure of RAF Cosford, the modern centre for Air Force technical training, which displays an evolution directly from his founding vision. It is also the Headquarters for the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, a tri-Service organisation

that drives synergies across Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army Aeronautical Engineering Training. RAF Cosford’s No 1 School of Technical Training (SoTT) moved from RAF Halton in 1994, merging with No 2 SoTT, and now delivers training to the RAF’s Armourer, Avionic, Mechanical and Survival Equipment Trade Groups (TG 1 & 13). The Aeronautical Engineering Management Training School prepares Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Junior Officers in specific engineering management disciplines needed for their rank, trade and branch. It also delivers training to aircraft technicians commissioned from the ranks – a career route first advocated by Trenchard. No 1 Radio School – where Communication Specialists (TG 4) are trained, now fulfils many of the functions that originated at RAF Flowerdown, its first base. The Defence School of Photography was relocated to RAF Cosford in 1963 as an RAF school, taking on responsibility for Royal Navy and Army training in 1972. Finally, Cosford is the home to the School of Physical Training, where Physical Training Instructors and Training officers are taught. In total, during training year 2017-18, over 4,200 RAF personnel were trained at RAF Cosford.


RAF Cosford is the centre for aeronautical technical training for the UK’s Armed Forces (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)



Trenchard, considered to be the ‘Father of the RAF’, insisted in his memorandum to Churchill that personnel being trained in the RAF should, “on passing to civil life... have no difficulty in securing recognition as skilled tradesmen. This is an important consideration since any tendency for the Air Force to be regarded as a blind-alley occupation, would be fatal.” This principle is just as important today, stresses Group Captain (Gp Capt) Tone Baker, Cosford’s


The apprenticeship training programme has been classed as ‘Outstanding’ by the UK’s education regulator, Ofsted (PHOTO: PAUL SAXBY/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)

current Station Commander and Commandant of the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering. “All trade training delivered at Cosford is designed to include the nationally accredited Advanced Apprenticeship standard, and routes are also available to degree-level qualifications,” he says.

OUTSTANDING PROVIDER In 2016-17, 475 personnel completed their Advanced Apprenticeships. Since its launch in 2003 the new Apprenticeship scheme has seen 10,252 technicians achieve this nationally regarded gold standard. The RAF is rated as an Outstanding Training Provider by Ofsted and was recognised as the UK’s top major apprenticeship employer at the 2017 National Apprenticeship Awards (Macro Employer of the Year). As RAF Cosford looks to populate the Next Generation Air Force, it is continually developing its courses and teaching methods to ensure they are as effective as possible. Computer-based training was introduced in the 1990s; this is now being taken forward with the introduction of a virtual learning environment that can be accessed right across the unit, in classrooms and in student accommodation via laptops that are issued to all trainees, giving them a learning experience that would not be out of place at leading colleges and universities. Updating and enhancing the skills of the Whole Force trainer cadre is one aspect of the drive to exploit these technologies. This has led to the introduction of Virtual and Augmented Reality enhanced lessons in several training programmes across the station.

In future, these technologies may lead to greater distribution of training, meaning that students may undertake lessons taught by trainers at Cosford, but delivered to their homes or home units via the internet. Gp Capt Baker, who took over as Station Commander in June 2017, 28 years after starting his RAF career at the very same station, comments that “through a constant focus on modernisation and continuous improvement, Cosford remains right at the forefront of learning technology and generating the highest standard of outcomes for students. It is a huge honour to be associated with such a critically important Station and broader Defence organisation, both of which are ready for the challenges that the future will bring.”

The Royal Air Force is continually developing its training courses (PHOTO: SAC MARK PARKINSON/CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets, describes her pride in providing young people with the life skills to fulfil their potential

Air Cadets

– a foundation of the Next Generation Air Force


Air Cadets are taught a range of skills, including map reading, drill, music and flying (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)


s the officer with the rare distinction of being the longest-serving Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets, I hope I can be forgiven for the bias this article may betray towards what I genuinely believe is a world-class uniformed youth organisation, of which the Royal Air Force can be justifiably proud. I was denied the opportunity of being an air cadet myself, as membership was not open to females until the early 1980s, by which time I was about to join the Regular RAF. Also, I had only limited contact with air cadets throughout my Regular career, occasionally spotting them on annual camps and then shamelessly encouraging them to consider careers in the RAF when I led its recruiting organisation. So, when I came to this role as the first Full-Time Reserve Service incumbent, I had a lot to learn. Firstly, the scale of the Organisation was pretty overwhelming – 40,000 cadets UK-wide in the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force (RAF) Sections, supported by some 15,000 adult volunteers and a small cadre of permanent staff. The breadth and depth of the training syllabus was far greater than I had ever imagined, ranging from flying and gliding to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, and from shooting to radio, and music to drill. Over recent years, we have refreshed the entire syllabus to ensure it is progressive and can challenge and engage all cadets, from age 12 right through to age 20, when they hopefully transition to adult staff. Thousands of cadets are proudly displaying qualification badges in a range of different disciplines, including those specifically tailored to STEM and cyber subjects, and we have enhanced the role of our over-18 Staff Cadets to enable them to mentor and train younger cadets while still participating in advanced training themselves.


The quality and commitment of our adult volunteers was also eye-opening to someone who had not engaged with volunteers on such a scale before. We have some of the most impressive adults – many of them former cadets themselves – leading, training and inspiring the next generation and devoting countless hours every week to the support of our young people. Finally, I turn to the young cadets themselves. What an amazing group of young people we are privileged to lead. Smart, disciplined, bright and articulate, these teenagers represent the very best of their generation. They balance the stresses of school or college study, part-time employment, family commitments and all the other factors that modern teenagers contend with and are always willing to go the extra mile. Our cadets develop


into fantastic citizens who are articulate, confident and proud of the RAF. They routinely meet senior VIPs, with whom they are only too eager to discuss their experiences and their aspirations, with many expressing an understandable and welcome interest in joining the RAF or wider Defence organisations. We enjoy great diversity across the Organisation: almost 30% of cadets and staff are female and many hundreds of cadets and staff from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Witness the mix of cadets on a national camp – be that the annual Aerospace Camp or our support to the Royal International Air Tattoo – and you will hear every accent and see every shade of skin colour, all happily sharing the cadet experience as equals and as friends. Who could not be proud of that? We have worked hard to reflect the RAF’s Core Values, so that the culture of the modern RAF is reflected in its Cadet Force, preparing our young people for service in the Regulars or Reserves, should they wish to join. I close by saying how delighted I am to command the RAF Air Cadets during the RAF’s Centenary year and, in particular, how proud I am that many thousands

The RAF can be rightly proud of the young citizens it is helping to develop of cadets and supporting staff will stand shoulder to shoulder with members of the RAF as we collectively celebrate, commemorate and inspire the previous, current and next generations. The RAF can be rightly proud of the young citizens it is helping to develop. As many of our senior leaders will testify, service as an air cadet provides outstanding foundations for future success and provides life skills that enable every young person to achieve their potential, whatever that may be. We are privileged to be part of their journey.

Air Cdre Dawn McCafferty oversees an organisation of 40,000 RAF cadets across the UK (PHOTO: CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




Group Captain James Beldon, the Royal Air Force’s Director of Defence Studies, assesses the Service’s contribution to air power throughout its first century

100 years of RAF air power

T The RAF has always been able to defend British skies while simultaneously striking deep into enemy territory (PHOTO: HU 2408/© IWM)


he Royal Air Force today seems as solid a pillar of British life as any other national institution, so it is difficult to conceive quite what a monumental step it was in 1918 to create the world’s first independent air service. It is certainly the case that there were some compelling practical reasons to amalgamate the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, including the need to make more efficient the procurement of equipment and allocation of resources. There were doctrinal imperatives, too. Chief among these was the need to create a consolidated air defence system for the United Kingdom – a shortcoming that had been exposed by Germany’s long-range Gotha bombers operating from occupied Belgium. But, as must always be the case in matters of such magnitude,


the chief propellant for the RAF’s formation was political – the 1917 Gotha raids that hit London and Folkestone had shaken public confidence and morale, provoking a political crisis that led to a clamour to find a way of neutralising the threat they posed. In essence, something ‘had to be done’; the subsequent report commissioned by Prime Minister David Lloyd George and written by South African General Jan Christian Smuts in the summer of 1917 led directly to the creation of the Royal Air Force. At its outset in 1918, the RAF was envisaged to be dually capable of defending British skies and meting out strategic reprisal raids against Germany. While it would continue to support land and naval formations, the central idea behind the Service’s formation was that it would be capable of mounting and sustaining operations independently.


Remarkably, these tasks set out in 1917 have remained valid to the present day: from the Dams Raid to the defeat of Daesh in Raqqa, and from the Battle of the Atlantic to the Falklands War, the ability of RAF air power to range swiftly across vast distances to achieve tactical, operational and strategic impact has ensured that it has not only remained at the forefront of British military power, but also continues to be a world-leading air force.

DELIVERING HARD AND SOFT POWER Today, as many of the preceding articles have shown, the RAF is internationally engaged, promoting and protecting British interests across the globe. In 2017, it deployed to 23 countries in support of 15 operations across five continents. It is equally busy in its centenary year, deterring, pre-empting and, when necessary, striking those who seek to damage the UK, its people and its interests. Its ability to react quickly and decisively over enormous distances makes the RAF a most potent lever of national power, whether it be in a warfighting, intelligence gathering or humanitarian role – or, indeed, performing many roles simultaneously in different parts of the world, as it did in Autumn 2017 when delivering lifesaving relief to the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Irma, while at the same time destroying Daesh during the decisive phase of the Battle for Mosul. Importantly, the national ‘RAF100’ centenary programme gives the RAF a unique opportunity to connect with all parts of British society, and it has a

positive story to tell. Throughout its history, the RAF has blazed a trail of technological innovation, but it has also led the field in celebrating diversity and exercising the meritocratic principles on which Lord Trenchard built the RAF’s institutions in the inter-war period. Merit is the only discriminator that counts in the RAF. Bomber Command crews in the Second World War were a case in point: crews self-selected and often comprised men of many different Commonwealth nations. It did not matter to a crewmember whether, for instance, the rear gunner was a Yorkshireman or that the navigator was a Barbadian – all that mattered was that they could be relied upon to do their job well in the most perilous of circumstances. Women have always been an important and integral part of the RAF, and their opportunities are now identical to those of men. More than a quarter of a century has passed since women first became combat pilots, and in 2017 the RAF was the first of the Armed Forces to open all its roles to women, making it a truly 21st-century employer, fit for a 21stcentury workforce. Quite rightly, we are redoubling our efforts to reach black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, to whom our long-established meritocratic principles offer significant appeal. The RAF is deeply respectful of its history of operational excellence, precision and ethos. But, in pursuit of enduring combat effectiveness, throughout the past century its focus has unerringly been on the future. Its operational successes have been achieved by keeping ahead of the pack, and at the heart of that philosophy has been the innovative spirit personified by the brilliant men and women who served – and continue to serve – in the world’s first independent air service.

LFFT: 100 years ago, General Jan Christian Smuts created a template for the RAF that still holds true today (PHOTO: ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM) ABOVE: The RAF actively seeks recruits from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, offering a meritocratic path to career success (PHOTO: MICHELLE SAGE/ CROWN COPYRIGHT/MOD)




Colonel John Andreas Olsen of the Royal Norwegian Air Force explains why the Royal Air Force is a role model and inspiration for air forces around the globe

The Royal Air Force: inspiring others

E During the Second World War, exiled Norwegian airmen flew with the RAF, including piloting Spitfires as part of 331 Squadron


very air force in the world owes the Royal Air Force a debt of gratitude. As the world’s first independent air power, the RAF both showed the way and set the standard for all who have followed. All modern air forces contain at least snippets of DNA inherited from the RAF. No air force benefited more from the RAF’s early leadership than the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Established in 1921, the RAAF came under constant attack from its sister services, whose leaders lacked the vision to perceive air power as anything more than an adjunct to land and sea operations. Not until the mid 1930s was the RAAF’s independence assured. During that difficult period, the RAF provided the moral, intellectual and material support the RAAF needed to survive. Australian officers studied at RAF schools, flew British aircraft and served in RAF units on exchange. The RAAF’s first chief, Wing Commander Richard Williams, established a personal correspondence with Marshal of the RAF, Sir Hugh Trenchard, and privately enlisted his support in lobbying Australian politicians on behalf of the RAAF. By the time the Second World


War broke out, the relationship between the RAAF and the RAF was so strong that 28,000 Australian airmen were integrated into the RAF to fight against the Nazis. Today, the RAAF is an advanced air power – a standing it could not have achieved without the guidance and support of the RAF. It remains the RAF’s most important partner in the Asia-Pacific region. Cooperation between British and American airmen in the Great War initiated the steady growth in institutional respect and collaboration that has led to the current ‘special relationship’ between the RAF and United States Air Force (USAF). Maxwell, Langley and Wright-Patterson Air Force Bases, originally established as Army Air Corps facilities, still reflect the layout and English-style architecture of RAF bases. In the inter-war years, Air Corps studies, reports and other documents often cited RAF doctrinal assessments and accounts. In 1939, American and British airmen started working closely together, particularly after the formation of the US-UK Combined Chiefs of Staff. During the Second World War, the Americans benefited greatly from British technology, such as the Whittle jet engine and radar, and from early adoption of British aircraft such as the Spitfire, Beaufighter and Mosquito. The RAF also served as a model for US airmen who sought an independent air arm. The USAF, which gained its independence on 18 September 1947, integrated RAF airmen into several special ‘black’ programmes and activities, including CIA-run U-2 overflights of the Soviet Union in 1959-60 and F-117 operations in the 1990s. Today, the RAF is the USAF’s foremost ally in Europe. The RAF also left an indelible impression on the fledgling Indian Air Force (IAF). At the end of the Second World War, Indian airmen commanded six Royal Indian Air Force squadrons in the Burma theatre. The experience gained during the war stood the IAF in good stead as it swung into operation within months of India gaining her independence


from British rule in August 1947. British-built Hawker Hunter Mk 56 fighter-bombers, Folland Gnat fighters and British Aircraft Corporation (now BAE Systems) Canberra bombers played an important role in India’s 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. When the IAF introduced the Jaguar in the late 1970s, many IAF pilots received their conversion training in the UK. The close relationship between the RAF and IAF continues to this day, with the two air forces engaging in complex exercises, called Indradhanush, that foster understanding of each other’s operational philosophies.

CLOSE COOPERATION The RAF undoubtedly acted as the midwife of the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF). While in exile from their homeland during the early stages of the Second World War, Norwegian pilots from both the Army and the Navy started to work closely with the British and, by the conclusion of the war, five Norwegian squadrons were part of the RAF. Inspired by the RAF model, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence created an independent air service on 10 November 1944. In the years that followed, the two air forces worked closely together, and the young Norwegian pilots who became leaders of the RNoAF over the next three decades had strong bonds with their RAF counterparts – an example being the camaraderie between Douglas ‘Zulu’ Morris, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Fighter Command (1962-66), and General Wilhelm Mohr, Commander of the RNoAF (1963-69). The two men served together in the war and stayed in touch throughout their careers. The RAF legacy extends to the RNoAF’s numbering system for squadrons and the colour and design of

uniforms. Today, the RAF and the RNoAF are deepening their cooperation, especially on maritime patrol aircraft, as both will soon be operating the P-8 Poseidon. These snapshots illustrate how the RAF has inspired and influenced nations around the globe: from Norway in the north, to Australia in the south, the US in the west and India in the east. At its centenary, the RAF remains a trusted, competent and highly admired air force. It is one of the three air services (the others being the USAF and Israeli Air Force) that have seen the most combat action, from the Falklands War in 1982 and the Gulf War of 1991 to the present operations against Daesh. The RAF’s innovative and flexible approach has brought success on warfighting operations and promoted stability in the world. The challenge for the future, as several allies and partners purchase the F-35, is to realise that fifthgeneration aircraft alone do not make a fifth-generation air force. Current plans for investment and modernisation will ensure the RAF maintains its technological edge, but like all air services it must strengthen its capabilities in the intellectual and conceptual dimensions of warfare, as well as in the physical domain. It is the contest of ideas that truly shapes war-winning strategies, concepts and force structures, and that contest requires continuing RAF vision, intellectual leadership and moral courage in the coming decades.

Indian Air Force pilots were taught to fly the Jaguar by the Royal Air Force (PHOTO: GALEN BURROWS)

The author would like to thank Alan Stephens, Richard P Hallion and Phillip S Meilinger, Arjun Subramaniam and Ole Jørgen Maaø for sharing their thoughts on the Australian, United States, Indian and Norwegian air forces respectively BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION AIR FORCE AIR POWER 2018


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