54(R) Sqn QWI ISR Course 3
Qualified Weapons Instructor Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (QWI ISR) Course 3 began on 54(R) Sqn in early May 2012 with students looking forward to 7 months of hard work. Students arrived from the Intelligence, WSO, ABM and WSOp branches within the RAF alongside specialists selected from the Royal Artillery, Royal Marines, DSTL and USAF Intelligence.
Settling were under no illusions that the course would be very challenging, they were not disappointed with the start of the intense academic phase consisting of sections specialising in weapons, intelligence, electronic warfare, signals intelligence, radar and geospatial intelligence.
With the completion of the final academic exam at the end of July, the students were keen to embark on the practical phase and learn how to put the newly gained knowledge into practice.
Moving to Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC) in the form of Ex PANOPTICAN WARRIOR, the students were able to work as teams to plan complex ISR missions using a wide range of air, land, maritime and space based ISR capabilities. To keep the students on their toes, the geographical focus of the exercise changed each week, with different campaign objectives to consider each day. On completion of this demanding initial 3-week period in the ABTC, the students were awarded a week of leave, to ensure they were well rested for the forthcoming challenges of 2 weeks at Combined QWI at RAF Lossiemouth and a return to the ABTC for the last 3 weeks of the course for the final formal assessment.
Distributed Ground System or DGS-2 at Beale AFB in California and a week in Las Vegas at the USAF Weapons School at Nellis AFB and a visit to 39 Squadron at Creech AFB. The opportunity to see the U2, MC-12 and Global Hawk platforms and DGS-2 operations floor up close and receive a series of lessons and briefs on the various capabilities at Beale AFB was greatly appreciated by all. Not to disappoint the students, there was a week of academics at the USAF Weapons School and a visit to 39 Squadron did much to broaden ISR knowledge base. Whilst the change of scene was welcome, spare time for the students was at a premium with deadlines for an academic essay and group presentations fast approaching.
On return to RAF Waddington, preparation for the Combined QWI began with the week-long Ex HAWK WARRIOR in the ABTC alongside students from the Qualified Multi Engine Tactics Instructor course and Hawk, Typhoon and Tornado GR4 QWI courses. The week provided the valuable opportunity to integrate with the other courses and learn the collaborative approach to mission planning required for Combined QWI. Whilst less challenging from an ISR perspective than the practical training experienced thus far, the complexities of integrating mission planning on a broader scale brought a new aspect to the course and laid the foundations for the trip north.