Royal Air Force Waddington Who We Are
RAF Waddington is now the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), supporting British and NATO operations. By basing the RAF’s key ISTAR capabilities together, they are able to work to develop tactics and procedures to achieve a common understanding of our adversaries’ capabilities and intent.
No 5(AC) Sqn was reformed on 1 April 2004 to operate the ASTOR radar surveillance system, and comprises 5 Sentinel R1 aircraft and 8 Ground Stations, manned predominantly by Army personnel. The concept of the ASTOR system is to provide a highly effective 24-hour surveillance and target acquisition capability. It delivers wide area, all weather, tactical, theatre and national surveillance information and imagery in near real time. By operating at high altitude and considerable stand-off distances, the radar platform is able to remain over safe territory while providing an excellent ‘look down’ angle of the target area.
39 Squadron reformed on 1st January 2007 to operate Predator MQ-9 known as Reaper. The Reaper’s primary mission is to provide real-time data to commanders and intelligence specialists and an all-weather, ISTAR capability in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan. The Reaper also provides armed support to forces on the ground and can engage emerging targets in accordance with UK Rules of Engagement and the UK Targeting Directive. The Reaper is operated by a pilot, sensor operator and is supported by a mission intelligence coordinator. In support of current operations, it is launched from an airfield within Afghanistan. Once airborne, the mission is flown by pilots from a remote location before control is handed back to the crew in theatre for landing. The pilots of UK Reaper have all been previously qualified as pilots on other military aircraft.
During the post-war period, 51 Squadron was equipped with the de Havilland Comet and English Electric Canberra, but in 1974 both aircraft were replaced with the Nimrod R1. The squadron spent 32 years at RAF Wyton and moved to Waddington in 1995. The Nimrod R1 finally retired from service in June 2011 after its participation in Op ELLAMY over Libya. As part of Project AIRSEEKER, personnel from Waddington are currently undergoing conversion training on to the RC 135 Rivet Joint, at Offutt AFB Nebraska. Qualified personnel fly alongside their US counterparts on operational missions and this US-UK joint approach will continue up to and beyond the delivery of the first Rivet Joint.
Air Battlespace Training Centre
The Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC) is set up to provide synthetic training and mission rehearsal. This environment includes ISTAR and air command and control, and the addition of an integrated Sentry mission crew simulator has vastly increased training opportunities.
13 Squadron reformed today at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. The Squadron will operate as the first Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) Squadron to be based in the UK; using Ground Control Stations at Waddington, the Squadron will control Reaper MQ-9 aircraft based in Kandahar in Afghanistan via satellite. As part of plans to improve and sustain UK Reaper operations until 2015, 13 Squadron will be the second RPAS squadron in the Royal Air Force with the other, 39 Squadron, currently operating from Creech Air Force Base in the USA.
Air Warfare Centre
The AWC’s motto is: “Arma Judicare Consilium Dare” (To test the weaponry and give advice).
The primary mission of the AWC is the provision of accurate, timely and contextual Integrated Mission Support to front line commanders and units. The AWC delivers Air environmental advice, together with mission dependent data, to enhance understanding and decision-making, operational tempo and decisive advantage while contributing to the development and testing of future Air Power capabilities and to the conceptual and doctrinal thinking that underpin their employment
The E-3D is an Airborne Battle Management and Control platform with a wide area air surveillance capability. Its tasks can range from air surveillance to the battle management of full-scale aerial activity. The Sentry is based on the commercial Boeing 707 aircraft, extensively modified to accommodate high-tech mission systems including a very distinctive large circular radar antenna dish mounted horizontally above the rear fuselage. It has an endurance of 10 hours during which time it can fly more than 5,750 miles. The E-3D has been involved in conflicts ranging from the Balkans and Iraq to exercises in the Falklands and on to Afghanistan and Libya. The RAF operates 6 Sentry aircraft which are flown as the UK contribution to the NATO Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Force. The other non-UK E3’s that make up the remainder of the NATO AEW Force are based at Geilenkirchen in Germany.
56 (R) Squadron
56 (R) Squadron is the Air Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Test Evaluation Squadron, part of the Air Warfare Centre, at RAF Waddington. On 18 April 2008 No 56(R) Sqn disbanded as the F3 OCU. At the disbandment parade the number plate was passed to the Air C2 ISR Test and Evaluation Squadron based at RAF Waddington. This new role for the squadron keeps it at the forefront of operations, contributing to the operational development and optimization of the UK’s joint Air C2 and ISR capabilities through robust Test and Evaluation.
Motto: Audax omnia perpeti –
Boldness to endure anything
54(R) Squadron reformed as the ISTAR Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) in September 2005 with a new role, 3 aircraft types, and a great deal more people than it has ever had in its long and distinguished history. Students are trained to Limited Combat Ready (LCR) status before being posted to 5(AC) Sqn, 8 Sqn or 51 Sqn. The instructional staff maintain their Combat Ready categories and regularly undertake deployments to operational theatres to augment other front-line squadrons.