Army Takes Command Of Ground-Based Air Defence Systems

The RAF has passed command of the UK's ground-based air defence systems to the Army.

Command of the UK’s ground-based air defence systems has passed from the Royal Airforce to the Army. 

A ceremony was held at the Army’s Trenchard Lines, formerly the RAF Upavon, on Friday to mark the event.

The flag of Joint Ground Based Air Defence was lowered and replaced with that of 7th Air Defence Group.

It was an important day, marking a true change in administration.

Although command goes from the RAF to the Army, it does not mean that the people doing the jobs and the kit used will change.

Army's Trenchard Lines 050419 CREDIT BFBS.jpg

Among the kit, there are the Starstreak high-velocity missile, the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile in the world in service with the British Army since 1997.

"Day-to-day there will not be a huge change for all the ground-level," said  Captain Patrick Hinton.

"We will be supporting the same brigade... where we are all based is staying the same, the equipment is staying the same."

Starstreak high velocity missile 050419 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The Starstreak high velocity missile has been in service with the British Army since the late 1990s.

The Rapier missile system has been at the forefront of the UK's defence since it entered service in 1971. 

It has seen operational service in the Falklands and Gulf Wars - and continues to provide ground to air defence of the UK’s skies. 

Bombardier Lee Collings said:

"It is fantastic to work and operate the system."

"It is quite complicated, quite technical," he added.


Rapier Missile System 050419 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The Rapier missile system entered service in the 1970s.

However, much of the equipment currently in use for ground-based air defence is nearing the end of its operational usefulness and investment is coming for new pieces of kit.

"It is a large programme and it will take a bit of time [to complete]," explained Colonel Giles Malec.

"Some of the kit here... is beginning to get a little bit outdated, near the end of its life.

"It is going to be updated or completely replaced."

Friday marked a change of command, but day-to-day operations will remain the same and with the promise of new kit in the near future.