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From Wireless To Cyberspace: 100 Years Of The RAF's Radio School

The organisation is now responsible for training the RAF’s Cyberspace Communications Specialists and Engineering Officers.

The Royal Air Force's No 1 Radio School is celebrating its centenary year and taking stock of 100 years of change in the communication industry.

The school is responsible for the training of all Cyberspace Communications Specialists and Engineering Officers.

Forces News was given a demonstration of how secure communications are established on operations by former students of the school.

They are now based at RAF Leeming and part of a High Readiness Team that is on 60 minutes notice to deploy anywhere in the world.

Formed from the School for Wireless Operators in 1918, the organisation underwent a reorganisation and responsibility was transferred to the fledgeling RAF.

Then, with war continuing on the Western Front, the focus of the school was firmly on relaying the information British airmen needed to defeat Germany.

RAF Radio School 1920 CREDIT CROWN COPYRIGHT
The School has changed vastly over the last ten decades (Picture: Crown Copyright).

One hundred years later, the organisation, now based at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, is responsible for training the RAF’s Cyberspace Communications Specialists and Engineering Officers.

The Radio School is still focused on communication, with a present-day focus including cyberspace communication.

Wing Commander Jamie Thompson says in recent years the internet age has dramatically changed the way the RAF works:

“The last couple of decades have seen a significant difference in the way we operate with information.

"We are now in the information age."

Satellites are used to encrypt information passed between members of the RAF.
The organisation is responsible for training the RAF’s Cyberspace Communications Specialists and Engineering Officers.

Sergeant Richard Mabbut says while the technology may be cutting edge, techniques like encryption are as old as warfare itself: "Encryption is nothing new, it goes all the way back to Roman times and before then even.

"Now if you fast forward to pre-World War Two, and throughout World War Two, probably the most famous encryption device is the Enigma machine."

"When the students leave here a lot of that will be useful if they end up working with Typhoons or the F-35 because there’s a lot of encryption built into both of those.

No 1 Radio School
Hundreds are based at No 1 Radio School's headquarters.

Senior Aircraftsman Al Field agreed, telling Forces News that "without the comms there could be no movement for any aircraft or any land units":

"If we don’t have the communications, we can’t tell the UK what we’re doing."