Air Combat Power visit

RAF Halton personnel joined those from across the RAF in the recent Air Combat Power Visit (ACPV) at RAF Waddington on 6th November. The aim of the day was for personnel to become immersed in the roles of Air Power and to unpack what Air Power is really about and how the RAF delivers it.

The ACPV started with an opening address from Group Captain Mark Bunting, the new Officer Commanding the Generic Education Training Centre. This was followed by a short RAF Presentation Team session showcasing the varied aspects of the RAF.

These serials were great scene setters for the day which required the groups to split down and cycle through a number of stands. Each stand was introduced by the Air Officer Commanding that element or the Group Captain working with them. All the stands featured the men and women that enable each output to be realised and were set against the backdrop of the kit and equipment that they use to do the job.

The Control of the Air stand featured elements from RAF Boulmer and RAF Scampton who shared how they keep over-watch of the UK and our overseas territories as well as how those tasks are performed on operations. We had the opportunity to learn how air policing was performed during the London Olympics by meeting Typhoon pilots who showed groups around their aircraft and Puma pilots with RAF Regiment snipers who talked about the protection they gave around the Olympic venues.

The Air Mobility stand was out on the Aircraft Pan and consisted of an initial brief inside a C-17 Globemaster aircraft that was also home to a number of stands, followed by groups visiting the other aircraft on the pan – A VC-10, a Chinook Mk 4, a Search and Rescue Sea King and a BAE146 of the Queens Flight. Each area showed groups around their equipment before contextualising how each is used and sharing what the likely future state will be. It was evident that the RAF’s future Air Lift capability will be impressive for years to come.

Under the banner of Combat ISTAR, the groups were exposed to the work of the Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing, the Tactical Air Control Parties, the Tornado Force and the Lightening II team. It showed how the RAF exploits information gathering for maximum effect in the prosecution of its operations and how the RAF regards the importance of targeting. As ever, the importance of future capability was underlined with the plans to bring Lightening II into service.

The Air Battlespace Training Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that enables air-land integration training. The facility has resulted in Battle Groups having greater Air Awareness and being able to operate more effectively and in a safer manner alongside their Joint partners. The synthetic training that takes place there is certainly the shape of future training, especially as it can be linked to live training. This facility really shows the way that the RAF is expanding its training ideas to make its people more agile and adaptable.

Unlike the same event in September 2011, no-one this year got sun burn! To warm the groups at lunch time, No 3 Mobile Catering Support Unit had set up a field kitchen to sustain the entire deployment and showed how they maintain morale through their incredible culinary skills. This welcome break was followed by our very own private air show as a Typhoon showed its prowess in multiple fly pasts at different speeds, heights and angles as it used its inherent instability to baffle the crowd with its manoeuvrability. It really was an awesome spectacle.

135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) based at RAF Leeming was introduced by Gp Capt Innes. The structure of the EAW was outlined along with its purpose before personnel had the opportunity to see how EAWs ‘Enable, Protect and Sustain’ operations. As well as a canter through the EAW HQ, this also gave the opportunity to speak with members of the many Air Combat Support Units (ACSUs) and the Air Combat Service Support Units (ACSSUs). These ranged from Tactical Medical Wing, Tactical Supply Wing, 90 Signals Unit, RAF Engineers, No 2 MT, to the RAF Regiment Field Sqns. The input by these key enablers is essential in setting up our deployments, keeping them safe and making sure that they can endure for as long as is needed.

Opportunities to see so many RAF assets and elements are few and far between, and for an unparalleled day of witnessing the RAF at its best, ACPV 2013 will be one not to miss. To see when FDTF are arranging visits to other Air Power enablers, get in touch or see their website.