A new command and control system for the Royal Air Force (RAF) is helping to protect the UK from aerial threats.

The GUARDIAN system is now operational with a Control Reporting Centre (CRC) at RAF Boulmer, Northumberland, providing a real-time map of both friendly and hostile aircraft.

Managed by Defence Equipment and Support – the MoD’s procurement arm – and delivered by IBM, the system links the radars and radios of the UK and NATO to communicate between the ground and aircraft.

Increasing national security

While radar and radio communication has existed at RAF bases for decades, GUARDIAN brings in new features which improve functionality, increasing national security.

Dr Simon Dakin, DE&S director of Integrated Battlespace Operating Centre (IBOC), said: “Delivering this step change in capability is a massive achievement, reflecting superb joint working between the RAF, DE&S and IBM. The capability delivers a significant enhancement to UK security.”

GUARDIAN will also be installed at RAF 78 Sqn in Swanwick, Hampshire. The CRCs operate 24/7 and will have 50 dual workstations at Boulmer and 29 dual workstations at Swanwick which, when fully operational, could be staffed by more than 100 RAF battlespace management personnel at the two sites.

Rapid exchange of real-time information

The command-and-control upgrades of GUARDIAN will continue improving the rapid exchange of real-time information and speed and accuracy of decision making. It also receives early warnings from NATO reporting centres to prepare the UK for incoming potential threats.

GUARDIAN enables the RAF to dispatch fighter jets to identify, intercept and escort aircraft being flown aggressively, or which are suspected of being a threat. It can also be used to escort aircraft of special interest, such as a passenger airliner that might have lost communications with Air Traffic Control.

Officer Commanding 19 Squadron, Wing Commander Chris Misiak, said: “The new GUARDIAN system provides a capability which has more capacity to cope with the demands of Homeland Air Defence whilst also preparing operators to support missions across the globe. It is an exciting time.”

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