One of Air Command's major responsibilities is the UK Air Surveillance and
Control System (ASACS). Air Command is tasked with providing early warning
of air attack against the UK air defence region; to provide fighter and
missile defences and the associated ground control system; fighter co
ordination with Royal Naval ships operating in adjacent waters and to
maintain the integrity of UK air space in war.
ASACS comprises a number of individual
static and mobile units that provide the minute-to-minute information on
air activity required to defend the UK and NATO partners. Manned by
officers of Fighter Control under the Operations Support Branch with the
support of airmen Aerospace Systems Operators, ASACS is a computer-based
system which gathers and disseminates information on all aircraft flying
in and around the UK Air Defence Region.
The information within is used by the Air Defence Commander when deciding
whether to investigate or perhaps even destroy an aircraft flying in an
area without permission. Information comes from the RAF's ground-based
radars and from the air defence systems of neighbouring NATO partners.
ASACS can also receive information via digital data-links from other
ground, air or sea-based units.
CONTROL AND REPORTING CENTRE (CRC)
Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) provide state-of-the-art air defence
radar cover across the region. Each CRC has geographical areas of
responsibility and within their own areas, the CRCs receive and process
information provided round-the-clock by military and civilian radars. In
addition to this radar data, the CRCs also exchange information using
digital data-links with neighbouring NATO partners, AEW aircraft and
ships. A fully integrated NATO air defence system is planned to come on
line from around 2012.
The CRCs are supported by a number of Reporting Posts (RPs) across the UK.
In addition to those found at the CRCs, the locations of the RPs reflect
the locations of the main RAF Air Defence radars that feed information
into the UK ASACS. In addition to the radars, units have varying
capabilities for the exchange of data-link information.
The second ASACS function is the control of air defence aircraft. Fighter
Controllers provide the tactical control required for Air Defence aircraft
to police the UK's airspace in peace and war, and they are also involved
in the peacetime training of the RAF Air Defence assets. Fighter
Controllers also provide support to Ground Attack forces when undertaking
training with their Air Defence counterparts.
During October 2008 the MoD announced the conclusions of a study that has
been undertaken to consider the future basing requirements of the ASACS
elements. RAF Boulmer will be retained as the core site for the ASACS but
the CRC at RAF Scampton and No.1 Air Control Centre (1 ACC) at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey
will collocate at RAF Coningsby. The relocation is due to complete by the
end of 2014.
ASACS - MOBILE ELEMENTS
No 1 Air Control Centre (1 ACC) provides the RAF with a mobile command and
control capability able to deploy within the UK or anywhere in the world
at short notice. The unit has recently been transformed into a fully
capable Tactical Air Command and Control System (TACCS) following delivery
of state-of-the-art communications and data-link equipment to supplement
the two new mobile radars recently delivered into its inventory.
The Sentry AEW1 makes a large contribution to ASACS using digital
datalinks. The Sentry can deploy rapidly in response to crisis or conflict
to provide Air Defence Commander with information on potential aggressors.
The roles within the Mission Crew of the Sentry mirror those within the UK
ASACS CRCs, the posts being filled again with Fighter Controllers and
Aerospace Systems Operators.