Armed Forces - RAF 3a6 - UK Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS) - UK Combined Air Operations Centre (ASACS) -



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.

NATO Control and Reporting Centres (CRC) provide state-of-the-art air defence radar cover across the NATO 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.

The UK CRCs are supported by a number of Reporting Posts/Remote Radar Heads across the UK that are the locations of the major RAF Air Defence radars. These radars feed information into the overall UK ASACS (and the NATO NADGE/Aegis) architecture. In addition to the radars, units have varying capabilities for the exchange of data-link information and radars operate around the clock.

ASACS Command and Reporting Units

(1) The CRC at RAF Scampton is an integral part of No1 Air Control Centre
(2) RRH Remote Radar Head

During 2008 the MoD confirmed the retention of RAF Boulmer as the ASACS Headquarters with No.1 Air Control Centre (1 ACC) at RAF Scampton.

In the Falkland Islands there are Reporting Posts at Mount Kent, Mount Alice and Byron Heights.

Air Defence Aircraft
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.

Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft are held at immediate readiness for 24 hours a day and investigate all unidentified intrusions into UK airspace. RAF Coningsby provides the Typhoon aircraft for the QRA (South) and the QRA (North) is provided for by Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth.

NATO Combined Air Operations Centre
To identify unknown aircraft in the NATO Air Policing Area, the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre at Finderup in Denmark issues direction to United Kingdom Control and Reporting Centres for the launch of RAF (QRA) aircraft. There are about 20 RAF/UK personnel stationed at CAOC Finderup.

The CAOC at Finderup is responsible for the overall coordination of the Air Defence, Ground Attack and Maritime Air elements of the NATO Region together with the response of the air forces and navies of our NATO partners. Within the NATO CAOCs (seven in total across the NATO area), control and reporting centres are linked with other elements of the NATO Air Defence Ground Environment (NADGE) and with the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Systems (BMEWS) station at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire. The latter is networked with the US operated BMEWS at Thule (Greenland) and Clear (Alaska). By extending high level radar cover some 3,000 miles across Eastern Europe, Fylingdales provides advance warning of intermediate range ballistic missiles launched against the UK and Western Europe and of inter continental ballistic missiles against the North American continent. Fylingdales also tracks satellites and space debris.

No 1 Air Control Centre (1 ACC)
1 ACC at RAF Scampton 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.

Sentry AEW
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.