British Army 32 Battery, 16 Regiment Royal Artillery Rapier Air Defence System, Exercise Capable Eagle (Crown Copyright, 2013) [880]

Army Takes Over UK Ground-Based Air Defence

New Joint Air Defence Group Under Army Force Troops Command

Command of the United Kingdom’s ground-based air defence systems has transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Army. Jt GBAD (Joint Ground Based Air Defence) was renamed to 7th Air Defence Group under the new Operational Command of the Army’s Force Troops Command.

A ceremony was held at Trenchard Lines, Wiltshire, attended by the General Officer Commanding Force Troops Command, Major General Tom Coppinger-Symes and the Air Officer Commanding 2 Group, Air Vice Marshal David Cooper, CBE, to  mark the occasion.

During the ceremony, the Royal Air Force’s Jt GBAD flag was lowered and replaced with the 7 Air Defence Group’s (7 AD Gp), bearing the yellow centaur, armed with a bow on a blue background.

Historically significant, the raising of the flag will mark the return of the unit synonymous with one of World War Two, whose anti-aircraft guns protected British cities against the Luftwaffe.

Today, 7 AD Gp is equipped with the Rapier missile that has seen service in the Falkland Islands, the High-Velocity Missile and the LEAPP target identification system. It is soon to upgrade to the new state-of-the-art SkySabre anti-aircraft missile system which it will start to be introduced later in the year.

Speaking of the occasion Colonel Giles Malec, the Commander of the newly formed 7 AD Gp said, “Although the command has passed to the Army the links to the Royal Air Force will continue. The Army is committed to growing the air defence capability over the coming years. There is a ten-year programme ahead to update our equipment with new missiles and radar systems; it will make our capability far more potent.”

The new 7 AD Gp is to relocate from the RAF Headquarters in High Wycombe to the home of the Royal Artillery’s air defence, Baker Barracks on Thorney Island near Chichester.

Source: British Army

Image: a Gunner of 32 Battery, 16 Regiment Royal Artillery checks the components of a Rapier Air Defence System prior to its use on Exercise Capable Eagle. The Royal Artillery were supporting the Royal Air Force as part of a large scale exercise that saw aircraft deployed at a Yorkshire airfield operating across Scotland and Northern England. With more than forty years of service, the Rapier ground-to-air missile system is a key element of the air defence umbrella of any RAF deployed operating base. While the RAF Regiment and RAF Police use their specialist knowledge to defend UK air forces from ground attack, it falls to the Royal Artillery to provide a point defence against air attack. (Crown Copyright, 2013)