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RAF Upgrades Command and Control System to Defeat Hostile Aircraft

The Royal Air Force has installed a new command and control system for early detection and response to potentially hostile aircraft.

The IBM-developed and Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S)-managed Guardian links the “radars and radios of the UK and Nato to communicate between the ground and aircraft.”

The 80-million-pound ($97 million) system provides a dynamic, real-time map of an aircraft in flight, identifying it as friend or foe and enabling the RAF to dispatch fighter jets for interception.

The RAF has dispatched jets 68 times to intercept or monitor a suspected aircraft “in the skies around Britain” since 2013. More than half of the launches were in response to Russian aircraft.

To be Installed at Boulmer, Swanwick

The first Guardian has been installed at RAF Boulmer, Northumberland, achieving initial operating capability, while the second will be installed at RAF Swanwick, Hampshire.

The system comprises a control reporting center operating continuously. RAF Boulmer will also get 50 dual workstations and Swanwick 29 will be staffed by 100 personnel at full capacity. 

The system’s upgrades “will continue improving the rapid exchange of real-time information and speed and accuracy of decision making,” the DE&S stated. IBM will provide logistics support for five years. 

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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