The British Army has taken over command of UK ground-based air defence systems from the Royal Air Force (RAF).
A ceremony was conducted at Trenchard Lines, Wiltshire, to mark the transfer of command; with Force Troops Command General Officer Commanding major general Tom Coppinger-Symes and Air Officer Commanding 2 Group air vice marshal David Cooper in attendance.
The army launched the 7 Air Defence Group (7 ADG) to assume the command of the air defence systems, replacing the RAF’s Joint Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD).
An Army spokesperson said: “The GBAD command was transferred from the RAF to the army on 1 April 2019 to allow for more efficient and streamlined administration of the capability. The decision was taken following an assessment made during Strategic Defence and Security Review 15.”
As a result of the transfer, the new 7 ADG will relocate to the home of the Royal Artillery’s ground-based air defence – Baker Barracks on Thorney Island near Chichester.
“While command of the UK’s GBAD assets has just been transferred from the RAF to the British Army, the Royal Artillery has operated these assets for several years,” the spokesperson added.
According to the British Army, 7 ADG is placed under the operational command of the army’s Force Troops Command. The RAF’s GBAD flag was lowered and replaced with 7 ADG’s flag.
7 ADG commander colonel Giles Malec said: “Although the command has passed to the army the links to the RAF 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 7 ADG possesses weapons and systems, including the MBDA Rapier missile, the High-Velocity Missile and the LEAPP target identification system. The SkySabre anti-aircraft missile system will be introduced to the 7 ADG this year.
Expected to enter service in 2020, SkySabre comprises the MBDA CAMM mobile launcher unit mounted on 8×8 MAN truck, Saab’s Giraffe radar targeting system, and Rafael’s control electronics suite.