RAF News

New command and control system helps to protect UK from aerial threats

RAF personnel in a control room.

A new command and control system is helping to protect the UK from aerial threats.

Initial Operating Capability for GUARDIAN has been declared with the roll-out of a Control Reporting Centre (CRC) at RAF Boulmer, providing a dynamic, real-time map of both friendly and hostile aircraft.

Managed by Defence Equipment and Support - the Ministry of Defence's procurement arm - and delivered by IBM, the system links the radars and radios of the UK and NATO to communicate between the ground and aircraft.

Control room of computers and desks.

While radar and radio communication has existed at RAF bases for decades, GUARDIAN brings in new features which improve functionality, increasing national security.

"Delivering this step change in capability is a massive achievement, reflecting superb joint working between the RAF, DE&S and IBM. The capability delivers a significant enhancement to UK security."

Dr Dakin
DE&S Director of Integrated Battlespace Operating Centre

GUARDIAN will also be installed at 78 Squadron in Swanwick, Hampshire. The Control Reporting Centre operates 24/7 and will have 50 dual workstations at Boulmer and 29 dual workstations at Swanwick which, when fully operated, could be staffed by more than 100 RAF battlespace management personnel at the two sites. 

The command-and-control upgrades of GUARDIAN will continue improving the rapid exchange of real-time information and speed and accuracy of decision making. It also receives early warnings from NATO reporting centres to prepare the UK for incoming potential threats. 

RAF Typhoon intercepts a Russian aircraft.

GUARDIAN enables the RAF to despatch fighter jets to identify, intercept and escort aircraft being flown aggressively, or which are suspected of being a threat. It can also be used to escort aircraft of special interest, such as a passenger airliner that might have lost communications with Air Traffic Control.

"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."

Wing Commander Misiak
Officer Commanding 19 Squadron

The contract with IBM covers equipment delivery and the first five years of logistic support up to 2027. It supports jobs at IBM in Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northumberland. Roles include software developers, data link engineers, cyber security specialists, electrical engineering specialists, communications engineers and project managers.