The Station

78 Squadron at Swanwick is an Air Command Unit embedded within the London Area Control Centre run by National Air Traffic Services.

The Distress and Diversion Cell is an emergency centre ready to assist aircraft in distress. The Military Airspace Booking and Co-ordination Cell manage the segregation of large areas of airspace for unrestricted military training. The Radar Analysis Cell work closely with the UK Airprox Board to provide radar data for investigations.

Nobody unprepared


Wing Commander Ian Evans

Wing Commander Ian ‘Taff’ Evans was educated in Carmarthen, South Wales, before attending the University of Wales, Swansea, graduating in Law and Business Studies. He joined the RAF in Apr 2005 and attended the Joint Air Traffic Control Course at RAF Shawbury, winning the Bunting Trophy, and was posted to RAF Valley in Sep 2006. During this time, he deployed to Basra, Iraq for 4 months on Op Telic.

Following Area Radar training, Evans was posted to RAF Prestwick. After 18 months, Evans was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan on Op Herrick. On return, he took an instructor role at RAF Shawbury.

Promoted to Wg Cdr in 2019, he took a role in the BM Headquarters as SO1 Future Projects. Following selection for Advanced Staff Training, Evans studied in Madrid where he achieved an MA in International Defence and Security Policy. In July 2023, Evans proudly assumed command as OC 78 Sqn, Swanwick.

Who's based here



There were three main military area radar units in the United Kingdom; RAF Sopley, RAF Lindholme and RAF Watton. In 1959, area radar control was introduced to RAF Sopley. During 1960s and 1970s both civil and military controllers worked there being known as the Southern Radar.

Also in the late 1950s, RAF Lindholme became the home of the Northern Radar. It provided radar services across the country using its Type 82 radar as well as links to other military radar heads.

In the mid 1960s RAF Watton became the home of Eastern & Border radar. Eastern radar operated between 1965-1988 and Border radar operated between 1989-1992.

In 1966 the London Air Traffic Control Centre opened in West Drayton and was the area radar hub for many years.

2002 saw civilian area radar units move to Swanwick whilst the military and terminal control centres remained at West Drayton. It wasn’t until 2007 / 2008 that all radar units were located at Swanwick along with the Distress and Diversion Cell.

Northern radar, initially at Lindholme, moved to RAF Prestwick in Scotland until December 2013 when the military controllers all co-located to Swanwick. North civilian counterparts remain at Prestwick.

Key dates

2002   NATS completed at Swanwick leading to the initial transfer of some civilian and military area radar control from West Drayton to Swanwick.

2007 - 2008   The remaining control functions, both civilian and military, moved to Swanwick, after which the West Drayton site was sold.

2011   Northolt Radar was transferred to Swanwick.

2012   The unit controlled the restricted airspace over London for the 2012 Olympics.

2013   All military area radar control moved to Swanwick following the closure of RAF Prestwick.

2021   RAF (U) Swanwick renamed to 78 Squadron.

Connect with Swanwick (78 Squadron)