The Royal Air Force celebrated the innovative ideas and creativity of our whole force at the Astra Awards on 27 October 2022.
Hundreds gathered in Sunderland Hall at the RAF Museum for an evening of sharing ideas and celebrating Astra achievements.
Astra has had many successes in the past year and the Awards recognised some of the most inspirational people, ingenious ideas, and the incredible impact they’ve had on operations in the UK and overseas.
Astra Ecosystem Award, sponsored by Fujitsu
Winner: RAF Benson
The RAF Benson Ecosystem is active and thriving, working across all aspects of Station life and, across all ranks. They have consistently demonstrated innovation and inclusivity, with ambitious initiatives and Sprints, seeing the projects through from proposal, to testing, and implementation across the busy operational unit. No idea is too big or too small, and the whole force consistently work together to drive changes that bring us closer to a next generation RAF.
Astra Innovation Award, sponsored by Harmonic
Winner: Project BLUEPRINT, RAF Police
Project BLUEPRINT is the RAF Police Knowledge Hub, which has used technology to create immeasurable efficiencies within the processes of the RAF Police. The platform has already changed the way the RAF Police do business. Centralising all paperwork, policies and training videos, the system gives easy access to the information for all RAF Police, whether serving at home or abroad. The trial has been such a success that other areas are now looking at how it could be used across Defence.
Astra Innovative Award, sponsored by Inzpire
Winner: Flight Sergeant Fleming, RAF Lossiemouth
Flight Sergeant Fleming’s enthusiasm for innovation to tackle engineering issues within the Poseidon Force and beyond has been inspirational. Project ASURVEY looks to revolutionise the way aircraft inspections are carried out, using the latest advances in drone technology. Not only would it increase the speed of engineering tasks, it would give greater accuracy and reduce risk to engineers working at height. Flight Sergeant Fleming has also been working on Project CHIPCHECK, which will see the use of a handheld device that enables on-sit analysis of magnetic chips.
Astra Sustainability Award, sponsored by Jacobs
Winner: Project BIOFUEL, RAF Northolt
The Project BIOFUEL team, led by Squadron Leader Finnimore, have made a huge contribution to informing the RAF’s journey towards Net Zero 2040. Their trial of Sustainable Aviation Fuel on the BAE 146 aircraft assessed every element of using different blends of sustainable fuel for aircraft in the RAF. It also looked at how the fuel would be supplied, stored and transported to inform future work. It has made a tangible difference to sustainability in Defence.
Astra Contribution to Operations Award, sponsored by Lockheed Martin UK
Winner: Project ARISTAEUS, RAF Honington
Project ARISTAEUS created a maintenance facility for Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisitions Training Missiles at RAF Honington. The Project allows trainee armourers to undertake part of their trade training at the station’s Armament Engineering Flight, which has seen them test and repair over £4 million of missiles to date. It also allows the junior engineers to gain valuable operational experience, deploying in support of 93 (Expeditionary Armament) Squadron.
Astra Ambitious and Imaginative Award, sponsored by BAE Systems
Winner: Corporal Hancox, RAF Brize Norton TIC
Corporal Hancox epitomises the ambitious and imaginative aspects of the Astra ethos, adapting and pivoting to deliver training products using the latest technologies. As one of the founding members of the Technology Innovation Centre at RAF Brize Norton, he creates Virtual Training packages for all professions. Throughout every challenge, he has persevered, up-skilled and adapted to deliver high quality products that drive innovation in the RAF.
Astra Ambassador Award, sponsored by Thales
Winner: Corporal Lightfoot, RAF Lossiemouth
Corporal Lightfoot’s enthusiasm and dedication to make Astra a success at RAF Lossiemouth has been nothing short of inspiring. Building on the Astra ethos of being rank agnostic, Corporal Lightfoot has led the team from the front, using his unbounded enthusiasm and uncapped energy to ignite the ecosystem and spur innovations across the station. His drive to improve ways of working in the RAF is infectious and he embodies “reaching for the stars”.
People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Babcock
Winner: Corporal Reed, RAF Lossiemouth
The People’s Choice Award was chosen by the whole force from a shortlist of a dozen nominees in all award categories. Corporal Reed was the clear winner for her work on Project FOSTER, a fully supported and insured fostering scheme for dogs in the service community. It reduces the additional stress and costs that can come when needing dog care during difficult periods such as deployments and courses. The project improves the lived experience for our people, particularly those serving in remote locations.
Astra Core Team Award, sponsored by Leonardo
Winner: Project CADMIUM PLATING
71 (Inspection and Repair) Squadron at RAF Wittering are constantly enhancing their on-site RAF engineering capabilities. The expert engineers are increasing the range of highly specialised engineering tasks they complete, with Astra funding equipment and training. They can now complete repairs rapidly on-site. For just the Typhoon nose landing gear fork repairs, this will save Defence over £1 million.
Chief of the Air Staff’s Creativity Award
Winner: Sergeant Jones
Sergeant Jones commenced an extensive research project that had the opportunity to significantly advance the technology and the process of RAF anthropometry by 50 years. Project BIOSCAN creates a 3D avatar, producing 155 separate measurements of the human body within 8 seconds. Traditional methods manually captured a limited 6 measurements in 10 to 15 minutes per subject. This immediately demonstrated an outstanding saving in time, and effort, whilst significantly improving the accuracy of measurements.