BFBS – British Forces Broadcasting Services

The Services Sound and Vision Corporation is a registered charity set up to entertain and inform Britain’s Armed Forces around the world. Its mission: To be the preferred provider of entertainment and information to Service personnel and their families worldwide.

Our work makes a considerable contribution to the maintenance of the efficiency and morale of the three Services. Our activities are carried out directly for the Ministry of Defence. Any profits are donated towards Forces’ welfare. The activities carried out by SSVC are:

  • BFBS Radio
  • BFBS Television
  • Combined Services Entertainment
  • SSVC Retail
  • SSVC Forces Cinemas
  • British Defence Film Library

RAF Structure: Part 4

Squadrons

A flying squadron is an aircraft unit which carries out the primary tasks of the RAF. RAF squadrons are somewhat analogous to the regiments of the British Army in that they have histories and traditions going back to their formation, regardless of where they are based, which aircraft they are operating, etc. They can be awarded standards and battle honors for meritorious service. Whilst every squadron is different, most flying squadrons are commanded by a wing commander and, for a fast-jet squadron, have an establishment of around 100 personnel and 12 aircraft.

The term squadron can be used to refer to a sub-unit of an administrative wing or small RAF station, e.g. Air Traffic Control Squadron, Personnel Management Squadron etc. There are also Ground Support Squadrons, e.g. No 2 (Mechanical Transport) Squadron which is located at RAF Wittering. Administrative squadrons are normally commanded by a squadron leader.

Flights

A flight is a sub-division of a squadron. Flying squadrons are often divided into two flights, e.g. “A” and “B”, each under the command of a squadron leader. Administrative squadrons on a station are also divided into flights and these flights are commanded by a junior officer, often a flight lieutenant.

Because of their small size, there are several flying units formed as flights rather than squadrons. For example No. 1435 Flight is based at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands, maintaining air defense cover with four Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

RAF Structure: Part 3: Wings

A wing is either an operational sub-division of a group or an administrative sub-division of an RAF station.

Independent Wings are a grouping of two or more squadrons, either flying squadrons or ground support squadrons. In former times, numbered flying wings have existed, but recently they have been created only when required. For example during Operation Telic, Tornado GR4 wings were formed to operate from Ali Al Salem and Al Udeid air bases and the Tornado F3 equipped Leuchars Fighter Wing at Prince Sultan Air Base; each of these were made up of aircraft and crews from several squadrons.

On 31 March 2006, the RAF formed nine Expeditionary Air Wings (EAWs) in order to support operations. They were established at the nine main operating bases; RAF Coningsby, RAF Cottesmore, RAF Kinloss, RAF Leeming, RAF Leuchars, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Lyneham, RAF Marham and RAF Waddington numbered Nos 121, 122, 325, 135, 125, 140, 38, 138 and 34 EAWs respectively. These units are commanded by a Group Captain who is also the parent unit’s Station Commander. The EAW comprises the non-formed unit elements of the station that are required to support a deployed operating base, i.e. the command and control, logistics and administration functions amongst others. They are designed to be flexible and quickly adaptable for differing operations. They are independent of flying squadrons, Air Combat Support Units (ACSU) and Air Combat Service Support Units (ACSSU) who are attached to the EAW depending on the task it has been assigned.

A wing is also an administrative sub-division of an RAF station. Historically, for a flying station these were normally Operations Wing, Engineering Wing and Administration Wing and each wing was commanded by an officer of wing commander rank. Early in the 21st century, the model changed, with Engineering Wing typically being split into Forward Support Wing and Depth Support Wing, while Administration Wing was redesignated Base Support Wing.

RAF Structure Part 2

Groups

Groups are the subdivisions of operational commands; these are responsible for certain types of operation or for operations in limited geographical areas. As from 1 April 2007, three groups exist:

  • 1 Group (the Air Combat Group): controls the RAF’s combat fast jet aircraft and parents airfields at RAF Odiham, RAF Benson, RAF Leeming, RAF Coningsby, RAF Leuchars, RAF Wittering, RAF Cottesmore, RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth in the UK in addition to RAF Unit Goose Bay in Canada, which is used extensively as an operational training base. RAF Spadeadam, in Cumbria, is also within its sphere of responsibility.
  • 2 Group (the Air Combat Support Group): controls the strategic and tactical air transport aircraft, the RAF Regiment, the RAF’s air-to-air refuelling aircraft as well as Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and search and rescue assets.
  • 22 Group: responsible for recruiting, personnel management and training.

In addition, No. 83 Group RAF, under the command of the Permanent Joint Headquarters, is active in the Middle East, supporting operations over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stations

An RAF station is ordinarily subordinate to a group and it is administratively sub-divided into wings. Since the mid to late 1930s RAF stations have controlled a number of flying squadrons or other units at one location by means of a station headquarters.

Military Cut Backs

Throughout January to March there is going to be a large amount of cut backs throughout the Armed Forces. Each area of the Military will suffer great losses, as the Government make cuts in each area. The Armed Forces will lose 4,200 personnel in the biggest round of job losses in a decade.

Up to 2,900 members of the Army, 1,000 members of the Royal Air Force and 300 members of the Royal Navy will be sacked as the MOD tries to plug its £38 billion black hole in the defence budget.

One in six Air Commodores will lose their jobs in what some Air Force officers called a “night of the long knives” for commanders. The Forces are losing a large chunk of senior leadership with officers targeted across all three services as politicians expressed “deep concern” at the latest round of mass redundancies.

A third of the RAF redundancies will come from its leadership with 30 group captains, 40 wing commanders and 115 squadron leaders going. It is also understood that up to half-a-dozen of the 26 Air Vice Marshals will be axed. While no pilots will go the RAF losses will come from engineers, logistics, personnel and air traffic controllers.

With the Navy losing more than 50 per cent of its fleet in the last decade and going down to 30,000 personnel officers who commanded its warship are being dumped with five commodores and 15 captains sacked.

In addition to losing 400 Gurkha soldiers the Army has chosen to axe 500 infantry privates who have served for more than six years, the equivalent to an entire battalion. It will also lose 8 brigadiers and 60 lieutenant colonels, the rank at which officers command battalions.

While Royal Marines, who supply a third of special forces, are protected from cuts the commandos will lose 19 senior officers from the ranks of lieutenant colonel to brigadier.

One in eight Gurkhas will lose their jobs after the brigade expanded following a terms of service change that saw their contracts extend from 15 to 22 years.

The Unite union also warned that a further 2,500 MoD support staff such as vehicle fitters, electricians and plumbers could be axed as the Forces reduce.

What do you think of these Military Cut Backs?

RAF Structure Part 1

The professional head of the RAF is the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. The CAS heads the Air Force Board, which is a committee of the Defence Council. The Air Force Board is the management board of the RAF and consists of the Commander-in-Chief of Air Command (Air Chief Marshal Simon Bryant), together with several other high ranking officers. The CAS also has a deputy known as the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (ACAS); this post is held by Air Vice-Marshal B M North.

Command

Authority is delegated from the Air Force Board to the RAF’s command. While there were once individual commands responsible for bombers, fighters, training, etc., now only the Air Command exists, headquartered at RAF High Wycombe.

The Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. The RAF has taken a significant role in British military history, playing a large part in the Second World War and in more recent conflicts, such as Afghanistan.

The RAF is one of the most capable and technologically sophisticated air forces in the world, and as of mid 2011. The RAF has total manpower strength of 42,200 regular personnel and 1,500 Royal Auxiliary Air Force personnel. In addition the RAF can call-upon 33,400 fully trained Royal Air Force Reserves. The majority of the RAF’s aircraft and personnel are based in the UK with many others serving on operations or at long-established overseas bases.

Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and the British Army’s Army Air Corps also deliver air power which is integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.

From this we can see that the British armed forces are well equipped, and are our best form of defence.

Military Reservists Proudly Wear Their Uniforms to Work

Members of the Reserve Forces are today swapping their civilian clothes for military uniforms to celebrate ‘Wear Your Uniform To Work Day’, which highlights the crucial role played by Reservists in our country’s Armed Forces. There are some 38,000 Reservists in the UK Armed Forces and they have been deployed around 24,000 times since 2003 on operations around the globe, including Afghanistan and in support of the NATO mission in Libya.

Uniform to Work Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the role of the Reserves and to remind the public the Armed Forces are made up of people from all sections of the community, from office workers to taxi drivers.

Three London-based Reservists shown here cycling to work are Able Seaman Richie Wilkinson (Royal Navy Reserve) a Studio Manager for ITV who also serves as a Communication Warfare Technician at HMS President, Lance Corporal Mark Herbage (Territorial army) who is employed by the Royal British Legion in addition to being a Signaller in the Honourable Artillery Company and Flight Lieutenant James Morris (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) a Civil Servant working in the Department for International Development and a Royal Air Force Police Officer at No.3 Police Squadron, RAF Henlow.

Service Chiefs of Staff lent their support to Uniform to Work Day by joining Reservists who were wearing their uniform to work and hopping on public transport to the Ministry of Defence.

Army Chief General Sir Peter Wall met Lance Corporal Vergottini, a tube driver on the Northern Line. LCpl Vergottini spent six months in Afghanistan last year as part of the Counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) Task Force, providing infantry support for the specialist C-IED operators. LCpl Vergottini said:

“I’m proud of being part of the TA and all that I’ve achieved there and today is an opportunity for me to show the public that, behind my usual work clothes, I also serve my country. I completed a tour of Afghanistan last year, but most of the time I look like any other civilian. The support we get from the public and our employers on Uniform to Work Day is a huge boost to morale for me and my fellow TA soldiers.”