The Firebirds Today

An integral unit of the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington, 56(R) Squadron contributes to the operational development and optimisation of the Royal Air Force's command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (Air C2ISR) capabilities. This is primarily achieved through the management, conduct and independent oversight of through-life flight and ground trials. Comprised of experienced operators and operational analysts, with experience from a variety of Air C2ISR systems, the Squadron is also an invaluable source of specialist expert advice.

The Squadron works closely with 92(R) Squadron to ensure that test and evaluation developments are integrated with tactical development, and in close collaboration with the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

This Squadron is divided into five test and evaluation flights:

Air Ground Surveillance - The Air Ground Surveillance Flight is 56(R) Squadron’s focal point for expertise in ground motion target indicator (GMTI) radar and synthetic aperture radar technologies. The Flight primarily work with 5(AC) Squadron’s Sentinel R Mk1 systems and sensors.

Airborne Command and Control - The Airborne Command and Control Flight acts as a focal point for Airborne Early Warning and Control, airborne Command and Control and Air Battle Management matters. The Flight’s main effort is the test and evaluation of Sentry E-3D systems and sensors.

Airborne Electronic Sensors - The Airborne Electronic Sensors Flight has an overall responsibility for the provision of expertise and capability evaluation of UK Airborne Electronic Sensor systems. The Flight’s current main effort is the evaluation of the programme that is delivering the UK Rivet Joint aircraft into service with the RAF.

Aerospace Battle Management - The Aerospace Battle Management Flight provides expertise and evaluation of ground-based C2 systems, space operations systems, sensors and data links. The aim is to enhance the effectiveness of the UK ground-based Air Defence, Air Traffic Management and Space Surveillance Systems.

Intelligence Exploitation - The Intelligence Exploitation Flight comprises Intelligence specialists who support through-life test and evaluation of MOD intelligence exploitation capabilities. The Flight also applies its skills to the wide range of activities encompassed by C2ISR.

Note: Images taken from raf.mod.uk website and 56(R) Squadron archives, UK Crown copyright.