British army launches new Joint Air Defence Group
Command of the British ground-based air defence systems has transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Army. Jt GBAD (Joint Ground Based Air Defence) was renamed to 7th Air Defence Group under the new Operational Command of the Army’s Force Troops Command.
Rapier missile, in service since the Falklands war (Picture source: British MoD)
To mark this auspicious occasion, a ceremony was held at Trenchard Lines, Wiltshire, attended by the General Officer Commanding Force Troops Command, Major General Tom Coppinger-Symes, and the Air Officer Commanding 2 Group, Air Vice Marshal David Cooper CBE. During the ceremony, the Royal Air Force’s Jt GBAD flag was lowered and replaced with the 7 Air Defence Group’s (7 AD Gp), bearing the yellow centaur, armed with a bow on a blue background. Historically significant, the raising of the flag will mark the return of the unit synonymous with one of World War Two, whose anti-aircraft guns protected British cities against the Luftwaffe.
Nowadays, 7 AD Gp is equipped with: the Rapier missile that has seen service in the Falkland Islands, the High-Velocity Missile and the LEAPP target identification system. It is soon to upgrade to the new state-of-the-art SkySabre anti-aircraft missile system which it will start to be introduced later in the year.
Speaking of the occasion Colonel Giles Malec, the Commander of the newly formed 7 AD Gp said, “Although the command has passed to the Army the links to the Royal Air Force will continue. The Army is committed to growing the air defence capability over the coming years. There is a ten-year programme ahead to update our equipment with new missiles and radar systems; it will make our capability far more potent.” The new 7 AD Gp is to relocate from the RAF Headquarters in High Wycombe to the home of the Royal Artillery’s air defence, Baker Barracks on Thorney Island near Chichester.