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Air Cadets Try Their Hand at Aerospace Battle Management

2015-11-19 09:40:54
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By Flt Lt G G Richards - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron

Youngsters in North Tyneside put down their pens, closed their school books and became Aerospace Battle Managers (ABMs) for the day.

The youngsters, who are Air Cadets at 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron, enjoyed the opportunity to visit RAF Boulmer and learn how the Northumberland base defends and secures UK and NATO skies.

After learning about the history of the ABM Branch, the cadets had the opportunity to learn about the many roles ABM’s perform, the variety of equipment they use, RAF aircraft and radar.

Formed as the Fighter Control Branch in the turbulent times of The Battle of Britain, ABMs have been securing the skies of Great Britain and Overseas Territories for 75 years. They are Britain’s front line of air defence and the RAF’s ‘Airspace Guardians’. The young people soon got to grips with the three specialisations within the ABM Branch: Surveillance Officers, Weapons Controllers and Space Specialists.

“We got to visit the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) to see the ABM’s in action,” said 17 year-old Corporal, Jordon Workman, of Longbenton.

 “It was really interesting to see how the role is performed and great fun to identify aircraft using the radar.” he added.  

“In the CRC we helped to identify aircraft and learnt how the ABMs do this to ensure potential threats are intercepted by RAF Typhoon jets,” said 18 year-old, Cadet Sergeant Joseph Hodgson, of Benton.

Overseas, in areas of conflict, the ABMs command the air battle and control airspace so that fast jets, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles and the Royal Artillery can achieve their mission to deliver air power where it is needed. Pivotal to the slick delivery of Joint and Coalition Force Operations, ABMs are posted throughout NATO and deployed across the globe.

Joseph said, “I was surprised at how much the ABMs do.”

“I thought they just sat in the dark looking at radar screens but they also control and direct fighters, gather information from surveillance and search in space for ballistic missiles and military surveillance satellites,” added Joseph.

In the same way as personnel of all ranks from all of the UK’s armed forces, the young cadets then participated in a simulated exercise on the School of Aerospace Battle Management’s Tactical Floor, to put all they had learnt into practice.

Cadet Rachel Findlay, 15, of Shiremoor, said, “The exercise was great fun! We had to work as a team to decide what equipment we would use, what tactics we would use and respond to how the scenario played-out.”

Squadron boss, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson added, “It was a very informative day and the final exercise allowed the young people to perform the ABM role.

“The day also gave an insight into what our local base does and how important it remains in defending the UK and NATO.

“RAF Boulmer was an outstanding host and I thank them for that. It was inspirational for the young people to interact with personnel and gain an insight into RAF life,” Gary added.

Coincidently, the young air cadets are currently situated on Marquis Close, Benton – the site of Second World War base, RAF Longbenton, which protected the North-East’s skies until its closure in 1963 when RAF Boulmer opened.  

Longbenton Squadron is currently open to new members in Year 8 and above. Please visit squadron at

For more information please visit the Squadron website

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