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Air Cadets from Bristol and Gloucestershire Wing visited RAF Boulmer in Northumberland for their annual camp recently, taking part in a wide range of activities. 2016 is a special year for the air cadets as they are celebrating their 75th Anniversary. The week-long visit gave the cadets the opportunity to visit an active Royal Air Force station and experience first-hand life in the Service.
During what proved to be a fantastic week, the cadets gained an understanding of RAF Boulmer – which is the hub of the UK Air Surveillance and Control Systems (ASACS) Force – and the vital role it plays in the defence of the United Kingdom.
The cadets visited the Control and Reporting Centre where Aerospace Battle Managers (ABMs) monitor radar pictures and control Typhoon fighter aircraft.
RAF ABMs police the skies for potential air threats over the UK and international waters, identifying all aircraft in the UK Flight Information Region. When there is an indication that an aircraft might pose a threat, RAF Boulmer personnel will scramble fighter jets from the Quick Reaction Alert force to investigate. They then direct the aircraft to the target and control the interception.
Cadets were subsequently able to plan and execute their own simulated air battle by participating in a “Tactical Floor” exercise run by RAF officers. This exercise demonstrated to the cadets the need to assimilate real time information coming in from various sources during the “battle”, make quick decisions on the information they had, and then effectively communicate their orders to the pilots who were standing by to carry out their instructions.
Cadets also conducted weapons training and – after rigorous weapons handling tests – a shooting practice, in which they were able to gain marksmanship qualifications.
The cadets then took part in leadership and navigation exercises, including basic field training to provide an awareness of wider military activity, and competitive sports.
The Royal Air Force Air Cadets are a youth organisation open to young people aged 13-20. Activities are usually free or at minimal cost, and opportunities exist for cadets to go flying, gliding, target shooting, adventure training, represent their area and country in various sports, gain nationally-recognised qualifications and visit other countries. The organisation is supported by adult volunteers some with previous military experience, however they are currently looking for volunteers from all walks of life and interested adults should look at www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets for more information.
The Camp Commandant, Squadron Leader Catherine Llewellyn, Deputy Officer Commanding Bristol and Gloucestershire Wing, said: “The cadets have had an amazing week experiencing a number of activities the RAF has to offer. The location of RAF Boulmer allowed for cadets to undertake a number of cultural visits to historical sites including Hadrian’s Wall, a coastal walk observing several historic castles around Alnwick and, seeing seals and puffins on the Farne Islands. The station staff were incredibly welcoming and gave the cadets a fantastic time.”