5 (AC) Sqn
Number 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron
Number 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron was reformed on 1st April 2004 at RAF Waddington, marking the beginning of a new era in the world of military Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) for the Squadron. The new role for ‘5’ is to operate the Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) System, which consists of five modified Bombardier Global Express long-range business jets and eight Ground Stations. In RAF service, the aircraft type will be known as the Sentinel R Mk 1, with the R acknowledging its Reconnaissance pedigree.
It is a truly jointly manned RAF Squadron and the Officer Commanding, Wg Cdr Allan Marshall, has a current complement of approximately 250 personnel, split between RAF and Army. When at full strength, the Squadron will have over 300 RAF, Army and civilian personnel, making No 5 (AC) Sqn one of the largest flying Sqn in the RAF by some margin. The composition of the Sqn is like no other, as it requires RAF from all walks of life and eight different Army cap badges to deliver this hugely diverse military capability.
Training and Logistic support is also very different, in that it is provided mostly, by a Contractor; Raytheon Systems Limited.
However, perhaps the most particular aspect of the Squadron is its mission, as this new type of surveillance system is at the cutting edge of technology and military capability. The UK has never possessed such a formidable capability in the past and, even globally, it is difficult to draw parallels in terms of Squadron construct, system flexibility and overall performance.
Present and Past
The ISR role is the highest priority for modern commanders and is pivotal in today’s ‘asymmetric-warfare’ challenge in the Global War on Terrorism, where the enemy is elusive and the Battlespace has no boundary. For 5 (AC) Squadron, although it has been operating proudly as a fighter Squadron for the past 50 years, the switch to ISR is most apt, as it takes the Squadron back to its roots.
The first Sentinel arrived at RAF Waddington in 2007 and the potential of the system is vast. The job of harnessing and exploiting that capability will be a challenge to all in the military, but in particular the personnel on 5(AC) Squadron.
Frangas non flectas - “Thou mayst break but shall not bend me”, encapsulates the struggle often encountered in military operations between physical fragility and moral fortitude