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RAF and US Air Force Communicators tested in communications exercise

Royal Air Force and US Air Force Tactical Communicators have been put to the test on the world’s largest contested communications exercise. 

Personnel outside working on comms.

90 Signals Unit have competed in XCOMM Roundup, a communications exercise at Robins Air Force Base, hosted by their long-standing international partner, the US Air Force’s 5th Combat Communications Group. 

Personnel working on laptops in a group.

XCOMM Roundup is a key milestone in the operational partnership between 90 Signals Unit, the 5th Combat Communications Group and 1st Combat Communications Squadron focused on ensuring that the RAF and US Air Force are able to work together to rapidly enable a combined Air operation.

“Interoperability is a force multiplier.  When systems, procedures, and units can communicate and function cohesively, a coalition of many becomes one powerful, unified front.  Every repetition of the XCOMM ROUNDUP is driving improvements to interoperability and a competitive advantage for the USAF and RAF.”

Colonel Abel
Commander of the 5th Combat Communications Group

The opportunity for UK and US communication specialists to train side by side in a representative contested environment allows teams to hone skills, learn how to make technology interoperate and share best practice.

Speaking outside

The exercise saw the participants fight through simulated hostile electronic jamming which disrupts and denies communication links to share the information required to sustain air operations across multiple dispersed austere operating locations. Throughout the exercise, 90 Signals Unit used a variety of technologies including satellite communications, high frequency radio communications and experimental capabilities provided by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories. 

Personnel in a group working together outside.

“XCOMM Roundup is a key annual event in 90 Signals Unit’s plan to strengthen our ability to work with the US Air Force and deliver on the RAF’s ACE vision. It prepares us to survive and fight alongside the US to enable Air operations. Having an enhanced ability to interoperate with the US Air Force, and experimenting with cutting edge tactics and technology that will allow us to counter modern threats, is critical for preparing 90 Signals Unit for the challenges it will face in the coming decade.”

Group Captain Jennings
Commanding Officer of 90 Signals Unit

Last year, the RAF signed a vision statement with the USAF which aimed to reshape the future of joint air combat operations around a shared Agile Combat Employment concept. The progress made on XCOMM Roundup will enhance both the UK and US’s ability to fulfil this vision statement.