No 1 Group

Swift To Attack

About this Group

No 1 Group coordinates all of the RAF's frontline, fast-jet force elements and the Intelligence Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) work.

The 8,500 personnel in No 1 Group are ready to meet any emerging threats to the UK or UK interests around the globe, including:

  • Protecting UK airspace 24/7 365 days a year with the Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft
  • Continued air defence of the Falkland Islands
  • Exercising with NATO partners

Achieving No 1 Group's mission

The Group has to ensure the RAF stays one step ahead in an uncertain world. It does this by:

  • evolving the RAF's tactics
  • realistic training and exercises in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the United States
  • exploiting the RAF's equipment

Lightning Force

The near term mission for the Lightning Force (LF) is to establish the foundations of Lightning capability by training the initial cadre of LF personnel and developing the process to generate and sustain the Force at RAF Marham. This is to bring the LF to initial operating capability.

Typhoon Force

To generate, operate and sustain effective Combat Air power in all tasked roles and environments.


To deliver battle-winning knowledge and effect to commanders at every level.



Air Officer Commanding

Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth OBE DFC MA RAF


Smyth joined the RAF in 1991 via the Sixth Form Scholarship Scheme. After flying training he was posted to the Harrier Force and spent 15 years as a front line pilot and weapons instructor, finishing his time on Harrier in 2010 as Officer Commanding Number IV (Army Cooperation) Squadron. He has conducted 100’s of combat sorties, flying from land bases and all 3 Royal Navy CVS aircraft carriers, on operations over Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan . Promoted to Group Captain in 2010 he became the UK’s National Director for F-35 Lightning, based in Washington DC, USA, returning after 3 years to retrain as a Tornado pilot and become Station Commander of RAF Marham. Promoted to Air Commodore in 2015 he became the Force Commander for both the Tornado and Lightning Forces. After a short period as Head of Carrier Enabled Power Projection in the Ministry of Defence, Smyth deployed to the Middle East where he was the Director of the Combined Air Operations Centre in Qatar, where he was responsible for the planning and execution of upwards of 1000 combat missions per day across the Middle East. On promotion to Air Vice-Marshal, Smyth retrained as a Typhoon pilot and was appointed Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group in July 2018.

Key dates

1918 - 1936

No 1 Group first formed to perform air defence in the South East of England against German zeppelin and Gotha Raids. It continued in the air defence role until renumbered as 6 Group in 1924 but was reformed the same day at a new location at which it operated until 1926. 1 Group was reactivated the next year, again in the air defence role which it continued until 1936 when it was again renumbered as 6 Group, 1 Group becoming a light bomber group.

1936 - 1945

As a light bomber group 1 Group went to France in 1939 as the Advanced Air Striking Force. An advance arm of Bomber Command rather than, as often thought, an army cooperation unit. The 1 Group designation was used briefly in 1939 by Bomber Command, but stood up permanently in June 1940 and has been active ever since. Largely based in North Yorkshire, the Group carried out more bombing raids than any other over the course of the War.

1946 - 1999

After the War, 1 Group stayed active. It took control of US loaned Thor ballistic missiles for a period between 1958 and 1963, and in 1968 transitioned in to Strike Command.


The Group again took command of air defence within the UK and responsibility for the RAF's offensive air power on operations.


Contact details

1 Group, RAF High Wycombe, Walter's Ash, HP14 4UE

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