No 1 Group

To understand, control and exploit the battlespace in order to deliver decisive combat air power.

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.

Tornado Force

To efficiently generate and sustain the spectrum of capabilities required to assure success on Op SHADER, while retaining adaptability to support the most likely contingent operations.


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

Battlespace Management Force

The Battlespace Managment Force mission is: “to understand, control and exploit the battlespace, delivering tactical Air Command and Control of UK Air Policing and Air Counter Terrorism operations while supporting the delivery of Combat Air & Space Power for standing and contingent operations worldwide."

Joint Force Air Component

To deploy Air Command and Control capability; provide aggressor and electronic warfare training and support to operations and the Defence Exercise Programme; provide Expeditionary Air Wing training; and expand the use of 1 Group Reserves, each in order to provide decision-makers capability and choices within Defence intent.

Air Officer Commanding

Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth OBE DFC MA RAF

Smyth joined the RAF in 1991. He was posted to the Harrier Force in 1995. From 1999 to 2001 he was a Weapons instructor for No 1(Fighter) Squadron. In 2005 he was promoted to Wing Commander. He was then later promoted to Group Captain, returning to the F-35 programme as the UK’s National Director based in Washington DC, USA. Then as an Air Commodore he took over the post of Force Commander TGRF/AO Lightning. Following the completion of the Higher Command and Staff Course in 2017, Smyth deployed to the Middle East where he was the CAOC Director at Al Udeid. 

He has been appointed, on promotion to Air Vice-Marshal, as Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group from 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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