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38 Group provide essential engineering, logistics, communications and medical operations support to the Royal Air Force worldwide, enabling it to deliver operational effect.
A noble pair of brothers
38 Group HQ is located at RAF High Wycombe. The Group comprises engineering and logistics, communications and Medical Operations Force Elements, in addition to units such as RAF Music Services. Air Officer Commanding Number 38 Group has responsibility for UK-based United States Visiting Forces (USVF) units and for RAF personnel detached to other armed forces around the world. Overall, the Group employs around 2600 Service personnel and 310 MoD civilians across multiple Defence sites in the United Kingdom and deployed locations worldwide.
The deployable engineering and logistics arm of the RAF is known as the A4 Force. It sends personnel from over a dozen regular and reserve squadrons to support UK air operations and exercises all over the world. The A4 Force units are located principally at RAF Wittering and RAF Brize Norton. The main units are No 1 Air Mobility Wing (air movements), No 42 Expeditionary Support Wing (deployable engineering) and No 85 Expeditionary Logistics Wing. Integrated with this capability are our Reserve squadrons of No 4624, 501, 504 and 605.
No 90 Signals Unit (90SU) satisfies the RAF’s deployed communications requirements from satellite communications to IT systems, as well as providing deployable airfield navigational aids and specialist cyber defence and protection for air networks and platforms. 90SU is primarily based at RAF Leeming and RAF Digby, with smaller detachments at several other RAF stations. 90SU consists of two wings: Tactical Communications Wing (expeditionary communications systems and their support) and Operational Information Services Wing (defensive cyber, airfield navigational aids support, trials and the Unit’s operational planning system management functions).
The Medical Force provides direct medical support to the deployed force drawing personnel from across the RAFMS and also delivers medical expertise, training and support within the Firm Base. RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine, located at RAF Henlow, conducts a wide range of activities delivering aircrew and aircraft integration, aviation medical training and specialist support through research and medical boards. Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) based at RAF Brize Norton, provides operational outputs including aeromedical evacuation, deployed primary care, pre-hospital and hospital capabilities. TMW are supported by two medical Reserve squadrons, No 612 and No 4626, based at RAF Leuchars and RAF Brize Norton respectively.
The RAF has an establishment for four professional bands, which includes Auxillary personnel, and a Salon Orchestra. The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and the Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra are based at RAF Northolt. The Band of the Royal Air Force College and the Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force are based at RAF College Cranwell.
Air Vice-Marshal Sue Gray commissioned into the Engineer Branch of the Royal Air Force in 1985 after gaining a degree in Electronics from Newcastle Upon Tyne Polytechnic.
Her career has began with service on VC10 Transport aircraft, followed by an extensive period with the Support Helicopter Force, as the Senior Engineer Officer on 27(R) Squadron, Officer Commanding Engineer & Supply Wing at RAF Benson and Chief Engineer for the Joint Helicopter Force. In this time she also gained an MSc in Aircraft Design.
Latterly, she moved into the Acquisition arena within the Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation, leading the Combat Clothing Project Team delivering new body armour, helmets and combat clothing to front line troops and more recently leading the department delivering Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS).
In June 2016, she was appointed Air Officer Commanding Number 38 Group.
No 1 Expeditionary Logistics Squadron’s (1ELS) main task is to support the UK’s deployed air operations; to make sure that the Royal Air Force has the right amounts of the correct equipment and fuel, when and where it’s needed. The Squadron also runs RAF Wittering’s station supply, mechanical transport and fuels sections.
The RAF A4 Force is the specialist engineering and logistics squadrons that support deployed air operations at home and abroad. Although headquartered at Royal Air Force Wittering, the A4 Force has units at other locations.
Number 38 Group was first formed during World War II. In addition to deploying members of the elite Special Operations Executive and Special Air Service, its aircraft flew in scores of famous missions including Operation Overlord.
After World War II Number 38 Group was disbanded, but was reformed twice during the Cold War and a third time in 1992. Its list of aircraft is a ‘Who’s Who’ of aviation icons and includes the Harrier, Jaguar, VC10 and Westland Wessex.
Number 38 Group reformed on 3 March 2014 and celebrated with a Reforming Parade on 2 July 2014 at Royal Air Force Wittering.
Business Coordinator, No 38 Group, Air Command, RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4UE
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