20 Squadron

"Deeds Not Words"

The Rising Sun marks the Squadron’s long association with the East, while the Black Eagle is the traditional symbol of Air Forces and is native to where the Squadron was based in India; it carries a type of Indian curved sabre called a Talwar.


20 Squadron provides training and support on Operations, in air picture and Tactical Control of air assets Air Command and Control.  It falls under Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS) within the Battlespace Management Force.

The Squadron operates in 3 Flights:

  • A Flight - provides Combat Ready training for ASACS, the Command and Control Qualified Warfare Instructor Course, and Joint Service courses.
  • B Flight - provides practical operational conversion training for all ASACS roles.
  • Mission Support Flight (MSF) – provides Training and Assurance. MSF Synthetics section which provides support to the training of Weapons Controllers and Surveillance Operators.

The Squadron has operated mainly in India, the Far East and Germany, flying aircraft including the FE2D, Lysander, Hurricane, Hunter, Jaguar, Tornado and Harrier.

You can read more about Tactical Air Command and Control, and Air Battle Management.


To train, develop and generate world class tactical air command and control operators for standing and contingent Defence Tasks; and support the execution of Joint Air Operations in the UK and overseas.


1915 - Formed at Netheravon under the command of Major C Wilson and proceeded to France in January 1916 to become one of the highest scoring squadrons on the Western Front.

1917 - Sergeant Thomas Mottershead, a pilot on 20 Squadron, became the only Sergeant pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

1919 - Squadron moves to India, tasked to support the Army in the North West Frontier Province.

1929 - Squadron provides 2 Westland Wapitis to provide airborne Wireless Telephony links for the Kabul airlift.

1942 - Squadron moves to various locations in the North-East of India, re-equipping with Lysanders and operating against the Japanese invasion of Burma and supporting the Chindit expeditions.

1944 - Having re-equipped with cannon and rocket-firing Hurricanes, the Squadron spent the rest of the war in Burma, attacking Japanese supply lines and bunkers in support of General Slim’s 14th Army.

1951 - Established in Germany as a day Fighter-Bomber squadron.

1961 - Moved to RAF Tengah, Singapore, as part of the Far East Air Force.  Provided air defence, reconnaissance and attack during the Confrontation in Borneo.

1971 - Reformed as a Strike / Attack squadron in Germany, flying the Jaguar, Harrier and Tornado GR1.

1991 - Flew in Operation GRANBY, bringing the new ALARM missile into operational service.

1992 - Assumed the role of the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Wittering.

2010 - Disbanded at RAF Wittering.

2021 - Re-established as the Air Surveillance and Control System’s Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Boulmer.

Battle honours

  • Western Front (1914–1918)
  • Somme (1916)*
  • Arras (1917)*
  • Ypres (1917)*
  • Somme (1918)*
  • Lys (1918)
  • Hindenburg Line
  • Mahsud (1919–1920)
  • Waziristan (1919–1925)
  • Mohmand (1927)
  • North-West Frontier (1930–1931)
  • Mohmand (1933)
  • North-West Frontier (1935–1939)
  • North Burma (1943–1944)*
  • Arakan (1943–1944)*
  • Manipur (1944)*
  • Burma (1944–1945)*
  • Gulf (1991)

*Honours marked with an asterisk are emblazoned on the Squadron’s Standards.