THE STATION

RAF Boulmer in Northumberland is a critical component of the RAF Battlespace Management Force and home to the Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS). 

The Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) at RAF Boulmer uses ground-based military and civilian radars to monitor, detect and identify all aircraft in and around UK airspace - 24/7, 365 days a year. This is called the Recognised Air Picture (RAP). The Quick Reaction Alert Typhoons at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby can be scrambled to intercept unidentified aircraft.

RAF Boulmer is also home to the ASACS Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), a worldwide centre of excellence on leading-edge battlespace management training and education for the UK Armed Forces, NATO and other foreign national military personnel.

Around 1,000 Service, civilian and contracted personnel work at RAF Boulmer.

Commander

Group Captain David Keighley MA RAF

Group Captain David Keighley is Station Commander, RAF Boulmer and Director, Battlespace Management Operations.

Commissioned into the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1990 as an Air Operations (Surveillance) Officer, he spent the first 4 years of his professional career engaged in air surveillance duties, which included tours at Control and Reporting Centre, RAF Neatishead; 303 Signals Unit in the Falkland Islands; and RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.  He then returned to the mainland for a training management staff tour at Headquarters No 11 Group, RAF Bentley Priory. In 1996 Group Captain Keighley began a 20-year run of space-related posts with tours including RAF Fylingdales, Buckley Air Force Base, HQ Air Command, Afghanistan, UK Air Warfare Centre, returning to Royal Air Force Fylingdales as the Station Commander in January 2014.  After relinquishing command in 2016, he was seconded to the European Union’s Liaison and Planning Cell in Tunisia, where he worked alongside the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (based in Tunis).  He returned to the UK in August 2020 to assume command of RAF Boulmer.

ADDRESS

RAF Boulmer, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3JF.

Council: Northumberland County Council

Who's based here

Where we parent

KEY DATES

  • 1953 - RAF Boulmer Opened
  • 1990 - Arrival of the School of Fighter Control
  • 2013 - RAF Boulmer's 60th Anniversary
  • 2019 - Stand up of Operational Conversion Unit

HISTORY

Operational as an Air Defence unit for 60 years, the RAF has had a presence in the area since 1940, when land near Boulmer was used as a decoy airfield to draw attacking Luftwaffe aircraft away from the nearby operational airfield at RAF Acklington. However, as the air threat to the UK receded, the decoy airfield was abandoned. 

In 1953, the onset of the Cold War caused the Royal Air Force to look anew at its defences and Boulmer was selected for the construction of an air defence control centre equipped with new radar and control facilities. 

In 1957 Boulmer was designated a Group Control Centre, this gradually increased in importance and by 1974 the Station had evolved to become both a Sector Operations Centre and Control and Reporting Centre. 

The role of RAF Boulmer was expanded in 1975 with the arrival of 'A' Flight 202 Squadron in the Search and Rescue role, providing 37 years of Search and Rescue at RAF Boulmer. 

In 1990, Boulmer saw the arrival of the School of Fighter Control from RAF West Drayton. In 2009 the Fighter Control Branch was rebranded as Aerospace Battle Management, and the School of Fighter Control became the School of Aerospace Battle Management. 

RAF Boulmer has played a key role in UK air defence for 60 years with continuous improvements to its systems and radars during a series of extensive refurbishment programmes.

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