RAF Boulmer

RAF Boulmer crest


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 RAF School of Aerospace Battle Management (SABM), 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.


Portrait of Group Captain K S Cowieson MA MBA MSc BSc RAF

Group Captain K S Cowieson MA MBA MSc BSc RAF

Group Captain K S ‘Chesh’ Cowieson joined the RAF in 1989.  Commissioned in 1992, he assumed command of RAF Boulmer in August 2018.  Before that he was Programme Director for the UK Ballistic Missile Defence Programme, the RAF’s Space Programme and the Defence-wide Link 16 Sustainment Programme and completed tours at RAF Neatishead, RAF High Wycombe, RAF Innsworth, RAF Shawbury and the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre.  Group Captain Cowieson has also served at RAF Boulmer on five previous occasions, and has been deployed to Afghanistan, Italy, USA, Malaysia, Canada, Crete, Cyprus and France.


RAF Boulmer, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3JF.

Council: Northumberland County Council

Who's based here

Where we parent


  • 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


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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