The Air Surveillance and Control System's Operational Conversion Unit (ASACS OCU) recently completed Exercise CERBERUS REVENGE, the Unit's first team-level simulator-based exercise specifically designed for Combat Ready training for the tactical command and control of modern air operations (Tac Air C2).
The ASACS OCU is already responsible for conversion training of Air Ops Branch and Trade Group 7 personnel arriving from the Defence College of Air and Space Operations at RAF Shawbury. Having initially qualified to operate at Limited Combat Ready level, selected personnel now return to the OCU for further training in a constituted Tac Air C2 'crew' on the 3-month Combat Ready Operators' Course (CROC). The CROC's starting point is the simulator-based Exercise CERBERUS REVENGE. The skills learned in this exercise allows the crew to move on to more demanding live-flying air exercises involving aircraft such as the Typhoon, Lightning, F15 Eagle, E-3D Sentry and RC-135 Rivet Joint. On successful completion of the CROC, personnel will be awarded Combat Ready status, which enables them to be deployed anywhere in the world at short-notice to provide Tac Air C2 to UK and Allied air forces.
Exercise CERBERUS REVENGE is a new concept for ASACS training, and has been developed and led by the OCU's Advanced Training Squadron. The Squadron's Tactics Flight designed an exercise scenario which covered all the training requirements for a Combat Ready Tac Air C2 crew, and acted as instructors for them. In a complex, demanding scenario with a realistic political and military background, the crew planned and executed 4 training serials of air operations of up to 100 aircraft. The Trade Group 7 operators of Synthetics Flight translated this scenario into the Unit's simulator, building multifaceted airspace and ensuring that they could replicate the likely actions of various aircraft and the communications involved. Finally, the Air Battle Management Training Flight provided the Exercise Directors, who ensured that it flowed smoothly and provided the external C2 inputs to the crew - a vital part of C2 training.
Over two weeks, the crew planned and executed 4 large serials, in which they first defended friendly airspace from enemy attack, and then went conducted offensive ops. In addition to providing Tac Air C2 to simulated fast jets, their operations included time-critical liaison with simulated AWACS, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Air-to-Air Refuelling aircraft, ships of the Royal Navy, various ground units and higher C2 agencies. By the end of the fortnight, the crew were providing accurate information rapidly to many aircraft across a large battlespace, and making critical decisions affecting successful completion of the air missions.
Speaking afterwards the crew's Tactical Director said, 'This has been an excellent learning experience for the crew. They have grown in confidence, knowledge and ability throughout their time on the OCU, and have really gelled as a team. This training has prepared us to a high standard to play our part in the live-flying exercises this summer, which will lead to the award of Combat Ready status.'