Deployed Elements of 90SU

History - 90 Signals Unit Historical Information

90 Signals Unit History

In 1940, No 26 (Signals) Group was formed to handle worldwide communications to support the increasing reliance on electronic communications in warfare. The Group was revolutionary for its time, and its role can be compared to today’s Tactical Communications Wing (which is now part of No 90 Signals Unit), albeit No 26 (Signals) Group had less emphasis on deployed operations. Later that year, No 60 Group was created, bringing Radar stations under Royal Air Force control and administration, a task now fulfilled in the deployed environment by No 1 (Expeditionary Radar and Airfield) Squadron, which is one of the 5 squadrons that form the Tactical Communications Wing. No 60 Group became responsible for "Gee"1 and "Oboe"2, the principle wartime navigation and bombing aids. On 7 October 1940, No 80 Wing became the first Royal Air Force electronic warfare unit and was tasked with spoiling the enemy bombing aids. No 100 Group was established soon afterwards, with the duty of deceiving German radio and radar defence services.

1946 saw the formation of 90 (Signals) Group, bringing together all the above functions under one central control. Twelve years later, on 3 November 1958, 90 (Signals) Group was raised to Command status under the command of Air Vice Marshal Dalton-Morris. Signals Command became responsible for Radio Engineering, Electronic Warfare, Telecommunications, Radar Defence Services and the calibration, operation and maintenance of Navigational Aids. Signals Command had some 38 stations and 8000 personnel, which is in stark contrast to today’s No 90 Signals Unit, which covers the majority of the task associated Signals Command, albeit in the expeditionary environment with just over 900 personnel.

Signals Command proved to be a relatively short-lived Command and was disbanded on 31 December 1968 after just 10-years and 5 Commanders in Chief. No 90 (Signals) Group was resurrected on 1 January 1969 to assume the role of the disbanded Command. It was placed under the direct control of Strike Command, as No 90 Signals Unit is today, indicating the significance of communications as an operational enabler. However, No 90 (Signals) Group was passed to Maintenance Command on 1 May 1972 and was finally disbanded on 31 August 1973 when Support Command absorbed its functions.

On 1 April 2006 No 90 Signals Unit was formed under the command of a Group Captain. The Unit was created to bring together in one organisation 3 separate communications Air Combat Service Support Units in a similar way to the formation of 90 (Signals) Group in 1946.

1. “GEE” was a RAF navigation system that evolved during World War II. The system subsequently remained in service until 1970. GEE was the first serious attempt to provide navigators with a rapid means of determination of position, and seldom has any one invention so faithfully and quickly satisfied the requirements for which it was developed.

2. The "Oboe" blind-bombing system was used by Bomber Command's Pathfinder Force to achieve unparalleled bombing accuracies. It was a ground-controlled radar system, in which one station indicated the track to be followed and another controlled the bomb release point.

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