May 1st, 2021 marked the 60th anniversary of the beginning of NATO’s Integrated Air Defence system that started when the UK’s national Integrated Air Defence system came online as the first NATO Air Defence region.

The Central region went live on July 1, 1961 and the Southern region followed on July 10, 1962; the final region to be established was the Northern Region on the January 15, 1964.

The following is an excerpt from an article published by NATO, written by Sqn Ldr Peter Singlehurst, Royal Air Force Media Operations and exercises.

“This new NATO integrated air defence system was originally agreed at a NATO Atlantic Council meeting and was announced on 10 September 1960. It would soon grow and evolve to the system that is recognised today that covers the entire air space of the European NATO allies with the air defence being controlled from the Combined Air Operations Centres at Uedem, Germany and Torrejón, Spain.

In 1961, however what was a new system for NATO, was for the UK a long-established concept. The British system had its origins during the First World War where it was quickly recognised a system to effectively defend against the air attacks conducted against the UK was needed. Following the end of the war the question of national air defence continued to be worked on and by the 1930s a system that is now the ‘Dowding System’ named after Sir Hugh Dowding the then RAF Fighter Command commander was created.

This system was the world’s first wide-area ground-controlled interception network and covered the entire UK airspace. Initially, the system was based on a widespread dedicated land-line telephone network that could be used to pass information that was collected from newly developed radar stations and the Royal Observer Corps. This information was used to build a single image of the entire UK airspace and direct defensive interceptor aircraft and anti-aircraft artillery against enemy targets. ”

You can read more at the source here.

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julian1
julian1
1 month ago

Beautiful picture of the Javelin. Shame it looked better than it flew.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

They were based in Lusaka, Zambia after UDI was declared in 1965 supposedly to counter any possible incursions by the Royal Rhodesian Air force in their Hunters, following guerilla incursions into Rhodesia. There was probably no chance at all of any hostilities between the two given the enormous regard for Ian Smith within the British armed forces particularly the RAF. they apparently exchanged nods and winks in the air on a few occasions

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

Agreed, a great photo… *almost certainly photographed from a Canberra. 😉

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

Avro Arrow was the Top Dog by all accounts.

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Please ! This is not RAF Luton 😀

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

😂

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago

The English Electric Lightning was one of the best in its class at the time, serving almost 30 years as our front line interceptor from the ’60s to the ’80s with a top speed of Mac 2.

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Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
julian1
julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

amazing rate of climb but with very short legs and limited ordnance

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

A very impressive aircraft for its day that helped to keep the Russians on their toes during the cold war!

It could climb to 36,000ft in under 3 minutes with a constant climb rate of approximately 20,000 ft/min.

“The Lightning has an exceptional rate of climbceiling, and speed; pilots have described flying it as “being saddled to a skyrocket”.[1] This performance and the initially limited fuel supply meant that its missions are dictated to a high degree by its limited range.[3] Later developments provided greater range and speed along with aerial reconnaissance and ground-attack capability.”

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Nigel. A bit before my time but I thought the Lightning was supplemented quickly by the Phantom, something a bit more suitable with longer range for the UKADR.

By the early 80’s only RAF Binbrook remained with them.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago

It was and retired from service in the late ’80s.

The Phantom was another impressive aircraft that included British technology. it arrived in service with the RAF in the latter part of the ’60s until the early part of the ’90s.

A bit before my time too!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Electric_Lightning

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Karl
Karl
1 month ago

Some Lightnings were fitted with overwing tanks but they still had short legs. RN had F4’s on the Ark, RAF F4’s were multi-role at first in RAFG. They were better suited to UK air defence with longer endurance. That led to the thinking behind Tornado ADV. Think it was the late 70’s when the UK bought some surplus USN F4’s because we were so short of interceptors, they were F4J ( UK) as they did not have the RR Spey. Lightnings problem was limited missile load and a short burst of the Aden and it was out of the fight,… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Yes. I thought the extra Phantom were mid to late 80s though. 2 squadrons based at Wattisham.

Seen the SA and Bruntingthorpe Lightnings on YouTube.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

The F4J’s were basically a UOR to replace the Phantoms sent down South after the end of the Falklands War.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

Not that quickly mate, not in the big scheme of things….The F4’s were absolutely amazing to watch, especially when driven in anger at low level…. with full AB down the middle ! and I have to say they are probably my favourite display planes due to the sheer noise and size, not to mention Smoke !

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Morning Daniele. The Phantom was a fine aircraft serving as you know with both RAF and RN. When the order for the F111’s was cancelled after the whole Harold Wilson savaging of the British Military aircraft industry, the Phantom was purchased. As a sop to British Industry some modifications were awarded to UK companies including from memory RR Spey engines in some variants producing in the words of a wag at the time “the slowest,thirstiest,most expensive Phantoms in the world! 😀 They served in the Falklands including from memory(fading!) four F4J’s bought off the shelf from the US with the… Read more »

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Thrust to weight ratio is one thing but capability is another…. I think the latest Typhoons are on another level but all is quiet on the Top Trumps front.

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Well, I had to do a little digging at that comment!
Taking Nigel’s comment above as gospel, with the Lightning’s continuous climb rate at 20,000 ft/min, Typhoon is indeed on another level. I’ve only found one figure, and it doesn’t state continuous, only rate of climb. But it’s 315 m/s, or 62,000 ft/min for a direct comparison to the old money Lightning figure. Worlds apart, as you say!

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I don’t understand the praise for the Lightning.
Lightning was a dead end and actually very unwise design for the time it appeared already. That air intake configuration would never allow more than a very mediocre radar.

The Swedish and French had much better ideas. Why RAF went backwards? Javelin had a proper configuration for the future.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

It was for most, an aircraft that was impossible not to love from its shiny silver livery to the vertical takeoffs with incredible speed and climb rate. I saw a Mirage at an Air Show in Durban in the early 80’s performing a similar near vertical climb right over the crowd as it traded speed for height to what looked like an almost stall state above the stadium and then recover in a heart stopping moment.
They weren’t big on Health and Safety in those days!!

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Yep.

I go even further Lightning was one of the nails in the coffin of British aircraft industry, while the French were selling Mirages all over the world.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

I wonder if Tempest will achieve Mac 3 in the future?

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It’s interesting, but most newer models have traded off high top speeds for other things- particularly supercruise and thrust/weight ratio (it would seem to me). I can see the value in Mach 2-3 for some things, but if it’s just a sprint rather than a sustained speed then it has limited application. Air defence of UK airspace, I could see that. Maybe as some kind of high speed final attack run into airspace protected by an AAD as well? But if it drains the tanks too fast then you’re going to need a lot of tankers. I remember reading about… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yes, I tend to agree with what you say. In an interseptor role or shoot and scoot, additional speed would be benificial.

It was interesting to see how RR views the future of the next-gen Tempest engines.

“In order to make the engine more electric, intelligent and harness more power, the company recognised that any future fighter aircraft will need new levels of electrical power demand and thermal load.”

https://www.pesmedia.com/tempest-fighter-jet-engine-rolls-royce-electrical-power-e2sg/

Tempest-fighter-jet-engine-design-1.jpg
Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Yes, it’s pretty impressive stuff, lots of application for it.
also, check out projecct ADVENT, it was a USAF one about variable cycle engines which RR were involved in. If they can incorporate the two, you’re looking at a very very good engine.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Will do cheers.
Lots more to come it seems. I wonder if this technology was tested aboard the new US 6th gen aircraft which flew last year?

https://www.flightglobal.com/rolls-royce-set-to-start-testing-advent-core-before-year-end/105890.article

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

Two Firestreek missiles and an Aden cannon. The short legs were eased in later models with extra fuel capacity but it was never designed for endurance-up there as quickly as possible, engage, and return to base! Friend of mine who was a ground crew techi got to fly in a two seater-said it was the finest day of his life.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

I recall a missile called ” Red Top” too.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

There is a photo somewhere of an early 80s Lightning with Sidewinder missiles. A frustrated pilot borrowed them & got ground crew to lash them on, in the hope high ups would authorise their fitment. Never happened as the Lightning was phased out in a short few years.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

How many hundreds of millions does that cost now. Although I guess he never actually fired them!

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

A colourful name Daniele!😀

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

Apparently we have more of them now, than we have F35’s…. Of course they are all grounded but It’s still a fact.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

My all time favourite RAF fighter

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

There is a Lighting at RAF Manston the last time I was there, it’s surprising how big it actually is.

julian1
julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

there used to be Buccaneer on the gate too, I wonder what happened to that?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

Hopefully not burned by the RAF Firefighting school on the station!

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  julian1

Thanks, I didn’t know that, I can’t ever recall seeing a Buccaneer there though, but I did pop over there one evening in 1991 and saw a long line up of them on the Hardstanding, just after GW1, some were in Pink, some in usual Camouflage, if i had a Camara it would have made a Cool Picture.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Some were hotter and Higher according to a Family Friend.

Matt C
Matt C
1 month ago

Question. In what ways did the Dowding system differ from the German system of ground control intercept?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt C

You might find the answer to your question in this link?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowding_system

farouk
farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Nigel thanks for the link. Interesting read, especially the part about the acoustic mirrors which preceded radar, When we did our range weeks down at Lyde and Hyhe those mirrors (made out of concrete) could easily be seen from the ranges .

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Pleased you enjoyed it! 👌

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

It’ great to see all the Info posted here, I’d never have thought about looking any of it up myself, so Thanks for posting all the many Links Guys. Must change my Subscription from the daily Star to the Daily Mail. 😉

Geoff Bowler ex RAF
Geoff Bowler ex RAF
1 month ago

reminds me of a friday in August 1964 at RAF Leuchars, I was crash ambulance driver and at aprox 8am a 74 squd Lighting practicing arobatics for battle of britain crashed nose first into the ground. The pilot f/l Owen did not eject. That same afternoon a Javerlin was taking off when a engine exploded setting the rear on fire.The pilot had to stop the plane & climb out along with a ground crew man,no ground level ejection in those days .I ended up at both scenes, I never had a day like that again.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

Wonderful days. Seemed if there was another aircraft coming along every five minutes across the world, and so many variations and experimental types.