The RAAF’s Surveillance and Response Group

By Australian Department of Defence

The Royal Australian Air Force’s Surveillance and Response Group (SRG) is responsible for:

  • air surveillance assets
  • maritime warfare
  • aerospace, surveillance and battle space management, and
  • developing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and electronic warfare capabilities.

SRG was formed on 30 March 2004 by merging the former Surveillance and Control, and Maritime Patrol Groups. Its motto ‘Foremost Sentinel’ encapsulates the Group’s contribution as the early warning and response capability of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Structure of Surveillance and Response Group

SRG has over 2400 personnel spread across Australia working in the following areas:

  • No 41 Wing (Air Defence)
  • No 42 Wing (Airborne Early Warning and Control)
  • No 44 Wing (Air Traffic Control), and
  • No 92 Wing (Maritime Operations).

SRG’s Headquarters is located at RAAF Base Williamtown, and is responsible for personnel management, capability management and development, technical capability and business management.

Air Defence

No 41 Wing (41WG), based at RAAF Base Williamtown, is chiefly responsible for tasking subordinate units to provide continuous wide-area surveillance, airspace control, and execution of air battle management operations.

41WG commands all Air Defence operational and training units across Australia, including:

  • 3 Control and Reporting Unit in Williamtown
  • Surveillance and Control Training Unit (SACTU) in Williamtown
  • 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit in Darwin, and
  • 1 Radar and Surveillance Unit in Adelaide.

SACTU provides the training for Air Combat Officers and Air Surveillance Operators to enable them to perform effective air battle management and surveillance operations.

Airborne Early Warning and Control

No 42 Wing (42WG) was reformed on 1 January 2006 and is located at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The Wing delivers the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability for the Air Force, supported by No 2 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The AEW&C aircraft represents an entirely new capability for the ADF, providing a platform that gathers information from a wide variety of sources, analyses the data and distributes it to friendly air and surface assets. AEW&C controls the tactical battle space, provides direction for assets in the air, at sea and on land, and supports aircraft such as tankers and intelligence platforms.

Air Traffic Control

No 44 Wing (44WG), headquartered at RAAF Base Williamtown, commands all of the eleven Air Traffic Control (ATC) detachments across Australia. It also commands the ATC Technical Ground Electronic Services workforce.

Through its detachments, 44WG is responsible for delivering aerodrome and radar control services to Army, Navy and Air Force, and providing tactical control of forward airfields, battlefield aviation and other airspace activity within Australia and for operational deployments.

44WG personnel have been actively involved in a number of recent operations including Sudan, East Timor, Iraq/Middle East, Solomon Islands and Indonesia. Their roles have ranged from active operational duties to peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

Maritime Operations

Headquartered at RAAF Base Edinburgh, No 92 Wing (92WG) has long been established as the first Maritime Wing of the Air Force.

The Wing is responsible for conducting long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in support of Australia’s national interests worldwide. 92WG is also responsible for search and survivor supply missions throughout Australia’s region of responsibility.

92WG commands:

  • two flying squadrons: Nos 10 and 11 Squadrons
  • a training unit: No 292 Squadron
  • an operational detachment: 92WG Detachment A at Butterworth, Malaysia, and
  • a number of operational support and development elements.

Operating AP-3C Orion aircraft, 92WG’s combat roles include anti-submarine and anti-surface surveillance and warfare for which the aircraft are equipped with torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The AP-3C is being replaced by the P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton who will perform the vital functions of long range maritime patrol.

We have visited the SRG several times in the past, and interviewed the leadership of SRG plus visited the Wedgetail as well as the P-8 squadrons.

Those interviews can be found on the Second Line of Defense website.