Crossbow Capability at RAF Marham

From 8th March 2011, RAF personnel of the Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing (TIW) based at RAF Marham have been providing near real time imagery intelligence analysis in support of UK and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Analysts receive feed from the US Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), which provides globally-networked Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. The UK capability is known as CROSSBOW.

CROSSBOW’s concept of operations calls for true interoperability between both the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) for distributed use of information from ISR collection assets.

“This capability is the result of a longstanding, mutual trust and relationship between the United States and our British allies,” said Major General James Poss, the Air Force’s Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR. “Crossbow will enhance the future potential for leveraging synergies in distributed ISR operations, translating into additional capability to better support our joint forces commanders and warfighters engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan.”

Major General Poss explained that the programme represented a significant capability to enable improved shared situational awareness at the coalition operational and tactical levels of command. It also provided a better use of scarce imagery analyst resources, increasing the overall intelligence support to theatre without increasing the number of people in Afghanistan.

This is the first time that the UK will have the capability to provide near real time imagery intelligence support to Afghanistan from the UK. This ‘reachback’ capability – the ability to use service personnel in the UK to support troops on the ground in Afghanistan – ensures we make optimum use of available resources without increasing our footprint in Afghanistan.

Air Officer ISTAR, Air Commodore ‘Flash’ Gordon stated: “CROSSBOW is an innovative, affordable and highly effective force multiplier that significantly enhances our combat Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities; it also serves to demonstrate the close and enduring cooperation between the RAF and USAF.”

Officer Commanding TIW, Wing Commander Andy Stewart, added: “CROSSBOW is a highly effective capability that allows TIW to provide situational awareness to Coalition ground units right now. Our dynamic support ensures that these units can successfully plan and execute their missions, knowing that we are there to support them. We enhance our CROSSBOW operations with Reconnaissance Air Pod Tornado (RAPTOR) imagery, which collectively provides a highly potent ISTAR capability. I am immensely proud of what everyone on TIW has achieved in such a short time.”

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