Sponsors The RAF 90 Signals Unit Historical Training Facility

90 Signals Unit (90 SU) is a Royal Air Force unit that helps to provide both informational and communication services to other Royal Air Force units that have been deployed. The unit is based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and was formed in April 2006 under the command of a Group Captain. 

The reasoning behind the creation of the Unit was to bring three separate communications Air Combat Service Support Units together under one organisation. 

90 Signals Units historical training facility was created as a hub of learning and as an archive of artefacts steeped in history. These extraordinary remains have bared witness to the rich and proud history of the Royal Air Force expeditionary communications and airfield activation.

Throughout history, RAF communications have been at the forefront of innovation and service, whether it be the ghastly days of World War 2 or the modern contemporary operations taking place across the globe. 

The Historic Training Facility and the artefacts on display have been chosen to reflect the unique history of the development of communications equipment throughout the years and the history of the 90 SU. While it is apparent that the conflict attached to these artefacts cannot be forgotten, the unit has worked tirelessly to make sure that the extraordinary demonstration of technical expertise, passion and resolve of their personnel is the driving force of the facility. 

Here at, we have taken great interest in the Historic Training Facility and we are keen to help support our skilled veterans into a career after they have completed their military service. 

With the cyber security industry growing exponentially, Veterans that have unique skill sets and unrivalled experiences can be trained up to be valuable assets to the sector. We provide training courses and career support to help the transition into a civilian career and the cyber industry as easy and as successfully as it can be.

The History Behind The Facility

90 SU Historical Training Facility was formulated by the RAF to commemorate expeditionary signals and airfield aviation within the Royal Air Force. Such signals can incredibly be traced back to their roots as the Royal Flying Corps use of spark transmitters and the iconic morse code during World War 1. 

With the speedy advance by the Germans in both France and Belgium in June 1941 and the subsequent evacuation of British Soldiers in Dunkirk, the RAF was forced to change the way it viewed operations and communications. 

In December 1940 the Army Cooperation Command looked to develop the ground to air communications. However, this unit was very short-lived as it was disbanded in March 1943. 

Close air support was later developed by Lord Louis Mountbatten. This is air action by fixed or rotary-winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly ground or naval forces. 

Multiple Tactical Signal Units (TSU) were combined after the conclusion of World War Two to form the Tactical Communications Wing in 1969. Since its creation, the unit has been deployed to every area of operations in which the UK has participated. 

The Historic Training Facility was developed by personnel from the 90 Signals Unit using a collection of artefacts as well as information collated from archive evidence and through the cooperation of the Royal Signals, Blandford, Raf Signals Museum, Henlow, and the RAF Museum, Stafford. 

It was officially opened on 12th April 2007 by COS spt, AVM Bob Allan who endorsed both its purpose and its development. Since its opening, it has hosted numerous visitors and VIPs.

Commenting on the history of TCW and support being provided by Steve Stainthorpe stated:
The Royal Air Force (RAF) Tactical Communications Wing (TCW) Historic Training Facility has been a labour of love since its first conception and implementation when I was in the forces. I believe its content and historical significance to Unit, the RAF, wider operational communities and members of the public should be documented, preserved and maintained. Many of the artifacts, equipment and their historical significance remains undocumented, often unknown. Examples such as the ill fortuned Air Ministry Lite Warning Units deployed at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden; Flt Sgt Charley Cox the RAF engineer who was key to the successful Brunel raid in WWII, or the important role TCW played in the Falklands Islands, where TCW teams provided vital communication support to deployed units and later the activation of Stanley airfield, these and almost every operational, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid deployment since the Suez crisis in 1956. This includes the unit’s role in Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Bosnia, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc… up to present day deployments.

It often goes unnoticed the key role RAF enablers and ground forces play in global deployments, with communications and airfield activation equipment vital to the success of any operational or exercise deployment. This has never been more prevalent than in today’s use of cyber hungry systems and environments. However, as experience shows, crisis such as Ukraine, have shown that what some deem as antiquated technologies, such as HF communications, still have a significant part to play in modern warfare. These fundamental skills, aligned to improving existing cyber capabilities, and the ability to recall experiences and knowledge could be key to the RAF, MoD and even societies collective future.

Having served with Steve Cockcroft on multiple operation detachments whilst on TCW and with the support of his community, the ongoing commitment to the HTF project has great synergy and comes with my sincere gratitude and thanks.

Without his help and ongoing support of others, the team and I would not be able to improve and maintain this important facility, artifacts on display, and the units unique historical significance.

I look forward to working with Steve and in order to develop the facility further. My hope is that at some stage we will have a dedicated facility where we can invite wider members of the community and younger generations to view and understand the history and evolution of communications and cyber capabilities within the RAF and indeed the MoD. I am hopeful it will ignite their interest in communications and cybersecurity and the pivotal role it plays in military operations and wider society.

Steven Cockcroft MSc MBCS MCQI CQP added:
As a veteran myself, and an individual deeply involved in the cybersecurity profession, I am delighted to provide support for the ongoing development and maintenance of the RAF Historical Training Facility. As an ex-member of TCW, supporting the work of Steve and his team, which aligns to several other veteran support initiatives I currently have in place and am planning, was an easy decision to make. I have already benefitted from meeting up with ex-colleagues that I have not seen or heard of for over 20+ years. Priceless.

This is the first blog in a series we will release regarding the history of TCW and I trust old and young veterans and non-veterans will find them of interest. 

Our immediate support was for new information boards for the facility, which have all been delivered and for assistance to update the facility website, which is now in progress. 

Next, we look forward to enabling the provision of a new physical facility to hold this important treasure trove of the evolution of communications and cyber in the RAF, which can then be used as a resource to benefit the military, veterans and members of the public.

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