Craige joins us as a C2/ISR SME within our Collective Training division.
Craige joined the RAF as an Aerospace Systems Operator in January 1987 when the Lightning, Phantom, Shackleton and Bloodhound were the UK’s first line of air defence. He learnt how to write backwards on large perspex boards using chinagraphs, listened intently to Royal Navy ships using HF radios for several hours per day, and filled in thousands of civil aircraft flight plan strips throughout his first tour to RAF Boulmer from May 1987 to July 1989. This period included a 4-month detachment to 303SU Mount Kent, Falkland Islands, and a month deployment to Gibraltar supporting 144SU (pre-1ACC), prior to being posted to RAF Portreath.
Craige applied to be trained as a SNCO Fighter Controller (FC) during his tour at RAF Portreath, which required a return to RAF Boulmer and training at the School of Fighter Control. He qualified as a SNCO FC in November 1992 and completed a further short tour at RAF Boulmer before moving to RAF Buchan in July 1993. Another 4-month tour to 303SU Mount Kent in the summer of 1996 was required before he was posted to the Sentry E-3D at RAF Waddington January 1997. Craige completed multiple tours fulfilling operator, instructor and evaluator duties as a Weapons Controller, Fighter Allocator and Tactical Director on routine missions and training exercises worldwide. In addition, Craige has supported NATO operations over Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, and UK specific operations over Afghanistan and Iraq. He has achieved just short of 5500hrs on the Sentry.
Serving on 8 Sqn from July 1997, Craige supported the Bosnian humanitarian relief effort prior to Op ALLIED FORCE in March 1999. He then moved to an instructional role on 23 Sqn upon promotion to Flight Sergeant in April 2000 before supporting further operational tasking in Afghanistan from October 2001 with numerous deployments until 2003 when the Sentry force began preparing for Op TELIC. Following Op TELIC, Craige was posted to the Sentry Standards and Evaluation (STANEVAL) team in May 2003. He was commissioned within the Ops Support Branch – Air Battlespace Management, in July 2005 when he immediately returned to the Sentry Force as a Weapons Controller before beginning Fighter Allocator training and re-joining 23 Sqn. He was then selected to complete his second tour on the STANEVAL team as a Fighter Allocator in 2007.
Selected to undergo further upgrade training to the position of Tactical Director, Craige qualified in February 2009 when he re-joined 8 Sqn for a second time. During this tour he was selected for the first QWI ISR course that graduated summer 2010. In addition to flying many missions throughout Op ELLAMY in 2011, Craige and his fellow QWI ISR graduates provided SME support, from the force deployed location, to the CAOC staff at Pogio Renatico throughout the operation. Upon his return from Op ELLAMY tasking, Craige was assigned as the 8 Sqn lead for the integration of Sentry into the 2012 London Olympics Air Security Plan, his involvement earning him an Air Component Commander’s Commendation.
Posted to the STANEVAL team for his 3rd tour in 2013, Craige was also the Sentry STANEVAL team leader. His 18 years’ service within the E-3D Force, on several tours, and on numerous operations, were recognised with a SACEUR’s Recognition Award in July 2014. Craige was promoted to Sqn Ldr in July 2015 when he was assigned to 92 Sqn as SO2 C2 & ISR Sensors. He joined a great team that supported the whole force on Op SHADER and through the delivery of the RISING PANTHER and COBRA WARRIOR series of exercises. His final posting was to 56 Sqn in October 2017 as the flight commander for the Wide Area Surveillance, Test and Evaluation flight, where he was responsible for the team’s trials activity for both Sentry and Sentinel aircraft. He leaves the RAF having completed a little over 32 years’ service.
Craige is married to Jane and has one son, Brandon. He tries to maintain a good level of fitness and has recently taken to road cycling again after a 30-year break. He follows most sports although his playing days ended many years ago and his knowledge wouldn’t win any pub quizzes. He enjoys DIY and a spot of gardening, especially with the odd glass of red wine in the summer months.
Welcome aboard Craige!