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RAF Fylingdales Celebrates Radar Anniversary

fylingdales radar

Published by the Yorkshire Coast Radio News Team at 6:02am 2nd November 2017. (Updated at 6:53am 2nd November 2017)

RAF Fylingdales are celebrating the silver anniversary of their 'sand castle' radar.

25 years ago, it replaced the famous 'golf ball' radars that were an instantly recognisable feature in the area. 

It's a big landmark for the force because RAF Fylingdales' primary mission is to warn for missiles. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year passing information to both the UK and US governments through the UK Space Operations Centre and Head Quarters Northern Region Air Defence. 

It also operates as surveillance, routinely tracking about 60% of the detectable debris out to low Earth orbit and contributing to the US Space Surveillance Network. 

The information is also passed to the UK Space Operations Coordination Centre as well as data which contributes to the satellite warning service, over flight and re-entry roles delivered to the Ministry of Defence and UK forces deployed world wide. 

The original 'golf ball' radars were replaced with the current 'sand castle' Solid State Phased Array Radar (SSPAR) in 1992. 

That was then further upgraded to an Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR) in 2008 and became part of the US Missile Defence System on 2011. 

Wing Commander Darren Whiteley said:

"When the 'golf balls' were here from 1962 until 1992, the introduction of that new radar was basically a step change in technology. 

So the old 'golf balls' were very mechanical whereas this is a very electronic system and it just improves what the team can do here.

Whilst the new radar doesn't have the same appeal to non-military people, the mission is very much the same, it was an improvement. 

The 'golf balls' were, and continue to be, very important to people. Personally, I was amazed that is 25 years since they were here. 

When i took over last year, it didn't seem that long ago that they'd gone."

 

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