BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 20:26 GMT
Fylingdales: Radar on the Moors
Protesters at Fylingdales in November this year
The base has been targeted by anti-nuclear protests
The US is reportedly set to ask Britain for permission to run its controversial missile defence system from a radar station in North Yorkshire.

RAF Fylingdales stands as a landmark structure on the North Yorkshire Moors, a giant three-sided building giving an eye-catching contrast to the landscape.

Picture of former radar spheres (taken in 1994)
The famous golf-ball shaped radars have now been demolished

It was first opened in 1962 as a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.

The station still serves that purpose but also has a secondary duty of detecting, reporting and tracking satellite launches and orbits.

The data it produces is shared with the UK and US.

The station was originally famous for its three golf-ball shaped radars, which were replaced in 1980 with a pyramid-shaped radar.

This advanced radar is capable of tracking missiles launched by rogue states or terrorists.

Upgrade needed

The plan is that the radar base would be used to provide vital mid-course tracking data on any incoming enemy missile.

This would be used to trigger other US-based radars, which together would guide an interceptor missile to the enemy target.

If adopted as part of the US nuclear defence system, Fylingdales would need to undergo an upgrade.

The first changes would likely be mainly software related, but an expansion of the US defence system would probably call for hardware changes too.

A discussion paper, released by the Ministry of Defence last week comments that changes would be unlikely to alter the appearance of the radar.

The radar base, due to its nature, is a target for anti-nuclear campaigners.

Alarm

A series of protests have been taking place at the base and its near neighbour Menwith Hill - a US signals intelligence station.

These have involved CND and human rights campaigners, furious at the prospect of greater activity at the site.

Campaign banner at a protest in November this year
Campaigners fear the expansion of the radar base

US interest in developing the site has been in evidence in recent months.

In November it hosted a visit by US General Ronald Kadish, the man in charge of testing and development.

His presence there alarmed activists who staged a protest, claiming that his visit would lead to Britain hosting the Son of Star Wars project.

Lawrie Quinn, Labour MP for Whitby and Scarborough, has urged the government to consult local people about the future of RAF Fylingdales.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Talking Point: UK missile defenceMissile defence
Will Britain's cooperation make it safer?
See also:

14 Dec 02 | Politics
04 May 01 | UK
09 Dec 02 | Politics
20 Feb 02 | Politics
13 Jul 01 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes