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RAF FYLINGDALES

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Fylingdales is a long-range radar station, which forms part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) and Space Surveillance Network (SSN). It was the third and last of the BMEWS stations to be built; the first two are at Thule, Greenland and Clear, Alaska. The three famous 'golfball' radars were manufactured by RCA and installed in 1963. Each radome, to give the 'golfball' its official name, contained an 84ft. diameter parabolic dish antenna. Two of the radars would track from side to side, one looking for targets at an elevation of 2.5° above the horizontal and the other at 5°. If a target was 'painted' at 2.5° and then 5°, it might be a rocket in its boost phase, so the target would then be tracked by the third radar until its trajectory and any point of impact could be calculated. As well as its early-warning and space-tracking roles, Fylingdales has a third function in that it keeps track of spy satellites used by other countries, so that secret activities in the UK can be carried out when they are not overhead. Fylingdales was also an important site in the North Atlantic Radio System (NARS) - a 'troposcatter' radio network which connected to the USA via stations at Mormond Hill in Aberdeenshire, the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Later a southern link to Martlesham Heath near Ipswich was added. In recent years the original 'golfball' radars have been replaced by a solid-state phased-array radar (SSPAR). This radar consists of a three-sided truncated pyramid about 120 feet high. Each face is about 84ft across and contains an array of 2,560 transmit/receive modules each with a circularly-polarised 'Pawsey stub' antenna. The new radar has the same 3000 mile range as the old one and was declared operational on 1st October 1992.

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