View Full Version : Fylingdales

David Thompson
05-09-2013, 23:43
I'm surprised there isn't already a thread on this radar station but a short report on tonights BBC Look North from Newcastle , including a nice Pathe News clip of it's construction , reported on the stations up-and-coming 50th birthday . It's hard to believe but the station notches up it's half century of operational service on the
17 September ; 1963 - 2013 .

From the book ' A History - Royal Air Force Fylingdales' by S/L BCF Wilson , published in 1983 by RAF Fylingdales , ISBN 0 9508521 0 4 ,
a plaque in the Tactical Operations Room records ;

"This plaque commemorates the commissioing of Royal Air
Force Fylingdales as Site III of the Balistic Missile Early Warning
System on the 17 September 1963 . This site is a joint enterprise of
the United States of America and Great Britain for the protection
of both the North American Continent and the United Kingdom"

Added to the plaque is ;

"Royal Air Force Fighter Command assumed command of this
site on 15 January 1964"

No doubt there will be more in the press about this anniversary in the coming weeks ? Hopefully !

06-09-2013, 14:10
Pity the poor RAF Bomb Disposal Flight who had to sezrch the entire moor for any metal objects and remove them prior to the radars going into operation!

Peter Kirk
07-09-2013, 16:03
When I was looking into the history of the Manhood range it seemed that clearance of the area by the BD flight was suspended as Fylingdales was a high priority and a lot of manpower was diverted there. I assume it was War Office land before and if so why were RAF BD flights assigned, surely the RE would clear their own mess up? As a possible answer I wonder if it was transferred to the Air Ministry before clearance if so that was a bad move!

Is anyone else having trouble trying not to write Flyingdales?

07-09-2013, 16:18
An RAF BD Flight may have been used as the REs were busy. It must be an odd place to serve at as you wont ever want to actually do the job your there for.

10-09-2013, 15:01
BBC item on "Inside RAF Fylingdales on its 50th anniversary"


9 September 2013 Last updated at 06:21 BST

For 50 years RAF Fylingdales' mission has been to provide an early warning system of a ballistic missile attack for the Western world.

It was built as an early warning station during the Cold War to detect a potential nuclear attack.

Today it has been upgraded to cater for modern needs and its powerful radar beam tracks missiles in every direction as well as tracking space debris.

Presenter Nicola Rees goes inside RAF Fylingdales to see how the base would respond to a potential missile attack.

The item includes a video


10-09-2013, 15:38
Extracted from a 2009 article on the BBC website a section on the then prioposed Missile Defence Shield

The History of RAF Fylingdales

The base began operation in 1963 at the height of the Cold War and less than a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was designed to provide early warning of ballistic missile launches against the UK, Western Europe and the US. The base was known as 'The Golf Balls', because of the three large spherical radar housings that stood on the horizon.

The RAF Fylingdales radar is part of a network of bases that form the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment for the UK and the US. Others include Clear in Alaska, Thule in Greenland, Beale in California and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

The Fylingdales 'Golf Balls' were removed during the late 1980s and replaced by the current phased array radar.

On December 17 2002, the Secretary of State for Defence informed the House of Commons that a request had been received from the US Government to upgrade the existing Early Warning Radar as part of its missile defence programme. The request was granted early the next year.

In August 2007, the upgrade was completed, but is awaiting certification and the capability is only theoretical. The capability to shoot down ballistic missiles would only become possible if plans for radar and missile bases in Eastern Europe become a reality.


David Thompson
16-09-2013, 10:25
There is to be a 50th anniversary reception on Tuesday , 17th , for 800 guests with a flypast and display by The Red Arrows at 11:20 .

David Thompson
17-09-2013, 21:42
Nice photo here of the 'Reds over Fylingdales ;

Can't find much else about the event . I know it's a bit out of the way but not too far away !

Matt W
20-09-2013, 20:04
The moors round Fylingdales were taken over as a Firing Range in 1940. Part of the range was also used as a decoy site (Sneaton Moor - there is a picture in Colin Dobinson's book). After the war the area was retained a Practical Training Area. The ranges were closed following one of the Defence Reviews in the early sixties, the land around Snod Hill being retained for the BMEWS site. RAF BD cleared the site as the RE BD teams were fully committed to clearing other area of range to allow the Forestry Commission to start planting trees.

I was lucky enough to attend the open day on Tuesday as my Father had worked there and my Brother still does. A fantastic display by the Red Arrows, also displays by Tucano, BBMF Spitfire and Sea King SAR. The Typhoon display was unfortunately cancelled due a bird strike, he landed safely at Linton.

21-09-2013, 13:52
As a young lad, my parents & I were on holiday in nearby Fylingthorpe in 1963 and we would occasionally stop on the road passing Fylingdales and watch the progress of the 'golfballs' being built. As we would often use binoculars, my father would occasionally comment 'I wonder if there is anyone watching us watching them - ?'. Now there's a thought - !
On a more nostalgic note, it make you feel old when you see something wondrous being built; and then it is later dismantled because it's obsolete - in your own lifetime - !:D

07-02-2014, 22:51
been inside on an open day.highly recommended place to visit if you're interested in radar

Richard Flagg
19-09-2014, 19:25
A recent photo taken by Fred Pearce


Peter Kirk
19-09-2014, 21:04
Does anyone else see the resemblance to the old sound mirrors?

Matt W
22-09-2014, 00:45
I do! I seem to remember the similarity is mention in the book on sound mirrors (Echoes from the Sky?)