Space Ops Room

Why we are here

Why We Are Here

Since January 1963 the Tracker radars in the famous ‘Golf Balls’ perched amid the bleak North Yorkshire Moors had quietly performed a vital role of helping to keep the peace. In 1992 the Golf Balls were replaced by the Solid State Phased Array Radar, a giant ‘Pyramid’, one of the most sophisticated radars in the worldwide chain of Ballistic Missile Early Warning sensors. Sophisticated radars play a vital part in the strategy of deterrence and detection. In conjunction with the Defence Support Program satellites, the radars provide early warning of a missile attack, enabling responses to be formulated. It is the certainty of this detection that deters attack and forms the basis of the concept of deterrence.

The primary role of RAF Fylingdales is to maintain an uninterrupted missile warning service, thereby demonstrating that a surprise missile attack could not succeed.

The Unit’s secondary role is space surveillance, which forms an essential element of the primary task. Satellites in low Earth orbits, and decaying orbits of space objects re-entering the atmosphere, can easily resemble an incoming missile in flight; therefore, an accurate database of all man-made objects in space is of prime importance to prevent false indications of a missile attack.

Space surveillance also allows us to gather information on the function of various satellites. Many satellites are of a military nature and are capable of gathering intelligence, often being referred to as ‘spy satellites’. They can listen to communications or radar transmissions or may even take photographs, often with the means of sending the data back to Earth immediately. At times our Armed Services may be involved in an operation which is of a sensitive nature and RAF Fylingdales is able to provide a warning service to interested agencies when they are clear of satellite over-flights or when they will be within satellite surveillance range. Our customers include the Armed Forces, HM Government research establishments, Universities and Defence Industry organizations.

Mission Statement for RAF Fylingdales

'To provide an uninterrupted ballistic missile warning and space surveillance service.'

Mission Statement for Air Command

'To generate agile air power and develop capabilities to achieve precise effects across the spectrum wherever and whenever they are required in order to deliver the RAF vision.'

Mission Statement for the Royal Air Force

'An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission.'

Text size: