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RAF Aird Uig

Located on Gallan Head in the W of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, RAF Aird Uig was once the site of an important communications and RADAR monitoring station, intended to give early-warning of Soviet attack during the Cold War. Situated a half-mile (1 km) north of the village of Air Uig, the site began with a lookout during the Second World War, who kept watch for enemy shipping. A radar station and an associated military camp, including accommodation blocks, were built here c.1954 and remained in use until 1964. The station continued as an RAF-run radio communications base, with high-frequency and low-frequency transmitters, which became increasingly less dependent on resident staff. This facility moved to Crimond in Aberdeenshire in 2000 and most of the buildings became redundant. A NATO communications system remains operational. Known as the Ship-Shore-Ship Buffer (SSSB), this provides real-time data exchange between naval forces, including aircraft, and their associated air-defence ground units. This system was remotely-controlled from RAF Buchan, but when that establishment closed control passed to RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

Several of the redundant buildings have been put to civilian use and community ownership of the site is being considered, with plans to develop a tourist attraction based on an astronomical observatory and whale listening station.


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