RAF Benbecula

(West Camp Balivanich)

Historically located on the island of Benbecula in the Western Isles, but now reduced to a remotely-monitored radar head on South Clettraval on North Uist, RAF Benbecula provides long-range surveillance of the North Atlantic airspace as part of the UK Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS). Established as an airfield at Balivanich during World War II, its importance as a radar monitoring station came to the fore during the Cold War. Operators sat at radar screens in a blockhouse at Balivanich until the late 1990s, when control of the radar head on South Clettraval fell to RAF Buchan. In 2004, operation of both RAF Buchan and RAF Benbecula transferred to RAF Boulmer in Northumberland. The current long-range radar system was designed and built by US-based Lockheed Martin.

The large former radar control building at Balivanich was stripped and sold off c.2005, along with several other buildings which formed part of the RAF base. QinetiQ (formerly the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) runs the West Camp to provide accommodation, stores and support for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Hebrides Missile Range. The runways jointly serve Benbecula Airport and the MoD.

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