Critical upgrade to protect the UK's airspace set to resume at Northumberland site

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Nationally important work to upgrade air defence systems is set to restart at a Northumberland site.

Infrastructure works at Remote Radar Head (RRH) Brizlee Wood, near Alnwick, were shut down in recent weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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A new streamlined ‘golf ball’ is due to be installed, the radar will be reinstated and air defence activities will resume from the original site.

The 'golf ball' at RRH Brizlee Wood.The 'golf ball' at RRH Brizlee Wood.
The 'golf ball' at RRH Brizlee Wood.

Station Commander RAF Boulmer and Director Battlespace Management Operations, Group Captain ‘Chesh’ Cowieson said: “This critical air defence upgrade project started in December 2019 and after a brief pause, it will recommence at pace to meet the operational output whilst taking advantage of the spring and summer weather windows, given the relatively remote and exposed location.”

Extensive planning and robust measures relating to COVID-19 Risk factors and controls has been undertaken to ensure the project continue to adhere to national guidelines on social distancing and protecting both the workforce and local communities.

Public Health England and Northumberland County Council have been notified of the works and COVID-19 risk planning and have given authorisation to continue with works as planned.

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Contractors will have sole use of a hotel in the local area and will only travel between the site and their accommodation for the duration of this project, or until the strict social distancing measures are removed.

There are strict procedures in place to protect all involved, contractors, hotel workers and the wider community to reduce the risk of any contamination. The team will conduct regular review of their procedures to ensure the risks are as low as reasonably practicable.

Recently, two Russian Tu-142 ‘BEAR-F’ highlighted the need to secure the skies above the north of the UK in the long term.

On April 28, the Russian aircraft approached from the North East and flew in international airspace over the Norwegian and North Seas. At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace.

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Communications and radar support was provided by the Air Surveillance and Control System (RAF Boulmer).

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