Iconic 'golf ball' vital to UK defence set to make a return to the Northumberland skyline

Nationally important work to upgrade air defence systems at a Northumberland site is expected to be completed within months.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 11:28 am

Ahead of its completion, a new streamlined ‘golf ball’ will return to the skyline near Alnwick.

Covid-19 resulted in slight delays to the works at Remote Radar Head (RRH) Brizlee Wood, part of the network of radar sites under the command of RAF Boulmer.

Some aspects of the upgrade were able to continue with social distancing measures in place even during the height of Covid-19, with some works taking a back seat to allow for adherence to the regulations.

Work in progress on the air defence system at Brizlee Wood, near Alnwick.

There were strict procedures in place to protect all involved, contractors, hotel workers and the wider community to reduce the risk of any contamination.

Flying Officer Stuart Percy, officer commanding Radar North at RAF Boulmer said: “Covid presented significant challenges for everyone involved, but thanks to the robust procedures put in place by both the RAF and Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office works were able to be continued in a safe manner, meeting the original timelines.”

The air defence radar was moved to the operations site, near Lesbury, by the engineering and logistics wing before Christmas and the iconic ‘golf ball’ at Brizlee was dismantled early in the new year.

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

The Brizlee Wood 'golf ball' is being replaced with a new streamlined version.

RAF Boulmer also have responsibility for a number of other remote radar sites around the UK, including RRH Buchan in northern Scotland. Upgrade works have been ongoing at RRH Buchan since early this year, with a projected completion timeline of early 2021.

These planned upgrades are vitally important to the production of the Recognised Air Picture, which RAF Boulmer uses to provide real-time information on potential air threats to UK Airspace.

Round the clock 365 days a year, Brizlee Wood scans the air approaches over the North Sea, giving the UK Air Surveillance And Control System (ASACS) ample warning time to identify and if necessary intercept potential intruders into UK airspace.

In April, two 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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