RAF Fylingdales is Site III, of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. The unit is a vital portion of BMEWS operations, which include the 12th Space Warning Squadron, Thule Air Base, Greenland, 13th Space Warning Squadron, and Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. RAF Fylingdales, United Kingdom, operates and maintains the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. This crew is responsible for missile warning and attack assessment against the United Kingdom and areas of Western Europe and North America. They also provide space surveillance and support the satellite warning service for the UK.
The US Air Force presence at Royal Air Force Fylingdales, U.K., is a Liaison Officer who reports thru the 21st Operations Group. The USAFLO is a bridge to US operations, maintaining mission ready status and advising the RAF Station Commander on U.S. Air Force operational issues. The USAFLO also serves as the Quality Assurance Evaluator for the U.S. Communications contractor.
RAF Fylingdales has a primary mission of maintaining continuous missile warning capability for the United States and United Kingdom, demonstrating that a surprise missile attack could not succeed. Missile warning data is provided to USSPACECOM's Missile Warning Center in Cheyenne Mountain, and UK MWC.
The site's secondary mission is to detect, identify and track man-made objects in earth orbit, contributing to the US Space Surveillance Network. The SSN consists of radar, optical, and passive sensors located throughout the world. The site tracks objects in near earth orbit out to a range of 3000 nautical miles. When an object penetrates the radar's coverage, the radar tracks the object to identify it as a missile or space object. Over the course of one day, a space object can penetrate the radar's coverage multiple times. By day's end, Fylingdales can rack up 55,000 tracks. As part of the identification aspect of space surveillance, the site routinely collects Space Object Identification on numerous objects. SOI can be used to discriminate between a rocket body or satellite payload.
In addition to Missile Warning and Space Surveillance, the site performs a UK specific mission--the Satellite Warning Service for the UK. As the name implies, SWSUK gives UK forces warning of surveillance by satellites of potentially hostile or other nations. Until recently, SWSUK's primary concern was military satellites gathering intelligence. With the increasing availability of imagery from commercial sources, SWSUK now focuses on any satellite that an adversary could use to gather information on UK forces and operations.
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