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13 March 2008
RAF FYLINGDALES, U.K.
The U.S. Air Force presence at Royal Air Force Fylingdales, U.K., is a liaison officer who reports through the 21st Operations Group. The USAFLO is a bridge to U.S. 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 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, and 13th Space Warning Squadron, Clear Air Force Station, Alaska.
Satellite Warning Service for the United Kingdom
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 the Missile Warning Center in Cheyenne Mountain, and U.K. MWC. The unit has also recently taken on a fourth mission to support the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System to counter the threat of a ballistic missile attack.
The site's secondary mission is to detect, identify and track man-made objects in earth orbit, contributing to the U.S. 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 3,000 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 information on numerous objects. SOI can be used to discriminate between a rocket body or satellite payload.
Satellite Warning Service for the U.K.
In addition to missile warning and space surveillance, the site performs a U.K. specific mission - Satellite Warning Service. As the name implies, SWSUK gives U.K. 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 U.K. forces and operations.