It has been claimed that Chinese officers who attended an RAF training course spent much of their free time ‘spying’ on RAF Fylingdales, a radar base part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.

Lt G Huang and Capt S Tong reportedly made many two hour trips from Royal Air Force College in Cranwell, Lincolnshire, to RAF Fylingdales, in Yorkshire.

The RAF have now confirmed that two officers in question were in the UK to complete the basic Initial Officer Training, a course with 102 cadets from the Philippines, Jordan, Ukraine and China.

The Chinese officers that completed the course were at the very start of their military training and the Ministry of Defence claim they did not receive access to sensitive information or any classified areas.

This comes after the Strategic Defence and Security Review UK set out plans to invest in a ground-based ballistic missile defence radars and also investigate the potential of the Type 45 Destroyers to operate in a ballistic missile defence role.

The UK’s current and only ballistic missile defence radar is at RAF Fylingdales, speculation suggests that either a site in the UK or Cyprus will house a new system.

While the radar station at RAF Fylingdales remains a British asset operated and commanded by the Royal Air Force, it also forms one of three stations in the United States BMEWS network. The other two stations in the network are Thule Air Base, Greenland and Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. The data obtained by Fylingdales is shared fully and freely with the United States, where it feeds into the US-Canadian North American Aerospace Defence Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. To this end a United States Air Force liaison officer is stationed at the base.

In addition, the UK will also support “research and development initiatives and multinational engagement through the UK’s Missile Defence Centre “.

The relevant section of the Strategic Defence and Security Review states:

“The UK has been under constant threat from ballistic missiles since the Second World War. But states outside the Euro-Atlantic area and non-state actors are now acquiring ballistic missile technology. The threat faced by the UK, our Overseas Territories and our military bases has evolved. We will continue to commit significant funds to the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) network, as well as supporting research and development initiatives and multinational engagement through the UK’s Missile Defence Centre. We will invest in a ground-based BMD radar, which will enhance the coverage and effectiveness of the NATO BMD system. We will also investigate further the potential of the Type 45 Destroyers to operate in a BMD role.”

The Missile Defence Centre is a UK Government and industry partnership for working with allies and partners on ballistic missile defence issues.

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5 years ago

I can understand upgrading the type 45 to take out ballistic missiles, as a the trend is towards this type for anti-ship warfare, but a ground station doesn’t make any sense, and the current ground station even less so. What is the point of the current station, as we do not have any zone based anti-missile systems, so, I assume it is there to monitor for missiles heading for the US (at which point we shouldn’t be paying for it), since if a missile is heading to the UK, all we can do is go ‘ooh look at that’ and… Read more »

David McKevitt
David McKevitt
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Well, we also have a drawer full of strongly worded letters; let’s not forget about those!! It’s laughable! How about we raid the Foreign Aid budget to pay for armed forces with real teeth. Our service men and women are the best anywhere in the world and they deserve the best from their government! Sadly, we all know successive British governments have done defense on the cheap, so we know what that means…..

5 years ago

I wouldn’t be opposed to the MOD developing a land based variant of the Type45 radar at locations on UK soil such as the former RAF base at Peterhead or next to me at Kinloss. Same could be done in the south. They had one built for training and development purposes.
I wouldn’t oppose the land use of the Aster missile at similar locations for BMD though that would probably breach a treaty somewhere I’m sure.