Wednesday, 30 September 2020

RAF base to install 27m replacement radar tower

RAF base to install 27m replacement radar tower

A NEW 27m high radar tower is to be built at RAF Benson.

It will replace an existing radar and the RAF says will ensure air safety for all aircraft operating in and around the base’s airfield.

The tower will be located on the north-western side of the airfield near Observatory Close.

Aquila Infrastructure, of Whiteley, Hampshire, submitted a an application to South Oxfordshire District Council, saying the new radar would be mounted on top of the tower.

Technical services manager Barrie Rickard said that in 2014 the Ministry of Defence entered into a
22-year contract with the company to supply military air traffic control services across the UK and overseas.

He said: “The work is being delivered under the name of the Marshall Programme and includes provision of existing air traffic services and support, with a six-year upgrade programme during which selected equipment and technologies will be replaced and upgraded.

“A critical element of this upgrade is to meet Civil Aviation Authority and Military Aviation Authority legislative requirements for aircraft surveillance.

“Among other things, such as entirely new radar sites, this will involve the upgrade of some existing sites by means of replacement antenna and modern equipment.

“At RAF Benson, Aquila are proposing to install a new radar tower and antenna system with new ground equipment cabin.”

A spokeswoman for the base said: “As part of Project Marshall, the radars that provide air traffic services at RAF Benson are being upgraded to ensure a safe, efficient and sustainable air traffic management service for our armed forces. 

“Radar coverage is currently obtained primarily by two radars located on the airfield.  These are both due to be replaced as part of the project.

“The first replacement will be for the tactical air navigation system, which will use the existing radar tower and will simply see new equipment mounted upon that tower with no additional height added.

“The existing tower is approximately 12m tall.  

“The second surveillance radar requires a new tower. This is expected to be 27.58m in height, including lightning finials, and will ensure air safety for all aircraft operating in and around RAF Benson airfield. 

“While this is slightly higher than the existing tower, it is the minimum height that is required to ensure full radar coverage is obtained and that there is no interference that could impact on air safety, for example, from mature trees in the local area.”

The new surveillance tower was expected to mitigate the need for any trees in the area to be topped or culled.

The spokeswoman added: “All options were considered for the location of the tower to minimise the impact on the local community while ensuring that the required radar coverage was obtained. 

“The chosen site is the only available location on the airfield where the tower can safely be placed to achieve this coverage.”

Aquila says the work does not require planning consent. Because the equipment was required in support of military operations, within an operational MOD site, it could be done under permitted development rights.

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