GCHQ Bude, formerly called the GCHQ Composite Signals Organisation Station Morwenstow is a satellite ground station located on the north Cornwall coast between the small villages of Morwenstow and Coombe, operated by the British signals intelligence service (GCHQ) on the site of the former World War II airfield, RAF Cleave.
The station comprises twenty one satellite antennas of various sizes (including three that have a diameter of 30 m) that could theoretically cover all the main frequency bands: L band, C band, Ku band, X band, Ka band and V band. Calculated on the basis of their position, their elevation and their compass (azimuth) angle the antennae are generally orientated towards satellites of the INTELSAT, Intersputnik and INMARSAT communications networks over the Atlantic Ocean, Africa and the Indian Ocean, as well as towards the Middle East and mainland Europe. Staff are drawn from GCHQ (UK) and the NSA (U.S.) and the station is operated under the UKUSA agreement, gathering data for the ECHELON signals intelligence (SIGINT) network. Comparable stations in operation include Menwith Hill (UK), Sugar Grove (West Virginia, U.S.), Yakima (Washington, U.S.), Sabana Seca (Puerto Rico), Misawa (Japan), Pine Gap (Australia), Geraldton (Australia), GCSB Waihopai (New Zealand) and GCSB Tangimoana (New Zealand) that cover other INTELSAT areas such as South America and the Pacific Ocean. GCHQ Bude is located about 100 km from the commercially operated Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station that handled civilian communications until 2008.
The activities of GCHQ Bude usually remain classified, however, partly in response to concerns expressed by some EU member states that Morwenstow is responsible for industrial espionage and the interception of civilian communications, a report by the European Parliament (referenced below) was made public in 2001 that provides some details about the station. The Intelligence Services Act 1994 grants GCHQ the power "to monitor or interfere with electromagnetic, acoustic and other emissions and any equipment producing such emissions and to obtain and provide information derived from or related to such emissions or equipment." This includes Blackberry Messenger and audio messages.
The TAT-14 undersea cable landing at Bude was identified as one of few assets of "Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources" of the USA on foreign territory in a diplomatic cable leaked to Wikileaks.
- Schmid, G. (2001-07-11). "Report on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system) (2001/2098(INI))". European Parliament A5-0264/2001. Retrieved 2006-12-21.
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