|Near Shefford, Bedfordshire in England|
An entrance to former RAF Chicksands
|Type||Signals intelligence station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force (1936–1950)|
United States Air Force (1950–1996)
|Fate||Transferred to the British Army and became the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC) and the headquarters of the Intelligence Corps. Now the Joint Intelligence Training Group (JITG)).|
Royal Air Force Chicksands or more simply RAF Chicksands is a former Royal Air Force station located 7.7 miles (12.4 km) south east of Bedford, Bedfordshire and 11.6 miles (18.7 km) north east of Luton, Bedfordshire.
It closed in 1997 when responsibility for the camp was taken over by the British Army Intelligence Corps. Near the town of Shefford it is named after Chicksands Priory, a 12th-century Gilbertine monastery located within the perimeter of the camp.
The Crown Commissioners bought the Chicksands estate on 15 April 1936, later renting it to Gerald Bagshawe, who lived there until it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy. After nine months the RAF took over operations and established a signal intelligence collection (SIGINT) unit there, known as a Y Station.
The site operated as a SIGINT collection site throughout the Second World War, intercepting German traffic and passing the resulting material to the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park.
United States Air Force Europe
In 1950 the site was subleased to the United States Air Force serving as the base of the 6940th Radio Squadron, responsible for continued communications and SIGINT operation through the Cold War. The RAF continued to act as a host unit for the resident USAF units, including over time the 6950th United States Air Force Security Squadron, later becoming the 6950th Electronic Security Group and the 7274th Air Base Group.
In 1962, a 1,443 feet (440 m) diameter AN/FLR-9 Wullenweber antenna array was constructed at Chicksands to form part of the Iron Horse HF direction finding network. This antenna array, dubbed the Elephant Cage, was dismantled in 1996 when the USAF withdrew from the site, handing it back to the British Armed Forces.
Return to British Armed Forces control
Since 1997 the site has been the home of the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC) and the Headquarters of the Intelligence Corps. In January 2015, the site was renamed as the Joint Intelligence Training Group (JITG).
JITG conducts training for personnel of all three arms of the British Armed Forces, members of the Civil Service and others. Courses are delivered across the range of Intelligence disciplines.
HMS Ferret is a Royal Naval Reserve training centre formed in 1989 at the Intelligence Corps centre in Ashford. The unit transferred with the Corps and the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre in 1997.
- List of former Royal Air Force stations
- United States Air Forces in Europe
- United States Air Force in the United Kingdom
- "Defence Estates Development Plan (DEDP) 2009 - Annex A" (PDF). GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 17. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- Beatty, Gavin (2010). "Bedfordshire Defence Intelligence and Security Centre". Sanctuary. No. 39. Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). p. 67. ISSN 0959-4132.
- "MOD". Friends of Chicksands Priory. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Defence Intelligence and Security Centre". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "History of the Intelligence Corps" (PDF). Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "The Military at Chicksands Priory". Bedford Council. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
- Klausner, Alexandra (6 September 2014). "Navy's mysterious 'elephant cage' in San Diego will be demolished as secrecy still surrounds what giant antennae discovered in Cold War". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 56116". Aviation Safety Network. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
- Van Der Bijl, Nick (2013). "The Coalition Years; the 1990s". Sharing the Secret; the history of the Intelligence Corps. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. p. 311. ISBN 9781848844131.
- "Bedfordshire - Joint Intelligence Training Group Chicksands". Sanctuary (44): 74. 2015. ISSN 0959-4132.
- "HMS Ferret". Royal Navy. Retrieved 15 June 2016.