|Near Shefford, Bedfordshire in England|
Shown within Bedfordshire
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force
United States Air Force
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 being rented 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.
During the annual airshow, on 7 July 1979, Colonel Thomas Thompson piloting an Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II crashed approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of the site and was killed.
Return to British Armed Forces control
DISC 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
- Friends of Chicksands Priory
- RAF Chicksands, England - USAF Message Board
- Chicksands Offices - Mid Beds District Council
- Thunderbolt A-10 Down - Airshow crash