RRH Benbecula

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RRH Benbecula
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
North Uist, Outer Hebrides in Scotland
Radar dome at RRH Benbecula
RAF Benbecula Badge.jpg
(Scottish Gaelic for 'Watchful or On Guard')
RRH Benbecula is located in Outer Hebrides
RRH Benbecula
RRH Benbecula
Shown within the Outer Hebrides
Coordinates57°37′02″N 007°26′46″W / 57.61722°N 7.44611°W / 57.61722; -7.44611Coordinates: 57°37′02″N 007°26′46″W / 57.61722°N 7.44611°W / 57.61722; -7.44611
TypeRemote Radar Head
Area6 hectares (15 acres)[1]
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byNo. 1 Group (Air Combat)
Radar typeLockheed Martin AN/TPS-77 (Type 92) Air Defence Radar
Site history
Built1980 (1980)
In use1980 – present
Garrison information
OccupantsRadar Flight (North)

Remote Radar Head Benbecula or RRH Benbecula, is an air defence radar station operated by the Royal Air Force. It is located at Cleitreabhal a'Deas, 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Lochmaddy on the isle of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

The radar site was previously known as RAF Benbecula, the name having previously been associated with an RAF airfield on the island of Benbecula (now known as Benbecula Airport) and a nearby weapons testing range (now known as MoD Hebrides).


Radar station[edit]

Although Benbecula Airport is now a civilian airfield, a military presence remained and the RAF Benbecula name continued when a radar station was established.[2] A control and reporting centre, part of the UK Air Surveillance And Control System (ASACS), was constructed at the airfield which linked it to RAF Buchan in Aberdeenshire.[3]

The station was downgraded in the late 1990s to a remote radar head and the RAF pulled-out of the main airfield site at Benbecula. Initially under the command and control of RAF Buchan, responsibility was transferred to RAF Boulmer in Northumberland in September 2004.[4]

Benbecula operated several radar types until the Type 92 (more widely known out-with RAF service as the Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-117 ) came into service in the 1980s. The Type 92 was replaced in 2015 with a new Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-77 system. The new radar was funded by wind farm developers and was installed in order to help reduce the impact of interference from wind turbines.[4][5][6]

Weapons range[edit]

The British Army also had a large presence in the Outer Hebrides, operating the artillery Deep Sea Range on South Uist. This role was passed to the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (eventually to become QinetiQ), who remain at the Benbecula and South Uist sites, collectively known as MOD Hebrides.[7]


The radar collects data as part of the UK Air Surveillance And Control System (ASACS) based at RAF Boulmer. From there the station is monitored and controlled to support the creation of the recognised air picture for the United Kingdom.[6][8] The radar site also accommodates several types of VHF and UHF ground-to-air transmitters.[9]

Radar Flight (North) of the ASACS Engineering & Logistics Squadron based at RAF Boulmer has command and control of RRH Buchan and ensures its operational availability.[8]

As part of a major upgrade of RRH sites around the U.K. the MOD began a programme titled HYDRA in 2020 to install new state of the art communications buildings, radar towers and bespoke perimeter security.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Defence Estates Development Plan 2009 – Annex A". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Benbecula Airport, Airfield". Canmore – National Record of the Historic Environment. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  3. ^ "MoD Radar upgrades: Buchan and Benbecula". Pager Power. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  4. ^ a b "RAF Boulmer". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Minutes of the Aviation Management Board Meeting - 17 July 2015" (PDF). GOV.UK. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Sudbry, Amy (24 February 2014). "MOD radar upgrades: Buchan and Benbecula". Pager Power. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  7. ^ "MOD Hebrides". LTPA. Qinetiq. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Radar Flight North". RAF Boulmer. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  9. ^ "UK VHF and UHF Frequencies". Javiation. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Upgrading RAF Remote Radar Heads". 17 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Behind the scenes of Programme HYDRA". 23 June 2021.