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44. RAF Buchan, Peterhead. (NK 113 408)

RAF Buchan is a station of the UK Air Surveillance and Control System (UKASACS) and until 2004 acted as the Control and Reporting Centre for the radar sites at Benbecula[12] in the Outer Hebrides and at Saxa Vord[6] in Shetland until the station was automated and most of its operations passed on to the Control Reporting Centre at RAF Neatishead in Norfolk. For the year 2001-2002 it had an operating cost of £19.9 million. The facility has Recognised Air Picture and Weapons Control capabilities and is responsible for coordinating radar surveillance with NATO forces in the North Sea and also with other radar stations in Scandinavia. Control Reporting Centres receive and process information provided round-the-clock by military and civilian radars. In addition to this radar data, they also exchange information using digital data-links with neighbouring NATO partners, Airbourne Early Warning aircraft and ships.

The second UKASACS function is the control of air defence aircraft. Fighter Controllers at Buchan and Neatishead (in Norfolk) provide the tactical control required for Air Defence aircraft such as the Tornado F3 jets of 43 Squadron and 111 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars[101] to police the UK airspace in peace and war.

Information gathered at Benbecula[12] and Saxa Vord[6] is passed via Buchan to the United Kingdom Air Operations Centre (UKCAOC) situated at RAF High Wycombe.

RAF Buchan is currently in the process of being automated, and much of the base went on sale in March 2004. It now operates as a remote radar head, employment at the base being scaled down from a current staff of 357 service personnel, 74 civilian workers, 80 contract staff to 71 service personnel and 14 civilian workers by 2005 when the main RAF Buchan base closes whilst the radar station on the hill will be retained.

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