Concept

RAF Spadeadam

Summary
RAF Spadeadam (pronounced "Spade Adam") is a Royal Air Force (RAF) station in Cumbria, England, close to the border with Northumberland. It is the home of the 9,000 acre (36 km2) electronic warfare (EW) tactics range, making it the largest (by area) RAF base in the United Kingdom. Its primary use is for EW training to the RAF and NATO allies. The site and course of Hadrian's Wall runs a few miles south of the range. The Spadeadam area was remote and largely uninhabited and known as Spadeadam Waste. The name is possibly a corruption of Cumbric ysbyddaden "hawthorn", or "ysbytybrenin" "king's hostel", and in 1950 the recorded pronunciation was spɪdɪdəm. It is mentioned as "Speir Adam" or "Spear Edom" in "Hobie Noble". The site was first built in 1955 to be the test centre for the Blue Streak intermediate-range ballistic missile project. The role of Spadeadam in Britain's Cold War nuclear weapons programme was made public in 2004 when tree felling uncovered remains of abandoned excavations for an experimental missile silo. Spadeadam was probably intended to be one of 60 launch sites planned for remote locations. The Rocket Establishment, as it was called, was divided into five areas: an administration and assembly block, a British Oxygen Company compound for on-site liquid oxygen fuel manufacture, a component test area, the engine test area and the static firing stands. The engine test area at Prior Lancy Rigg consisted of four concrete stands into which the engines could be mounted for test firing. Two rocket-firing stands themselves stood at Greymare Hills and were large enough to accommodate a full Blue Streak missile. The RAF took the site over in 1976 and it became Europe's first electronic warfare tactics range in 1977. The site continues to be used in training the Royal Air Force and NATO allied aircrew in electronic warfare. It also hosts other exercising forces such as JFACTSU forward air controller training delivered from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire. Close air support (CAS) training is carried out too.
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