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Menwith Hill

From Academic Kids

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Menwith Hill

RAF Menwith Hill is an intelligence-gathering base located near the town of Harrogate, UK. Founded in the 1950s to monitor High Frequency radio communications, it has been operated since 1966 by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and has grown to become the worlds biggest spy base outside the US. Nominally a British Royal Air Force facility, only physical security and UK liaison functions are carried out by MOD personnel, the vast majority of the staff being British GCHQ and American NSA employees as well as U.S. military personnel. The base is known as the NSA field station F83.

Up until 2003 the base had a Royal Navy equivalent nearby, HMS Forest Moor. This has since been decomissioned as a Naval base and is now run by civilian contractors with MOD assistance.

The base is highly recognisable by its several dozen radomes ('golf balls'), each containing a satellite dish. Many of these are used for signals interception from communications satellites and are commonly thought to be part of the ECHELON system. Other parts of the site are thought to be used by the Space Based Infrared System employed by the US National Missile Defence program. The latter use of the base, alongside the joint US/UK radar station at Fylingdales was particularly controversial.

The base has attracted significant levels of protest from anti-Nuclear and pro-Peace groups. Some groups have, in an effort to disrupt the activities of the base, staged infiltrations and vandalism to the various radomes.

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