QinetiQ and the Ministry of Defence are to invest £16.8 million in new radar equipment
as part of an ongoing programme to modernise the South Uist rocket range.
Equipment on St Kilda will be replaced while two existing radars in South Uist will
be upgraded. They will be fully functional by Spring 2020.
The Hebrides range which operates jointly from the remote Atlantic archipelago and
Uist is being upgrading with new missile testing equipment and range infrastructure
to meet the requirements of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract.
The Hebrides modernisation is said to be worth £60 million and should secure jobs
for another 12 years.
A smaller test base in Aberporth in Wales will undergo a £35 million redevelopment
as part of the scheme previously agreed with the MoD and private operator, QinetiQ.
QinetiQ previously said both sites are secured until at least 2028 as the modernisation
would reduce the overall running costs, ensuring they remained competitive and encourage
foreign armies to hire the base for missile testing.
Cathy O’Carroll, QinetiQ’s group director for test and evaluation said: ““These new
radars will help ensure that more complex work can be carried out at the range.”
They will provide a “step change in what we are able to deliver for our customers
and ensure that the UK MOD are getting real value for money.”
Hebrides Range has the largest area for the live firing of rockets and missiles of
any UK range, providing a secure environment for test and evaluation, and training
for air, sea and ground launched weapons.
In 2009, there was a massive community campaign to rescue the range which was threatened
with savage jobs losses amid plans to downgrade it.
Two years ago a major international war games event chose the Hebrides Range in South
Uist to test out modern warfare.
It included the United States testing its technically complex ballistic missiles
The American Navy blasted the Terrier Orion missile into space from South Uist, in
its first test of its kind outside US soil.