Unit History: RAF Buchan
RAF Buchan is a Royal Air Force station near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. It has been there since 1952, although the domestic site in Boddam is now closed. Until 2005 it was also home of one of the two Control and Reporting Centres for the United Kingdom in the form of an impressive two story underground bunker (R3). As such it was responsible for coordinating all aspects of air defence as part of The United Kingdom Air Surveillance and Control System (UK ASACS).
The Type 92 radar, now operated remotely, is housed in a pressurized Radome. Until 1994 the base also operated a Type 80 radar and a Westinghouse TPS-34 amongst others.
In 1979 operations moved into interim facilities above ground whilst the ’R3’ underground operations block was refitted, this involved the excavation of one side of the ’R3’ and another bunker of similar size was constructed alongside to provide secure facilities for stand by generators, power cleaning and air filtration. The Buchan Interim Fit (BIF) building housed the GL-161 computer system associated with the TPS-34 radar, both acquired from No 1ACC.
Soviet aircraft transiting between Murmansk in northern Russia and Cuba were routinely intercepted and escorted by live armed fighter aircraft whenever they entered United Kingdom airspace. Following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, RAF Buchan took on the executive control of air defence in the UK’s northern airspace, reducing RAF Saxa Vord and RRH Benbecula to Remote Radar Heads while Buchan became a Control Reporting Centre. Throughout the remainder of the station’s lifetime its role was gradually sidelined in favour of the UK’s other Control Reporting Centre at RAF Neatishead.
In 2003 it was announced that permanently manned operations were to cease at RAF Buchan in 2005. At that time the Royal Air Force’s now obsolete Integrated Command and Control System would be switched off, and air defence functions would be taken over by the Universal Command and Control System at RAF Boulmer and RAF Scampton. Ultimately, however, Neatishead closed before Buchan following spending reviews.
Manned operations formally ceased at RAF Buchan on 26 November 2004 and the domestic site was officially downsized on 31 March 2005. A large part of the original site is now home to the 2nd Battalion, The Highlanders, Royal Regiment Of Scotland, Army Cadet Force.
The domestic site was purcased in October 2005 by Military Asset Management Ltd with plans to revitalise the site for the benefit of the local economy.
In 2009 the Officers Mess was converted into a four star hotel named Buchan Braes Hotel.
Memories of RAF Buchan
(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)
RAF Buchan in 1960
Written by Brian Jamieson
Winning the 13 Group Fighter Command Football cup at RAF Boulmer against RAF Ouston 2-1 in extra time.