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Bloodhound

The Bloodhound SAGW played a crucial role as a component of the UK's air defence during the "Cold War". This Bloodhound article appeared in the Royal Air Force Year Book 1990:

Paul A Jackson

Which RAF interceptor entered service before the now-retired Lightning, yet will remain in front line use for some years yet? The answer is not a manned aircraft - which most people immediately think of - but a missile which silently guards the approaches to Southern England every minute of every day. Like the faithful creature after which it is named, the Bloodhound SAM (Surface to Air Missile) stands prepared to track down any intruder encroaching upon its territory.

In the fast-changing world of aerospace, it has become fashionable to decry any system more than a few years old, the implication being that it is outdated and ineffective. 'Not so' say the men and women responsible for keeping the Bloodhound Force operational as an effective 'goalkeeper' to the fighter aircraft of No 11 Group, RAF Strike Command. Thanks to an ongoing programme of refurbishment and modernisation, the six East Coast flights of Bloodhounds remain the only truly instant, all-weather interceptor force in the RAF.

Deployment of the Bloodhound Mkl began in 1958 at the culmination of a development process begun a decade earlier by the Bristol Aeroplane Co (now part of BAe) and Ferranti Ltd - the latter providing the radar guidance and control post. Bloodhound 1 was used to protect the V-bomber bases and was usually installed nearby. It had a range of 40 miles (64km), but its pulsed radar could be jammed and was vulnerable to ground 'clutter', thus degrading low-level capability. These short-comings were quickly tackled, resulting in Bloodhound 2 joining the RAF in 1964.

Bloodhound was also stationed abroad, and in 1970 (after the Royal Navy had assumed the strategic deterrent role) all systems within the UK were withdrawn and either stored or transferred to RAF Germany, where No 25 Squadron had moved for aerodrome defence. Changing operational requirements later prompted a re-appraisal of this policy in the light of the low-level threat, resulting in No 85 Squadron forming at West Raynham, Norfolk, on 18 December 1975. Now the home of the Bloodhound Force, it had its first missiles operational with 'A' Flight and assigned to NATO on 1 July 1976.



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