RAF Fylingdales - whose motto is 'always watching' and is capable of spotting an object the size of a drinks can from 3,000 miles into space - has celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton, the professional head of the RAF, was joined by General James Dickinson, the Commander of United States Space Command to mark 60 years since the base in the North Yorks Moors became operational.

Joining them were several senior representatives from the military, commercial sector, and academia, to commemorate six decades of service since September, 1963, by the UK’s primary military space sensor. There was also a flyover of a Battle of Britain Spitfire.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The VIP party in front of the SSPAR Solid-State Phased Array Radar

A joint operation between the UK and US, Fylingdales primary duty is its ballistic missile early warning system - ensuring a surprise missile attack cannot succeed.

It is also concerned with looking into space - its personnel routinely carry out 10,000 to 12,000 tracks of objects in 'low earth orbit' every day and its radar can detect objects the size of a drinks can up to 3,000 miles into space.

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Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command, said: “For 60 years, the whole force team of military, civil service, and contractors at RAF Fylingdales has provided an essential missile warning service to the UK and its allies.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Chief of the Royal Air Force with the Commander of US Space Command

"Today, its space surveillance capability is enabling us to track thousands of objects in space. Daily life around the world depends on space satellites and systems, and Fylingdales has never been more important as we work to keep space safe, secure, and sustainable."

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Wing Commander Thom Colledge, Station Commander of RAF Fylingdales, added: "The 60th anniversary is a milestone that reflects a legacy of collective safeguarding through cooperation and shared interests between the United Kingdom and our United States partners.

"The unit’s motto is Vigilamus, 'always watching', and our mission has expanded from Missile Early Warning to include Low Earth Orbit space monitoring in response to the growing importance and use of that domain.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Commander of US Space Command with the Station Commander of RAF Fylingdales

Fylingdales’ three distinctive ‘golf ball’ radomes became an unmistakable landmark until their replacement in 1992 by the pyramid shaped Solid-State Phased Array Radar (SSPAR).

The base was established as a joint venture between the RAF and the US Air Force, and it remains a joint enterprise between the UK and the US Space Force.

RAF Fylingdales now sits under the responsibility of UK Space Command, UK Defence’s lead organisation for space operations, capability, and workforce.

Darlington and Stockton Times: •	Close-up of the Spitfire

It also operates as part of Space Delta 4, a US Space Force unit that provides strategic and theatre missile warning to the US and its international partners.

RAF Fylingdales is also an integral part of the local community with approximately 320 personnel, including military, Ministry of Defence Police, civil servants, and contractors.

The base has provided employment opportunities, supported local businesses, and engaged in various community initiatives.