The Yorkshire Film Archive collects, preserves, and shows film made in, or about Yorkshire. Our collections are non-fiction, dating from the 1890s to the present day, and providing a rich and visually compelling record of all aspects of lives, cultures, landscape, industries, major events and everyday activities, many of which are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
This film is part of Free
The Unsleeping Eye
With the Greenham Women’s Camp doggedly holding out, and Reagan’s “Star Wars” plan in full swing, a behind-the-scenes look at Fylingdales.
From the collection of:
Around about the time that the US were testing the Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser in 1985 as part of their Star Wars programme, we are offered a rare chance to see inside the operations of the ultra-secretive Fylingdales early warning station perched up on the North Yorkshire Moors. The Commanding Officer gives a guided tour for our presenter, and while peace activists camped outside have their say, those favouring nuclear deterrence have centre stage.
It is claimed that Fylingdales is purely an early warning station (“early” being a rather moot choice of word), and not involved in retaliatory action. Nevertheless, the facility, as part of a system of similar stations, does help to give the US the capability to Launch-on-Warning: order a retaliatory launch of nuclear-armed missiles before the arrival of the perceived attack – a policy current at the time (some maintain it still is). The year following this programme a new £160m radar system was announced that some saw as aiding the so-called “Star Wars” project, enabling the US to fire weapons from space. This led to the iconic “golf balls” being replaced by the “pyramid”, which became operational in 1992.