From the First World War onwards specialist technical equipment has been designed worldwide in order to gather intelligence or to defeat the enemy. In the 100 years since then the technology has developed and advanced into what we know today, and our islands have played an important part in that.
The Ministry of Defence Hebrides Range, which incorporates St Kilda, is one of the largest in Europe. As well as the ground infrastructure it also covers a large sea and air area that is approximately the size of Wales. The Range was originally designed to test and fire Corporal and Lance missiles. The UK armed forces have fired over 27,000 Rapier missiles here over the years, and launched a target Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) for every nine of those. As part of their training nearly every UK Master Gunner and every ground-to-air soldier from the Royal Artillery has gone through exercises at the Hebrides Range.
Not only does the Hebrides Range train UK military but it also supports NATO, and other nations, in their training. The Hebrides Range is a key element of Exercise Joint Warrior which is a multinational live firing exercise across the north of Scotland. This allows those involved to hone their skills by simulating a wide range of realistic modern battlefield scenarios.
Gallery 2 ::: Military Technology
Unmanned Aircraft Technology
On 21 August 1998 the first unmanned aircraft (UAV) to cross the Atlantic – a distance of 3270 km – was the Aerosonde. The flight left Newfoundland in Canada and landed in South Uist in the Outer Hebrides 26 hours and 45 minutes later.
This was an international project involving the University of Washington, the US Office of Naval Intelligence, Boeing, the Australian Meteorological Research Centre and the MOD Hebrides Military Range in the Outer Hebrides. At the time, it was also the smallest aircraft to make the flight across the Atlantic so it made it into the Record Books twice.
Click the image below to magnify:
2001.157 Aerosonde Poster - © Museum & Tasglann nan Eilean
The UK Ministry of Defence Hebrides Range in South Uist was opened nearly 70 years ago, in 1957. The first missiles to be tested here were the Corporal missiles which were the USA and UK’s Cold War nuclear defence. Starburst and Rapier were types of surface to air anti-aircraft missiles used to deter Russian fighter jets which were often spotted off the west coast of Scotland.
Meteorological rockets have also been fired from the Hebrides Range to gather and send weather data. It has also played an important role in the advancement of Scotland and the UK’s Space programme.