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RAF Lossiemouth has become the first Royal Air Force station in the UK to trial a radar system to help protect jets from bird strikes.

Located at the Moray airbase, the coastal station is particularly vulnerable to the risk of bird strikes as it’s also surrounded by a number of pig farms.

Project Winchell is designed to help protect operations against that risk, and will see a 12-month trial with Robin’s MAX® avian radar.

MAX® provides real-time height and positional information of airborne targets in 360 degrees, and can accurately track avian activity as far as 10km and up to a height of 700m.

Flight activity at the base has been broadly reduced in the past during periods of peak bird activity to prevent the chance of a strikes, which prove detrimental to safety and operations. 

But by accurately mapping bird activity in and around the airfield, RAF Lossiemouth will be able to manage and mitigate the risk efficiently to minimise any aircraft downtime.

The valuable research and insight the project provides will also be put into play at other RAF stations in the future, tackling the threat in a more strategic way to reduce the danger and impact of bird strikes on military operations.

Lossiemouth Project Manager, Squadron Leader Douglas Timms, said: "RAF Lossiemouth has a unique bird strike risk due to being a coastal airfield surrounded by farmland containing a large number of pig farms.

"There are high numbers of corvids and seagulls in the vicinity of the RAF base and every winter around 10,000 geese arrive in Findhorn Bay."

Squadron Leader Pete Surtees, Poseidon Crew, said: "I was extremely impressed with both how accurate it was and the fidelity.'' 

"It seemed to accurately depict not only the number and size of the birds but the height, location and direction of travel."