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Case study

Central to the site’s construction would be the provision of a Large Vertical Aperture (LVA) – a piece of equipment critical to air defence, measuring some 7m wide and weighing almost half a tonne. The part is manufactured in Spain and would need to be delivered to Saxa Vord, on the isle of Unst – the northernmost inhabited point of the British Isles.

The first project of this kind in the UK, it would involve the design, construction and security provision for a remotely-monitored RAF site.

With no small distance to travel, and some considerable challenges to transportation, the Logistics team had their work cut out for them. Given its size and nature, the part needed to be transported by road and ferry from Spain to northern Shetland.  The five-day journey entailed two inter-island ferries for the team and the LVA to reach Unst.

At the same time, a range of government bodies – including our team, the RAF, and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) – came together with private sector teams, including businesses in Shetland, to build the facility.

For us, Project Tartarus is a prime example not just of our logistical capacity but of our ability to rise to any challenge.

Construction itself wouldn’t be easy either, but our team is trained for everything. That’s just as well, since Unst is one of the most remote, windy and cold places in the UK, notorious for its unpredictable weather. With soil conditions and terrain less than ideal, and with a natural environment that had to be protected, the team came together to deliver an exceptional end result. All this, without ever impacting the operational capability of the RAF or MoD.  

As well as being a prime example not just of our logistical capacity and of our ability to rise to any challenge, Project Tartarus is a model for how organisations can work together to support one another across government. Over the next two to three years, we’ll deliver seven more remotely-operated, unmanned air defence radar sites like this one, with teams from across the organisation lending their considerable expertise to ensure smooth delivery every time.