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UNITER Buildings

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Scotland was home to three UNITER Buildings, located in Inverness, Prestwick, and Dunfermline.

These were built as part of a larger, national project to provide a Secure Survivable Integrated Network (SSIN) for the RAF which, until then, had been operating a number of diverse networks for voice and data communications, leading to reliability problems and increasing maintenance costs. By 2002, the MoD had implemented the results of its Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and, as a result, had downsized and simplified the system, reducing 46 original RAF sites to 32. At the beginning of 2008, all three Scottish sites were offered for sale by the MoD.

The buildings were hardened to resist direct attack from weapons such as missiles, with reinforced concrete walls 2 feet thick, a single entrance protected by a specially designed steel door with a unique locking system, a steel emergency exit, no exterior windows or vents, and intended to be completely self-contained for anything up to three months, with their own oil fuelled generators and air-conditioning, independent water supply, and supplies for personnel. Generally single storey buildings with flat roofs, Inverness features sections of pitched roof, while Dunfermline has a small first floor section housing a water tank, fed from a local borehole.

The end of the Cold War, in 1991, prompted the SDR and led to the UK Defence Fixed Telecommunication Services (DFTS) agreement, which saw civilian organisations being offered the opportunity to manage networks on behalf of the military. The deal was won by the INCA consortium, led by BT and worth 997 billion over ten years. INCA beat a rival consortium led by Racal, and BT became the prime contractor within the consortium which includes GEC-Marconi, Lockheed Martin and Oasis. All UK fixed assets were sold to BT, with the exception of UNITER, which remained the property of the MoD, and was to be managed by Marconi Integrated Systems in a separate agreement worth 120 million over seven years, to be monitored by the MoD.

Photographs

Dunfermline UNITER building, 2002,  David Neale
Dunfermline UNITER building
David Neale
Inverness UNITER building, 2006
Inverness UNITER building
Des Colhoun


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