Well, budget cuts or no, the base was being rebuilt. No wonder, with the Middle East being what it is, RAF Akrotiri is guaranteed to be a busy place for many years to come. The runways are being repaved, weeds whacked, the terminal is shrouded in scaffolding, the forests of aerials are trimmed and sprouting some new masts already. All par the course.
Something is amiss, though.
Both radio sites are being renovated, despite the fact that the Lincolnshire Poacher went off the air two years ago. You’d expect a teardown – but there is a new building there, sporting a radome and heavy-duty powerlines. It looks like an over-the-horizon radar – if you ignore the decidedly suboptimal placing. The fence around the numbers station site has also been redone: now it’s electrified and has entirely too many sharp corners decorated with menacing trapezoid concrete slabs – the outline is vaguely familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it. The site looks heavily patrolled, extremely heavily for a supposedly disused installation – but I don’t really think it’s disused anymore. The Cypriots are complaining that something on the base interferes with radio reception, some guy even chained himself to a fence here. There were also other, rather more troubling reports. Violent crime rate in Limassol, just next door, spiked perceptibly. Princess Mary Hospital has an influx of people suffering from anxiety and vision problems. MUFON parked an observer in Limassol and the guy is blogging enthusiastically about “waiting for another ghost ship sighting”, whatever it is. Something is up, I just have no idea what.
And then suddenly everything clicks together. I think one of the Royal Navy flags made me connect the dots.
Radio interference means the site is transmitting, obviously. It interferes with more than radios, though. The people nearby are obviously affected: “anxiety and vision problems” is milspeak for “I saw some shit that freaked me out thoroughly”, and violent crime is understandable if you can no longer carry a civil conversation with voices in your head and somebody takes offence. The chain-myself-to-the-fence guy has chosen the numbers station site instead of the more impressive antenna farm closer to town, seems like he somehow knew where the source was. As for the fence itself, it’s either a straight-up Dee heptacle protection ward or a creative interpretation thereof. A quick look around the base for confirmation – yes, I can see two upscaled versions of these trapezoid slabs, under construction in the corners of the base area. They will probably test and fine-tune the transmitter until the fence – and the ward – is complete.
And the flag?
The flag, the White Ensign, is basically a red cross, with a small Union Jack in the corner. Red cross on white is a Knights Templar flag. The Cyprus was theirs once, with Limassol as their headquarters. I think the question is no longer what they transmit, or to whom. I think the question is to when they transmit, and what will happen when the big ward is closed and they turn the transmitters to full power.