Apr 28, 2021 I Nick Redfern

Rendlesham Forest’s “Radar Ruse” and a Secret Experiment: Hiding the Truth

During the course of the events that occurred in and around Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England in December 1980, rumors circulated suggesting that radar tapes were taken from the Royal Air Force Watton base by U.S. Air Force personnel, who wanted to examine the alleged UFO evidence and see what, exactly, the tapes showed. This part of the story began in January 1981 with a writer named Paul Begg. It turns out that Begg knew a serviceman who was aware of something of the UFO incidents. It wasn’t long before Jenny Randles was able to speak with this particular source. Not wanting to jeopardize the man’s career, Randles chose to refer to him as "David Potts." It was Potts who was able to put the pieces together. Potts told Randles that it was on December 29 when the Americans turned up at RAF Watton. Jenny learned that they took not just the radar-based data, but even the logbook for the relevant time. There was a very strange facet to all of this: the U.S. agents openly stated to their Royal Air Force counterparts that they needed the material because a craft from another world had come down in Rendlesham Forest. And they had orders to secure and scrutinize whatever material was available. While there is no reason at all to think that Potts was lying, the fact is that U.S. intelligence operatives simply would not stroll into a U.K. military base and loudly spout off about a crashed UFO. That’s not how the military works. And it’s certainly not how secrets are kept.

Clearly, and obviously, the Americans were there to further sow the seeds of the UFO story that had been created to hide the truth of the December experiments. No doubt, they knew that those who worked at RAF Watton, and who had been told the story by their American colleagues, would have a hard time keeping quiet on a hot potato like that! And, as history has shown, David Potts did not stay quiet. He went on to become a significant figure in the radar-based angle of the story. While the more sensationalized RAF Watton story has never been vindicated, there is proof that the base was involved to some degree. For example, in October 1988 I was directly informed by Squadron Leader E.E. Webster of RAF Watton: "Our log book for the period does indeed say that a UFO was reported to us by RAF Bentwaters at 0325 GMT on 28 December 1980 but that is all the information we have.” There is, however, more to come. On October 2, 1983, the News of the World newspaper reported that, "The first sighting of the craft over England was recorded on a radar screen" at RAF Watton. The NOTW added that, “Radar operators followed the progress as it flew over the East Coast until it disappeared."

Moving ahead, in July 2015 the BBC took a look at the radar-driven side of all this. They told their readers: "New evidence has been gathered to back up claims a UFO landed near a U.S. airbase in Suffolk, a former deputy commander has claimed. Col. Charles Halt told the BBC he saw unidentified objects at Rendlesham Forest in December 1980. He says he now has statements from radar operators at RAF Bentwaters and nearby Wattisham airfield that an unknown object was tracked at the time." The BBC got to the heart of the matter, as it relates to radar. They quoted Charles Halt as saying: "I have confirmation that (Bentwaters radar operators) ... saw the object go across their 60 mile (96km) scope in two or three seconds, thousands of miles an hour. He came back across their scope again, stopped near the water tower, they watched it and observed it go into the forest where we were," said Col Halt. At Wattisham, they picked up what they called a 'bogie' and lost it near Rendlesham Forest. Whatever was there was clearly under intelligent control.”

As fascinating as all of the above sounds, I'm still of the opinion that the "crashed UFO" story that circulated in the wake of the Rendlesham affair (and at Royal Air Force Watton) was deliberately created to hide something more down to earth: a top secret military experiment. In the next part of the story, I'll demonstrate how easy it would have been for the team that ran the experiment to have made it look like UFOs were being monitored by radar, when in reality, the whole thing was a brilliant ruse.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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