Military bases are often like any other large facility, filled with collections of standard buildings and everything you would expect to find in a complex of such size. More often than not, they will simply be used to house and train troops and to serve as a headquarters for military operations in a particular area. However, the need to have bases that are able to carry out a much wider range of activities, has led to some facilities that have highly unusual purposes. The fact that some of them also need to be built in strange places, means that some have bizarre designs in order to be viable in inhospitable conditions. This article will look at those types of military bases; the oddest examples that governments have actually created to carry out their military functions.
10 Thule Air Base
The Thule Air Base is the United States' most northerly military installation, located deep within the Arctic Circle. It essentially acts as an early warning system, able to detect any intercontinental ballistic missiles that may arrive from enemies such as Russia. It also has a more modern purpose, in that it is used to monitor space traffic and detect any anomalies above the Earth’s atmosphere. Its location means that it has to endure extreme cold and dryness, a big challenge for those who built the base. To overcome many of the most important problems, the base was built on a thick layer of ice that remains permanently frozen, and all the sewage and wiring is kept above ground so that it can remain warm and be accessed easily in case of any problems.
9 Pine Gap
Pine Gap is the name that is most commonly used for the military base that is officially known as the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap. Jointly operated by the United States and Australia, the facility offers various agencies, including the CIA and NSA, access to surveillance equipment to monitor for potential threats and to gather data to be used for carrying out drone strikes in the Eastern Hemisphere. Built in the middle of a desert, near Alice Springs, it is most unusual due to the collection of white radomes that protect the antennas of the base.
8 Devil’s Tower Camp
Devil’s Tower Camp is a large military base in the British controlled Gibraltar. The territory has been under British control since 1713, and a regiment of soldiers has almost always been present to ensure that the U.K. does not lose an important strategic location. The current garrison of troops operates out of Devil’s Tower Camp (the base also has the facilities to train soldiers in a variety of distinct disciplines). These include tunnel warfare in a specially built underground network, parachuting, diving and even a model town to provide urban warfare training.
The united States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is a facility that sites in Fort Detrick, Maryland. It is a U.S. army base that is home to efforts at creating defense measures against biological warfare. The base holds samples of a number of diseases, such as anthrax and the plague, and has played an important role in developing vaccines that are used by the public. Due to the nature of the type of material it contains, the entire base needs to be airtight at all times, to ensure nothing contaminated can escape. Safety measures include high-level filtration systems, double-door airlocks and buffer spaces to protect from explosions.
6 Kwajalein Atoll
The Kwajalein Atoll military base is a Pacific island military complex, similar to the other bases located in the surrounding areas such as a Guam. However, it is significantly smaller than its neighbors. Made up of a collection of more than eleven islands leased from the Republic of the Marshall Island, they offer a perfect site for a military base due to the fact that it is so isolated and free from radio communication waves that could interfere with tests. The workers who operate the base and conduct ballistic missile tests, amongst other things, often have to travel long distances to get to the individual facilities, as many of the islands have no living quarters.
Duga-3 was a huge Russian radio antenna in Ukraine. The vast structure made up a significant part of the radar system used by the Soviet Union to detect incoming enemy attack in the form of missiles. It sent out incredibly powerful radio waves that could be heard around the world on various devices from the day it was turned on in 1976, as a regular knocking sound. This led to it being given the nickname of Russian Woodpecker. The vast array was turned off in 1989, and since then, has been abandoned, used only by amateurs to transmit messages as it sits in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl disaster.
4 Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker
From the outside, the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker may look like the lair of a super villain in a James Bond movie, built straight into the mountain itself. In reality, it was the original home of NORAD and the Air Force Space Command, and was designed to be able to detect any missile attack on the United States, as well as be able to withstand attacks from even the most sophisticated and powerful weapons. With an entire mountain’s worth of granite for protection, along with 25-ton blast doors and specially built springs to absorb impact, the base would likely survive all but the deadliest of attacks. A skeleton crew of around 200 now operates the base in a standby mode, a sharp contrast to the almost 2000 personnel who once worked in the complex.
3 Zeljava Airbase
The Zeljava Airbase is a large underground facility that sits along the borders between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was immensely costly to build and was one of the largest underground facilities in Europe, as well as being the biggest military airbase in the former Yugoslavia. Its purpose was similar to NORAD in the United States, offering an early warning system of any potential threats, as well as to protect the inhabitants from a potential nuclear explosion. During the Yugoslav wars, the facility was almost entirely destroyed by the fleeing Yugoslav People’s Army to prevent it being used by enemy forces, leading to it still being filled with landmines and other bombs, to this day.
2 HAARP Research Station
This military base is often the subject of conspiracy theories and thriller novels, simply because of the way it looks. The complex is home to the High Frequency Auroral Research Program that aims to use high-frequency radio-waves to interfere with the ionosphere, which can then be made to create an effect similar to the aurora borealis. The research team hopes that the technology will eventually help them to manipulate electrons, so they can communicate with deep sea submarines or even help transmit data with satellites. The remote location in Alaska is necessary, as it is the only place in the United States where the magnetic field is at the right level to allow the ionosphere to be affected.
1 Maunsell Forts
Widely regarded as the perfect place to survive a zombie apocalypse, the Maunsell Forts are a collection of fortified towers that were built during World War II. Their purpose was to protect the United Kingdom from incoming air raids into the country, and to stop any German ships from attempting to lay mines into what was an essential shipping lane. While some of the towers were used by the army and others by the Navy, they were similar in design and were able to withstand attack from ships and aircraft. Many of the towers have since been destroyed, although one now operates a micro-nation known as the Principality of Sealand.