By Humphrey Carter

WHAT comes down, must go up, and after 40 years of gracing Majorca's highest peak, the two radar domes on the Puig Major are being dismantled, only for a new large one to be erected in their place by the Spanish military. Work started yesterday on not only bringing the two domes down in pieces, but also completely changing a part of Majorca's landscape.
The dismantling of the two radar domes and removal of a number of large antennae is all part of plans to modernise the Spanish military radar installation which was first built by the United States forces as part of a joint Spanish-US air defence project signed in 1957. Commander of the Puig Mayor Air Base, Francisco Moratinos, said yesterday that the new radar which is to be erected, has in fact been waiting on top of the mountain for the past three years, but was unable to be erected until the two 40-year-old domes were removed. The operation will take a year to complete and the new radar will again be protected by a covering dome “bigger” than the present two, according to the base commander. The interior of the radar stations will also be reformed and modernised.
No one can help notice the two blots on the landscape, but initially the two domes were painted white.
A few years ago, the Spanish armed forces decided that they should be “camouflaged” so they did not stick out as much. The Puig Mayor is slightly higher than Ben Nevis. Construction work on the domes started the very same year the US and the Spanish signed the air defence deal, but work was not completed until two years later. For the next 30 years, until 1988, there was always a large United States military presence at the air base which, among its numerous roles, is used to control airspace in the Mediterranean and flights paths used by military aircraft to the Middle East. Apart from constructing the new radar and its dome, one of the most complicated tasks is bringing all of the heavy material from the domes being dismantled, back down the mountain. In the meantime, until the new dome is up, we will be able to enjoy an uninterrupted view of the Puig Mayor and surrounding mountain landscapes.