Baudette Air Force Station
Baudette Air Force Station (1959-1979) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1958 near the town of Baudette, Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota. Named Baudette Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of SM-132 and later a Sage ID of Z-132. Abandoned in 1979.
History of Baudette Air Force Station
Established in 1958 and operational in 1959 as Baudette Air Force Station manned by the 692nd AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.
SAGE System Transition
The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with the installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE System, interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.
The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air-conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of air conditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power and usually a large new addition to the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.
The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1959 initially feeding the Duluth SAGE Direction Center DC-10. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-24 in 1962. One of the FPS-6 height-finder radars was upgraded to an FPS-90 and in 1963 an FPS-26A height-finder radar replaced the other FPS-6.
Gap Filler Radar
Baudette AFS was responsible for the maintenance of two remote unattended gap-filler radar sites (a third was never completed). The unattended gap filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites were equipped with short range FPS-14 or FPS-18 search radars and FST-1 Coordinate Data transmitters that sent digitized radar target data to a SAGE direction center and to the main radar site. Both the radar set and the FST-1 were dual channel to increase site up time. Maintenance teams were dispatched for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators on the FSW-1 remote monitoring equipment suggested the site had problems. The FSW-1 also allowed remote operation of specific functions such as channel changes for the radar and for the FST-1, it also allowed remote operation of the diesel generators at the gap filler site. The Baudette AFS gap-filler radars were located at Big Falls and Middle River.
Baudette AFS became a BUIC I GCI site in 1962, a BUIC III site in 1968 and in 1970 the 692nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) became the 692nd Air Defense Group (BUIC). The BUIC III system provided a backup for a SAGE direction center and provided the ability to display sector wide radar data on consoles for local weapons controllers. The system duplicated the functionality of the vacuum tube direction center computers with a more up-to-date computer, the GSA-51, and replaced the FST-2 with a more up-to-date coordinate data transmitter, the FYQ-47. As the threat from a soviet bomber fleet lessened the decision came to mothball the BUIC system in 1974. The BUIC-III System at Baudette AFS shut down on14 Jan 1974.
Baudette AFS and the 692nd were deactivated on 1 Jul 1979.
The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small 27 unit housing area for critical married personnel located at the outskirts of the town of Baudette. During the BUIC years the population of the site rose to over 300 military and civilian personnel and additional housing was provided by trailer parks onsite and in Baudette. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site closer to Baudette housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.
Currently in use as an automobile test facility, Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota.