England Air Force Base Radar Site
England Air Force Base Radar Site (1955-1963) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established just after the Korean War. Located near Alexandria in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of M-125. Closed in 1963.
Constructed in 1955. By August 1955 all the towers had been constructed and were awaiting installation of electronic equipment. The site became operational in December 1955 as England Air Force Base Radar Site manned by the 653rd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.
Manual System Operation
In the fall of 1954, the 653rd AC&W Squadron moved to England Air Force Base Radar Site, assigned to the 33rd Air Division (Defense) (33rd ADD). Headquartered at Oklahoma City Air Force Station. The 33rd ADD provided command and control over subordinate radar stations from the Oklahoma City Manual Direction Center P-86 located on Oklahoma City Air Force Station.
Orders to close down the radar site and the gap filler radars were received on 26 April 1963. The England AFB Radar Site and the 653rd AC&W Squadron were deactivated as/of 23 Apr 1963. Operations ceased on 1 May 1963 but a small compound and the FPS-20 search radar was turned over to the FAA and the site later resumed operation as the Alexandria FAA Radar Site.
On 1 Jul 1964, the FAA took over the USAF FPS-20 search radar and tower on the former USAF radar site along with a small compound surrounding the tower. On 6 Jun 1965, they had completed the changes necessary to connect the radar to the FAA ARTCC system and they began 24-hour operation with the legacy FPS-20 radar. At some point, the FPS-20 was upgraded to an FPS-20A. The FPS-20A was modified in the 1990s with some more modern solid state components. On 4 May 2012, the upgrade to a Common Air-Route Surveillance Radar (CARSR) configuration was complete.
The radar site data is now available to the USAF/NORAD Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F) operations centers (EADS & WADS) as well as the FAA Houston ARTCC (ZHU) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.
The England AFB radar site was responsible for the maintenance of three remote unattended gap filler radar sites. 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 England AFB radar site gap filler radars were located at Delhi, LA, Lake Charles GFA, LA and Weeks Island, LA. One additional gap-filler was planned at Heflin, LA but was never built.