Ent Air Force Base

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Ent Air Force Base (1943-1976) - The United States Air Force Base first established in 1943 as Colorado Springs Tent Camp at Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado. Renamed Ent Air Force Base in 1951. Ent AFB was the Headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) from 1957 to 1966. Named after Major General Uzal Girard Ent who first commanded the Tent Camp. Ent AFB was closed in 1976 and later became the site of the United States Olympic Training Center.

US Olympic Training Center on the Former Site of Ent Air Force Base

World War II (1941-1945)

The Colorado Springs Tent Camp was established in Colorado Springs as the headquarters for the Second Air Force in June 1943. The headquarters was moved from Fort George Wright in Washington state to the more central Colorado Springs location. The tent camp was established on the grounds of the National Methodist Sanatorium which was being converted to military use. The main Sanatorium building became the headquarters building and additional World War II temporary buildings were constructed on the grounds.

Post World War II (1946-1950)

With the rapid demobilization after the end of World War II, the separation of the Air Force from the U.S. Army in 1947 and the subsequent organization of the new United States Air Force (USAF) the Colorado Springs camp was deactivated. The then 15th Air Force headquarters at Colorado Springs was assigned to March Air Force Base in November 1949.

Korean War (1950-1953)

Following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, it was announced that the Colorado Springs camp would be reactivated and become the headquarters for the new USAF Air Defense Command (ADC). The facility was reactivated on 8 Jan 1951 and renamed Ent Air Force Base (even though it had no on-site airstrip) after the first commander of the original camp, Major General Uzal Girard Ent, who had died in 1948.

Cold War (1947-1991)

Ent AFB 1958 with the Headquarters Building in the Background

With the rapid development of a Soviet nuclear weapons threat and long-range bombers able to reach every part of the US, the new USAF Air Defense Command was responsible for countering that threat. Starting with only a minimal Lashup Radar System of World War II radar equipment and a Civilian Observer Corps, ADC followed up with Permanent Radar Sites providing almost complete radar coverage of the whole United States, much of Canada and Alaska.

Ent Combat Operations Center

Ent Combat Operations Center in the Late 1950s

When ADC moved to Ent Air Force Base in January 1951, a Combat Operations Center (COC) was established in a repurposed office building to coordinate the nation's air defenses. The air defense radar network was in transition from the Lashup System to the new Permanent System but by August 1951 only a single Permanent System AC&W Radar Site (P-1) and a single standardized Direction Center (P-4), both at McChord AFB, had been constructed. It was not until 1954 that the majority of the first traunch of eighty-five AC&W radar sites, eleven permanent system manual direction centers, and three regional Air Defence Forces (ADF) COCs were operational.

On 15 May 1954 ADC's new COC went operational in a brand new 15,000 square foot concrete block building next to the Ent Headquarters building. Additional sets of manual radar sites and direction centers expanded the manual system to its maximum size by the early 1960s.

The inadequacies of the manual system were obvious from the beginning and plans were already in development to automate this manual system with first generation computer systems. The system was known as the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system. The SAGE System included 23 massive multi-story concrete blockhouses each containing huge duplexed FSQ-7 vacuum tube computers feeding four regional combat centers with FSQ-8 computers who fed data into the Combat Operations Center at Ent AFB. The just completed manual direction centers would have to be abandoned and the AC&W radar sites would each require the construction of a SAGE Annex to house the very large FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitter.

The nuclear survivability of the new manual COC at Ent AFB quickly became an issue and plans were made to place the whole Command and Control structure in an underground facility at Cheyenne Mountain. The request for this new facility was made in December 1956, excavation began 18 May 1961 and the facility was operational on 6 Feb 1967. While the Cheyenne Mountain complex was under construction an interim facility was constructed off-site from Ent at what became known as the Chidlaw Building.


The Chidlaw Building

Chidlaw Building in 2015


The Chidlaw Building at 2221 E. Bijou St., in Colorado Springs, was started in 1961 and was occupied in 1962 as the interim headquarters for the Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The building was named for Air Force General Benjamin W. Chidlaw. The two-story 300,000 square foot building has fortified walls, an auditorium for 174 people, two electrical substations, elaborate heating and cooling systems and 1,000 parking spaces, the only windows were those at the entrance. The NORAD Headquarters itself was in the Chidlaw Building between March 1963 and January 1988.

As missile detection and satellite defense and reconnaissance systems developed those command and control functions were integrated with the aircraft warning and combat systems and the command and control functions became more complex and interrelated. The Chidlaw building served a variety of the functions before and after the Cheyenne Mountain Complex was activated on 20 Apr 1966 up until the building was vacated by the Air Force in 1993.

USSPACECOMM, NORAD, and Air Force Space Command personnel moved from the Chidlaw Building to locations at Peterson AFB in November-December 1987. Lars Akerberg purchased the building in 1993 and after years of low occupancy rates the building started into foreclosure in 2012.

The Burroughs Building

Burroughs/Federal Building in 2015


The Burroughs Building located adjacent to Ent AFB at 1520 E. Willamette in Colorado Springs was built in 1962 to house the Burroughs Corporation's military systems associated with the Air Force 425L System project at Ent AFB. Also later known as the Federal Building.

The 50,000 square foot facility was originally owned by Davis-Becker Construction company, who leased it to Burroughs. The building became a part of Ent AFB until the base closed in 1975 and then became an asset of nearby Peterson Air Force Base. The building was later acquired by the US General Services Administration (GSA) and fully leased to the Air Force Space Command until October 2006. The GSA sold the building in 2009 for $890,000.

Closure

Ent Air Force Base became Ent Annex of the Cheyenne Mountain facility in 1975 and closed in 1976. The Chidlaw Building and the Burroughs Building were not included in the closure and became offsite locations of Peterson AFB. The site of Ent AFB became the United States Olympic Training Center which was completed in July 1978.

Current Status

Former USAF Barracks Buildings at the US Olympic Training Center

Now the site of the United States Olympic Training Center. The few remaining buildings from the Air Force base have been repurposed for training center use. The two offsite buildings, the Chidlaw Building and the Burroughs Building still exist.


Location: At E. Boulder St. and N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado.

Maps & Images

Lat: 38.84083 Long: -104.79639

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Sources:

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Visited: 14 Jun 2015


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