Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09

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Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09 (1958-1969) - A Cold War SAGE System Direction Center first established in 1958 on Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama. Named Gunter SAGE Direction Center after the location. Assigned a Sage ID of DC-09. Deactivated as a SAGE Direction Center in 1969.

Former Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09

History of Gunter SAGE Direction Center

Established in 1958 and became operational 1 Jul 1958 as Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09.

SAGE System Data Flow

Direction center equipment included the duplex FSQ-7 computer system and associated communication equipment. The FSQ-7 computer system assembled digitized inputs from USAF Radar Sites to provide tracking and identification of all aircraft within their sector of responsibility. The digitized radar inputs came from USAF Radar Sites, airborne radar pickets, Texas Towers, Gap Filler Radar Sites and other radar sources. The total picture of aircraft in the sector was assembled and any unknown aircraft were checked out and hostile aircraft were engaged by USAF fighter aircraft, Bomarc missiles or NIKE missiles. The primary defense was against the Soviet threat of a mass nuclear bomber attack on the US. The system evolved before the advent of ICBMs and provided no missile defense against them.

The computer technology was first generation vacuum tube equipment and required significant power and air conditioning. The physical plant of the direction center was enclosed in a large multi-story concrete blockhouse that housed the duplex FSQ-7 computer, communications equipment, a powerhouse, air conditioning systems and operational areas. The operational areas included radar mapping, air surveillance, identification, communications and weapons direction.

The enormous cost of the radar sites, direction centers, personnel, and training caused an immediate reevaluation and almost as quickly as they were built some facilities were closed. The first mass closures began in the 1960s when many radar sites and virtually all the gap filler sites were closed. The first round of direction center closures came in 1963 when six were closed, a second round in 1966 and a third in 1969 that closed a total of 17 out of 23. The remaining six direction centers became SAGE Regional Control Centers (RCCs) still using the massive FSQ-7 vacuum tube computers. As the direction centers and radar sites closed the remaining sites were realigned into ever-increasing sectors.

A new Joint Surveillance System (JSS) evolved as a partnership between the Air Force and the FAA to provide nationwide radar coverage. When completed in 1983 it consisted of only forty-six radar sites feeding into four new Region Operation Control Centers (ROCCs) with FYQ-93 computer systems. With the activation of the four U.S. ROCCs and the two Canadian ROCCs, the last seven of the SAGE direction centers were deactivated and this signaled the end of the SAGE system. Of the remaining forty-six radar sites, thirty-one had FAA-operated search radars and USAF operated height finders. Five sites just had FAA search radars and only ten sites were operated by the Military. With the deployment of forty FAA ARSR-4 3D radar sets in the 1990s, the earlier military and FAA radars were replaced.

The Canadians closed their underground SAGE Direction Center and created two ROCCs (CAN-East and CAN-West) using the FYQ-93 computers in the underground facility.

Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09
Unit Designation From To
Montgomery Air Defense Sector 1957-09-08 1966-04-01
32nd Air Division 1966-04-01 1969-12-31

The Gunter SAGE Direction Center remained operational, still using the vacuum tube FSQ-7 computers, until deactivated on 31 Dec 1969.



Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09 Radar Sites (edit list)
Location Type State Unit ADC NORAD JSS From To GPS Notes
Eufaula AFS AL 609th TM-199 Z-199 1959 1968 31.88139,
-85.25361
Thomasville AFS AL 698th TM-197 Z-197 1959 1969 31.93722,
-87.75083
Dauphin Island AFS AL 693rd TM-196 Z-196 1960 1969 30.25028,
-88.07833
Crystal Springs AFS MS 627th TM-195 Z-195 1960 1968 31.97917,
-90.34444
Tyndall AFB FL 678th TM-198 Z-198 1960 1969 30.07603,
-85.61064
Cross City AFS FL 691s TM-200 Z-200 1959 1969 29.63461,
-83.09886
MacDill AFB FL 660th M-129 Z-129 1959 1969 27.83439,
-82.47184
Houma AFS LA 657th M-126 Z-126 1959 1969 29.5625,
-90.675
Key West NAS FL 671st Z-209 1962 1969 24.58444,
-81.68847
Jacksonville NAS FL 679th M-114 Z-114 1962 1969 30.22138,
-81.68266
Aiken AFS SC 861st SM-159 Z-159 1961 1969 33.64611,
-81.67667
Savannah AFS GA 702nd M-112 Z-112 1961 1969 32.01704,
-81.16626
Marietta AFS GA 908th M-111 Z-111 1961 1968 33.89411,
-84.49876
Patrick AFB FL 645th Z-211 1966 1969 28.21424,
-80.59894
Richmond AFS FL 644th Z-210 1960 1969 25.62333,
-80.40444

Current Status

Sage Direction Center blockhouse repurposed on Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama.


Location: Gunter, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama.

Maps & Images

Lat: 32.40361 Long: -86.24111

See Also:

Sources:

  • Winkler, David F., Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program, USAF Hq Air Combat Command, 1997, 192 pages, Pdf.
  • Cornett, Lloyd H. & Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization (1946-1980), Office of History ADC, Peterson AFB, Colorado, 31 Dec 1980, 179 pages, Pdf.
  • Ulmann, Bernd, AN/FSQ-7:the computer that shaped the Cold War, 2014, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, ISBN 978-3-486-72766-1, 272 pages.

Links:

Visited: 16 Apr 2016

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