Joelton Air Force Station

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Joelton Air Force Station (1957-1963) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1957 near Joelton, Davidson County, Tennessee. Named Joelton Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of SM-145. Abandoned by the Air Force in 1963. A portion of the original site is now Joelton FAA Radar Site, FAA ID QOJ. Also known as Nashville FAA Radar Site.

History

Established in 1956 and became operational in 1957 as Joelton Air Force Station manned by the 799th 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.

Initial equipment included the MPS-11 search radar and a TPS-10D height-finder radar.

Gap Fillers

Joelton AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote unattended gap-filler radar site. 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 Joelton AFS gap-filler radar was located at Bradyville, Tennessee.

Joelton AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
SM-145A Bradyville TN FPS-18, FST-1 1959-08 1960-12 35.70293,
-86.20849

Closure & Disposition

Joelton AFS and the 799th were deactivated in 1961. The site was reported surplus on 5 Jun 1961, with 2.60 acres being transferred to the FAA in September 1961, 30.48 acres were conveyed to the State of Tennessee.

Joelton FAA Radar Site

Joelton FAA Radar Site in 2016.

This site became Joelton FAA Radar Site with an FAA ID of QOJ and began furnishing radar track data to the Memphis ARTCC (ZME) on 20 Mar 1961, even before the USAF site closed. The site remoted radar data to the ARTCC via a microwave link. Reportedly data-tied to the SAGE System in the 1960s as site Z-235.

A FYQ-47 Common Digitizer was probably placed in service by February 1973 when the USAF/FAA FST-2 to FYQ-47 replacement program was completed. By 1990 the site was equipped with an ARSR-1E radar and a CD-2A Common Digitizer. The Joelton CD-2A was scheduled to receive an upgrade kit to implement three level weather data processing in August 1992.

CARSR Radar

The nationwide replacement program converting FAA legacy radar systems to the CARSR radar configuration was completed by 17 Aug 2015 and Joelton FAA Radar Site was a part of that program. Legacy FAA radars underwent a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that replaced key components in the vintage ARSR-1, ARSR-2, FPS-20, FPS-66 and FPS-67 radars. The CARSR program replaced legacy klystron radar transmitters with a solid-state transmitter as well as renovating the radar receiver and signal processor. The CARSR modification also included common digitizer functionality making a separate common digitizer unnecessary. The Joelton FAA Radar Site is now operating with the CARSR radar. At the time of the CARSR changeout, the legacy radar in place was an ARSR-1E and the CARSR conversion included a 7172 Antenna. The secondary radar at this site is an ATCBI-6 Beacon set.

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 Memphis ARTCC (ZME) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.

Physical Plant

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 9 unit housing area for married personnel. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.


Joelton Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems IFF/SIF/Beacon
Unit Designations
  • 799th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1956-1961)
799th Assignments
  • Jul 1956 - Activated at Wright-Patterson A¥W, OH, as the 58th Air Division.
  • by Oct 1956 - Moved to Joelton AFS, TN.
  • 1 Sep 1958 - Transferred to 35th Air Division (Dobbins AFB).
  • 15 Nov 1958 - Transferred to 32nd Air Division (Gunter AFS).
  • 1 Jun 1961 - Discontinued.


Joelton Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1957~ Major Green, Jimmie L. N/A

Current Status

The AFS cantonment area and the nine unit housing area have been leveled with no remains. Traces only of the AFS main site, no structures or foundations. The FAA Radar is still active within the 2.6 acre compound transferred to the FAA.


Location: 3024 Morgan Rd., near Joelton in Davidson County, Tennessee.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.33697 Long: -86.86098


GPS Locations:

See Also:

Sources:

  • 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, page 102.
  • 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, page 155.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2087769

Links:

Visited: 13 May 2016


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