Klamath Air Force Station
Klamath Air Force Station (1950-1981) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1950 near Klamath, Del Norte County, California. Named Klamath Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Lash-Up ID of LP-33 and then later a Permanent ID of P-33, a Sage ID of Z-33 and a JSS ID of J-83. Manned by the 777th AC&W Squadron that later became the 777th Radar Squadron (SAGE). Abandoned by USAF in 1979 and turned over to the FAA. Also known as Requa Air Force Station.
Established in 1950 and became operational in April 1952 as Klamath Air Force Station manned by the 777th 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.
The Lash-up site operated the TPS-1B combination search and height-finder radar as early as April 1951. The permanent site initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and FPS-4 height-finder radar became operational in April 1952.
In 1956 a GPS-3 was added to the facility. By 1958 the configuration included an FPS-20A search radar and an FPS-6 height-finder. In 1959 an FPS-6A height-finder radar was added and that established the initial configuration for SAGE operation, one long-range search radar, and two height-finders.
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.
SAGE System Operation
By the end of 1961, the FPS-20A had been upgraded and redesignated as an FPS-66. By 1966 there was an FPS-27 long-range search radar in place, and a FPS-26A height-finder radar in operation there. The site came under TAC jurisdiction beginning in 1979. In the 1980s much property was turned over to the National Park Service. The operations area became an FAA/USAF joint-use facility. In 1995, the FAA-operated a FPS-66A search set.
Klamath AFS and the 777th were deactivated in 1981.
Klamath 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 Klamath AFS gap-filler radar was located at Capetown, California.
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 housing area for critical married personnel.
A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Klamath originally had a radio transmitter site and a separate radio receiver site used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link.
Abandoned in Klamath, Del Norte County, California.