Lake Charles Air Force Station

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Lake Charles Air Force Station (1957-1995) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1957 near Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. Named Lake Charles Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of TM-194. Closed and in private hands between 15 Mar 1966 and 1 Jan 1973. Reestablished on 1 Jan 1973 as site Z-248 and JSS site J-14. Finally abandoned in 1995.

Lake Charles Air Force Station Headquarters Building in 2016.

History of Lake Charles Air Force Station

Established on 30 Apr 1957 and became operational in 1958 as Lake Charles Air Force Station manned by the 812th AC&W Squadron.

This station was one of eight stations established in the final phase of the Permanent AC&W Radar Program for the 33rd Air Division. The 33rd Air Division would remain a manual operation throughout the transition of the rest of the Air Defense System to the semi-automatic SAGE System. The Oklahoma City Manual Direction Center P-86 remained connected to these sites until they closed down one by one. Because the sites were never destined to become SAGE sites they received older less capable equipment and facilities and they were among the first to be closed when budgets constricted. The eight sites were:

33rd AD Mobile Phase III Radar Sites
1. TM-187 Ozona Air Force Station TX 5. TM-191 Rockport Air Force Station TX
2. TM-188 Eagle Pass Air Force Station TX 6. TM-192 Killeen Air Force Station TX
3. TM-189 Zapata Air Force Station TX 7. TM-193 Lufkin Air Force Station TX
4. TM-190 Port Isabel Air Force Station TX 8. TM-194 Lake Charles Air Force Station LA

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 FPS-3A search radar and an FPS-6 height-finder radar. The site was not upgraded and was not brought into the SAGE system and remained connected to the manual direction center at Oklahoma City Air Force Station until it was closed. The 812th AC&W Squadron was deactivated on 1 Sep 1961.

In August 1961 the radio transmitter building was adapted as a gap-filler annex to be maintained by England Air Force Base Radar Site. The gap-filler site ID was M-125D and it was equipped with an FPS-18 and an FST-1.

Temporary Closure

The site was operational until the main England Air Force Base Radar Site closed in June 1963.

The site was disposed of and in private hands between 15 Mar 1966 and 1 Jan 1973.

Site Reestablished

On 1 Jan 1973 Lake Charles Air Force Station was reestablished and manned now by the 634th Radar Squadron. The 634th Radar Squadron had been located at Burns Air Force Station until it was deactivated when that station closed on 30 Sep 1970.

The reactivated site was given a SAGE ID of Z-248 and apparently first equipped with a transportable TPS-43 3D search/height-finder radar in 1973. The TPS-43 was later replaced with a fixed FPS-93A search radar and an FPS-6 height-finder radar. On 20 Dec 1973 an FYQ-49 coordinate data transmitter (CDT) was installed to interface the search radar with the Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04. On 1 Jul 1977 the FYQ-49 CDT was changed out for an FYQ-47 CDT to add height capability. The FPS-93A search radar was modified and became a FPS-91A and the FPS-6 height-finder was modified and became an FPS-116, both on 12 Mar 1980.

The JSS Maintenance Contract was awarded to ITT/FEC in June 1974 and at that time the 634th Radar Squadron became Operating Location AF (OL-AF) of the 630th Radar Squadron. On 1 Oct 1977 OL-AF became Operating Location AD (OL-AD) of the 678th Air Defense Group at Tyndall Air Force Base. Air Defense Command (ADC) radar assets were realigned into the Tactical Air Command (TAC) on 1 Oct 1979. On 1 Mar 1983 OL-AD 678th ADG became OL-BD of the 23rd Air Defense Squadron.

Searching the Skies indicates an additional interdiction mission between 1974 and 1995: "The site continued operations over the next two decades with approximated twenty Air Force and civilian personnel tracking aircraft attempting to illegally enter the country."

Second Site Organizations
  • 1973-1974 - 634th Radar Squadron (SAGE).
  • 1974-1977 - OL-AF, 630th Radar Squadron, (Manual) Houston, TX.
  • 1977-1983 - OL-AD, 678th Air Defense Group (BUIC), Tyndall AFB, FL.
  • 1983-1995 - OL-BD, NORAD 23rd Air Defense Squadron (SE ROCC/SOCC), Tyndall AFB, FL.

Gap Fillers

Lake Charles 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 Lake Charles AFS gap-filler radars was located at Weeks Island, louisiana.

Lake Charles AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
TM-194A Z-248A Weeks Island LA FPS-14, FST-1 1960-02 1963-06? 29.809584,
-91.80609

Final Closure

The site was closed on 30 Sep 1995, replaced by the new Lake Charles JSS Site, J-14A, with a FAA ARSR-4 radar. Northwest of the city of Lake Charles.

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site and a radio site. The Headquarters, barracks and other administrative & support functions, were located at nearby Chennault Air Force Base until it officially inactivated on 30 June 1963. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.


Lake Charles AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 812th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1957-1961)
812th AC&W Squadron

634th Radar Squadron (SAGE)

  • 1 Jan 1973 - Reactivated at Lake Charles AFS, LA, assigned to the 20th AD (Fort Lee Air Force Station).
  • 1 Jul 1974 - Inactivated.


Lake Charles Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1959~ Major Mills, Dumont C. N/A

Current Status

Abandoned in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. The site has been repurposed and little remains of the original buildings except for the headquarters building which is intact.


Location: Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

Maps & Images

Lat: 30.18417 Long: -93.17583

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 42, 102, 154-155.
  • 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 118.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2087773


Links:

Visited: 7 Apr 2016


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