Lockport Air Force Station

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Lockport Air Force Station (1951-1979) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 near Lockport, Niagara County, New York. Initially known as the Shawnee Radar Site it was renamed Lockport Air Force Station on 1 Dec 1955 after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-21, later a Sage ID of Z-21. Abandoned in 1979.

History

Established in 1951 and became operational in September 1951 as Lockport Air Force Station manned by the 763rd AC&W Squadron. Lockport AFS then assumed coverage of the area from the Fort Niagara Lashup Radar Site, L-19. Lockport AFS initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. 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 a pair of CPS-6B combination search/height-finder radars.

The site was a joint U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force facility with a U.S. Army Air Defense Command Post (AAFDC) NF-17DC for Nike Missile system along with the U.S. Air Force radar site P-21. The site directed the NIKE missile defenses between 1960-1962 for the Niagara Falls-Buffalo Defense Area and provided some level of integration with the SAGE System.

SAGE Transition

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 Operation

The site began operation as a SAGE site December 1958 initially feeding the Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-7 in 1960 and two FPS-6 height-finder radars were installed. One of the FPS-6 radars was replaced by an FPS-26 in 1962. By the mid-1970s the FPS-7 search radar had been replaced by an FPS-107.

The vacuum tube FST-2 Coordinate Data transmitter was replaced in the early 1970s with the solid state FYQ-47 Common Digitizer.

In September 1963 direction center control of Lockport AFS was shifted to the Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06. The Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 closed in 1969 and control of Lockport shifted back to the Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 and remained there until the site closed in 1979. In 1979 control of the SAGE System was switched from the Air Defense Command (ADC) to the Tactical Air Command (TAC), specifically ADTAC. Many of the remaining radar sites were closed at this shift in command and Lockport AFS was closed as this shift took place

Gap Fillers

Lockport AFS was responsible for the maintenance of two remote unattended gap-filler radar sites. 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 Lockport AFS gap-filler radars were located at Brockport, NY and Charlotte Center, NY.

Lockport AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-21A Z-21A Brockport NY FPS-14, FST-1 1957-08 1968-06 43.19166,
-77.93332
P-21B Z-21B Charlotte Center NY FPS-14, FST-1 1957-08 1968-06 42.30434,
-79.17778
Building exists
Tower Exists

Closure

Lockport AFS and the 763rd Radar Squadron were deactivated on 29 Jun 1979.

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 U.S. Army Nike command post, 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 27 unit housing area for critical married personnel. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.


Lockport AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 763rd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1959)
  • 763rd Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1959-1974)
  • 763rd Radar Squadron (1974-1979)
763rd Assignments


Current Status

Abandoned in Lockport, Niagara County, New York.


Lockport AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Exists Notes
50-76 Housing Units
102 Dispensary
111 NCO Club
112 Barber Shop (Auto Hobby Shop)
113 TLQ/NCO Barracks
118 Motor Pool
119 Food Service
123 SAGE Ops Building
126 U.S. Army Cmd Post
133 FPS-107 Tower
137 FPS-26A Tower
140 Airman's Barracks
142 HQ/Personnel/BX/Housing
145 Gymnasium

Location: Lockport in Niagara County, New York.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.14028 Long: -78.83472

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 165.
  • 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 142.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2091466


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