Patrick Air Force Base Radar Site

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Patrick Air Force Base Radar Site (1957-1996) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established in 1957 to support BOMARC/SAGE System integration testing. Located on Patrick Air Force Base between Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, Florida. Assigned a Sage ID of Z-211 and later a JSS ID of J-05. Became Patrick Air Force Base FAA Radar Site on 1 Apr 1976. Closed in 1996.

Patrick AFB Radar Site Radomes circa 1969.
Patrick AFB Radar Site FPS-6 Antenna inside Radome circa 1970.
Patrick Air Force Base Radar Site circa 1972.

History

BOMARC A Missile Launch, 19 Dec 1958, from Cape Canaveral under SAGE Controls.

This radar site was established in 1957-1958 at Patrick Air Force Base to support BOMARC/SAGE System integration testing. Operated and maintained by the Boeing Field Test contractor personnel. This SAGE site was not a part of overall SAGE System but was connected directly to the IBM/SAGE System test bed FSQ-7 computer in the IBM Military Products Division Plant at Kingston, New York. According to the IBM test documentation, the site contained a FPS-20 Search Radar, a FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitter and a FPS-6 height-finder radar. The FST-2 at Patrick was connected to the IBM FSQ-7 computer at Kingston over 1,500 miles of leased telephone lines.

This elaborate test environment was established to test the integration of the BOMARC Missile System into the SAGE System. Since the BOMARC was nuclear capable, evidence was required that the system worked as designed. At least two successful test were conducted with BOMARC missiles launched from Cape Canaveral under SAGE control against target drones in 1958. The BOMARC missiles were under SAGE Control from target acquisition by the FPS-20 and FST-2 to interception controlled by the FSQ-7 controllers. The first successful BOMARC IM-99A intercept under SAGE control took place on 7 Aug 1958 and on 15 Aug 1958 a SAGE directed missile scored a direct hit on a QB-17 drone. See the IBM diagram below for the configuration.

BOMARC/SAGE System Integration Test Configuration, 1958.


Radar tracks picked up on UPA-35 PPI Scope are passed to the plotting board in the background via headsets.
USAF Technicians adjust a high powered amplifier in the FPS-6 height-finder tower.

With proof of concept established, the BOMARC/SAGE integration program was moved from Cape Canaveral/Patrick AFB to Santa Rosa Island/Tyndall AFB for further development and testing. Testing was then done over the Gulf of Mexico. Tests at Cape Canaveral and Patrick AFB continued through June 1960.
By November 1959, the Air Force Commander of Detachment 1, 679th AC&W Squadron, Captain Allen J. Jedel, had arrived at Patrick AFB to assume operations and maintenance of the radar site. A base newspaper article indicates that the site was "officially open for business..." on 25 Jan 1960, with some 45 officers and men in place. Captain Jedel was promoted to Major while at Patrick AFB.

FAA technician tunes the transmitter of an FAA-run FPS-66 search radar.
USAF technician aligns a UHF radio receiver at the GATR facility.

In 1961 the Patrick AFB radar site is identified as an operational joint use FAA/ADC radar site manned by Detachment 1 of the 679th AC&W Squadron at Jacksonville NAS Radar Site. The 645th Radar Squadron (SAGE) was activated at the Patrick Air Force Base Radar Site on 28 Jun 1962, assuming operations and maintenance responsibilities from Det 1, 679th AC&W Squadron.

Initial equipment included the FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitter, the FPS-20 search radar, later upgraded to a FPS-66 and one FPS-6 height-finder. A second FPS-6 height-finder radar was added. Later, one of the two FPS-6 height-finders was removed and the remaining FPS-6 was modified to become a FPS-116 about 1977.

SAGE System Operation

Former Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09
Patrick SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
28 Jun 1962 - 1 Apr 1966 Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09 Montgomery Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1966 - 14 Nov 1969 Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09 32nd Air Division
14 Nov 1969 - 19 Nov 1969 Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 33rd Air Division
19 Nov 1969 - 1 Apr 1976 Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 20th Air Division


USAF Technician checks FST-2 Coordinated Data Transmitter circa 1970.
USAF Operator adjusts receiver on FPS-66 AJ console for optimum video presentation.

The site began operation as a normal SAGE site in 1961, initially feeding the Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09. In 1962 the 645th Radar Squadron (SAGE) was reactivated at the radar site. With the closure of Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09 in the fall of 1969, control shifted to the Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04.
As a SAGE System radar site, the mission was (1) to provide radar data to the Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09, (2) to provide radar data to the appropriate FAA Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC)s, and (3) to support the Air Force Eastern Test Range (AFETR) used to test missile systems and later for the space program tests and launches.

The FST-2 was probably replaced by February 1973 with a FYQ-47 Common Digitizer. The initial 18-month FYQ-47/49 replacement program was completed in February of 1973 and the Patrick FYQ-47 would have been in place by then.

USAF Maintenance Controller checks on radar equipment status at the maintenance coordination center (MCC).

645th Radar Squadron Deactivation

On 1 Apr 1976 the 645th Radar Squadron was deactivated and replaced by detachment OLA-A of the 20th Air Defense Squadron. The USAF height-finder radar was removed about 1988, leaving the site as an FAA operated joint use radar site.

Patrick Air Force Base FAA Radar Site

The FAA continued to operate the FPS-66 search radar until about 1998. On 31 Dec 1995 NORAD listed the Patrick AFB radar site as a operational Joint use site J-05 with search, SIF and Ground-Air-Ground (GAG) radio capability. During this period of time the site was connected to the Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) at the Tyndall JSS ROCC at Tyndall Air Force base and to the appropriate FAA Air route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC)s at Atlanta, Fort Worth, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Memphis, Miami and Washington. This site was replaced about 1998 by the new Melbourne FAA Radar Site at Melbourne, Florida with a new ARSR-4, 3D radar. The new Melbourne site was designated site J-05A.

Closure

Patrick Air Force Base FAA Radar Site was closed circa 1998.



Patrick AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Radio
Unit Designations
  • 645th ACon Squadron (1948-1949)
  • 645th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1949-1952)
  • 645th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1962-1974)
  • 645th Radar Squadron (1974-1976)
645th Assignments
  • 30 Apr 1948 - Originally activated as the 645th ACon Sq and assigned to the 503rd AC&W Gp.
  • 8 Dec 1949 - Redesignated the 645th AC&W Sq.
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Roslyn, NY, assigned to the 503rd AC&W Gp, ADC.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Inactivated.
  • 28 Jun 1962 - Reactivated as the 645th Radar Sq (SAGE) at Patrick AFB, FL.
  • 1 Nov 1962 - Assigned to Hq ADC. 1 November 1962 (Montgomery)
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Reassigned to the 32nd AD.
  • 14 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to the 33rd AD.
  • 19 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to the 20th AD.
  • 1 Feb 1974 - Redesignated the 645th Radar Sq.
  • 1 Apr 1976 - Inactivated.
Patrick Air Force Base Radar Site Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1959-11 1963~ Major Jedel, Allen J. N/A First commander of Detachment 1,
679th AC&W Squadron
1964~ 1966~ Lt. Colonel Puente, Frank S. N/A
1966-05-02 Major Johnson, Edwin E. N/A
1970-04 Lt. Colonel Burgess, James R. N/A
1970-04 1971-09 Major Becker, George A. N/A
1972~ Major Kang, Younghill C.K. N/A

Note: Reported dates overlap and may be incorrect or reflect periods of intermittant temporary command.

Current Status

All three radar towers are gone but the operations buildings remain in place. The GATR radio site building remains.


Location: On Patrick AFB in Brevard County, Florida. Zoom out to see GATR radio site location.

Maps & Images

Lat: 28.21424 Long: -80.59894

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 1956.
  • 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 109.
  • Everett, H.R. and Toscano, Michael, Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II, MIT Press, 12 Nov 2015, 768 pages, pages 585-588.
  • Unattributed, The SAGE/BOMARC Air Defense Weapons System, IBM Military Products Division, New York, 1958, 60 pages.
  • NORAD Region Ground Environment System Configuration, 30 Dec 1995.

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