Tierra Amarilla Air Force Station
Tierra Amarilla Air Force Station (1950-1958) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1950 near El Vado, NM as Lashup Site L-44 to provide coverage for Los Alamos nuclear facilities. Moved northeast to Tierra Amarilla, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico as site LP-8. Renamed Tierra Amarilla Air Force Station on 1 Dec 1953 and assigned a Permanent ID of P-8. Deactivated in 1958. Original L-44 site known as Los Alamos Lashup Radar Site and El Vado Lashup Radar Site
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 at the first lashup site included the CPS-5 search radar. After the move to the new site, an FPS-3 and FPS-5 were in operation in 1953. The FPS-5 was said to have been replaced about 1957 by an FPS-6 height-finder radar. Available information on the FPS-5 indicates that it was a search radar so this seems unlikely.
Deactivated in 1958.
The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area, a trailer park, and two radio sites. 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 and distant from the main site was a small housing area for critical married personnel. The housing area seems to have been located at or near the original site location by El Vado Dam. Two separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio sites housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.
Abandoned sites near El Vado Dam and Tierra Amarilla, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. The site at El Vado Dam appears to have been overbuilt with private housing.