Walker Air Force Base Radar Site

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Walker Air Force Base Radar Site (1952-1963) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Site first established in 1952 on Walker Air Force Base (AFB) near Roswell, Chaves County, New Mexico. Initially established as Walker Air Force Base Lashup Radar Site with an ID of L-46 and manned by the 120th Aircraft Control and Warning (AC&W) Squadron. Later the site became one of the Permanent System Radar Sites with an ID of M-90 and was manned by the 686th AC&W Squadron. Abandoned as a radar site in 1963.

Former Walker AFB Radar Site Cantonment Area

History of Walker AFB Radar Site

Walker AFB Radar Site Cantonment Area (upper left) circa 1960s
Walker AFB Aerial Photo Showing Radar Site M-90 Ops Building & Tower Foundation circa 1960s

Established in 1952 and became operational on 13 Sep 1952 as Lashup System radar site L-46 on Walker AFB, New Mexico. The site was manned by the 120th AC&W Squadron which was formed in 1950 from Arkansas National Guard troops called up and Federalized during the Korean War. Initial equipment included the CPS-5 search radar and a TPS-10 height-finder radar. The radar equipment was located adjacent to the squadron cantonment area on the main base. By July 1953 about 3/4 of the assigned personnel were regular Air Force and only 1/4 were ANG airmen. The 120th AC&W Squadron was deactivated 1 Oct 1953 after a transition period with the active duty 686th AC&W Squadron activated on 29 Sep 1953. The ANG troops were returned to the control of the Arkansas Air National Guard.

The site continued in the Lashup role until 1955 when a separate set of radar equipment was installed on the another side of the main runway. This new site became a part of the permanent radar system with an ID of M-90. Initial equipment included the mobile MPS-7 search radar and a mobile MPS-14 height-finder radar.

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.

Gap Fillers

The Walker AFB Radar Site was responsible for the maintenance of three remote unattended gap-filler radar sites. The gap-filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites sent digitized radar target data directly to a direction center. Maintenance teams were dispatched from Walker Air Force Base Radar Site AFS for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators suggested the site had problems. The Walker AFB Radar Site gap-filler radars were located at Orla, Texas; Santa Rosa, New Mexico and Sierra Blanca, Texas. Information is scarce for the Santa Rosa, New Mexico and Sierra Blanca, Texas sites but while the buildings were constructed they may have not been equipped or activated.

Walker AFB Radar Site Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
M-90A Orla TX FPS-14, FST-1 1957 1960 31.847882,
M-90B Santa Rosa NM FPS-1?, FST-1  ?  ? 34.86111,
Not operational?
Sierra Blanca TX FPS-1?, FST-1  ?  ? 31.69806,
Not operational?


The Walker AFB Radar Site became a BUIC I GCI site in 1962. Walker AFB Radar Site and the 120th AC&W Squadron were deactivated on 1 Aug 1963.

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site and a cantonment area. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar equipment, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the orderly room, and other support buildings.

Walker Air Force Base Radar Site AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 120th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1952-1953)
  • 686th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1953-1963)
120th Assignments
  • Federalized in the ANG on 20 Oct 1951 at Adams Field, AR, and moved to Geiger Field, WA for training as the 101st Fighter Interceptor Wing.
  • Assigned to 25th Air Division on 6 Feb 1952.
  • Moved to Fort Stevens, OR on 1 Feb 1952.
  • Moved to Walker AFB, NM on 1 Sep 1952 as the 34th Air Division.
  • Released from 24 months active duty and returned to control of State of Arkansas on 1 Oct 1953.
686th Assignments
  • 1 Oct 1953 - Activated at Walker AFB, NM, as the 34th Air Division.
  • 1 Jan 1960 - Transferred to Albuquerque ADS.
  • 15 Sep 1960 - Transferred to Oklahoma City ADS.
  • 1 Sep 1961 - Transferred to 4752nd Air Defense Wing.
  • 25 Jun 1963 - Transferred to Oklahoma City ADS.
  • 1 Aug 1963 - Discontinued.

686th AC&W Squadron Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1953-09-29 1954-08 Captain Spencer, Cecil C. Jr. N/A
1954-08 1956-09 Major Wilson, Grant H. N/A
1956-09 1958-04-15 Lt. Colonel Hoffman, Theodore C. N/A
1958-04-15 1959-06-10 Lt. Colonel Crooks, William R. N/A
1959-07-09 1960-11-11 Lt. Colonel Hearn, Bunn Jr. N/A
1960-11-11 1962-03-07 Lt. Colonel Bilby, B. B. N/A
1962-03-07 1963-08-01 Major Russell, Herbert N/A
Dates are formatted in yyyy-mm-dd to sort correctly.
The Cullum Number is the graduation order from the United States Military Academy by year and class rank and links to a page for the officer on the website version of the Cullum Register. Listings without a Cullum Number indicate that the person was not a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

Current Status

No remains of the L-46 main site. May be some remains of the M-90 main site but that area is not accessible to the public. The cantonment area buildings still exist as maintenance buildings for the Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell (ENMU-R).

Location: Roswell International Air Center, Roswell, Chaves County, New Mexico. The L-46 map point is the approximate location of the Lashup equipment.

Maps & Images

Lat: 33.31024 Long: -104.52874

See Also:


  • 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 94, 99.
  • 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 139.
  • Silo World - 1961 Walker AFB Guide


Visited: 3 Apr 2015

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