Thomasville Air Force Station

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Thomasville Air Force Station
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Part of Air Defense Command (ADC)
Thomasville, Alabama
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Thomasville AFS
Location of Thomasville AFS, Alabama
Coordinates 31°56′14″N087°45′03″W / 31.93722°N 87.75083°W / 31.93722; -87.75083 (Thomasville AFS TM-197) Coordinates: 31°56′14″N087°45′03″W / 31.93722°N 87.75083°W / 31.93722; -87.75083 (Thomasville AFS TM-197)
Type Long Range Radar Site
Site information
Owner National Park Service
Controlled byFlag of the United States Air Force.svg  United States Air Force
Open to
the public
Yes
Site history
Built 1959
Built by U.S. Air Force
In use 1959-1969
Garrison information
Garrison Thomasville, Alabama
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  ·  Google Maps
Download coordinates as: KML  ·  GPX

Thomasville Air Force Station (ADC ID: TM-197, NORAD ID: Z-197) is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 1.9 miles (3.1 km) north-northwest of Thomasville, Alabama. It was closed in 1969.

United States Air Force Air and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

Thomasville, Alabama Place in Alabama, United States

Thomasville is a city in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,209. Founded as a late 19th-century railroad town, it has transitioned over the course of more than a century into a 21st-century commercial hub. It is the childhood hometown of author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham.

Contents

History

Thomasville Air Force Station came into existence as part of Phase III of the Air Defense Command Mobile Radar program. On October 20, 1953 ADC requested a third phase of twenty-five radar sites be constructed.

698th Radar Squadron emblem 698th Radar Squadron - Emblem.png
698th Radar Squadron emblem

The 698th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron moved to Thomasville on 1 September 1958 when a test model of the AN/FPS-35 radar was installed for evaluation. It was the first of the large radars to be deployed, and initially the station functioned as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and warning station. As a GCI station, the squadron's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes. Two AN/FPS-90 height-finder radars were added in the early 1960s.

AN/FPS-35

The AN/FPS-35 radar was a long range radar used in the early 1960s. One of the largest air defense radars ever produced, having its antenna and supporting structure mounted on one of the largest rolling-element bearings in the world.

The Ground Air Transmitting Receiving (GATR) Site for communications was located at 31°56′27″N087°44′18″W / 31.94083°N 87.73833°W / 31.94083; -87.73833 (Thomasville AS GATR) , approximately 0.8 miles east-northeast from the main site. Normally the GATR site was connected by a pair of buried telephone cables, with a backup connection of dual telephone cables overhead. The Coordinate Data Transmitting Set (CDTS) (AN/FST-2) at the main site converted each radar return into a digital word which was transmitted by the GATR via microwave to the Control Center.

In 1959, Thomasville joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, feeding data to DC-09 at Gunter AFB, Alabama. After joining, the squadron was redesignated as the 698th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 October. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction altitude speed and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile. On 31 July 1963, the site was redesignated as NORAD ID Z-97.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 9th Aerospace Defense Division implemented an improvised missile warning system directed toward the Cuban missile threat called Falling Leaves. In October 1962, the SPADATS AN/FPS-49 radar at Moorestown Air Force Station, New Jersey was reoriented south and directed toward Cuba. A communication network was established with Moorestown, the AN/FPS-78 radar at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas and Thomasville. All three stations were in turn tied into the command centers at NORAD and at Strategic Air Command. This missile detection network remained in operation until 28 November and the Moorestown and Laredo sites were returned to their normal SPADATS mission when Soviet missiles were withdrawn from Cuba. The Thomasville station, retained coverage until late December as a precaution. [1]

Cuban Missile Crisis The conflict between the US and Cuba over nuclear missile threats from communist Cuba.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962, the Caribbean Crisis, or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by American ballistic missile deployment in Italy and Turkey with consequent Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

Space Detection and Tracking System, or SPADATS, was built in 1960 to integrate defense systems built by different branches of the United States Armed Forces and was placed under North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The Air Force had a program called Spacetrack, which was a network of space-probing cameras and radar. The Navy had a system called SPASUR, a space surveillance system that was "an electronic fence" the protected the southern United States.

Moorestown, New Jersey Township in New Jersey, United States

Moorestown is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States and an eastern suburb of Philadelphia. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 20,726, reflecting an increase of 1,709 (+9.0%) from the 19,017 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,901 (+18.0%) from the 16,116 counted in the 1990 Census.

The 698th Radar Squadron was inactivated on 30 September 1969 and Thomasville AFS was closed due to a draw-down of ADC and budget constraints. After its closure, the site was the location of the Thomasville Mental Health & Rehabilitation Center, and Alabama Department of Youth Services. However, the former closed completely by November 2003.

Today the former radar site is used by the Alabama Southern Community College. Many of the former Air Force buildings remain, as well as the large AN/FPS-35 search-radar tower, which dominates the site.

Air Force units and assignments

Units

Activated 1 December 1957 at Dobbins AFB, GA (not equipped or manned)
Redesignated 698th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 October 1959
Inactivated 31 December 1969 [2]

Assignments

See also

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References

Notes

  1. NORAD/CONAD Participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Historical Reference Paper No. 8, Directorate of Command History Continental Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO , 1 Feb 63 (Top Secret NOFORN declassified 9 March 1996)
  2. Cornett, Lloyd H.; Johnson, Mildred W. (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 161.

Bibliography

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/ .

Further reading