Tonopah Air Force Station

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Tonopah Air Force Station
Air Defense Command.png
Part of Air Defense Command (ADC)
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Tonopah AFS
Location of Tonopah AFS, Nevada
Coordinates 38°03′06″N117°13′32″W / 38.05167°N 117.22556°W / 38.05167; -117.22556 (Tonopah AFS SM-164) Coordinates: 38°03′06″N117°13′32″W / 38.05167°N 117.22556°W / 38.05167; -117.22556 (Tonopah AFS SM-164)
Type Air Force Station
Site information
Controlled byFlag of the United States Air Force.svg  United States Air Force
Site history
Built 1956
In use 1956-1970
Garrison information
Garrison 866th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  ·  Google Maps
Download coordinates as: KML  ·  GPX
Emblem of the 866th Radar Squadron 866th Radar Squadron - Emblem.png
Emblem of the 866th Radar Squadron

Tonopah Air Force Station (ADC ID: SM-164, NORAD ID: Z-164) is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 1.1 miles (1.8 km) south of Tonopah, Nevada. It was closed in 1970.

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.

Tonopah, Nevada Unincorporated town in Nevada, United States

Tonopah is an unincorporated town in and the county seat of Nye County, Nevada, United States. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 6 and 95, approximately midway between Las Vegas and Reno. In the 2010 census, the population was 2,478. The census-designated place (CDP) of Tonopah has a total area of 16.2 square miles (42 km2), all land.

Contents

History

Tonopah Air Force Station was initially part of Phase II of the Air Defense Command Mobile Radar program. The Air Force approved this expansion of the Mobile Radar program on October 23, 1952. Radars in this network were designated “SM.”

The station became operational on 1 October 1956 when the 866th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was moved to the new station, 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. In 1957 the 866th AC&W Squadron activated an AN/MPS-7 radar and operated manually.

In June 1961 the site was moved to another peak and joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, initially feeding data to DC-21 at Stead AFB, Nevada. After joining, the squadron was re-designated as the 866th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 July 1961. 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. In addition, the 866th Radar Squadron operated a pair of AN/FPS-6 height-finder and AN/FPS-7C search radars. In 1963 the height-finder radars were converted to AN/FPS-90 sets, and on 31 July 1963, the site was redesignated as NORAD ID Z-164.

One AN/FPS-90 was retired in 1969. The Air Force inactivated the 866th Radar Squadron 1 July 1970 as a result of budget restrictions, and the general phase down of air defense radar stations.

However, during the 1970s, a site near the former radar station was used by the Air Force as part of the Foreign Technology Evaluation program being conducted at nearby Tonopah Test Range Airport. A "Bar Lock" search radar from the Soviet Union was installed at the former Tonopah AFS GATR site 38°08′37″N117°11′57″W / 38.14361°N 117.19917°W / 38.14361; -117.19917 (Tonopah Barlock Radar Site) to evaluate the Soviet Air Defense System. It was a very valuable tool use for many things. The Air Force needed to develop the all the interfacing equipment in order to use the data in remote locations. Great care was taken not do anything to change the characteristics of the radar itself. A lot of equipment was duplicated and placed in different locations to complete the ground environment, which turned out to be a great training facility.

Tonopah Test Range Airport

Tonopah Test Range Airport, at the Tonopah Test Range is 27 NM southeast of Tonopah, Nevada and 140 mi (230 km) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a major airfield with a 12,000 ft × 150 ft runway, instrument approach facilities, and nighttime illumination. The facility boasts over fifty hangars and an extensive support infrastructure.

P-35 radar

The P-35 also referred to by the NATO reporting name "Bar Lock" in the west is a 2D E band/F band radar developed and operated by the former Soviet Union.

Today, the former Tonopah AFS is now a commercial transmitter site. A few old Air Force buildings are still in use for other uses. The FAA radar uses two out of the three former USAF RADAR platforms.

Air Force units and assignments

Units

Activated at Hamilton AFB, California on 8 November 1954
Inactivated on 15 December 1954
Activated at Hamilton AFB, CA on 9 October 1955
Moved to Tonopah AFS on 1 October 1956
Redesignated 866th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 July 1961
Inactivated on 1 July 1970

Assignments

28th Air Division

The 28th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Air Defense Tactical Air Command at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. It was inactivated on 29 May 1992.

San Francisco Air Defense Sector

The San Francisco Air Defense Sector (SFADS) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the 28th Air Division, being stationed at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Reno Air Defense Sector

The Reno Air Defense Sector (ReADS) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the 28th Air Division, being stationed at Stead Air Force Base, Nevada.

See also

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References

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