Arlington Heights Air Force Station
Arlington Heights Air Force Station (1960-1969) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1960 near Arlington Heights, Cook County, Illinois. Relocated from Williams Bay Air Force Station in Wisconsin in 1960 (P-31). Named Arlington Heights Air Force Station after the new location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of RP-31, later a Sage ID of Z-19. Abandoned in 1969.
Established in 1 April 1960 and became operational in 1961 as Arlington Heights Air Force Station manned by the 755th AC&W Squadron. This Air Force radar site was co-located with the U.S. Army Nike Site C-80DC, Arlington Heights (MM-4). The USAF radar site provided acquisition long range radar video to the adjacent NIKE facility and provided target data to the SAGE system for SAGE-NIKE the control interface.
Initial equipment included the FPS-20A search radar, one FPS-6A height finder radar and one FPS-6B height finder radar. Two additional FPS-6 type height finder radars were operated for a time by the U.S. Army to provide height data directly to the NIKE center.
This configuration established the requirements for the transition to the SAGE System operation.
SAGE System Transition
The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE system interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.
The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of airconditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power and usually a large new addition to the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.
SAGE System Operation
The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1962 initially feeding the Truax SAGE Direction Center DC-07. The search radar was upgraded to one FPS-67B in 1962. The FPS-6B was upgraded to a FPS-90 height finder in 1963. On 1 Dec 1967, SAGE control was shifted to the Sioux City SAGE Direction Center DC-22. On 1 Jul 1968 control was shifted to the Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 and the site would close the next year.
Arlington Heights AFS and the 755th were deactivated 30 Sep 1969.
Arlington Heights AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote unattended gap filler radar sites. The unattended gap filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites were equipped with short range FPS-14 or FPS-18 search radars and FST-1 Coordinate Data transmitters that sent digitized radar target data to a SAGE direction center and to the main radar site. Both the radar set and the FST-1 were dual channel to increase site up time. Maintenance teams were dispatched for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators on the FSW-1 remote monitoring equipment suggested the site had problems. The FSW-1 also allowed remote operation of specific functions such as channel changes for the radar and for the FST-1, it also allowed remote operation of the diesel generators at the gap filler site. The Arlington Heights AFS gap filler radar was located at Monee, Illinois. Additional gap fillers were planned but not activated.
A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Arlington Heights originally had separate radio transmitter and receiver sites used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link.