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 on 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 long-range radar video to the adjacent NIKE facility for target acquisition and provided target data to the SAGE system for the SAGE-NIKE 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 the 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 air conditioning, 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 following 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.
Relocated from Williams Bay Air Force Station in Wisconsin in 1960 in order to provide a co-located site with the Chicago area NIKE Missile Master command post (MM-4). Siting difficulties put the five radar towers (3 USAF and 2 US Army) in a relatively small compound. Each of the four height-finder towers consisted of four, two-story tower sections and the search radar tower had five two-story sections to elevate it above the height finder towers. Each tower section was approximately 25' tall so the height-finders were elevated about 100 feet while the search radar was at about 125 feet. A standard USAF SAGE operations building was built in the compound adjacent to the large NIKE Missile Master building.
Only the U.S. Army Missile Master building remains.