Bellefontaine Air Force Station

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Bellefontaine Air Force Station (1952-1969) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established during the Korean War. Located near Bellefontaine, Logan County, Ohio. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-73 and a Sage ID of Z-73. Closed in 1969.

History

Established in 1951 and became operational in 1952 as Bellefontaine Air Force Station manned by the 664th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.

Initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and one CPS-4 height finder radars. By 1958 the site was operating a FPS-20 search radar and two height finders, one FPS-6 and one FPS-6A. This configuration (a SAGE qualified long range search radar and two SAGE qualified height finders) met the requirements for transition to 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

Bellefontaine SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 Apr 1959 - 1 Apr 1966 Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 Detroit Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1966 - 30 Sep 1969 Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 34th Air Division

The site began operation as a SAGE site in August 1959 initially feeding the Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06. On 1 Sep 1959 the squadron designation was changed from the 664th AC&W Squadron to 664th Radar Squadron (SAGE) indicating the new SAGE System role.

The FPS-20 search radar was upgraded to a FPS-66 in 1961 and in 1964 it was replaced by a FPS-27. By 1966 the site had replaced one FPS-6 height finder with a FPS-26A.

Closure

Bellefontaine AFS and the 664th were deactivated on 30 Sep 1969.

Gap Fillers

Richland Center, IN, Gap Filler Building with FPS-18 Antenna Sail on Roof.

Bellefontaine AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote unattended gap filler radar site. 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 Bellefontaine AFS gap filler radar was located at Richland Center IN.

Bellefontaine AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-73J Z-73J Richland Center IN FPS-18, FST-1 1960-02 1968-06 41.11792,
-86.2409
Building Exists
Tower gone
FPS-18 Antenna Sail
is on top of building.


Physical Plant

Bellefontaine AFS Composite Plan

The physical plant of the site was divided into a main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small 9 unit housing area for married personnel.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Bellefontaine 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.


Bellefontaine AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Radio
Unit Designations
  • 664th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1952-1959)
  • 664th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1959-1969)
664th Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Lockbourne AFB, OH, assigned to the 541st AC&W Gp.
  • Sep 1951 - Moved to Beliefontaine AFS, OH.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 16 Feb 1953 - Transferred to 4706th Def Wg.
  • 1 Mar 1956 - Transferred to 58th AD.
  • 1 Sep 1958 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 1 Apr 1959 - Transferred to Detroit ADS. Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06
  • 1 Sep 1959 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 664th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 34th AD. Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06
  • 30 Sep 1969 - Inactivated.


Bellefontaine Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1952~ Major Wilkerson, William F. N/A
1956-09-14 Major Lewis, Thomas W, N/A
1956-09-14 Lt. Colonel Whitley, Charles G. N/A
1959~ Lt. Colonel Wicker, Samuel J. N/A
1960~ Captain Alley, Ralph N/A

Current Status

The old radar site has been redeveloped as the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center. The Career Center is a career–technical school that provides technical training to high school students and adults in west-central Ohio. Many of the original USAF buildings are still in use but modified and modernized. The major buildings that no longer exist include the operations building, the FPS-27 tower and all of the barracks buildings. All nine of the base housing buildings are still in use. The FPS-26A tower and the FPS-6 tower are still standing.

The radar site was located at the highest point in Ohio, Campbell Hill. The radar sets were located at the top of Campbell Hill and two of the radar towers are still located there. Between the old FPS-6 radar tower and the old power generation building is a public access memorial to this high point in Ohio. At the base of the flag pole, is a flush to the ground memorial marker to the 664th AC&W Squadron that includes an engraved facsimile of the squadron patch.


Location: 2280 State Route 540 Bellefontaine, Logan County, Ohio (937) 599-3010

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.36984 Long: -83.72014

See Also:

Sources:

  • 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 158.
  • 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 147.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2086909

Links:

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