Calumet Air Force Station
Calumet Air Force Station (1951-1988) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1950 as Keweenaw Radar Site near Calumet in Keweenaw County, Michigan. Renamed Calumet Air Force Station on 1 Dec 1953 after the nearby town. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-16, later a Sage ID of Z-16 and a JSS ID of J-59. Abandoned as a radar station by the Air Force in 1988.
Established in 1950 and became operational 1 May 1951 as Keweenaw Radar Site manned by the 665th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.
Initial equipment included the FPS-5 and FPS-3 search radar. The FPS-3 was upgraded to an FPS-20. On 1 Dec 1953, the site was renamed Calumet Air Force Station. (Note: Local history indicates that the name was changed on 23 Apr 1954, and that may be the date that the Squadron was notified.)
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 April 1960 initially feeding the K.I. Sawyer SAGE Direction Center DC-14. On 15 Jul 1960, the squadron designation was changed from the 665th AC&W Squadron to 665th Radar Squadron (SAGE) indicating the new SAGE System role.
Gap Filler Radars
Calumet AFS was responsible for the maintenance of two 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 Calumet AFS gap-filler radars were located at Painesdale, MI, and Upson, WI.
Calumet AFS became a BUIC I NORAD Control Center site in 1962 and went operational as a BUIC II site in 1965. It was selected as a BUIC III site and in 1970 the 665th Radar Squadron (SAGE) became the 665th Air Defense Group (BUIC). The BUIC III system provided a backup for a SAGE direction center and provided the ability to display sector-wide radar data on consoles for local weapons controllers. The system duplicated the functionality of the vacuum tube direction center computers with more up-to-date computers and replaced the FST-2 with a more up-to-date coordinate data transmitter, the FYQ-47.
As the threat from a Soviet bomber fleet lessened the decision came to mothball the BUIC system in 1974. Calumet became a surveillance radar site again still feeding data to the SAGE System. In 1979 the Air Defense Command (ADC) was deactivated with the Tactical Air Command (TAC) assuming air defense responsibilities. TAC began the process of deactivating Calumet AFS. Height-finder operations ceased on 1 Oct 1979 and search operations ceased on 18 Oct 1983.
For some reason, the closure decision was reversed and a mobile MPS-11 search radar operated at the site between 1 Dec 1983 and 1 Oct 1984. New fixed search FPS-91A and FPS-116 height-finder radars were commissioned on 5 Apr 1985.
On 23 Sep 1983, Calumet AFS had joined the JSS System under the operational control of the new Griffiss JSS ROCC facility at Griffiss Air Force Base, New York. The site remained under the control of the Griffiss JSS ROCC until the site closed in 1988. Calumet AFS was one of seven USAF military radar sites in the original JSS System.
Calumet AFS and the 665th were finally deactivated on 30 Sep 1988. The local newspaper indicated that the last AFS personnel turned in their keys on the evening of 1 Dec 1988 and that only a maintenance crew of seven remained.
The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, three housing areas, 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 were three small housing areas for married personnel totaling 45 units.
A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Calumet originally had a radio transmitter site and a separate radio receiver site 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.
Abandoned in Calumet, Keweenaw County, Michigan.