Calumet Air Force Station

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Calumet Air Force Station (1951-1988) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 near Calumet, Keweenaw County, Michigan. Named Calumet Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-16, later a Sage ID of Z-16 and a JSS ID of J-59. Abandoned by the Air Force in 1988.

History of Calumet Air Force Station

Established in 1951 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 misssion. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifing 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.

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.

The site began operation as a SAGE site in April 1960 initially feeding the K.I. Sawyer SAGE Direction Center DC-14. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-64 in 1961. By 1963 the site had an FPS-27 search radar, an FPS-26A height finder and an FPS-90 height finder.

With the closure of K.I. Sawyer SAGE Direction Center DC-14 in 1963, Calumet came under the control of the Duluth SAGE Direction Center DC-10 in October 1963. On 1 Oct 1979, the air defense assets of the Air Defense Command (ADC) were transferred to the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and a period of reorganization and consolidation began. On 13 Jul 1981, Calumet AFS came under the control of the Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 until that direction center closed in September 1983 when the SAGE System was deactivated. On 23 Sep 1983, Calumet AFS came 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.

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 Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-16A Z-16A Painesdale MI FPS-18, FST-1 1960 1968 47.036555,
P-16B Z-16B Upson WI FPS-18, FST-1 1959 1964 46.419445,

BUIC System

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 deactivate 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.


Calumet AFS and the 665th were finally deactivated on 30 Sep 1988.

Physical Plant

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 were three small housing areas for married personnel totaling 45 units. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.

Calumet AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 665th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
  • 665th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1970)
  • 665th Air Defense Group (1970-1974)
  • 665th Radar Squadron (1974-1979)
  • 665th Radar Squadron (TAC) (1979-1988)
665th Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Established as the 665th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron at Keweenaw, MI
  • 1 Jan 1951 - 6 Feb 1952 Assigned to 541st AC&W Group
  • 6 Feb 1952 - 16 Feb 1953 Assigned to 30th AD
  • 16 Feb 1953 - 8 Jul 1956 Assigned to 4706th Defense Wing
  • 1 Dec 1953 - Site renamed Calumet Air Force Station
  • 8 Jul 1956 - 1 Apr 1960 Assigned to 30th AD
  • 1 Apr 1960 - 1 Oct 1963 Assigned to Sault Ste Marie ADS (K.I. Sawyer)
  • 15 Jul 1960 - Redesignated 665th Radar Squadron (SAGE)
  • 1 Oct 1963 - 1 Apr 1966 Assigned to Duluth ADS (Duluth)
  • 1 Apr 1966 - 19 Nov 1969 Assigned to 29th AD
  • 1 Nov 1969 - 1 Oct 1979 Assigned to 23rd AD
  • 1 Mar 1970 - Redesignated as 665th Air Defense Group
  • 1 Jan 1974 - Redesignated as 665th Radar Squadron
  • 1 Oct 1979 - 13 Jul 1981 Assigned to 23 AD (TAC) (Duluth)
  • 1 Oct 1979 - Redesignated 665th Radar Squadron (TAC)
  • 13 Jul 1981 - 23 Sep 1983 Assigned to 21st AD (TAC) (Hancock)
  • 23 Sep 1983 - 30 Sep 1988 Assigned to 24th AD (TAC) (Griffiss)
  • 30 Sep 1988 - Deactivated

Calumet Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1971 1974 Colonel Fear, John N/A

Current Status

Abandoned in Calumet, Keweenaw County, Michigan.

Location: Near Calumet in Keweenaw County, Michigan.

Maps & Images

Lat: 47.3716667 Long: -88.1705556

See Also:


  • 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 85, 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 123.
  • NORAD/CONAD Historical Summary Jan-Dec 1966, dated 1 May 1967, Command History Division, HQ NORAD/CONAD, Unclassified (originally classified Secret), pdf, pages 28-31, Backup Intercept Control Systems
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2086952


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