Clear Air Force Station

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Clear Air Force Station (1959-present) - A Cold War BMEWS System Air Force Radar Station, first established in 1959 near Anderson in Denali Borough, Alaska. Active military installation.

Clear AFS Radar Scanner Bldg 104 and Antenna.
Clear AFS SSPARS Radar.
Clear AFS, Old Technical Area Upper Left, SSPARS Area Upper Right, Composite Area Lower Right.

Missions

  • Primary - To provide early warning of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) to the Missile Warning Center at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
  • Secondary - To provide space surveillance data on orbiting objects to the NORAD Space Control Center.

History

BMEWS Site II, Clear AFS, Alaska was established in 1959 and achieved initial operational capability on 30 Sep 1961. It became fully operational on 31 Dec 1961 manned by Detachment 2, 71st Missile Warning Wing.

Initial equipment included three FPS-50 SLBM detection radar sets. One FPS-92 tracking radar was added in 1966. The tracking radar was housed in a 140 foot protective radome atop building 102. Power and heating for the remote site was provided by a large coal fired power plant. Coal was brought to the site by rail.

The three FPS-50 search radar sets were replaced by one FPS-115 Pave Paws Solid State Phased-Array Radar (SSPAR) (now a FPS-123) in 2001. The FPS-115 PAVE PAWS radar was relocated from Eldorado Air Force Station in Texas. On 15 Dec 2000, the BMEWS FPS-50 radars were deactivated, and the FPS-115 SSPARS began 24-hour operations. Initial Operational Capability was declared on 31 Jan 2001.

The radar is housed in an 10 story building with three outward facing walls, two of which contained 5,354 solid state array elements each, providing 240 degree coverage for some 3450 miles at elevations from 3 to 85 degrees above the horizon. The radar system has been upgraded over the years to a FPS-123 and then to the current FPS-132, Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR).

On 21 May 2004, the 213th Space Warning Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard (AANG) took over the operation of Clear AFS. The transfer to the National Guard improved personnel stability by closing the revolving door of active duty personnel that were rotated every year. Over 100 Alaska guardsmen are assigned to the 213th SWS to perform the daily missile warning and space surveillance mission while there may be only 10-15 active duty personel assigned to the 13th Space Warning Squadron on site. There are also some 35 Defense Department civilians, and more than 150 contractors supporting the mission. Personnel numbers fluctuate with mission and equipment changes.

Current Status

Clear AFS BMEWS Antennas Being Pulled Down on 18 Oct 2016.

Demolition of the old FPS-50 antennas and structures began on 18 Oct 2016 and was expected to be completed by mid November 2016. The FPS-50s were deactivated on 15 Dec 2000 but have remained in place since that time. The site is being cleared to make way for the Long Range Discrimination Radar(LRDR) alongside Clear’s new and improved FPS-132 UEWR system.

Clear AFS Coal Fired Power Plant Deactivated in January 2016.

The 1960s-era coal-fired power plant at Clear AFS was decommissioned in January 2016. Clear AFS is now connected to the local power grid and draws its power from a more efficient system, reducing monthly energy consumption by 82 percent.

Future

The Clear AFS is the chosen site for a Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) system to improve targeting for a Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).

On 26 Oct 2015 Lockheed Martin was awarded a nine year $784 million contract to develop, build and test the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR). The radar system will support a layered ballistic missile defense strategy to protect the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attacks. The system is slated for operational testing at Clear AFS by 2020.

Physical Plant

Clear AFS is divided into four major areas, the composite area, camp area, SSPARS site and the old technical site area.

  • Composite Area - Houses administration, recreation and living quarters.
  • Camp Area - Civil engineering and security police offices are located in the camp area
  • SSPARS Area - Houses the 10 story steel frame SSPARS building with the FPS 132 radar equipment, a two story facility equipment building and a one story building for controlled entry.
  • Technical Site Area - Contains the power plant, operations and maintenance facilities including the original FPS-50 radars and associated equipment. It was originally comprised of three Detection Radars, three scanner buildings, two transmitter buildings, and the Tracking Radar. The power plant has been decommissioned and some of this area is being demolished to make way for the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) project.



Clear AFS Major Equipment List
Detection Radar Tracking Data Systems Communications
  • SATCOM
Unit Designations
  • Det 2, 71st Missile Warning Wing (1961-1967)
  • 13th Missile Warning Squadron (1967-1992)
  • 13th Space Warning Squadron (1992-Present)
  • 213th Space Warning Squadron (2004-Present)
Unit Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1967 - Organized as Detachment 2 at Clear MEW, AK, assigned to the 71st Missile Warning Wing
  • 30 Apr 1971 - Transferred to the 14th Aerospace Force.
  • 1 Oct 1976 - Reassigned to the HQ Alaskan ADCOM Rgn.
  • 1 Dec 1979 - Reassigned to SAC.
  • 15 May 1992 - Redesignated 13th Space Warning Squadron and reassigned to 21st Space Wing.
  • 21 May 2004 - Transferred to the 213th Space Warning Squadron Alaska Air National Guard.

Location: Near Anderson in Denali Borough, Alaska.

Maps & Images

Lat: 64.29001 Long: -149.19144

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 14, 34.
  • 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 50-51, 97.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2512408


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