Condon Air Force Station

From FortWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Condon Air Force Station (1951-1970) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 near Condon, Gilliam County, Oregon. Named Condon Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-32 and later a Sage ID of Z-32. Abandoned in 1970.

Condon Air Force Station Radio Receiver Site.
Condon Air Force Station showing Two FPS-6 Height Finders and a FPS-66 In the Radome.
Condon Air Force Station, circa 1962, after 2nd Height Finder Installed, before FPS-27 Installed.

History of Condon Air Force Station

Established in 1951 and became operational as Condon Air Force Station manned by the 636th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning misssion. The early warnng 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-3 search radar and a FPS-4 height finder radar. In May 1957 a single FPS-6 height finder was installed and in July 1958 the FPS-3 was modified to become a FPS-20A search radar with the application of a GPA-27 modification kit. In 1959 an additional FPS-6A height finder radar was installed. With these radar set upgrades, Condon AFS was prepared to transition into the SAGE System with one long range search radar and two long range height finder radars.

SAGE System Transition

Condon AFS Operations & FST-2 Building 100.

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 FST-2 installation was completed by December 1960 and Condon AFS became an operational SAGE System site.

SAGE System Operation

The site began operation as a SAGE site in December 1960 initially feeding the Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15 at Larson AFB, Washington. On 8 Sep 1960 the 636th was redesignated from a AC&W Squadron to the 636th Radar Squadron (SAGE). With the closure of DC-15 in 1963, Condon was connected to the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 at McChord AFB. As other SAGE direction centers were consolidated and closed, control of Condon AFS changed several times, see the table below.

Former Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15, now a Commercial Data Center
Condon SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
15 Mar 1960 - 1 Jun 1963 Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15 Spokane ADS
1 Jun 1963 - 1 Apr 1966 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 Seattle ADS
1 Apr 1966 - 15 Sep 1969 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 26th AD
15 Sep 1969 - 30 Sep 1970 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 25th AD
Condon AFS FPS-6 Radar Tower Remains Building 1100. (2016)
Condon AFS Receiver Building 240. (2016)
Condon AFS FPS-27 Radar Tower Remains Building AAA. (2016)
Condon AFS Transmitter/GATR Building 294. (2016)

The FPS-20 search radar was upgraded to an FPS-66A in November 1961 and replaced with an FPS-27 in 1964. The new tower for the FPS-27 was accepted on 1 May 1963 and the FPS-27 itself was accepted on 7 Mar 1964. The FPS-66A search radar was sent to Burns Air Force Station as a replacement for their FPS-7 that was destroyed by a fire in July 1964.

The KW-7 on-line cryptographic machine installation was completed in October 1965 and the manual Mode IV SIF decoder was installed in December 1965.

On 20 Dec 1965 the ground-to-air radio transmitter building (Bldg. 294) and the air-to-ground radio receiver building (Bldg.240) were consolidated into the radio transmitter building and that became known as the GATR building.

Closure

Condon AFS and the 636th were deactivated on 30 Sep 1970.

Condon AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems IFF/SIF Crypto
Unit Designations
  • 636th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
  • 636th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1970)
636th Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at McChord AFB, WA, assigned to the 505th Gp.
  • 25 May 1951 - Transferred to the 162nd Gp.
  • by 15 Aug 1951 - Moved to Condon, OR.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Assigned to the 25th AD.
  • Jan 1953 - Transferred to the 4702nd Defense Wg.
  • 8 Oct 1954 - Transferred to the 9th AD.
  • 15 Aug 1958 - Transferred to the 25th AD.
  • 1 Sep 1958 - Transferred to the 4700th AD Wg.
  • 15 Mar 1960 - Transferred to Spokane ADS. (Larson)
  • 8 Sep 1960 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 636th Radar Sq (SAGE)
  • 1 Jun 1963 - Transferred to Seattle ADS. (McChord)
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to the 26th AD. (Adair)
  • 15 Sep 1969 - Reassigned to the 25th AD. (McChord)
  • 30 Sep 1970 - Inactivated.


Condon Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1949 1951 Captain Etterer, Jack N/A
1951 1953 Major Arnold, John N/A
1953 1955 Captain Soverin, Richard. N/A
1955 1957 Major Halloway, Roy N/A
1957 1958 Major Stagg, Herbert W. N/A
1958 1960 Major Traylor, John N/A
1960 1962 Major Maslowski, Frank N/A
1962 1965 Lt. Colonel Solomon, Richard F. N/A
1965 196?-07-20 Lt. Colonel Slaughter, Richard G. N/A
196?-07-20 Captain Wickell, James E. N/A

Physical Plant

Condon AFS Headquarters/Admin/Mail Room/Movie Theater Building 102. (2016)
Condon AFS Airmen's Barracks Buildings 156, 152, 148. (2016)
Condon AFS (L-R) BOQ Bldg 126, Gym Bldg 130, NCO Club Bldg 134. (2016)
Condon AFS Housing Area. (2016)
Condon AFS Motor Pool Maint Building 105. (2016)
Condon AFS Central Heating Plant Bldg 121. (2016)
Condon AFS Bowling Alley Building EEE. (2016)

The physical plant of the site was divided into a main site, a housing area and two radio sites. The main site housed the operations building, the radar towers, the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the chow hall, the motor pool and the backup generators. Apart from the main site was a small 27 unit housing area for married personnel. At Condon the north quadrant of the main site contained the operations area while the other three quadrants were devoted to the cantonment area.

Two separate radio sites housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Condon 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.

Condon Air Force Station Composite Plan.


Condon AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Exists Notes
100 Gate Shack No
102 HQ/Administration Yes
105 Auto Maintenance Yes
106 CE Storage Yes
109 Ammo Storage Yes
110 Tech Supply Yes
112 Water Plant Yes
114 Base Supply Yes
121 Central Heating Plant Yes
122 Bachelor Officer Qtrs (BOQ) Yes
125 Civil Engineer Maintenance Yes
126 Bachelor Officer Qtrs (BOQ) Yes
129 Hobby Shop Yes
130 Recreation Hall Yes
133 Flamable Storage Yes Not on this plan
134 NCO Club Yes
148 Bachelor Airmen's Qtrs (BAQ) Yes
152 Bachelor Airmen's Qtrs (BAQ) Yes
156 Bachelor Airmen's Qtrs (BAQ) Yes
158 Dining Hall No
240 Radio Receiver Blg Yes
244 Microwave Relay Yes
260 Operations/FST-2 Yes
264 Power Production Yes
270 Search Radar Tower Foundation
294 Radio Transmitter Bldg Yes
303 Clorination Bldg Yes Not on this plan
308-364 Housing Units (27) Yes Not on this plan
800 Water Tank Yes
1100 Radar Tower FPS-6 Tower pads only
AAA Radar Tower FPS-27 First floor only
BBB Radar Tower FPS-6 Tower pads only
CCC Power Production Yes
DDD Fuel Tanks (2) Yes
EEE Bowling Alley (2) Yes
FFF Shop (3 Bays) Yes
GGG Carpenter Shop Yes


Current Status

Abandoned near Condon, Gilliam County, Oregon. The housing units are in use by private owners.


Location: Near Condon, Gilliam County, Oregon.

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.23667 Long: -120.30167

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 155.
  • 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 149.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2087474


Links:

Visited: 1 Oct 2016


Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
content
Share
Google AdSense
Toolbox