Crystal Springs Air Force Station
Crystal Springs Air Force Station (1959-1968) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1959 near Crystal Springs in Copiah County, Mississippi. Named Crystal Springs Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of TM-195, later a Sage ID of Z-195. Abandoned in 1968.
Construction began on 19 Nov 1956 by N.C. Morgan Construction Company of Tuscaloosa who was awarded the construction contract with their bid of $878,987.61. The site was completed in the summer of 1958 and became operational in late 1959 as Crystal Springs Air Force Station manned by the 627th AC&W Squadron. Initial equipment included the FPS-27 frequency diversity search radar, one FPS-6A height-finder radar, and one FPS-90 height-finder radar. This site served as a test site for the Westinghouse FPS-27 program and the contractor facilities were located in a large Quonset hut next to the radar tower.
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 FST-2 was installed between July and October 1959 by a Burroughs team including Tech Rep Charlie Haubrich. The site began operation as a SAGE site on 1 Nov 1959 initially feeding the Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09. On 1 Oct 1959, the unit was redesignated from 627th AC&W Squadron to 627th Radar Squadron (SAGE) to reflect the new SAGE System mission.
Crystal Springs 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 Crystal Springs AFS gap-filler radar was located at Summit, Mississippi.
Crystal Springs AFS and the 627th were deactivated 8 Sep 1968.
The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area, and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the three 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 27 unit housing area built-in 1962 for married personnel. All of the housing units were 3 bedrooms and furnished with appliances. Five units were set aside for officers and twenty-two for enlisted. A small 10 unit trailer park supplemented the married personnel housing area. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.
Now Mississippi Job Corps center in Crystal Springs, Copiah County, Mississippi. Many USAF buildings and about half of the housing units remain. The radar towers are gone.