Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06

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Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 (1959-1969) - A Cold War SAGE System Direction Center first established in 1959 on Custer Air Force Station, Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan. Named Custer SAGE Direction Center after the location. Assigned a Sage ID of DC-06. Deactivated as a SAGE Direction Center in 1969.

History of Custer SAGE Direction Center

Established in 1959 and became operational on 1 Sep 1959 as Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06.

SAGE System Data Flow

Direction center equipment included the duplex FSQ-7 computer system and associated communication equipment. The FSQ-7 computer system assembled digitized inputs from USAF Radar Sites to provide tracking and identification of all aircraft within their sector of responsibility. The digitized radar inputs came from USAF Radar Sites, airborne radar pickets, Texas Towers, Gap Filler Radar Sites and other radar sources. The total picture of aircraft in the sector was assembled and any unknown aircraft were checked out and hostile aircraft were engaged by USAF fighter aircraft, Bomarc missiles or NIKE missiles. The primary defense was against the Soviet threat of a mass nuclear bomber attack on the US. The system evolved before the advent of ICBMs and provided no missile defense against them.

The computer technology was first generation vacuum tube equipment and required significant power and air conditioning. The physical plant of the direction center was enclosed in a large multi-story concrete blockhouse that housed the duplex FSQ-7 computer, communications equipment, a powerhouse, air conditioning systems and operational areas. The operational areas included radar mapping, air surveillance, identification, communications and weapons direction.

The enormous cost of the radar sites, direction centers, personnel, and training caused an immediate reevaluation and almost as quickly as they were built some facilities were closed. The first mass closures began in the 1960s when many radar sites and virtually all the gap filler sites were closed. The first round of direction center closures came in 1963 when six were closed, a second round in 1966 and a third in 1969 that closed a total of 17 out of 23. The remaining six direction centers became SAGE Regional Control Centers (RCCs) still using the massive FSQ-7 vacuum tube computers. As the direction centers and radar sites closed the remaining sites were realigned into ever-increasing sectors.

A new Joint Surveillance System (JSS) evolved as a partnership between the Air Force and the FAA to provide nationwide radar coverage. When completed in 1983 it consisted of only forty-six radar sites feeding into four new Region Operation Control Centers (ROCCs) with FYQ-93 computer systems. With the activation of the four U.S. ROCCs and the two Canadian ROCCs, the last seven of the SAGE direction centers were deactivated and this signaled the end of the SAGE system. Of the remaining forty-six radar sites, thirty-one had FAA-operated search radars and USAF operated height finders. Five sites just had FAA search radars and only ten sites were operated by the Military. With the deployment of forty FAA ARSR-4 3D radar sets in the 1990s, the earlier military and FAA radars were replaced.

The Canadians closed their underground SAGE Direction Center and created two ROCCs (CAN-East and CAN-West) using the FYQ-93 computers in the underground facility.


The Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 was deactivated on 31 Dec 1969.

Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 Radar Sites (edit list)
Location Type State Unit ADC NORAD JSS From To GPS Notes
Brookfield AFS OH 662nd P-62 1959-04-01 1959-11-01 41.21917,
Manual Operation?
Moved to Oakdale
Oakdale AFS PA 662nd RP-62 Z-62 1959-11-01
Custer AFS MI 781st P-67 Z-67 1959-04-01 1965-06-25 42.34222,
Selfridge AFB MI 661st P-20 Z-20 1959-04-01 1969-11-14 42.62694,
Bellefontaine AFS OH 664th P-73 Z-73 1959-04-01 1969-09-30 40.36984,
Port Austin AFS MI 754th P-61 Z-61 J-57 1959-04-01 1969-11-14 44.03028,
Empire AFS MI 752nd P-34 Z-34 J-58 1963-07-15 1966-11-14 44.8025,
Lockport AFS NY 763nd P-21 Z-21 1963-09-04 1969-09-15 43.14028,
Guthrie AFS WV 783nd P-43 Z-43 1961-07-01 1968-06-18 38.44306,
Snow Mountain AFS KY 784th P-82 Z-82 1961-08-01
Osceola AFS WI 674th P-35 Z-35 1969-09-15 1969-11-14 45.25139,
Antigo AFS WI 676th P-19 Z-19 1968-07-01 1969-11-14 45.04833,
Wadena AFS MN 739th P-17 Z-17 1969-09 1969-11-14 46.51528,
Sault Ste Marie AFS MI 753nd P-66 Z-66 1969-09-15 1969-11-14 46.45722,
Arlington Heights AFS IL 755th RP-31 Z-31 1968-07-01 1969-09-30 42.06431,
Finland AFS MN 756th P-69 Z-69 1969-09-15 1969-11-19 47.45361,

Current Status

Sage Direction Center blockhouse was repurposed as a civilian archival storage facility on the former Custer Air Force Station in Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan.

Location: Custer Air Force Station, Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.32166 Long: -85.266749

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 900'

See Also:


  • 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 56.
  • 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 57, 125.
  • Ulmann, Bernd, AN/FSQ-7:the computer that shaped the Cold War, 2014, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, ISBN 978-3-486-72766-1, 272 pages.


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