Fort Meade Radar Site
Fort Meade Radar Site (1961-1979) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established in 1961. Located on Fort Meade, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of RP-54 and later a Sage ID of Z-227. Co-located with NIKE Fort Meade Army Air Defense Command Post W-13DC. Closed in 1979.
Established in 1961 and became operational on 1 Oct 1961 as Fort Meade Radar Site manned by the 770th Radar Squadron (SAGE). The 770th had been operating the P-54 site at Palermo Air Force Station which was closed. The Fort Meade site was established as part of a plan to colocate ten U.S. Army NIKE command posts with USAF SAGE radar sites. The Fort Meade site was designated as site RP-54 (Relocated P-54). The Army command post shared the USAF search radar data and interfaced with SAGE Direction Centers. The Army and the Air Force maintained separate sets of two height-finders each
Initial USAF equipment included the FPS-67 search radar, one FPS-6 height-finder radar and one FPS-6B height-finder. The U.S. Army had a FPS-33 search radar and two FPS-6 type height-finders installed prior to the colocation. The Army FPS-33 was removed and replaced with the shared USAF FPS-67. This configuration (a SAGE qualified long range search radar (FPS-67) and two SAGE qualified height-finders (FPS-6) met the requirements for transition to SAGE System operation. It is unclear when the SAGE annex was constructed and the FST-2 installed but the squadron was already SAGE designated.
SAGE System Operation
The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1961 initially feeding the Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 in Virginia.
The Fort Meade radar site was redesignated Z-227 on 1 Jul 1963 after Palermo Air Force Station reopened as site Z-54. In 1964 the FPS-6B was replaced by an FPS-90 and the FPS-6 height-finder was deactivated. In 1966 the FPS-67 was modified to become a FPS-67B.
The vacuum tube FST-2B on the Fort Meade Radar Site was replaced with a solid state FYQ-47 by February 1973 when the 18 month USAF/FAA replacement program was completed.
Fort Meade Radar Site and the 770th were deactivated on 1979.
Fort Meade Army Air Defense Command Post W-13DC (1957-1974)
The U.S. Army established their NIKE System Fort Meade Army Air Defense Command Post W-13DC as the command post for the Washington/Baltimore Area defenses at Fort Meade in 1957. At Fort Meade, a large "Nuclear Bunker" was built along with Army search and height-finder radars. The integration of the Army's Missile Master sites into the SAGE system was delayed because the Missile Master sites went operational before the SAGE System was ready. The integration plan required the colocation of an Air Force SAGE System radar site with each of the ten Missile Master sites. In the interim, a manual system was implemented with a GPA-37 at each of the Missile Master sites providing a manual intercept capability.
The AADCP at Fort Meade operated the first FSG-1 Missile Master system in the United States. The system went operational in December 1957 under 35th Artillery Brigade. In mid-1958 ARADCOM began replacing Nike-Ajax missiles with the more capable, nuclear-tipped Nike-Hercules missiles. Fewer batteries were required for the Hercules missiles and the Fort Meade AADCP replaced the vacuum tube FSG-1 Missile Master system (24 batteries max) with the solid state TSQ-51 Missile Mentor system (16 batteries max) in August 1966.
The command post was inactivated on 4 Jun 1973 along with most of the remaining NIKE air defense system. Only the Homestead Army Air Defense Command Post HM-01DC remained in operation for a while longer (1979), guarding the approaches from Cuba.
Fort Meade Radar Site 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 Fort Meade Radar Site gap-filler radar was located at Hermanville MD.
The Missile Master/Mentor facility and adjacent Air Force radar site are occupied by the Fort Meade Director of Information Services. The buildings are intact but modified, including the barracks, support buildings and radar towers.