Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03

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Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 (1958-1983) - A Cold War SAGE System Direction Center first established in 1958 on then Hancock Field near Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. Named Hancock SAGE Direction Center after the location. Assigned a Sage ID of DC-03. Co-located with Hancock SAGE Combat Center CC-01. Deactivated as a SAGE Direction Center in 1983.

Former Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 Front.
Former Hancock SAGE DC-03/CC-01 Power/Air Conditioning Building.
Former Hancock SAGE DC-03 (Left) and CC-01 (Right).


Established in 1958 and became operational on 15 Feb 1960 as Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03. The direction center was housed in a purpose-built, square, four-story reinforced concrete blockhouse.

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 Hancock SAGE Direction Center was one of the six-direction centers designated as a SAGE Regional Control Centers (RCCs) in 1966 and it remained operational, still using the vacuum tube FSQ-7 computers, until it was deactivated on 24 Oct 1983.

Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03
Unit Designation From To
Syracuse Air Defense Sector 1956-01-08 1966-04-01
35 Air Division 1966-04-01 1969-11-19
21 Air Division 1969-11-19 1983-08-31

Hancock SAGE Combat Center CC-1

Hancock SAGE Combat Center CC-1

The Hancock SAGE Combat Center CC-01 was adjacent to the direction center building and shared the powerhouse. The combat center was also constructed as a purpose-built, square, reinforced concrete blockhouse but only three stories tall. Like the direction center, the combat center housed a large computer system, communications equipment, displays, and a command post. The computer system was a duplex FSQ-8 computer almost identical to the FSQ-7 computer in the direction center. The major difference between the two was that the FSQ-8 did not require the input-output components to interface directly with the individual radar sites and weapons systems. The combat center was connected to the Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 and other direction centers in its sector of responsibility.

The combat center came under the purview of the 26th Air division and included five direction centers, each controlling an air defense sector. The system began operation in January 1959 and by March 1959 the combat center and the five direction centers were fully SAGE operational.

Hancock SAGE Combat Center CC-01 Direction Centers
ID Direction Center Operational Deactivated
DC-01 McGuire SAGE Direction Center DC-01 1958 1968
DC-02 Stewart SAGE Direction Center DC-02 1956 1969
DC-05 Topsham SAGE Direction Center DC-05 1958 1969
DC-03 Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 1958 1983
DC-04 Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 1959 1983

The FSQ-8 computers in the adjacent Hancock SAGE Combat Center CC-01 were removed circa 1966.

Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 Radar Sites (edit list)
Location Type State Unit ADC NORAD JSS From To GPS Notes
Oakdale AFS PA 662nd RP-62 Z-62 1960-06-15 1963-09-04 40.39893,
Benton AFS PA 648th P-30 Z-30 1958-08-15
Claysburg AFS PA 772nd P-63 Z-63 1958-08-15 1961-05-01 40.2875,
Watertown AFS NY 655th P-49 Z-49 1958-09
Lockport AFS NY 763rd P-21 Z-21 1958-09 1963-09 43.14028,
Gibbsboro AFS PA 772nd RP-63 Z-63 J-51 1967-12 1983-00 39.82417,
Palermo AFS NJ 680th P-54 Z-54 1967-12 1968-04 39.22194,
Montauk AFS NY 773rd P-45 Z-45 1967-12 1981-00 41.0675,
Charleston AFS ME 765th P-65 Z-65 1969-11 1980-00 45.0896,
Saint Albans AFS VT 764th P-14 Z-14 1969-11 1979-00 44.78167,
Caswell AFS ME 766th P-80 Z-80 1969-11 1980-00 46.97083,
Lowther AS ON 639th M-119 C-119 1981-09-01 1983-10-23 49.55583,
Calumet AFS MI 665th P-16 Z-016 J-59 1983-04-01 1983-10-23 47.37111,
North Truro AFS MA 762nd P-10 Z-10 1966-04-01 1983-10-23 42.03149,
Barrington CFS NS 213 RS M-102 C-102 1967-08-29 1983-06-15 43.45167,

Current Status

Sage Direction Center blockhouse repurposed on Syracuse Hancock International Airport near Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York.

Location: Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.12221 Long: -76.10055

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 421'

GPS Locations:

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Visited: 16 Jun 2016

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