Jacksonville NAS Radar Site
Jacksonville NAS Radar Site (1957-1981) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Site established in 1957. Located on Jacksonville Naval Air Station near the city of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of M-114 and later a Sage ID of Z-114. Located at two different locations on Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Radar Squadron deactivated and site closed in 1981.
Established in the summer of 1957 and became operational in 1959 as Jacksonville NAS Radar Site manned by the 679th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron. This site was located near the base operations building on the Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
Initial equipment included the FPS-3 and FPS-8 search radar sets along with a MPS-14 height-finder radar. Follow on equipment included a GPA-37 course directing analog computer system which partially automated the interception of unidentified aircraft. F-102A and F-106 interceptor aircraft could be guided to their targets from the GPA-37 by digital time-division data link or voice commands. The GPA-37 consoles (GPA-23s) could each handle up to six intercepts at a time.
Detachment 1 of the 769th AC&W Squadron was established in November 1958 at the Patrick Air Force Base Radar Site and remained there until it was replaced by the 645th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 28 Jun 1962.
The original site was relocated on the Naval Air Station in 1962, presumably to facilitate the construction of a SAGE annex. Equipment at the new location included the FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitter, one FPS-66 search radar and a pair of FPS-6 height-finder radars. This configuration (a SAGE qualified long-range search radar and two SAGE qualified height-finders) met the requirements for transition to SAGE System operation.
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 site began operation as a SAGE site in 1961 initially feeding the Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09. On 1 Oct 1962, the squadron designation was changed from the 679th AC&W Squadron to 679th Radar Squadron (SAGE) indicating the new SAGE System role.
In 1963 the radar site became a joint-use USAF/FAA facility.
On 1 Feb 1974, the squadron was redesignated the 679th Radar Squadron, dropping the (SAGE) descriptor.
Jacksonville NAS Radar Site and the 679th Radar Squadron were deactivated on 1 Jul 1981. Radar coverage of the area was assumed by the new (1980) Whitehouse FAA Radar Site.
Jacksonville NAS Radar Site AFS was responsible for the maintenance of two remote unattended gap-filler radar sites. 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 Jacksonville NAS Radar Site AFS gap-filler radars were located at Bunnell FL and Blythe Island GA.
SAGE operations building repurposed. Manual operations building repurposed. MPS-14 tower still in place, repurposed.