Keno Air Force Station
Keno Air Force Station (1958-1979) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1958 near Keno, Klamath County, Oregon. Named Keno Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of TM-180, later a Sage ID of Z-180 and a JSS ID of J-82. Deactivated by the U.S. Air Force in 1979 now operated by the FAA as Klamath Falls FAA Radar Site (LMT).
Established in 1958 and became operational in September 1958 as Keno Air Force Station manned by the 827th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.
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 June 1960 initially feeding the Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-67B and a FPS-90 height-finder radar replaced one of the FPS-6A radars. With the closure of the Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13, Keno AFS was reassigned on 15 Sep 1969 to the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12.
Gap Filler Radars
Keno 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 gap-fillers that Keno was responsible for were located in Yreka, California, and La Pine, Oregon. The La Pine site was never activated because the radar tower blew down in the winter of 1959.
Post BUIC Operation
The site was operated as a joint-use site by the USAF/FAA starting in the early 1960s and at some point, the FAA took over the operation and maintenance of the search radar FPS-67B. The FST-2 was replaced in the early 1970s by the FYQ-47. The FYQ-47 was installed in the FPS-67B tower and maintained by the FAA. The FPS-90 was removed in 1976 and sent to the JSS site at Salem (Laurel Mtn./Dallas), Oregon. In 1979 the site came under TAC jurisdiction with only the FPS-67B search radar.
With the deactivation of the USAF radar site on 30 Sept 1979, the abandoned Air Force buildings were removed in the early 1990s and a much smaller compound was established for the FAA search radar and other facilities. The site became Klamath Falls FAA Radar Site still using the FPS-67B search radar.
In 1982 an ADTAC listing of sites to be brought into the JSS System included Keno FAA Radar Site with an FPS-67B search radar, an FYQ-47 Common Digitizer, and an ATCBI-5 SIF/IFF (Beacon) set. In this listing, the site is shown as a "data-tied" (no height-finder or mode 4 capability) site with all the equipment owned and maintained by the FAA with no USAF personnel on this site.
By 1990 the site was still equipped with the FPS-67B search radar but the FYQ-47 had been replaced with a CD-2A Common Digitizer. Now listed as the Klamath Falls FAA Radar Site, the CD-2A was scheduled to receive an upgrade kit to implement three-level weather data processing in May 1992.
On 12 Jul 2012, a Joint Tech Inspection was conducted at the site by Western Air Defenses Sector (WADS), Oregon Air National Guard (OANG), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel. Photos from that inspection show the FPS-67B still in place on the old Air Force tower with a solid radome. Interior photos show the old FPS-67B search radar and ATCBI-6 beacon equipment and indicate that this is a pre CARSR configuration. The photos also show legacy Rivet Switch radios being removed after being replaced with CM-300/350 and URC-200 equipment.
The nationwide replacement program converting FAA legacy radar systems to the CARSR radar configuration was completed by 17 Aug 2015 and Klamath Falls FAA Radar Site was a part of that program. Legacy FAA radars underwent a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that replaced key components in the vintage ARSR-1, ARSR-2, FPS-20, FPS-66 and FPS-67 radars. The CARSR program replaced legacy klystron radar transmitters with a solid-state transmitter as well as renovating the radar receiver and signal processor. The CARSR modification also included common digitizer functionality making a separate common digitizer unnecessary. The Klamath Falls FAA Radar Site is now operating with the CARSR radar. At the time of the CARSR changeout, the legacy radar in place was still the FPS-67B and the secondary radar is the ATCBI-6 Beacon set.
The radar site data is now available to the USAF/NORAD Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F) operations centers (EADS & WADS) as well as the FAA Seattle ARTCC (ZSE) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.
Now operated by the FAA as Klamath Falls FAA Radar Site. Most of the main Air Force buildings have been leveled including the operations complex, the power generation buildings, the two height-finder towers, and the dining hall. Among those USAF buildings still remaining are the motor pool building, the search radar tower, and the GATR radio site building. Several smaller buildings associated with the infrastructure can still be seen. The smaller FAA compound is surrounded by a fence.
Visited: 16 May 2023