Klamath Air Force Station

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Klamath Air Force Station (1950-1981) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1950 near Klamath, Del Norte County, California. Named Klamath Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Lash-Up ID of LP-33 and then later a Permanent ID of P-33, a Sage ID of Z-33 and a JSS ID of J-83. Manned by the 777th AC&W Squadron that later became the 777th Radar Squadron (SAGE). Abandoned by USAF in 1979 and turned over to the FAA. Also known as Requa Air Force Station.

History of Klamath Air Force Station

Established in 1950 and became operational in April 1952 as Klamath Air Force Station manned by the 777th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning misssion. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifing 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.

The Lash-up site operated the TPS-1B combination search and height finder radar as early as April 1951. The permanent site initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and FPS-4 height finder radar became operational in April 1952.

In 1956 a GPS-3 was added to the facility. By 1958 the configuration included a FPS-20A search radar and a FPS-6 height finder. In 1959 a FPS-6A height finder radar was added and that established the initial configuration for SAGE operation, one long range search radar and two height finders.

SAGE Transition

The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with 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 airconditioning, 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 System radar site in 1960 initially feeding the Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13.

Klamath AFS SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 Mar 1960 - 1 Apr 1966 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 Portland ADS
1 Apr 1966 - 15 Sep 1969 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 26th AD
15 Sep 1969 - 1 Oct 1979 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 25th AD


By the end of 1961, the FPS-20A had been upgraded and redesignated as an FPS-66. By 1966 there was an AN/FPS-27 long range search radar in place, and a FPS-26A height finder radar in operation there. The site came under TAC jurisdiction beginning in 1979. In the 1980s much property was turned over to the National Park Service. The operations area became a FAA/USAF joint-use facility. In 1995, the FAA operated an AN/FPS-66A search set.

Closure

Klamath AFS and the 777th were deactivated in 1981.

Gap Fillers

Klamath AFS 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 Klamath AFS gap filler radar was located at Capetown, California.

Klamath AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-33A Z-33A Capetown CA FPS-14, FST-1 1958-01 1967-12 40.44455,
-124.39099
Building exists but damaged


Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into a main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small housing area for critical married personnel.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Klamath originally had separate radio transmitter and receiver sites used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link.


Klamath AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 777th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
  • 777th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1981)
777th Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Klamath AFS, CA, assigned to 542nd AC&W Gp.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 28th AD.
  • 1 Mar 1959 - Transferred to 25th AD.
  • 1 Mar 1960 - Transferred to Portland ADS. (Adair)
  • 15 Jul 1960 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 777th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 26th AD. (Adair)
  • 15 Sep 1969 - Reassigned to 25th AD. (McChord)
  • 1 Oct 1979 - Transferred to FAA.


Current Status

Abandoned in Klamath, Del Norte County, California.


Klamath AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Exists Notes
1 Base Flagpole 1951 Cost $500
3 Radar Tower No 1951
10 Civil Engineer Covered Storage No
98 Radar Tower FPS-27 No 1963-2003 Cost $387,079 4 Story Bldg
99 Radar Tower FPS-26A No 1962-? Cost $248,638
100 Operations No 1950-? Cost ?
101 Water Pump House & Treatment Bldg 1951 Cost $44,061
102 1951 - Power house
1960 - Squadron HQ
1964 - Classroom
1967 - Unit Supply
No 1951-2003
103
1025
Water Tank  ? 1951 Cost $10,000
104 Radar Tower FPS-3 (AB199A) No 1952-????
Vacated 1964
Base Supply 1964
FPS-27A Radar Tower 1977
FPS-64A RadarTower 1979
Radar Tower FPS-116
105 TELCO/Storage No 1955
106 Supply/Admin No 1951-2003
107 Transmitter Building  ? 1951-? Cost $29,475.31
108 Bachelor Officer's Quarters (BOQ)  ? Cost $30,833.94
109 Auto Maint Admin  ? 1960
110 Air Police No
110 Auto Hobby Shop 1971 Cost $20,843.50
112 Base HQ 1951
BOQ 1953
BAQ 1962
 ? 1951 Cost $42,354.56
113 Gate Shack  ? 1951
114 Receiver Bldg 1951
GATR Bldg 1960
 ? Cost $23, 430.34
116 Chapel  ?
118 Guard House - Secure Area  ? 1958 Cost $1,197.81
116 MARS Radio Bldg  ? 1952 Cost $2,114.86
117 Ammo Storage 1953
Base Oil and Grease Storage 1960
 ? 1953-1960~
118 Tech Training 1955
Squadron HQ 1961
Base Exchange 1965
 ? Cost $15,799.20
120 Power Plant (2 Story)  ? 1960
121 Fuel Pump Station (Power Station)  ? 1960 Cost $12,041
150 Receiver Bldg
GATR Bldg
 ? 1960 Rx moved to 114 in 1975
198 PX/Gym/NCO Club  ? 1956
199 Bowling Alley 1962
Tennis Court 1954
 ?
200 NCO Bachelor Qtrs 1951
C Barracks
Multi-purpos
 ? 1951
201 Hobby Shop 1953
NCO Club 1964
Multi-purpose Rec 1965
 ? Cost $12,262.76
202 NCO Bachelor Quarters 1951
B Barracks
 ?
208 NCO Bachelor Quarters 1951
A Barracks
 ? Cost $44,965.39
210 Airmen’s Dining Hall  ? 1957 Cost $71,352.81
212 Administration and Recreation Supply 1952
Squadron HQ 1960
Multi-Purpose Rec Bldg
 ? 1952
213 Base Supply and Equipment Warehouse
Recr Workshop
 ? 1953 Cost $8,725.23
214 Central Heating Plant  ? 1951 Cost $40,593.00
215 Above Ground Pool & Bath House No 1974 Cost $30,942 (pool); $12,052.60 (bath house
217 Base Engineer Maintenance Shop  ? 1955 Cost $19,349.96
218 Motor Pool  ? 1960 Cost $22,275
301 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex  ? 1961 Cost $58,731.75
302 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex  ? 1961 Cost $58,731.75
303 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex  ? 1961 Cost $58,731.75
304 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex  ? 1961 Cost $58,731.75
310 Officer’s Family Housing, Duplex  ? 1961 Cost $38,955
311 Officer’s Family Housing, Duplex  ? 1961 Cost $38,955
312 Officer’s Family Housing, Duplex  ? 1961 Cost $38,955
313 Commanding Officer’s Quarters  ? 1961 Cost $31,915.35
1000 Base Diesel Fuel Storage 43,000 gallons  ? 1962 Cost $7.000
1024 Water Tank 75,000 gallons  ? 1959 Cost $17.988.59
1025 Water Tank 75,000 gallons  ? 1951 Cost $10,000
1030 Navaid Tower  ? 1950 or 1951
1031 Radar Tower FPS-90  ? Cost $40,000

Location: Klamath in Del Norte County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 41.55917 Long: -124.08611

See Also:

Sources:

  • 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 167.
  • 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 102.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2086561


Links:

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