Mesa Rica FAA Radar Site
Mesa Rica FAA Radar Site (1960s-Active) - A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Long-Range Radar (LRR) site first established in the 1960s near Tucumcari, San Miguel County, New Mexico. The site is used to identify and track military and civilian aircraft movements within a 200-mile radius and to provide air-ground radio communication with those aircraft. Assigned a SAGE System ID of Z-234 and an FAA ID of QWC. Active FAA Radar Site.
This site became an FAA radar site in the 1960s, furnishing radar track data to the FAA ARTCC's and to USAF Direction Centers. The initial FAA ARSR-1E search radar remained in operation until it was modified to become a Common Air Route Surveillance Radar (CARSR).
A FYQ-47 Common Digitizer was probably placed in service by February 1973 when the USAF/FAA FST-2 to FYQ-47 replacement program was completed. By 1990 the site was equipped with an ARSR-1E search radar and a CD-2A Common Digitizer. The Mesa Rica CD-2A was scheduled to receive an upgrade kit to implement three level weather data processing in July 1992.
Mode S Beacon System
The Mesa Rica FAA Radar Site was selected in the 1990s to become one of 21 long-range radar sites to have a Mode S radar beacon system installed. The Mode S system allowed operation in the existing beacon modes but added features to improve beacon operation by allowing aircraft identification with a single interrogation and two-way digital communication between controllers and pilots.
Besides the 21 long-range sites, there were other short-range radars to be upgraded for a total of 137 sites on the implementation list. Mesa Rica was #133 on the list, scheduled to receive the Mode S equipment on 30 Jul 1995. Installation required interfacing with the radar system, addition of a beacon antenna on top of the search radar antenna, a new larger radome, interfacing with the Common Digitizer (CD-2) if installed, additional communication lines and equipment.
The nationwide replacement program converting FAA legacy radar systems to the CARSR radar configuration was completed by 17 Aug 2015 and Mesa Rica 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 Mesa Rica FAA Radar Site is now operating with the CARSR radar. At the time of the CARSR changeout, the legacy radar in place was an ARSR-1E and the CARSR conversion included a 7172 Antenna. The secondary radar set at this site is a Mode S 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 Albuquerque ARTCC (ZAB) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.