Oakdale Air Force Station
Oakdale Air Force Station (1959-1969) - A Cold War Air Force Station moved from Brookfield Air Force Station, Ohio. Co-Located with U.S. Army radar site for Nike missile-defense system & Missile Master Direction Center Oakdale Army Air Defense Command Post PI-70DC at Oakdale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of RP-62, later a Sage ID of Z-62. Turned over to the FAA in 1969, now Oakdale FAA Radar Site with an FAA ID of PIT, also known as Pittsburgh FAA Radar Site.
History of Oakdale Air Force Station
Established in 1959 and became operational in 1959 as Oakdale Air Force Station manned by the 662nd Radar Squadron (SAGE). Radar data was shared between the FAA for Air Traffic Control purposes, with the adjacent U.S. Army NIKE Missile Master site, Oakdale Army Air Defense Command Post PI-70DC, for the NIKE Pittsburgh Defense Area and with the U.S. Air Force for the SAGE System air defense system.
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 Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03.
The search radar was upgraded to one FPS-20 in 1962. In 1963, a FPS-24 search radar was installed along with one FPS-26A height-finder and one FPS-90 height-finder. Also in place during part of this time were two U.S. Army FPS-6 height-finders. The FAA maintained the search radars with Air Force personnel maintaining the two USAF height-finders and U.S. Army personnel maintained the Army height-finders.
Oakdale AFS was responsible for the maintenance of four 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 Oakdale AFS gap-filler radars were located at Thompson, Lewisville, and Brookfield, Ohio. The fourth site was located at Thomas, West Virginia.
Oakdale AFS and the 662nd were deactivated on 31 Dec 1969. The operations area of the radar site was transferred to the FAA. The U.S. Army, Army Air-Defense Command Post (AADCP) PI-70DC was inactivated on 1 Sep 1974.
The FAA assumed control of the operations area of the former Air Force radar site in December 1969. The FPS-24 was replaced with a FPS-67B search radar and a backup FPS-8 provided coverage during outages and for the transition. The FPS-67B was installed on the four-story concrete tower built for the FPS-24 and it was covered with a radome.
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 FPS-67B search radar and a CD-2A Common Digitizer. The Oakdale CD-2A was scheduled to receive an upgrade kit to implement three level weather data processing in September 1992.
The nationwide replacement program converting FAA legacy radar systems to the CARSR radar configuration was completed by 17 Aug 2015 and Oakdale 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 Oakdale FAA Radar Site is now operating with the CARSR radar. At the time of the CARSR changeout, the legacy radar in place was an FPS-67B and the CARSR conversion included a 1561 Antenna. The secondary radar for the site 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 Cleveland ARTCC (ZOB) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.
Now on USAR Charles E. Kelly Support Center, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The radar towers still exist along with the Missile Master Building (repurposed). The FAA compound remains around the old FPS-24 tower now equipped with an FAA CARSR radar on top. The USAF radar site operations building still exists.