Sundance Air Force Station

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Sundance Air Force Station (1962-1968) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1960 on Warren Peak near Sundance, Crook County, Wyoming. Named Sundance Air Force Station after the nearby location. Powered by a nuclear power plant. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of TM-201, later a Sage ID of Z-201. Discontinued operation in 1968.

History

Established in 1960 and became operational 1 Nov 1962 as Sundance Air Force Station manned by the 731st Radar Squadron (SAGE). Initial equipment included the FPS-7C search radar and FPS-6 and FPS-26 height-finder radars. Primary electrical power was provided by a PM-1 transportable nuclear power plant.

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 on 1 Nov 1962 initially feeding data to the Minot SAGE Direction Center DC-19. With the deactivation of the Minot SAGE Direction Center in 1963, Sundance AFS began feeding data to the Sioux City SAGE Direction Center DC-22.

Closure

The Sioux City SAGE Direction Center DC-22, Sundance AFS and the 731st Radar Squadron (SAGE) were all deactivated on 18 Jul 1968. The closure of the site took some time, not only to remove the radar and radio equipment but because of required decontamination and precautions taken with the nuclear reactor.

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and radio sites.

The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, backup generators and uniquely, a nuclear power plant. The PM-1 transportable nuclear power plant was installed at Sundance as a test of the feasibility of powering remote radar sites with nuclear power. The PM-1 generated 1,000 KW of high-quality electrical power and 7,000,000 Btu's per hour of steam used to heat the buildings. Testing delayed the operational date of the site until 1962 and necessitated a special team of reactor operators in a 24-7 operation.

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. Separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio sites housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.



Sundance AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 731st Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1968)
731st Radar Squadron (SAGE) Assignments
  • 1 Dec 1960 - Activated at Sundance AFS, WY, assigned to 29th AD.
  • 1 Jan 1961 - Transferred to Minot ADS.
  • 25 Jun 1963 - Transferred to Sioux City ADS.
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 18 Jun 1968 - Discontinued.


Sundance Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1966~ 1967~ Lt Colonel Hartley, Hubert C. N/A
1967-09 1968-07 Lt Colonel Gross, Stanley N/A

Current Status

Main site abandoned but fenced off. The cantonment area and the housing area are under private ownership.


Location: Warren Peak near Sundance in Crook County, Wyoming.

Maps & Images

Lat: 44.47871 Long: -104.45167

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 6,600' (Main Site)

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 162.
  • 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 169.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2090210


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