West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site

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West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site (1955-1962) - A Cold War Experimental Radar Station established as a part of the Experimental SAGE Subsector (ESS). Site Located on Jug Handle Hill near West Bath, Sagadahoc County, Maine. Closed in 1962.

Former West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site in 2018. Remains of the FPS-31 Radar Tower at the Center.


Established in 1954 and became operational in October 1955 as West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site, one of three long-range radar sites in the Experimental SAGE Subsector.

Initial equipment included the prototype FPS-31 UHF band search radar and two standard FPS-6 height-finder radars. Initially, an FST-1 was used to provide data transmission of the radar returns to the direction center but the slowed-down-video concept proved inadequate and one of the three prototype FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitters (CDT) was installed to provide fine-grain radar data to the Experimental SAGE Subsector direction center FSQ-7 (XD1) computer.

The massive weight and size of the UHF FPS-31 antenna and problems with the rotating components led to a redesign of the antenna that placed all of that weight and stress on a single large ball bearing. This design change was carried over to production UHF/VHF FD radars (FPS-24 & FPS-35) where the bearing failure rate came to approached one bearing per year per site for the FPS-24 (12 sites) and one every two years for the FPS-35 (12 sites). Bearings were not only expensive to procure and required months of downtime to replace but the failure sometimes caused damage to other components that ordinarily would never be replaced. Bearing changes required radars to be shut down for as long as three months, with costs as high as $ 175,000 for a single bearing change. Some sites were closed because of bearing failures and resulting damage.

Experimental SAGE Subsector Operation

The site began operation as an Experimental SAGE Subsector radar site in October 1955 initially feeding the Experimental SAGE Subsector (ESS) FSQ-7 (XD1) computer located at Lincoln Laboratories on Hanscom Air Force Base. The MITRE Corporation took over management of the site from Lincoln Laboratories on 21 July 1958.


The West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site was deactivated in November 1962.

West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm

Current Status

Some site structures still exist including the FPS-31 tower. Now an auto repair shop.

Location: West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site in Sagadahoc County, Maine.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.90167 Long: -69.84556

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 182'

See Also:


  • 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 80
  • Ward,William W. and Naka,F. Robert, Long-Range UHF Radars for Ground Control of Airborne Interceptors, Lincoln Laboratory Journal, Vol 12, No. 2 2000, Pdf, page 206-215.


Visited: 27 May 2018

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