West Bath MITRE Test Radar Site
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.
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.
Some site structures still exist including the FPS-31 tower. Now an auto repair shop.
Visited: 27 May 2018