Lovell FAA Radar Site
Lovell FAA Radar Site (1963-Active) - A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Joint Use (FAA/ADC) Long Range Radar (LLR) site first established in 1963 on Medicine Mountain near Lovell, Big Horn County, Wyoming. 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-224 and an FAA ID of QSI. Active FAA Radar Site.
This site became an active FAA radar site in 1963, furnishing radar track data to the FAA ARTCC's and to USAF Direction Centers. The site was constructed in 1962 and was dedicated on 29 Jun 1963 by the FAA and the Lovell Chamber of Commerce. The initial FAA ARSR-2 search radar remained in operation until it was modified to become a Common Air Route Surveillance Radar (CARSR) circa 2012.
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-65A search radar and a CD-2A Common Digitizer. The CD-2A was scheduled to receive an upgrade kit to implement three level weather data processing in March 1992.
Mode S Beacon System
The Lovell 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. Lovell was #134 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 Mode S installation at the Lovell site was not without controversy over the impact on the nearby Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark. The landmark is just 1.5 miles from the radar site and contains a stone megalith considered sacred by Native American tribes. The installation required a new radome because the Mode S antenna was larger than the existing radome could accommodate and the FAA neglected to obtain the necessary permits and environmental assessments for the change. An assessment was initiated and public comments received through 21 Mar 1995 after which the project was approved.
The Mode S equipment was installed along with the new antennas at a reported cost of $160,000. The new radome was installed on 27 Aug 1996 with operations expected to resume on 30 Aug 1996.
The nationwide replacement program converting FAA legacy radar systems to the CARSR radar configuration was completed by 17 Aug 2015 and Lovell 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 Lovell 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-2 and the CARSR conversion included a 7172 Antenna. The secondary radar for the site is the 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 Salt Lake City ARTCC (ZLC) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.