Rome Laboratory

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Rome Air Force Research Laboratory
Part of Air Force Materiel Command
Rome, New York
Rome laboratory.png
Emblem of the Rome Laboratory
Coordinates 43°13′50.955″N 75°24′34.71″W / 43.23082083°N 75.4096417°W / 43.23082083; -75.4096417
Site information
Controlled by Air Force Materiel Command
Site history
In use 1951-1997
Garrison information
Garrison Griffiss Air Force Base, New York

The Rome Laboratory, formerly known as the Rome Air Development Center, is one of eight research and development labs run by the US Air Force located at the former Griffiss AFB in Rome, NY. One of four superlabs run by the Air Force, the Rome Lab is tasked with generic research, as opposed to having a specific area of study. Over the years since it was founded, the Rome Lab has made major contributions to computing, command and control automation, and pure engineering. It is also responsible for planning and executing the Air Force' science and technology program. It is part of the Air Force Materiel Command Air Force Research Laboratory, based at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In October 1997, Rome Laboratory was merged into the Air Force Research Laboratory as the part Information and Sensors Directorates.


The Rome Information Directorate develops information technologies for aerospace command and control, and its transition to air, space and ground systems. Its focus areas include a broad spectrum of technologies including information fusion and exploitation, communications and networking, collaborative environments, modeling and simulation, defensive information warfare and intelligent information systems technologies. Directorate scientists and engineers develop systems, concepts and technologies to enhance the Air Force's capability to successfully meet the challenges of the information age. In addition to its primary mission, the directorate has partnered with other elements of the federal government, national intelligence agencies, numerous allied nations, state and local governments, and more than 50 major universities to work problems of common interest.


During WWII, the Norden bombsight was built at the Rome site, and large airplane engines were rebuilt and tested. These buildings were converted after the war into offices and laboratories. Development of the Rome Lab started in 1948, when several small teams were sent to Griffiss from Watson Laboratories and the Middletown testing units at Middletown, Pennsylvania. The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended that the base become official, and President Harry Truman signed their bill on September 26, 1950 to establish an "Air Force Electronics Center". The remaining staff at Watson moved in during 1951, and RADC was officially opened on June 12, 1951.

One of their earliest experiments involved the construction of the Forestport Tower, a 1205 foot high transmission antenna used for low-frequency communications experiments. Testing units were also involved in final acceptance of various radar units, and did considerable basic research on antenna design and radio navigation system. These areas remained their primary research focus through the 1950s.

In the early 1960s the Air Force planned a major overhaul of its various research divisions, planning on reducing the total number to seven. RADC was to become the Air Force Electromagnetics Laboratory, while Edwards AFB would host the Rocket Propulsion and Weapons labs, and Wright-Patterson AFB would host Materiels, Avionics, and the Air Force Flight Dynamic Laboratories. However these plans did not come to fruition, although it did change the RADC's reporting chain and caused some confusion in the meantime.

In the 1960s, the focus changed to that of intelligence gathering, and automation of the flow of the gathered information. RADC offered a number of contracts in automated film processing, supercomputers, various computer memory systems, high-resolution display systems, and were even involved in early attempts at machine translation to make quick "first pass" translations of Russian documents.

In the late 1960s, RADC won a contract for the AN/TRN-26 man transportable TACAN to be used in Vietnam War. This unit was developed, tested, and manufactured by Ling-Temco-Vought - Salt Lake City, Utah. Not being available in time to be used in Vietnam, the first units went to Israel and Camp David. Mort Setrin, a developer of the radar IFF, was also a researcher at this time and helped analyze ways to jam Russian radars.

In the 1980s and 1990s RADC funded a significant amount of research on software engineering. One of their most prominent projects was the Knowledge Based Software Assistant (KBSA) program.[1]

In December 1991 the name was changed to Rome Laboratory. Their basic areas of research, communications, radar, intelligence and command and control, have remained the focus of the lab until today. As the power of civilian computers have increased, the Lab has focused more on software than hardware.



  1. ^ Boehm, Barry; Prasanta Bose (8/15/98). "KBSA Life Cycle Evaluation: Final Technical Report". Contract No: F30602-96-C-0274 (USC Center for Software Engineering) I. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 

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 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force document "Air Force Research Laboratory".