Middleton Island Air Force Station
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|Middleton Island Air Force Station|
|Part of Alaskan Air Command (AAC)|
Middleton Island Air Force Station
|Type||Air Force Station|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Garrison||720th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (1958-1963)|
Middleton Island Air Force Station (AAC ID: F-22) is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It was located on Middleton Island, in the Gulf of Alaska, 173 miles (278 km) south of Anchorage, Alaska.
Middleton Island AFS was a continental defence radar station constructed to provide the United States Air Force early warning of an attack by the Soviet Union on Alaska.
The station was constructed on Middleton Island, an isolated island about 3 1⁄2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide in the Gulf of Alaska. Unlike the other AC&W stations in Alaska, the extreme arctic cold was moderated by the Pacific Ocean water and did not fall to sub-freezing levels. The weather, however was frequently overcast and heavy rain and wind were common.
Plans were made for a permanent radar site beginning in late 1956. In 1957, the island was transferred from jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management to the Defense Department for construction of the station. A dock facility was initially constructed which allowed Naval LST's and barges to land construction equipment and material on the island, and several gravel roads were constructed to the several construction sites. In addition, an airstrip was constructed on the island, allowing cargo transports and personnel to fly in and out.
With the relative moderate climate on Middleton Island, the buildings were not all connected by hallways. However, as with all remote AC&W sties in Alaska, tours at the station were limited to one year because of the psychological strain and physical hardships.
The 720th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, was assigned to the station in May 1958 and operated AN/FPS-3, AN/FPS-6, AN/FPS-8, and AN/FPS-4 radars. As a surveillance station, its mission was to monitor the airspace for aircraft activity and provide information 24/7 to the air defense Direction Center at Fire Island AFS near Anchorage, where it was analyzed to determine range, direction, altitude, speed, and whether aircraft were friendly or hostile.
The Alaskan Air Command, after investigating various options, constructed a White Alice Communications System communications site at the station, operated by the Air Force Communications Service (AFCS). The Middleton Island site was activated in 1958.
Middleton Island Air Force Station was very expensive to maintain, and was inactivated due to budget reductions on 15 May 1963, its mission being taken over by other AAC surveillance radar sites with upgraded and more capable equipment.
Today the site remains abandoned and deteriorating. Photography of the island shows abandoned buildings, radar towers and communications antennas, all in a highly deteriorated state.
Air Force units and assignments
- 720th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Activated 8 September 1955
- Inactivated 1 October 1963
- 10th Air Division, 8 September 1955
- 5039th Aircraft Control and Warning Group, 1 June 1957
- 5040th Aircraft Control and Warning Group, 1 November 1959
- 5070th Air Defense Wing, 1 August 1960 – 1 October 1969