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AN/FPS-35 Radar Tower and Antenna
|Nearest city||Montauk, New York|
|NRHP reference #||02000615|
|Added to NRHP||June 4, 2002|
The AN/FPS-35 radar was a long range radar used in the early 1960s. One of the largest air defense radars ever produced, having its antenna and supporting structure mounted on one of the largest rolling-element bearings in the world (with a ball pitch of 12 ft 7 inches in diameter.).
Sperry Corporation built 12 long range radars (picking up objects 200 miles away) in the 1960s to succeed existing Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) to provide enhanced electronic countermeasures (ECM). The systems operated at 420 to 450 MHz. The antennas weighed 70 to 80 short tons (64 to 73 t) and had numerous problems. The concrete tower bases were 84 feet 6 inches (25.76 m) high and 60 feet 3 inches (18.36 m) square in side dimensions.
The prototype was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station in Thomasville, Alabama. All of the radars have been dismantled except for the one at Camp Hero on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. Fishermen on the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound lobbied to save it since the massive radar tower was a better daytime landmark than the Montauk Point Lighthouse.
The radar complex is now part of Camp Hero State Park which adjoins Montauk Point State Park. The radar has worked its way into an urban legend that it was used in time travel experiments called the Montauk Project.
The 85 foot (26 m) enclosed radar towers that supported all 12 of the FPS-35 antennas were prominent landmarks. All these radar towers were of the same basic design with 10 made primarily from concrete and two based on a steel frame structure (Baker and Finley). Only the radar tower at Baker has been demolished. The AN/FPS-35 at Montauk was the last to operate (Jan 1981) and the radar tower is the only one that still has an antenna on the roof and contains some of the radar set equipment and cabinets. The antenna was repaired with parts from Sault St Marie after this station closed in Oct 1979. Presently The Montauk antenna is very corroded and can not be rotated.
The 23 radar towers used by the AN/FPS-24 and the AN/FPS-35 radar sets were of similar designs (concrete or steel frame) and were designed under the direction of the Rome Air Development Center (RADC). The radar tower at Thomasville has an RADC plaque next to the one from the Sperry Corporation. Only the AN/FPS-35 tower at Baker included a radome to protect the antenna. This radome was attached to a separate steel tower called a Radome Support Structure (RSS) that surrounded the radar tower to its full height of 85 feet (26 m).
- AL Thomasville
- CA Boron
- MI Sault St Marie
- MI Selfridge
- NV Fallon
- NY Montauk
- ND Finley (steel tower, present)
- ND Fortuna
- PA Benton
- VA Manassas
- WI Antigo
- OR Baker (steel tower, demolished)
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Blatter, Francis P. Mechanical Considerations in Antenna Design, Sperry Engineering Review, p. 55, 58.
- "AN/FPS-35". "Radomes.org". Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- Drumm, Russell (December 23, 1999). "Rally Round The Radar". The East Hampton Star. Retrieved 2009-10-12.[permanent dead link]
- Warren, James (February 2002). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: AN/FPS-35 Radar Tower and Antennae". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2008-07-28. Note: This includes "Accompanying 11 photos, undated". and "Accompanying nomination correspondence".
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