Ground Equipment Facility QRC
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|Ground Equipment Facility QRC
Benton Air Force Station
1975: Federal Aviation Administration
1968: Aerospace Defense Command
1951: Air Defense Command
|(eponym: the nearby Town of Benton)|
|Coordinates||Coordinates:  (QRS)
|Type||Common Air-Route Surveillance Radar (CARSR) site |
|Code||QRC: Federal Aviation Administration
J-tbd: c. 2002 Joint Surveillance System
Z-30: 1963 July 31 SAGE radar network
P-30: 1952 Permanent System
1950: 648th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
Unmanned Gap Filler radar annexes
Ground Equipment Facility QRC (FUDS C03PA046300: "Benton Air Force Communications[clarification needed] Annex") is an FAA radar station that was part of a Cold War SAGE radar station (Benton Air Force Station, call sign: Oppose) for aircraft control and warning "from Massachusetts to southern Virginia, and as far out to sea as possible." Benton AFS was also the first operational "regional data processing center" for the GE 477L Nuclear Detection and Reporting System.
The 648th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was activated on 30 April 1948 at Pine Camp, New York (which became operational June 1950 as the 655th AC&WS's Lashup station L-6. The 648th AC&WS transferred in December 1949 to Indiantown Gap Army Installation (AIN) and c. 1 January 1951 began operations at the initial site with a General Electric AN/CPS-6B radar scanner. Site construction on 98-acre (40 ha) had begun in 1950 and was completed September 21, 1951. On September 21, 1951, the last of the 658th personnel arrived at the site from Fort Indiantown Gap. The radar and operations moved to Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania, by 1 February 1952.
Benton Air Force Station
On 1 December 1953, the radar station at Ricketts Glen State Park was designated Benton Air Force Station which initially provided tracking data to a Manual Air Defense Control Center, e.g., on August 15, 1958, the 26th Air Division/Syracuse Air Defense Sector's "Combat Alert Center (Manual)" at Roslyn AFS began using Benton data for manual GCI. But in less than two months, the "manual division" headquarters at Hancock Field/Syracuse AFS was eliminated--"the 26th was moved out of Roslyn and established at Syracuse as a [computerized] SAGE division on 1 September" 1958. But [the Syracuse DC with AN/FSQ-7] did not become operational until 1 January 1959" (cf. the Office of Civil Defense and Mobilization warning center at Stewart AFB—1 of 3 for national civil defense—was moved to Syracuse and redesignated the "OCDM 26th Warning Center" on 1 July 1959). On 1 July 1959, concurrent with the discontinuance of Eastern NORAD Region, the warning center was moved from Stewart AFB, New York, to Syracuse, New York, and redesignated the OCDM 26th Warning Center." Benton's data was initially entered in the "Manual Inputs" terminals of the Syracuse's SAGE Direction Center.
A Burroughs AN/FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitting Set was installed early in 1960 to transmit data to the Syracuse DC and the May 1960 Highlands AADS (Nike Missile Master). One of the 1st 4 Sperry AN/FPS-35 Frequency Diversity Radars (Site 3) became operational at Benton in 1961—the radar was 70 short tons (64 t; 63 long tons) with a red/white checkerboard pattern. A new GATR annex (R-tbd) was completed "about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the main site as part of the SAGE modernization" (u,e,m after the 1st GATR was completed in April 1961), and Benton AFS was assigned to the Boston Air Defense Sector (Stewart AFB DC) on September 4, 1963. A "Two Row Angular Contact Ball" bearing that had been "procured as a spare for the Lincoln Labs CCM-Mark I Radar was installed in the AN/FPS-35 at Benton" and failed at 25,000 hours. "In 1963 the search radar was complemented by Avco AN/FPS-26A and an GE AN/FPS-6" to perform SAGE height finding requests.
FAA, NUDETS, and missile tracking operations
By the end of 1963 Benton AFS was a joint-use site for both the USAF and FAA (by 1967, it was providing tracks to the "traffic control facility in New York".[where?] A February 5, 1962 contract for a prototype nuclear detection system established sensors at the Benton, Bedford (Virginia), and Temperanceville (Virginia) stations and the 1st phase of the NUDETS "became operational on 1 July 1964 [and] consisted of a regional data processing center at Benton AFS, Pa., and sensors located at Benton, Thomas, West Virginia, Manassas Air Force Station, and Hermanville, Maryland" (RP-54A/Z-227A, ).
Benton's FPS-35 was modified and "tested during the summer of 1962" to track Cape Canaveral missile launches ("marginal ability"), and Benton AFS had Backup Interceptor Control capability by December 1962(General Electric AN/GPA-37 Course Directing Group). An AN/FPS-8 backup search radar owned/operated by the FAA was in place by September 1967, when new "AN/GPA-98, ECM training simulator, and AN/FYQ-48, the new digital data processor which replaces the AN/FST-2" were planned. Before 1974 when the AN/FPS-35 was replaced, FCC direction-finding equipment was used after the radar "scopes would light up like light bulbs" almost every morning for a half-hour—a noisy UHF TV tuner in the area was located which was being used for a "soap opera on one of the local channels".
Formerly used defense site
After Project Concise Air Defense closures were announced on November 22, 1974; the radar facility of Benton AFS transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration on June 30, 1975 (the squadron was also inactivated on that date.) as an auxiliary radar for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport—other buildings and barracks transferred to the Red Rock Job Corps Center in 1978. In 1995, Benton was the backup air traffic control radar when the airport near Avoca needed data. After 2001 the FAA site became part of the Joint Surveillance System, and the "FPS-67B, now Common Air-Route Surveillance Radar (CARSR)" was used in a 2004 FAA test. In 2013, a new maintenance contract was issued for the "Qrc Arsr Hvac Pwr Project".
Benton AFS and its USAF squadron were assigned to several larger units of Air Defense Command (Aerospace Defense Command after 1968), but after data transmission was automated in 1960, its radar tracks were provided to more than one Direction Center (e.g., "three air divisions simultaneously - 35th, 21st, and 34th Air Divisions" in September 1967):
- 503d Aircraft Control and Warning Group, 1 January 1951
- 26th Air Division, 6 February 1952
- 4710th Defense Wing, 10 February 1953
- 4709th Defense Wing, 30 June 1953
- 4707th Air Defense Wing, 8 July 1956
- 4622d Air Defense Wing, 18 October 1956
- Boston Air Defense Sector, 8 January 1957
- Syracuse Air Defense Sector, 15 August 1958
- Boston Air Defense Sector, 4 September 1963
- 35th Air Division, 1 April 1966
- 21st Air Division, 19 November 1969 – 30 June 1975
- Bartizek, Ron (November 13, 2005). "A Cold War outpost: Radar installation was part of North American defense system scanning for sneak attacks." (Radomes.com transcription of news article). The Times Leader. location tbd. p. 1B. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
- "Air Defense Radar Stations: Information for Benton AFS, Pennsylvania". Radomes.org. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
- compiled by Johnson, Mildred W (31 December 1980) [February 1973 original by Cornett, Lloyd H. Jr]. A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980 (PDF). Peterson Air Force Base: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Stuart, Neil (9 April 1991), DERP-FUDS No Further Action (NOFA) INPRs (Memorandum), page image at Radomes.org: North Atlantic Division, retrieved 2014-04-19
- Ricketts Glen State Park Official map http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/rickettsglen/rickettsglen_mini.pdf (Map). Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. External link in
- Rowland, Chuck (c. 1956). 26th Air Division yearbook. image of page at Radomes.org. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
- Preface by Buss, L. H. (Director) (14 April 1959). North American Air Defense Command and Continental Air Defense Command Historical Summary: July–December 1958 (Report). Directorate of Command History: Office of Information Services.
- Klinot, MSgt Herbert B (September 1967). "Benton Air Force Station". Communications & Electronics Digest. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
The original search radar was the V-Beam AN/CPS-6… In the late 50's, the two [sic] AN/FPS-6 height finders were installed along with the Coordinate Data Transmitter AN/FST-2B, [sic] Serial Number 1. …in the early 60's…the AN/CPS-6…was replaced by the new AN/FPS-35 frequency diversity radar and all of the old AC&W operations facilities were removed… [page 21] test site for an experimental nuclear detection operation known as NUDETS during the early part of 1960. Today, Benton Air Force Station…feeds search, height and identification data to three air divisions simultaneously - 35th, 21st, and 34th Air Divisions. As a joint-use facility, the search facility also feeds surveillance data to the Federal Aviation Agency traffic control facility in New York… FAA technical personnel are responsible for maintaining both the AN/FPS-35, the prime search set, and a back-up AN/FPS-8 which is owned and operated by the FAA. … New equipment programmed for installation includes the AN/GPA-98, ECM training simulator, and AN/FYQ-48, the new [BUIC III] digital data processor which replaces the AN/FST-2 equipment. [page] 22
- Winkler, David F; Webster, Julie L (June 1997). Searching the Skies: The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program (PDF) (Report). Champaign, IL: U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories. LCCN 97020912. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
AN/FPS-35 search radars located at Manassas, Virginia, and Benton, Pennsylvania, received modifications and began to be tested during the summer of 1962. During these tests, both radars attempted to track Polaris, Minuteman, Titan, and the Thor-Delta missile launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The tests revealed that the AN/FPS-35 had only marginal ability to detect missile launches.73
- Scheiderich, Jerome P; Bocchi, William J (April 1971). Bearing Improvement Program for Large Rolling Element Bearings (Technical Report RADC-TR-71-81) (Report). Retrieved 2014-04-21.
The work reported herein was accomplished under System 416L daring the time period from 1959 to 1964 and under Job Order No. 911+20000 from 196k to 1969.
- NORAD/CONAD 1962 Historical Summary Jan-Jun p. 50
- Cite NORAD Historical Summary p. 64 "Phase I became operational on 1 July 1964 in the Washington, D.C. area to serve the needs of the National Military Command System. … The deployment plan was first called Deuces Wild but was changed to Thirsty Camel in October 1965 when it was thought to have been compromised."