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Watertown Air Force Station

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Watertown Air Force Station
Part of
Air Defense Command.png
Air Defense Command
USAF - Aerospace Defense Command.png
Aerospace Defense Command
Air Defense, Tactical Air Command
Watertown, New York
2 radomes and the main gate with guard shack (1975)
Coordinates43°55′31″N 075°54′33″W / 43.92528°N 75.90917°W / 43.92528; -75.90917 (Watertown AFS P-49)
TypeLong Range Radar Site
CodeRP-49: 1950 ADC permanent network[2][3]
Z-49: 1963 July 31 NORAD network
Site information
Controlled by United States Air Force
Site history
Built byU.S. Air Force
In use1952-1979
Garrison information
GarrisonWatertown, New York
Occupants655th Radar Squadron

Watertown Air Force Station is a closed United States Air Force ADCOM General Surveillance Radar station 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Watertown, New York. Prior to the Air Defense squadron inactivating on 1 November 1979, the station was reassigned to Tactical Air Command which maintained the Ground Air Transmitter Receiver until early 1984 (now a firefighter training site).[4] A New York State jail opened at the site c. 1983.

It was a part of the 21st RCC (NORAD Regional Control Center) a SAGE network, located at Stewart AFB.[3]


Lashup Radar Network site L-6 was established in June 1950[5] at the Pine Camp military installation (renamed Fort Drum in 1951)[6] and operated by the 655th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron using an RCA AN/TPS-10A Radar. After construction adjacent to Fort Drum in June 1952, the operation moved to the Air Force Station, one of the first twenty-four Air Defense Command radar stations of the permanent network established 1950-1951 after the USAF directed construction of the sites on December 2, 1948.[citation needed] Watertown AFS used AN/FPS-3 and AN/FPS-5 radars for warning and ground-controlled interception. In 1958 this site was operating with AN/FPS-20 search radar and General Electric AN/FPS-6 Radar for height-finding.

During 1959 Watertown AFS began providing Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) data to DC-03 at Syracuse AFS, New York, and the squadron was re-designated as the 655th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 February 1959. In 1959 a 2nd AN/FPS-6 was added and in 1961, the FPS-20 was upgraded to an AN/FPS-66. One height-finder radar was replaced by an Avco AN/FPS-26 Radar in 1963. In 1964 the AN/FPS-66 was replaced by a Westinghouse AN/FPS-27 Radar. The other AN/FPS-6 height-finder radar was retired in 1964.[7][verification needed]

In addition to the main facility, the Watertown squadron operated two unmanned AN/FPS-14 (P-49A) and AN/FPS-18 (P-49B) Gap Filler sites:

Air Force units and assignments


  • 655th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, activated 8 December 1949 at Pine Camp, NY (L-6)
Moved to Watertown AFS, NY, 1 February 1951
Redesignated 655th Radar Squadron (SAGE), 1 February 1959
Redesignated 655th Radar Squadron, 1 February 1974
  • Inactivated 1 November 1979



  1. ^
  2. ^ In March 1949, Congress authorized the construction of a permanent radar network ("ADC radar site" P-1 was at McChord AFB from June 1, 1950, to April 1, 1960.)
  3. ^ a b c Winkler, David F; Webster, Julie L (June 1997). Searching the Skies: The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program (Report). U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories. Retrieved 2012-03-26.[verification needed]
  4. ^ "Information for Watertown AFS, NY". Air Defense Radar Stations. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  5. ^ [specify] This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website
  6. ^ compiled by EM, Marc. "[untitled webpage 5]". A History of the Jefferson County Region. p. 5. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  7. ^ compiled by Johnson, Mildred W. (31 December 1980) [February 1973: Cornett, Lloyd H. Jr]. A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980 (PDF). Peterson Air Force Base: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 33 ("1961…1 April - Los Angeles ADS became operational."). Retrieved 2012-03-26.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 July 2019, at 03:54
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