6th Space Warning Squadron [6th SWS]
The 6th Space Warning Squadron is atop Cape Cod's Flatrock Hill. The station is home to one of four PAVE PAWS radar sites in the United States. PAVE is an Air Force program name while PAWS stands for Phased Array Warning System.
The mission of the 6th SWS is to watch America's coasts for incoming sea-launched or intercontinental ballistic missiles using the PAVE PAWS radar system, determine the potential numbers and probable destination of missiles, then report this information to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Cheyenne Mountain AFB, CO; Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, NE; and the National Command Authorities. Additionally, PAVE PAWS provides information on the location and velocity of earth-orbiting satellites to the U.S. Space Command, Peterson AFB, CO, and the Space Surveillance Center at Cheyenne Mountain AFB.
The 6th Space Warning Squadron was activated as the 6th Missile Warning Squadron on October 1, 1978, as an Air Force headquarters controlled unit, with operational control vested in the commander-in-chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Aerospace Defense Command.
On October 1, 1979, the unit was assigned to ADCOM headquarters for administrative purposes. During this period, the communications and electronics maintenance functions were transferred to Air Force Communications Command. On December 1, 1979, the unit was assigned to Strategic Air Command for administrative aspects of manning, equipping and training. Finally, on May 1, 1983, it was transferred to the 1st Space Wing of Air Force Space Command, eventually being named the 6th Missile Warning Squadron.
During an Air Force-wide reorganization, the 1st Space Wing and 3rd Space Support Wing were inactivated at Peterson AFB, CO, and the combined assets became part of the newly activated 21st Space Wing. At that time the unit was renamed the 6th Space Warning Squadron. The 6th SWS occupies some 120 acres of what was once Otis AFB, and is now the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The squadron receives host-tenant support from Hanscom AFB, MA; Otis ANGB; and from the U.S. Coast Guard Station on Cape Cod.
The sophisticated solid state radar system was developed by Air Force Systems Command's Electronic Systems Division, Hanscom Air Force Base, MA.
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