Guardrail I, also known by its covername Crosstalk, had both airborne and ground mobile remote sensors. It employed 3 40 foot trailers to house the airconditioned ground command/control and the 18 collection/analyst operator stations. The collection operators tuned in signals, monitored their tactical content and gisted or tape recorded the intercepted signals. The analyst would enter critical data into tactical reports, which were relayed directly to the field commander and to the Tactical Operations Centers.
As a result of a desire to provide a QRC communications intelligence (COMINT) system to US forces in Europe, in the spring of 1971, NSA with guidance from its director Admiral Gayler, initiated the QRC procurement of the first Guardrail system (Guardrail I). This large, complex system was delivered on schedule, in time to be installed at an old Nike Missile site at Gruenstadt, West Germany, where it remotely supported the '71 REFORGER exercise. Its 3 mission configured aircraft were ferried to Ramstien Air Base. The '71 REFORGER exercises proved to be the ideal environment for evaluation of this new concept for airborne reconnaissance. Guardrail I's COMINT intercept platforms provided an obvious advantage being highly mobile with an expanded view of the battlefield. The system provided COMINT data while operating safely west of the Rhine using stand-off flight tracks.
Guardrail I served in Europe, along with Guardrail II/IIA, until the introduction of the Guardrail V system in the late 1970s.
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