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13th Space Warning Squadron [13th SWS]

The 13th Space Warning Squadron is assigned to the 21st Space Wing of the Air Force Space Command, both with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, CO, and is part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. Operationally, the 13th SWS is controlled by the Missile Warning Center (MWC), part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and by the Space Control Center (SCC), part of US Space Command. Both agencies are located at the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, CO.

The unit's blason shows a blue and gold circle divided along its equator by a saw tooth line; a brown, upturned bugle horn suspended by red straps; below the bugle horn and the saw tooth is the upper half of a blue globe with white lines of latitude and longitude. The upper field, occupied by the bugle horn, is blue, and the bottom field, containing the globe, is gold. The saw tooth line suggests the rugged Alaskan terrain, and the Air Force colors, blue and gold, are used to signify continuous day and night operations. The bugle horn refers to the " Early Warning System" and the globe represents the "Over-the-Horizon" system.

The 13th SWS is located at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. It is 40 miles north of Mount McKinley and 80 miles south of Fairbanks.

Until 15 December 2001, the 13th SWS managed and operated three AN/FPS-50 detection radars as well as one AN/FPS-92 tracking radar. When Thule and Fylingdales were converted to phased-array radar systems, Clear became the last mechanical missile warning site in the US. It was decided that Clear would be upgraded with a phased-array as well, and the Clear Radar Upgrade (CRU) was born. Rather than build a completely new radar, the CRU utilized existing radar components from the deactivated PAVE PAWS SLBM warning site at El Dorado, TX. Ground was broken for the new radar in April 1998. The new radar is known as the Solid-State Phased-Array Radar System (SSPARS) and is housed in a triangular-shaped 11 story building on site.

On 15 December 2000, after nearly 40 years of operation, the last of the original BMEWS radars ceased transmitting, and the SSPARS began 24-hour operations. Initial Operational Capability was declared on 31 January 2001.

The 13th SWS is responsible for providing tactical warning and attack assessment of a ballistic missile attack against the continental United States and southern Canada. Warning data from the unit is forwarded to the North American Aerospace Defense Command inside Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, CO. The squadron is also responsible for a portion of the Air Force Space Command Space Surveillance Program and assists in tracking more than 9,500 space objects currently in Earth's orbit.

The primary mission of the 13th SWS is to provide detection and tactical warning of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and Sea-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs). The tertiary mission of the 13 SWS is to provide Space Surveillance data on orbiting objects to the Space Control Center (SCC).

The 13th SWS is comprised of approximately 150 military and DoD civilian personnel divided into four main areas: operations, security forces, mission support, and command staff.




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