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3rd Space Communications Squadron [3rd SCS]

The 3rd Space Communications Squadron, located at Kapaun Air Force Station, Germany, provides vital communication support for U.S. and allied forces. The squadron is a geographically separated unit of the 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, CO.

The mission of the 3rd SCS is to provide critical defense communications data to other wing units, as well as to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Space Command at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo; United States Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, NE; and the National and Alternate Military Command Centers.

The 3rd SCS provides critical and timely communications capabilities to the national command authorities and unified and theater commanders. It also plays a key role in giving field commanders the communications and information needed to fight and win theater conflicts.

The 3rd SCS is located seven miles from Ramstein AB, Germany, in the southwestern part of Germany. The facilities include a mission equipment site, an administration complex and a materiel control facility. The site contains the satellite operations center and maintenance work centers, along with mission and related satellite antennas.

The 3rd SCS operates two satellite antenna receivers, two independent satellite operations centers and two mainframe computers and associated equipment housed in 20-foot shelters, as well as communications and wideband tape recording equipment contained in an attached 40-foot shelter.

The 3rd SCS also has two computer strings, each of which consists of a major group of equipment components; the antenna, satellite readout equipment, line interface units, data processing equipment and communications equipment. Each string has the capability to receive and process data from satellites and generate data for transmission to critical defense users. One of the two strings is active at any one time, the other is used as a backup system.

The 3rd SCS is tasked with:

  • Operates, maintains and supports satellite communications missions and equipment; and
  • Forwards data to designated using agencies.

Kapaun Air Station is the second home of the 3rd Space Communications Squadron. The unit originally activated at the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant near Grand Island, NE, July 1, 1978, as Operating Location AE, 46th Aerospace Wing.

The first few months in Nebraska were spent preparing for the arrival of mission equipment undergoing tests at Vandenberg AFB, CA. The equipment arrived in December 1978 for maintenance training, operational testing and evaluation, and computer program improvements.

In October 1979, Aerospace Defense Command's reorganization brought a change in unit designations. Mission operations, security police, power production and medical technicians were assigned to Location AE, 1st Strategic Aerospace Division. Communications, operations and electronic equipment maintenance people were assigned to Air Force Communication Command's Operating Location A, 2162nd Communications Squadron.

In November 1980, Operating Location AE became Detachment 6, 1st Strategic Aerospace Division, while Operating Location A became Detachment 4, 1st Aerospace Communications Group.

In October 1982, the unit was deployed to Germany. Its transportable capability was proven when two C-5A Galaxys and two C-141B Starlifters transported equipment, furniture, supplies and people from Nebraska to Ramstein AB, Germany. The equipment was set up on a 600-square meter area of Kapaun AS, near Ramstein AB and the city of Kaiserslautern.

In May 1983, the unit was transferred to the newly formed Air Force Space Command and became Detachment 6, 1st Space Wing, while the communications maintenance unit became Detachment 1, Space Communications Division.

After Detachment 1 transferred 24 of its manning slots and maintenance responsibility to Detachment 6 in April 1986, the unit redesignated the 3rd Communications Squadron.

When the 1st Space Wing and the 3rd Space Support Group merged in May 1992, becoming the 21st Space Wing, the unit was redesignated as the 3rd Space Communications Squadron.




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