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PAVE Phased Array Warning System (PAWS) at Beale (U)

Overview (U):

(U) PAVE PAWS is an Air Force Space Command radar system operated by four 21st Space Wing squadrons for missile warning and space surveillance. The PAVE PAWS radar located at Beale Air Force Base (AFB), CA, is one of four PAVE PAWS radars. The other three are located at Eldorado Air Force Station (AFS), TX; Cape Cod AFS, MA; and Robins AFB, GA.

(U) The Eldorado and Robins sites were placed in caretaker status by AFSPC in Sep 95 and are not currently performing their mission, although they could be reconstituted.

(U) PAVE is an Air Force program name, while PAWS stands for Phased Array Warning System. The radar is used primarily to detect and track sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles (SLBM and ICBM). The system also has a secondary mission of earth orbiting satellite detection and tracking. Information received from the PAVE PAWS radar systems pertaining to SLBM, ICBM and satellite detection is forwarded to the Space Command's Missile Warning and Space Control Centers at Cheyenne Mountain AFB, Colorado. Data is also sent to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

Description (U):

(U) PAVE PAWS (Phased Array Warning System) at Beale provides the Northwest segment of the U.S. PAVE PAWS network. The PAVE PAWS radar provides warning and attack assessment of SLBM and ICBM attacks against North America and provides support to the Space Surveillance Network. The PAVE PAWS Northwest site is a 2-Faced Phased Array Radar run by the 7th Space Warning Squadron located at Beale Air Force Base, CA. The system reached IOC in Nov 79.

(U) The unique aspect of this radar system is the dual-faced phased array antenna technology. This system differs from a mechanical radar, which must be physically aimed at an object in space to track or observe it. The phased array antenna is in a fixed position and is part of the exterior building wall. Phased array antenna aiming, or beam steering is done rapidly by electronically controlling the timing, or phase of the incoming and outgoing signals. Controlling the phase through the many segments of the antenna system allows the beam to be quickly projected in different directions. This greatly reduces the time necessary to change the beam direction from one point to another, allowing almost simultaneous tracking of multiple targets while maintaining the surveillance responsibility.

(U) The large fixed antenna array using its beam focusing, improves system sensitivity and tracking accuracy. A phased array antenna, as any other directional antenna, receives signals from space only in the direction in which the beam is aimed. The maximum practical deflection on either side of antenna center of the phased array beam is 60 degrees. This limits the coverage from a single antenna face to 120 degrees. To provide surveillance across the horizon, the building housing the entire system and supporting antenna arrays is constructed in the shape of a triangle. The two building faces supporting the arrays, each covering 120 degrees, are therefore be able to monitor 240 degrees. The array faces are also tilted back 20 degrees to allow for an elevation deflection from three to 85 degrees above the horizon. The lower limit provides receiver isolation from signals returned from ground clutter and for environmental microwave radiation hazard protection of the local area.

(U) The radar system is capable of detecting and monitoring a great number of targets that would be consistent with a massive SLBM attack. The system rapidly discriminates between vehicle types, calculating their launch and impact points in addition to the scheduling, data processing and communications requirements. The operation is entirely automatic, requiring people only for monitoring, maintenance, and as a final check the validity of warnings. Three different computers communicating with each other form the heart of the system, which relays the information to Cheyenne Mountain AFB.

User Impact (U):

(U) Loss of this capability would have a significant impact on the Space Surveillance Network (SNN).

Programmatics (U):

(U) Operational.

(U) Organizations and Funding:
  • (U) AFSPC.
  • (U) Air Force.

Images (U):

BealeBeale Pave Paws
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Initiatives (U):
PAVE PAWSPAVE Phased Array Warning System (PAWS)
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Requirements (U):None.

Related Categories (U):
Collateral SensorsCollateral Sensors
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

1997 Space Surveillance Dev Plan
This Table Is Unclassified.

Lead Office (U):

(U) Air Force.


Point of Contact (U):

(U) Robert Frank, ESC/SNDC2, Open Phone: None..

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 12 November 1997

(U) Road Map Production Date: 12 July 1999

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