AN/FPQ-16 Perimeter Acquisition Radar
Attack Characterization System (PARCS)
The AN/FPQ-16 Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System (PARCS) is a leftover from the Safeguard AntiBallistic Missile system at Cavalier Air Force Station, North Dakota, 90 miles north of Grand Forks Air Force Base in the northeastern corner of North Dakota. Following the deactivation of Safeguard, the Army transferred PARCS to the Air Force.
The Air Force assigned the radar a primary mission of warning/attack assessment of SLBM and ICBM attack against CONUS and southern Canada. Its singlefaced phased array radar is pointed northward over the Hudson Bay. Missile warning data and assessment information is sent to the North American Aerospace Defense Command missile warning center at Cheyenne Mountain AS, CO. It can provide valuable surveillance, tracking, reporting, and Space Object Identification data for the Space Surveillance Network.
The PARCS radar, the largest phased-array radar system in the world, is easily the most prominent building at the base. It is a concrete structure that stands 121 feet high, making it the second tallest structure in North Dakota. As of march 1999, 26 American and two Canadian military members were assigned to the facility, as well as 150 contractor employees. As of mid 1997, Litton PRC was the contrator the facility. Prior to that, ITT Federal Systems had been the site contractor for the prior five years.
Cavalier's radar consumes 32,000 watts of electricity around the clock, and can spot an object the size of a basketball at 2,000 miles. It analyzes more than 20,000 tracks per day, from giant satellites to space debris. Some of its banks of computers are reportedly so large and old that they are water-cooled.
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