Clear Air Station is home for the 13th Space Warning Squadron (SWS). The squadron is assigned to the 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, CO. Clear, along with radar units at Thule AB, Greenland, and Fylingdales Moor UK, comprise the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS).
The BMEWS mission is twofold: to provide reliable early warning of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile attack directed toward the North American continent and to provide timely and accurate satellite detection and tracking data to the maximum extent possible without interfering with our missile warning mission. Clear also provides space object identification data to the United States Space Command's Space Control Center and Combined Intelligence Center. The missile warning and space surveillance operations conducted at Clear directly support the missions of the Air Force Space Command, the United States Space Command, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
LOCATION: Clear Air Station is located 78 miles southwest of Fairbanks and 250 miles north of Anchorage on the Parks Highway (Highway 3). The nearest settlement to the north is Anderson, which is approximately six miles from the station. The town of Nenana is approximately 20 miles north of Clear and Mount McKinley lies 100 miles to the southwest and is visible from the site on a clear day.
THE SITE: The installation is divided into three main areas: (1) the composite area--where the administration, recreation, and permanent living quarters are located; (2) the camp area--comprised of the civil engineering and security forces offices; and (3) the technical site area--housing the power plant and the operations and maintenance facilities which contain the radars and related equipment. Workers travel via shuttle bus to the operations and security work areas; otherwise all day-to-day necessities are located in the main composite area, which is under one roof to minimize the outdoors exposure. The entire area covers a total of 11,500 acres. There are approximately 120 military personnel, 50 civil service workers, and 220 contractor personnel who fulfill Clear's vital mission.
ORGANIZATION: The 13th Space Warning Squadron is the host unit and as such, exercises overall command of Clear Air Station. Air Force personnel are assigned to operations, security police, fire department, and squadron staff functions. Our power plant is manned by civil servants. A contractor provides maintenance and support, including radar maintenance, logistics, transportation, food service, civil engineering, and medical care.
HISTORY: The BMEWS site at Clear is the only remaining mechanical radar warning system in the United States. It was originally declared operational in September 1961. The squadron was known as Det 2, 71st Missile Warning Wing, and was the first Air Force unit at the site.
RADAR: Clear AS has three large detection radar antennas that transmit radar energy into space. Each is 400 feet wide by 165 feet high and weighs 2,000,000 pounds. Compared to a standard football field, each radar screen is about one-third as large. Also, located at Clear is a tracking radar housed in a 140 foot diameter radome. The tracking radar serves a dual function: it is used as a surveillance radar covering a predetermined segment of space and can also lock onto a designated object and track it for sufficient time to get an accurate portrayal of its trajectory. Radar returns are converted into signal data that is analyzed by computer. The computer analyzes and transmits tracking information to the Missile Warning and Space Control Centers in Cheyenne Mountain. A portion of the data processing equipment is used to display the radar returns in the Missile Warning Operations Center (MWOC) at Clear. The MWOC is staffed by a crew of five Air Force personnel 24 hours a day.
CLEAR RADAR UPGRADE (CRU): During your stay at Clear, you will see work on our new (PAVE) Phased Array Warning System (PAWS). Scheduled to be operational in January 2001, the PAVE PAWS will significantly improve our missile warning capabilities and take Clear into the 21st century.