Air Force Pledges Continued Cooperation with Radio Amateurs During Cape Cod Radar Upgrades


As updating of the Pave PAWS radar installation gets under way at the Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts, the US Air Force has reached out to the Amateur Radio community to continue the positive working relationship developed between the two parties since March 2007. Pave PAWS radar installations on both coasts have required the modification of some 70 centimeter Amateur Radio systems to mitigate interference to the military radars. The Amateur Service is secondary on 70 centimeters. ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, said work now has begun to install the updated early-warning radar standards at Cape Cod.

“This is the new version of Pave PAWS and will bring the Cape Cod radar up to the same higher standard already employed at the Beale Air Force Base Pave PAWS facility in California, as well as at others in the Space Early Warning system,” Henderson said. “The radar will be a little more sensitive, so some additional mitigation is possible, but nothing like that required when the project started. This is the last Pave PAWS site to be upgraded.”

Henderson, who has served as the League’s point person on this project, and ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI, were briefed in late 2015 on the changes by officials at the Cape Cod facility. “The fact that the Air Force reached out to inform us of the pending changes speaks volumes about the excellent working relationship we have managed to build with them over the past 9 years,” said Henderson. “The Amateur Radio communities in proximity to both the Cape Cod and Beale sites have stepped up to the plate and demonstrated their willingness to be good-faith partners with the Air Force, accepting their responsibility as secondary users of this part of the spectrum, and, in almost all cases, taking the necessary steps to achieve the required mitigation standards while still maintaining Amateur Radio access to this spectrum.”

In a statement, Cape Cod AFS Sixth Space Warning Squadron Crew Commander and Public Affairs Officer Lt Drew S. Dutcher said his facility recognizes and appreciates Amateur Radio’s service to the community and its continued cooperation.

“In the coming months we will be undergoing upgrades to our facility which will help us improve our capabilities to locate and track satellites for entities such as NASA and Space-X,” Dutcher said. “The improvements will also ensure utilization of cutting-edge technology to protect our eastern sea border from incoming Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles. As always, we ask that you be mindful and courteous of our frequency range. We do not anticipate any interference or spurious emissions to any [Amateur Radio] frequencies.”

Dutcher asked radio amateurs experiencing “any anomalies” on their 70 centimeter frequencies to contact the Public Affairs Office. He thanked the ham community for advancing the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio and continuation of cooperation. The Cape Cod Pave PAWS installation was the first in the US.

More information will become available as work at Cape Cod AFS continues. Henderson asked amateurs with questions about the project to contact him at ARRL Headquarters and to copy him on any communications to the US Air Force regarding interference or spurious emissions believed to be associated with the Pave PAWS radar system.

"Pave" is a program name for electronics systems. "PAWS" stands for Phased Array Warning System. The technical nomenclature for the radar is AN/FPS-123.