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Benton Air Force Station

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Benton Air Force Station

Benton AFS
Benton AFS
Location of Benton AFS, Pennsylvania

Benton Air Force Station was a Cold War era Aerospace Defense Command radar facility in Colley Township, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. The station was operational from 1951 until 1975.

The radar at Benton Air Force Station scanned skies in the United States from Massachusetts south to Virginia and east over the Atlantic Ocean.[1] The station was manned by airmen from the 648th Aircraft Control Squadron at Fort Indiantown Gap.

Benton Air Force Station was converted to the Red Rock Job Corps Center in 1978[1] and is now part of Ricketts Glen State Park a Pennsylvania state park.[2]

History

Benton Air Force Station (Also known as Mud Pond) was part of the last batch of twenty-three radar stations constructed as part of the Air Defense Command permanent network. Construction on the 98-acre (40 ha) facility began in 1950 and was completed on September 21, 1951.

Earlier stationed at Mud Pond, Pennsylvania, the 648th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron began operations with AN/CPS-6B radar scanners and barracks for the airmen or "scope dopes" who operated the radar station.[1][3] The radar operators worked around the clock and could scramble jets from Air Forces bases in New York and New Jersey.[1] The facility was moved to Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania by 1 February 1952. On 1 December 1953, the Ricketts Glen facility was redesignated as Benton Air Force Station.

Upgrades to the station in 1958 made it possible for Benton AFS to join the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, initially feeding data to DC-02 at Stewart AFB, New York. After joining, the squadron was re-designated as the 648th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 February 1959. In August 1958, the SAGE information feed was switched to DC-03 at Syracuse AFS, then in September 1963 SAGE data was sent back to DC-02.[3] The system connected a series of long-range radar stations such as the one at Benton Air Force Station with control centers by sending data through the telephone system. Data collected at the control center was sent back to the stations in images on cathode ray tubes.[1]

Further improvements in the 1960s included the installation of an AN/FPS-35 radar atop a five-story structure that still stands. The new unit weighed 70 tons and was painted in a red/white checkerboard pattern.

In addition to the main facility, Benton operated two unmanned AN/FPS-14 (P-30E) and AN/FPS-18 (P-30F) Gap Filler sites:[3]



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