U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet
|PAVE PAWS RADAR SYSTEM
PAVE PAWS is
an Air Force Space Command radar system operated by three 21st Space
Wing squadrons for missile warning and space surveillance. PAVE PAWS
radars are located at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass., Beale AFB,
Calif., and Clear AFS, Alaska.
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 (SLMB) and
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
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
U.S. Strategic Command's Missile Warning and Space Control Centers
at Cheyenne Mountain Air Station Colo. Data is also sent to the
National Military Command Center and the U.S. Strategic
The unique aspect of this radar is the phased array
antenna technology. This system differs from a mechanical radar,
which must by physically aimed at an object in space to track and
observe it. The phased array antenna is 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.
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. The large
fixed antenna array through its better beam focusing improves system
sensitivity and tracking accuracy.
array antenna, as any other directional antenna, will receive
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
the antenna arrays is constructed in the shape of a triangle. The
two building faces supporting the arrays, each covering 120 degrees,
will monitor 240 degrees of azimuth. The array faces are also tilted
back 20 degrees to allow for an elevations deflection from three to
85 degrees above horizontal.
The radar system is capable of
detecting and monitoring a great number of targets that would be
consistent with a massive SLBM attach. The system must rapidly
discriminate 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 of the validity of warnings. Three different computers
communicate with each other from the heart of the system, which
relays the information to Cheyenne Mountain AS.
Point of Contact
Force Space Command, Public Affairs Office; 150 Vandenberg St.,
Suite 1105; Peterson AFB, CO 80914-4500; DSN 692-3731, or (719)