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PARCS (radar)

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PARCS (radar)

Cavalier Air Force Station is a United States Air Force installation in Pembina County, North Dakota, home to the 10th Space Warning Squadron of the 21st Space Wing based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

The station is located approximately 5 km north and 3 km west of Mountain, about 20 km from Cavalier.

The facility was built as a part of the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex supporting the U.S. Army's Safeguard anti-ballistic missile program. The Safeguard program was deactivated in 1976, and the site handed to the Air Force.


The station monitors and tracks potential missile launches against North America with the AN/FPQ-16 Perimeter Acquisition Radar Characterization System (PARCS).

In addition, PARCS monitors and tracks over half of all earth-orbiting objects to enable space situation awareness and space control.[1]

Both American and Canadian military members are assigned to the facility, as well as contractor employees.


The AN/FPQ-16 PARCS is a phased array radar system housed in a 37 m (121 ft) tall structure which continuously provides critical missile warning and space surveillance data to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), and regional combatant commanders.[1]

Its single-faced phased array radar is pointed northward over Hudson Bay.[2] In normal operation PARCS can spot an object the size of a basketball (24 cm) at 3000 km (2000 miles). Tests during the 1970s & 1980s showed that with proposed software updates (not carried out) it could spot objects less than 9 cm in size.[3] It analyzes more than 20 000 tracks per day, from giant satellites to space debris.[2]


  • 1976: Safeguard system is deactivated.
  • 1977: USAF acquires the former PAR, using the name Concrete Missile Early Warning System (CMEWS) (named for the hamlet of Concrete, N.D., just west of the PAR site).[4]
  • 1983: With the closing of the post office at Concrete, N.D., the name is changed to Cavalier Air Force Station (named for the town of Cavalier, N.D., 11 miles east of the site).
  • 1993: Name shortened to Cavalier Air Station.
  • 2000: Name changed back to Cavalier Air Force Station.

Previous Designations

  • Cavalier Air Force Station (2000–present)
  • Cavalier Air Station (1993–2000)
  • Cavalier Air Force Station (1983–1993)
  • Concrete Missile Early Warning System (1977–1983)

Photo gallery


External links

  • Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, Perimeter Acquisition Radar Building, Limited Access Area, between Limited Access Patrol Road & Service Road A, Nekoma vicinity, Cavalier, ND at HAER
  • Perimiter Acquisition Radar (PAR) Complex, at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex History Page.
  • Chapter 8: Perimeter Acquisition Radar, ABM Research and Development at Bell Laboratories: Project History at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex History Page.
  • Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR), Concrete, ND. Article at the Cold War Tourist website.

Coordinates: 48°43′55″N 97°54′16″W / 48.731908°N 97.904406°W / 48.731908; -97.904406

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