Photo: Bill Shaw 1958


Radars atop a ridge at Red Canyon Range Camp, engaged in electronic warfare. The large Acquisition Radar has alerted the unit to the presence of a target. The Target Track Radar (TTR), background, is automatically tracking the target, sending range, azimuth and elevation data to the computer in the van at right. The Missile Track Radar (MTR), foreground, is both tracking and transmitting steering commands to a Nike Ajax missile unseen some 60,000 feet above the desert. The missile is streaking toward the target at a supersonic 1,669-MPH. You can see by the angle of the two Tracking Radars that the missile is very near the target. The computer will send a BURST command to the missile’s three warheads when the missile is only a few feet above the target, spraying it with lethal shrapnel. If no other target is selected, the MTR will automatically slew to the stowed, vertical position. The TTR will lock-on to the largest piece of debris from the target and track it to the ground.

The three radars are always placed on the highest point on the site, giving them greater range and an unobstructed 360-degree view. Jackscrews on the Track Radars’ tripod legs are used to level them.

The physical distance between the two Track Radars creates a PARALLAX error. To eliminate it, the distances are measured in three axis: North/South, East/West, and Vertical (height difference). These values are set into the computer using parallax correction dials. The computer subtracts the vectored values from the intercept equation, as if both Track Radars are stacked on precisely the same virtual spot.