Photo: Bill Shaw 1958
Looking like a giant bathtub, this radar rotates continuously, searching for anything flying within its range, about 100 miles. The electronics, modulator, magnetron, etc. are inside the large cylindrical base. A waveguide feeds the microwave signals both to and from the rotating antenna. Strong legs brace and steady the antenna against the incessant desert wind. Electronic cables lead from the left side of the base and connect to the Battery Control (BC) Van.
Inside the BC Van is the large Present Position Indicator (PPI) scope which shows the Battery Commander all aircraft flying within his assigned sector. He can move a cursor over any aircraft on the scope and designate it as a Target. In the Tracking Radar Van, a Target Tracking Radar (TTR) operator simply pushes the "Acquire Target" switch and the TTR automatically slews to the range and azimuth coordinates of the target. The TTR, now tracking automatically, sends target data to the computer which computes an intercept point for the missile. When the intercept point is within range, the Battery Commander lifts a red protective cover and presses the FIRE switch. Instantly the Nike missile is launched, roars to 60,000 feet, then begins a dive toward the intercept point at over 1,600-MPH. The entire flight lasts about one minute. The computer automatically sends a BURST command which detonates the warheads and kills the target. If required, another target is selected and the process is repeated. It all happens very quickly and with lethal precision.