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116th Air Control Squadron acquires new radome assembly

  • Published
  • By 142nd Wing

CAMP RILEA, Ore. – The 116th Air Control Squadron received a long-awaited radar radome assembly, a domed structure to house its mission-critical air surveillance equipment. 

The assembly was installed at Camp Rilea in Warrenton Dec. 13. A week later, the ACS radar shop used a crane to move its AN/TPS-75 antenna array — a tactical transportable long-range air surveillance radar — inside the structure.

The 116th ACS is a geographically separated unit of the Portland Air National Guard Base’s 142nd Wing. Since moving to Camp Rilea on the Oregon coast in the late 1980s, the 116th has backfilled multiple Federal Aviation Administration radar systems along the Pacific Northwest coast. Since 9/11, it has also provided radar coverage in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, supporting Operation Noble Eagle.

The AN/TPS-75’s can mount on a 5-ton truck and convoy to remote locations. It is a vital asset for Air Defense, Command and Control, search and rescue missions across the Pacific Northwest, and combatant commands worldwide. Additionally, the 116th provides tactical command and control support to the 123d Fighter Squadron whenever the 142nd Wing’s aircraft fly training sorties in north coast air spaces.

The new radome ensures the long-term viability of AN/TPS-75 radar until the Air Force fields a replacement in fiscal 2028 or later.

The ACS began seeking a radome in 2015 when now-retired Chief Master Sgt. Greg Bosin sought funding for the project. He eventually discovered the Air Force’s Small Business and Innovative Research Program, which allows a streamlined contracting process managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management at Hill Air Force Base.

Still, the process took nearly five years. Then the pandemic delayed the manufacture and delivery several more months.

“I’m really excited to have our radar system undercover and protected from the elements,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steve Wilcox. “Not having to recall my radar personnel in from home to fold the antenna in the midst of sudden weather events and exposing them to 30-plus mph wind gusts and sideways rain is a game-changer.”

Radome structures have been around for decades. However, the radome the 116th acquired uses the latest in composite materials and manufacturing technology to reduce costs and keep the radar system operational.

“The radome ensures the longevity of our radar, which ensures we stay in the fight,” said Capt. Daniel Hicks, the 116th assistant director of operations.