Niagara Falls Air Guard engineers helping to move massive radar to Australiaby jmaloni
35 members of the 107th Airlift Wing will work on building that will house Space Surveillance Network radar
Thirty-five members of the 107th Airlift Wing will spend three weeks in Australia this month helping the Air Force Space Command install a Space Surveillance Network radar there.
The airmen belong to the 107th Civil Engineer Squadron. They are due to deploy to Australia later this week.
The Citizen Airmen will be working to renovate a building at the site and constructing a new antenna support structure at H.E. Holt Naval Communications Station in the state of Western Australia.
Air Force Space Command and the Space and Missile Systems Center are working with the Air National Guard to move more than 75 tons of Space Surveillance Network radar equipment from Antigua to Western Australia.
The radar is being moved to Australia, under a 2012 agreement between the two countries, in order to allow for better tracking of space debris and inactive and active satellites orbiting the southern hemisphere.
The radar is due to be in place later this year. An Air National Guard team deployed to Antigua in January to begin disassembling and packing the giant radar.
By having Air National Guard engineers work on the project as part of their annual training, the Air Force anticipates saving taxpayers about $20 million to $30 million.
The U.S. Space Surveillance Network detects, tracks, catalogs and identifies artificial objects orbiting Earth, ranging from active and inactive satellites and used rockets to equipment dropped by accidents during a space walk.
The C-Band mechanical tracking ground-based radar is useful in space surveillance and can identify space objects in low Earth orbit. It can accurately track up to 200 objects a day and can help to identify satellites, their orbits and potential anomalies, according to a fact sheet about the system.
When the radar is relocated to Australia, it will be the first low-Earth-orbit space surveillance network sensor in the Southern Hemisphere. The new location will give needed southern and eastern hemispheric coverage that will lead to better positional accuracies and predictions, the fact sheet states.
The system will provide a critical dedicated sensor for the main system the U.S. and its partners rely on to detect, track and identify objects in space.
C-band radar also can help in tracking high-interest space launches from Asia.
"This is an excellent training opportunity for our Civil Engineer and it also allows our airmen to put their skills to work to met national security objectives," said Col. John Higgins, commander of the 107th Airlift Wing.
The 107th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard is based at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The wing is currently in the process of preparing to operate the remotely piloted MQ-9 aircraft. The wing also provides trained airmen worldwide in support of Air Force operations while providing personnel with specialized skills to respond to emergencies within New York at the direction of the governor.