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24 November 2006

New York Times, November 24, 2006

[Excerpts -- More in the article about mysterious electromagnetic events alleged to have happened at the site.]

At the end of a tree-lined, rock-strewn trail that opens onto a wide asphalt road is a locked gate, a sign that reads “Area Closed: Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted,” and the park’s most startling military fossil: a weary-looking AN/FPS-35 radar system, deployed in 1960 and operational until 1980. From a distance the tower is a dark monolith in the forest, topped with a 70-ton, 120-foot-wide antenna that looks like a magnified fly’s wing. Up close, it is more sad than sinister. Its windows are covered. Its air vents are silent.

Once the most advanced surveillance radar available to the Air Force, the tower, which was able to detect airborne objects more than 200 miles from shore, is the only intact large frequency diversity radar left in the country. Of all the military artifacts at Camp Hero, it looks the most out of place amid the acres of wilderness. In fact, your first sighting of the tower can be likened to the scene in “Planet of the Apes” when Charlton Heston’s character comes across the Statue of Liberty partly buried on a beach.

Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times

A radar tower signals Camp Hero's past.



AN/FPS-35 at Montauk AFS, NY

This Sperry-built FD long-range search radar was designed to operate at 420 to 450 MHz. It was first deployed in December 1960, but problems hampered the program. Four of these units were operational in 1962. Eventually twelve (12) AN/FPS-35 radars would become operational in the US. The system suffered frequent bearing problems as the antenna weighed seventy tons.


Brochure outside panels


The AN/FPS-35 Long Range Search Radar, built by the Sperry Gyroscope Company, was one of several frequency diversity radars developed for the Air Defense Command and for the SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) System. The FPS-35 was first deployed in 1960, but was not operational until 1962. Frequent bearing problems plagued this radar because the antenna weighed more than 70 tons. Twelve FPS-35 radars eventually became operational in the Continental United States..


The property served a particularly important role during the Cold War. Renamed the Montauk Air Force Station in 1951, the Air Force used the camp for Antiaircraft Artillery training as well as for the site of a major radar installation. Part of several air defense radar networks, including the first two such networks in the United States, the Montauk Air Force Station was charged with defending the New York metropolitan area and the Northeastern United States from nuclear armed Soviet bombers. The State received the property through the National Park Service in 1984. A unique feature of the site is the AN/FPS-35 radar system used more than forty years ago, one of the largest and most advanced surveillance radars, able to detect airborne objects well over 200 miles from shore. Camp Hero contains the last intact AN/FPS-35 radar tower and dish in the country.