PAVE is an Air Force program name, while PAWS stands for Phased
Array Warning System. The radar is used primarily to detect and
track sea-launched (SLMB) and intercontinental ballistic missiles
The system also has a secondary mission of Earth-orbiting
satellite detection and tracking. Information received from the PAVE
PAWS radar systems pertaining to SLBM/ICBM and satellite detection
is forwarded to the U.S. Strategic Command's Missile Warning and Space
Control Centers at Cheyenne Mountain Air Station Colo. Data is also
sent to the National Military Command Center and the U.S. Strategic
The unique aspect of this radar is the phased array antenna technology.
This system differs from a mechanical radar, which must by physically
aimed at an object in space to track and observe it. The phased array
antenna is a fixed position and is part of the exterior building wall.
Phased array antenna aiming, or beam steering, is done rapidly by
electronically controlling the timing, or phase, of the incoming and
Controlling the phase through the many segments of the antenna system
allows the beam to be quickly projected in different directions. This
greatly reduces the time necessary to change the beam direction from
one point to another, allowing almost simultaneous tracking of multiple
targets while maintaining the surveillance responsibility. The large
fixed antenna array through its better beam focusing improves system
sensitivity and tracking accuracy.
A phased array antenna, as any other directional antenna, will receive
signals from space only in the direction in which the beam is aimed.
The maximum practical deflection on either side of antenna center
of the phased array beam is 60 degrees. This limits the coverage from
a single antenna face to 120 degrees. To provide surveillance across
the horizon, the building housing the entire system and supporting
the antenna arrays is constructed in the shape of a triangle. The
two building faces supporting the arrays, each covering 120 degrees,
will monitor 240 degrees of azimuth. The array faces are also tilted
back 20 degrees to allow for an elevations deflection from three to
85 degrees above horizontal.
The radar system is capable of detecting and monitoring a great number
of targets that would be consistent with a massive SLBM attach. The
system must rapidly discriminate between vehicle types, calculating
their launch and impact points in addition to the scheduling, data
processing and communications requirements. The operation is entirely
automatic, requiring people only for monitoring, maintenance and as
a final check of the validity of warnings. Three different computers
communicate with each other from the heart of the system, which relays
the information to Cheyenne Mountain AS.
Point of Contact
Air Force Space Command, Public Affairs Office
150 Vandenberg Street, Suite 1105
Peterson AFB, Colorado 80914.
DSN 692-3731, or (719) 554-3731