Night view of the COBRA DANE radar

The AN/FPS-108 COBRA DANE is a PESA phased array radar installation operated by Raytheon for the United States Space Force (originally for the United States Air Force) at Eareckson Air Station on the island of Shemya, Aleutian Islands, Alaska.[1] The system was built in 1976 and brought online in 1977 for the primary mission of gathering intelligence about Russia's ICBM program in support of verification of the SALT II arms limitation treaty. Its single face 29 m (95 ft) diameter phased array radar antenna 52°44′14″N 174°05′29″E / 52.7373°N 174.0914°E / 52.7373; 174.0914 faces the Kamchatka Peninsula and Russia's Kura Test Range. COBRA DANE operates in the 1215–1400 MHz band and can track items as small as a basketball sized drone at distances of several hundred miles.[2]

The "COBRA" designation indicates a general Defense Intelligence program.[3]

Classification of radar systems

Further information: Joint Electronics Type Designation System

Under the Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS), all U.S. military radar and tracking systems are assigned a unique identifying alphanumeric designation. The letters “AN” (for Army-Navy) are placed ahead of a three-letter code.[4]

Thus, the AN/FPS-108 represents the 108th design of an Army-Navy “Fixed, Radar, Search” electronic device.[4][5]


It initially employed a Control Data Corporation Cyber 74 mainframe computer for data processing.[6] Data from the radar is sent to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. It is also listed as a partner of the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office and works with the Missile Defense Agency,[1] under the control of the 21st Operations Group.[7]

The Cobra Dane radar has been upgraded to be integrated in the Missile Defenses Agency's (MDA) Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). The improvement includes midcourse BMDS sensor coverage by providing acquisition, tracking, object classification, and data that can be used for cueing, launch of interceptor missiles, and course updates of interceptors while retaining the site's legacy intelligence and space track missions. The Space Force maintains responsibility for the Cobra Dane radar operations, maintenance, and sustainment.[8]

Technical specifications

See also

Displays for the COBRA DANE system, 1977
Personnel inside the data processing center, June 1977


  1. ^ a b "The Missile Defense Agency - MDA - U.S. Department of Defense" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
  2. ^ "AN/FPS-108 COBRA DANE". Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  3. ^ Colonel Bill Grimes, U.R. (2014). The History of Big Safari. Archway. p. 454. ISBN 9781480804562.
  4. ^ a b Avionics Department (2013). "Missile and Electronic Equipment Designations". Electronic Warfare and Radar Systems Engineering Handbook (PDF) (4 ed.). Point Mugu, California: Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. p. 2-8.1.
  5. ^ Winkler, David F. (1997). "Radar Systems Classification Methods". Searching the Skies: The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program (PDF). Langley AFB, Virginia: United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command. p. 73. LCCN 97020912.
  6. ^ "Press report on Computer sale to PRC (THIS LINK POINTS TO THE WRONG DOCUMENT)". United States Department of State. 1976-10-30. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  7. ^ Steve Brady. "Wing adopts new (again) space surveillance mission". Archived from the original on 2014-12-20. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  8. ^ "MDA - Sensors". Retrieved 2022-08-28.
  9. ^ [bare URL PDF]

52°44′14″N 174°05′28″E / 52.73722°N 174.09111°E / 52.73722; 174.09111