|Othello Air Force Station|
|Part of Air Defense Command (ADC)|
Location of Othello AFS, Washington
|Type||Air Force Station|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Garrison||637th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (later 637th Radar Squadron); 637th Air Defense Group|
Othello Air Force Station (ADC ID: P-40, NORAD ID: Z-40) is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 7.2 miles (11.6 km) south of Othello, Washington. It was the home station of the 637th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (AC&W Sq) (later the 637th Radar Squadron) and the 637th Air Defense Group, closing in 1975.
Othello Air Force Station was one of twenty-eight stations built as part of the second segment of the Air Defense Command permanent radar network. Prompted by the start of the Korean War, on July 11, 1950, the Secretary of the Air Force asked the Secretary of Defense for approval to expedite construction of the permanent network. Receiving the Defense Secretary's approval on July 21, the Air Force directed the Corps of Engineers to proceed with construction. This site took over coverage once provided by the temporary "Lashup" site L-28, Spokane, Washington, which operated between 1950–1952.
The 637th AC&W Sq had moved to Saddle Mountain, Washington by 1 January 1951. The squadron began operating an AN/FPS-3 long-range search radar and an AN/FPS-5 height-finder radar in January 1952, assuming coverage from the temporary "lashup" sites L-29 at Larson AFB and L-30 at Richland, Washington. Initially the station functioned as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and warning station. As a GCI station, the squadron's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes. The site was renamed Othello Air Force Station on 1 December 1953.
In 1956 ADC replaced the height-finder radar with an AN/FPS-6. In 1958 the 637th AC&W Sq operated an AN/FPS-20 search radar and added an AN/FPS-6A height-finder radar. In July 1960 the joined the regional Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) center, the squadron being redesignated as the 637th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 September. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction altitude speed and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile. On 31 July 1963, the site was redesignated as NORAD ID Z-40.
In 1963 the AN/FPS-20 radar was replaced by an AN/FPS-7C set featuring an ECCM capability (the AN/FPS-7C was later modified to the AN/FPS-107 version). Also in 1963 the AN/FPS-6 was retired as an AN/FPS-26A height-finder radar was being installed, completed in 1964.
In addition to the main facility, Othello operated several AN/FPS-14 Gap Filler sites:
The 637th Radar Sq was inactivated and replaced by the 637th Air Defense Group in March 1970. The upgrade to group status was done because of Othello AFS' status as a Backup Interceptor Control (BUIC) site. BUIC sites were alternate control sites in the event that SAGE Direction Centers became disabled and unable to control interceptor aircraft. The group was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period from 1 March 1970 through 31 May 1971 for exceptionally meritorious service The group was inactivated and replaced by the 637th Radar Squadron. as defenses against manned bombers were reduced. The group was disbanded in 1984.
The squadron was inactivated on March 31, 1975 due to a draw-down of ADC and budget constraints. Today, the site is abandoned and deteriorating, and has the look of a ghost town. The site and housing area are deteriorating, with tall weeds, grasses, and shrubs growing everywhere.