Credit: SpaceNews
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has closed a radar tracking station on the Caribbean island of Antigua.
The station, formally closed in July, tracked launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida for the 45th Space Wing.
“Antigua Air Station has been an extremely valuable asset to the success of the 45th [Space Wing]. It served as one of the primary Range and Control instrumentation sites for space and launch vehicle tracking support,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander. “There was never a launch scrub due to a failure of Antigua based instrumentation. This is remarkable considering there was no redundancy for the Antigua radar or command system.”
The Air Force said in a July 13 statement that the high cost of operating the Antigua Air Station, and the ability of other assets to track launches, led to the decision to close the facility.
A C-band radar located there will be moved to Australia and incorporated into the Space Surveillance Network.
“Many of our allies and partners rely on the U.S. [Space Surveillance Network] to provide foundational elements for protecting space assets,” said Lt. Col. Steven Melvin, the radar tracking station’s commander. “The resulting increase in battlespace awareness due to the location in Australia will provide the warfighter with predictive and actionable situational awareness through early detection of launches at a lower inclination than previously available.”