Military Wiki
Highlands Air Force Station
USAF transmitter call sign: "Jitney"
Part of Air Defense CommandAirdefensecommand-logo.jpg
Type General Surveillance Radar Station
Coordinates Latitude:
Location code L-12: 1948 Lashup Radar Network
P-9: 1949 ADC permanent network
Z-9: 1963 July 31 NORAD network
In use 1948-1966
Controlled by  United States Air Force
Garrison 646th Radar Squadron - Emblem.png 646th AC&W Squadron

Highlands Air Force Station was a Navesink Highlands military installation in Middletown Township near the borough of Highlands, New Jersey.[1] The station provided ground-controlled interception radar coverage as part of the Lashup Radar Network and the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment network, as well as providing radar coverage for the Highlands Army Air Defense Site. The site's 240 acres (97 ha)[1] is now the Rocky Point section in Hartshorne Woods Park of the Monmouth County Parks System.

The "base of the 646th [squadron] atop the Highlands-Middletown hill overlooking the Navesink river" (published August 7, 1958).[2]


Early installations

The Navesink Highlands had a sea navigation beacon in 1746,[3] and the Twin Lights north tower was built in 1828.[4] The New Jersey Highlands were used for antebellum flag signaling experiments that communicated with Fort Tomkins on Staten Island in 1859.[5]:30 Guglielmo Marconi had a 1899 radio station on the hill near the north tower.[4]

Seacoast defense and 1930s radar testing

In World War I, a mortar battery was placed on the Navsink Highlands for seacoast defense.[7] By 1933, Harold A. Zahl's radio range experiments had begun from the Twin Lights lighthouse,[8] and an August 1935 US Army Signal Corps radar test at the lighthouse allowed a searchlight beam to track an aircraft.[6] An SCR-268 radar assembled in August 1938 was demonstrated at the "Twin Lights, N. J." lighthouse in 1939.[9] Battery Isaac N. Lewis on the hill was a World War II seacoast defense site.[7]

Twin Lights station

The "Twin Lights station"[10] was an Army radar site with a control center. The station was used for a November 1939[9] demonstration to the Secretary of War in which radar data was networked from the local SCR-270 radar and, via telephone, from one in Connecticut that both tracked[11] a Mitchel Field[10] B-17 bomber formation. From 1942-5, the site had a World War II Westinghouse SCR-271 radar for early warning and in 1948, Air Defense Command activated[Clarification needed] the 646th Aircraft Control Squadron at Highlands AFS with a General Electric AN/CPS-6 Radar providing data to the Manual Control Center at Roslyn Air Warning Station, New York. In 1955 a General Electric AN/FPS-8 Radar for medium range surveillance was installed[Clarification needed] southwest of the lighthouse (later converted to a General Electric AN/GPS-3 Radar[12] that remained until 1960.) By 1957, the site was 229 acres (93 ha) and an additional area was planned for Army housing.[13] In 1958, a height finder General Electric AN/FPS-6 Radar was added to the site.

SAGE site

In 1958, Highlands Air Force Station began providing data to Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) direction center DC-01 at McGuire AFB which had Air Defense Command interceptor aircraft and CIM-10 Bomarc surface-to-air missiles. In September 1959, Highlands was the first site with a General Electric AN/FPS-7 Radar[specify]

for long range surveillance.[7] (A U.S. Army Signal Missile Master Support Detachment provided site maintenance.[14][15])  Texas Tower 4 (call sign "Dora") was an offshore radar annex of Highlands operated by a 646th flight from 1959 until it collapsed into the Atlantic Ocean in 1961, killing 28 people.  In 1960 the Air Force installed an AN/FPS-6B height-finder radar at Highlands which, along with the AN/FPS-6, had been replaced by 1963 with AN/FPS-26A and AN/FPS-90 sets.  The United States Secretary of Defense announced on 20 November 1964, that the Air Force operations would be closed.[16]

The Highlands Army Air Defense Site (HAADS) was established east of the station in 1958 with a Missile Master nuclear bunker which used the USAF radar data. HAADS assumed control[when?] of the USAF station after the DoD had announced its closure for July 1966[1][17] (the USAF squadron inactivated on 1 July 1966). Army use of the former USAF radars ended in 1974 when the Nike missile program ended,[18] USAF structures were demolished in the early 1990s,[19] and a few building foundations remain in a small clearing within the site's overgrowth of vegetation.

External images
1930s radars at the Twin Lights lighthouse
map of current site with park trails


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Highlands Radar Site Closing". Red Bank, New Jersey. 20 November 1964. p. One. Retrieved 10 October 2011. "Gov. Richard J. Hughes said yesterday he had been informed that a radar unit at the Air Force facility would be inactivated by July, 1966, affecting approximately 19 civilian employees and 186 military personnel.... Lt. Col. Ralph W. Frank, Jr., commander of the Air Force Station, indicated that the U.S. Army radar unit stationed at the base will be left intact.... The Army radar unit consists of approximately 300 men, of which about 200 are tied in with Fort Hancock operations or Sandy Hook as part of the U.S. Army Defense Command, according to the Air Force base commander.... According to the base commander, the entire Highlands Air Force Station, including the Missile Master, occupies about 241 acres, of which 103 undeveloped acres have been approved by the assistant secretary of defense as surplus property.... If land were to become available, it's probable that Middletown Township would have first claim on it, Mayor Guiney said. The installation, though named for this borough, is actually located in the township, the mayor reported, but it is serviced by the Highlands Post Office. "Geographically, Middletown could gain from this — possibly new ratables," said Mayor Guiney." 
  2. "Location of the Missile Master". Red Bank, New Jersey. 7 August 1958. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  3. "646th Radar Squadron (SAGE)". New York Air Defense Sector Yearbook. 1960. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 King, John P. (2001). Highlands: New Jersey. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-2362-3. 
  5. Rauch, Steven J. "Edward P. Alexander versus Albert J. Myer: Success and failure at the Battle of Bull Run". Retrieved 2011-10-09. "Both Myer and Alexander…carried out a final series of trials with Myer stationed on the New Jersey Highlands and Alexander 15 miles away at Fort Tomkins on Staten Island. … Alexander…could read signals made with a four-foot flag on a 12-foot pole "with [only] a small and weak glass."" 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Davis, Harry M. (1st Lt) (Declassified 1972) [March 1943-Confidential]. "Chapter IV". The Signal Corps Development of U.S. Army Radar Equipment. Signal Corps. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "The Ordnance Department, which had voluntarily relinquished the "[radar]" project to the Signal Corps in 1930, now argued…that the data from a short-wave radio detector might eventually be applied directly to the gun director, eliminating the searchlight and replacing the sound locator. …the opening of the new Squier Laboratory building at Fort Monmouth, the personnel on 30 June 1936 consisted of only eight officers, seventeen enlisted men and ninety-two civilians." 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "The Historic Atlantic Highlands Military Reservation (MR)". Fort Tilden. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 2011-10-07. "Battery 219, Atlantic Highlands MR, NJ … This same plot of land on the Atlantic Highlands was later used as a control center for Nike air defense missiles during the Cold War.... Many Army units were based here: HQ 52nd [Air Defense Artillery] Brigade: November 1968 to September 1972, HQ 19th Group [19th Artillery Group HAADS]: December 1961 to November 1968, HQ 16th Group: June 1971 to September 1974, HHB/3/51st: November 1968 to September 1972..., HHB/1/51st: September 1972 to June 1973." 
  8. "Chapter 4 - Cultural Resources Report - 1996". 1996. [dead link]
  9. 9.0 9.1 Vieweger, Arthur L; White, Albert S. (after 1956: "FPS-20 radar set" on p. 23). Development of Radar SCR-270 (Report). Retrieved 2011-10-08. "Such radars were therefore imported from England for analysis and comparison in a field set-up at the Signal Corps Radar Laboratory, in Belmar, N. J. … final version of SCR-271 with… Transmitter Peak Power - 500 KW (using the same WL-350 tubes); Pulse Width - 20 microseconds - Antenna - 64 dipoles 8 x 8 configuration; Antenna Beam Width Approx. 10° … at Oakhurst, N. J. … "Diana" using the major components of SCR-271…succeeded in…receiving echoes from the moon in January 1946." 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Terrett, Dulany (1994) [1956 - CMH Pub 10-16-1]. The Signal Corps: The Emergency (To December 1941). Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History. LCCN 56-6002. Retrieved 2011-11-13. "Secretary Woodring was discovered to have brushed the stop button on the rectifier unknowingly." 
  11. McKinney, John B. (August 2006). "Radar: A Case History of an Invention". 
  12. The AN/GPS-3 is composed of a surveillance radar set,[e.g., radar set of the AN/FPS-8] Tower AB397/FPS-8, and Radar Recognition Set AN/UPX-6. Source: "MIL-HDBK-162A Radar Set". Integrated Publishing. 15 April 1964. 
  13. "'Missile Master' Survey Completed". Red Bank, New Jersey. 2 May 1957. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "4.4 acres of government property next to Twin Lights…was being retained by the Army and probably would be used as a housing site for "Missile Master" personnel." 
  14. "TEMPORARY TEAM (photo caption)". 20 November 1964. p. One. Retrieved 4 February 2013. "Lt. Col. Ralph W. Frank, Jr., left, commander of Highlands Air Force Station, and Capt. John W. Nolan, commanding officer of U. S. Army Signal Support Detachment stationed at bate, review roster of men to be detached from installation under directive issued yesterday by U.S, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara. Air Force personnel will be inactivated by July, 1966, leaving Army radar unit at base intact, according to Lt, Col. Frank." 
  15. "Awarded Army Medal". 5 June 1964. p. 13. "Sgt. Fasbender received the award for outstanding performance of duty during his previous assignment with the U.S. Army Signal Missile Master Support Detachment, Highlands Air Force Station, N.J.)" :12
  16. Fay, Elton C. (20 November 1964). "What's Behind Decision". Washington, DC. p. One. Retrieved 10 October 2011. "Over the past four years 574 U.S. military bases around the world... have been closed or their activities sharply cutback. Thursday, he tacked another 95 to the list.... McNamara struck 16 more Air Defense Command radar stations from the category of necessary installations." 
  17. "McNamara Firm on Base Shutdowns". Red Bank, New Jersey. 20 November 1964. p. One. Retrieved 10 October 2011. "The latest stroke of McNamara's economy scalpel cut at two naval shipyards employing a total of 17,000 workers, six bomber bases, Army and Air Force training sites, arsenals, radar posts and other installations in 33 states and the District of Columbia.... The actions will be completed for the most part by mid-1966..." 
  18. "Chapter IX Logistics". Department of the Army Historical Summary: Fiscal Year 1974. Center of Military History. 1978. Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  19. Payette, Pete (21 February 2011). "New Jersey Forts". American Forts Network. 

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