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SCANFAR Radars (SPS-32,SPS-33) on the Enterprise

The Hughes SCANFAR system was the first deployed United States Navy phased array radar system installed on the USS Long Beach and USS Enterprise. It consisted of two search radars, the AN/SPS-32 and the AN/SPS-33. In 1982, the system was removed from Long Beach, and was replaced by the AN/SPS-48 during a comprehensive overhaul.[1] Aboard the Long Beach, the system used AN/SPG-55 radars for missile guidance.

Despite its failure to enter widespread service, the lessons learned were applied to the follow-on Aegis Combat System and the associated AN/SPY-1 passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar.


Prior to the development of SCANFAR, the Navy had been developing an advanced anti-aircraft weapon system combining an extremely advanced radar system, the AN/SPG-59, with a new long-range missile known as Typhon. The radar acted both as a long-range surveillance system as well as the target illumination and guidance system for the missiles. The system proved to be beyond the state of the art, in particular the radar required a larger number of individual broadcast elements that proved to be unreliable and expensive.

SCANFAR was to some extent a "cut down" version of the SPG-59. The main radar would be used solely for surveillance, target illumination being left to existing radar systems used with earlier missiles like the Talos or Tartar. During development it was found that attempting to use a single antenna for both search and track did not work effectively, so the system was modified to use two antennas, one for surveillance and another for tracking. The overall weapon system ended up using three radar antennas, and was therefore similar to earlier systems. An automatic tracking computer was added to the system in 1967. Also in 1967 Long Beach detected and destroyed two North Viet Nam MiG's utilizing the SCANFAR system combined with the TALOS missile system.

In service the system proved to be temperamental, due largely to the huge number of vacuum tubes it used. Despite this, the "air picture" it provided was good with over the horizon capabilities. In 1967 during a yard period the Long Beach radar system was converted from electronic tubes to solid state electronic boards. Going solid state for radar and radio equipment lightened the superstructure by 20 tons. AN/SPS-33 was an S band radar with a pencil beam function which could focus a single radar beam on a target. The pencil beam could be manually operated. SCANFAR was eventually replaced by the AN/SPS-48E.

  • AN/SPS-32 was a horizontally wide rectangular antenna for air surveillance.
  • AN/SPS-33 was a vertical narrow rectangular antenna for target tracking. According to Navy documentation, the AN/SPS-33 was frequency scanned in elevation and phase scanned in azimuth.[2]


Personal History

Gary M. Farral RD2, U.S.S. Long Beach CG(N)-9 2 November 66 to 28 December 68

External links

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