Tactical Air Control System
Page 3 - NATO Ground Environment Systems
US Air Force, Europe

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with any units of US Air Force, Europe that operated or supported the Theater Air Control System. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.

The 412L System

The 407L System




Page 1 (C&C)

Page 2

Page 2A (GE Units/Radar Sites)

Page 4 (Doctrine)

Page 5 (Communications)

Page 6 (412L System)

Page 7 (407L System)

NATO Air Defense Ground Environment (NADGE)
(Source: Part IX: INFRASTRUCTURE DOCUMENTS, 1959-1965, NATO.int website)
MC 54 (Final), "Air Defence Command and Control in NATO Europe," was approved by the Military Committee (1) on 12 Dec 1955. This document provided strategic guidance for the development of a coordinated system of air defense for NATO Europe. Subsequent experience however whould show that coordination of air defense alone was not sufficient and that an integrated system was required.

In December 1957, SACEUR produced a study entitled, "Action leading towards the integration of the Air Defence of NATO Europe". This was considered by the Military Committee in December 1957 and a resolution adopted wherein the principle of an integrated system was agreed. SACEUR was authorized to study the matter, and a new decision document, MC 54/1, was presented by the Committtee on 4 September 1958.

Integration was defined in this document as "The welding of the existing national air defence systems in Europe into one unified system with a NATO as opposed to a national operational command and control organization effective in peace and war."

SACEUR was directed by the Military Committee to initiate negotiations with the countries concerened to assign their air defense forces to SACEUR. On 10 September 1960 SACEUR reported on the conclusions of negotiations carried out by him with the French authorities concerning the French reservations on MC 54/1. And on 28 December 1960 the Council (2) approved MC 54/1 subject to the French reservations. In this approval the Council invited the NATO governments concerned to assign their air defense forces in Europe to the operational command of SOCEUR.

SACEUR submitted requirements for the Electronic Ground Environment for the Northern and Southern flanks in August 1960 and for the Central Region in
August 1961. The estimated cost for the total plan was estimated at £97.175 Million. This plan was the subject of MC 54/2 which was approved by the Council on 28 March 1962. Final approval of the plan released the funds necessary for expenditure in connection with Slices XII and XIII of the Infrastructure Program.

Implementation of the plan was delayed at this point due to a protracted debate that ensued between several of the nations involved in the program concerning adequacy of the planned system and accuracy of the cost estimates . On 10 July 1964, the Council finally agreed to the implementation of the overall NADGE plan (with amendments) with an understanding that the cost would not exceed £110 Million. At the same meeting, the Council agreed that the implementation of the plan would be done by international competitive bidding resulting in contracts that would give each country a share, in equipment and civil engineering works, approximately equal to its contribution to the plan ("balance of payment" principle).

The NADGE was not in itself a complete system but an improvement of an existing system consisting of NATO-assigned National and NATO-funded radars, data processing systems, communications, etc. The improvement plan sought to provide an integrated air defense system, to improve the radar cover, the intercept capacity (manual and automatic), the ground-air communications and the effectiveness of the system within the limit of a strictly imposed financial ceiling.
(1) Military Committee -- is made up of the Chiefs of Staff of the member nations;
(2) North Atlantic Council -- is the most senior political governing body of NATO

(Source: Rick Anders, Germany)
Based on some research Rick has done in regards to NADGE in German military archives, the following list should represent the status of the NATO Early Warning network in the 1960s. The list shows a breakdown of Early Warning Areas and associated Evaluation Centers:
  AFNORTH Northern Norway Hoggumpen, Norway
      Reitan, Norway
    Southern Norway Grakkalen, Norway
      Maarkeroy, Norway
    Denmark Karup, Denmark
  UKADR Stanmore Buchan, UK
AFCENT Maastricht Uedem, Germany
  Kindsbach Kindsbach, Germany
  FRADR Taverny ?, Taverny
  AFSOUTH Rome Monte Venda, Italy
      Martina Franca, Italy
    Izmir Larissa, Greece
    Leeuwarden Eskisehir, Turkey
    Leeuwarden Ankara, Turkey
    Leeuwarden Diyarbakir, Turkey
Looking for some feedback, additions and corrections from the readers - would like more details on Evaluation Center mission; organization, etc.

Fixed (underground bunker) German Radar Stations - Central Region - NADGE Ground Environment
  2 AUGUST Auenhausen I. Abt/FmRgt 34
  2 BALDUIN Brockzetel I. Abt/FmRgt 34
  2 BERNHARD Brekendorf III. Abt/FmRgt 34
  2 ERICH Erndtebrück II. Abt/FmRgt 33
  4 ERWIN Börfink (Erbeskopf) 615th ACWS / I. Abt/FmRgt 32
  4 FRIDOLIN Freising II. Abt/FmRgt 31
4 GUSTAV Lauda (formerly Giebelstadt) II. Abt/FmRgt 32
2 LILLY Visselhövede (Lüneburger Heide) III. Abt/FmRgt 33
  4 MARTIN Messstetten I. Abt/FmRgt 31
  4 STEFAN Burglengenfeld 5. Kp/FmRgt 31
  2 UDO Uedem I. Abt/FmRgt 33
  4 WASSERKUPPE Wasserkuppe 5. Kp/FmRgt 32

(Source: NATO Programming Centre website)
In the early 1960s, there were many early warning radar sites in the Allied Command Europe (ACE) area of responsibility. Most of these were nationally funded and nationally controlled. (An exception was the NATO Early Warning Transmitter System - ACE HIGH.) Furthermore, for weapons control they were manually operated.

As weapons technology advanced, the radar systems became inadequate for the task. On the one hand, the Eastern Bloc countries were posing a Mach 2 threat and on the other hand, NATO itself was introducing new jet aircraft such as the Lightning, Delta Dagger and Starfighter. Thus it became an urgent necessity to introduce a system capable of giving the timely warning necessary for the posed threat, and also to automatically control interceptions, which could not be effected by manual means. In addition, it became necessary to provide a means for rapidly selecting the right weapons for use against the threat as well as providing the same support to NATO aircraft from region to region. Thus the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment (NADGE) Improvement Plan (NIP) was conceived, based on existing systems.

When the NADGE contract negotiations started, it was recognized that a centralized agency would be required for maintenance of the overall system software, to preserve the integrity of Air Defense Operations. Additionally, there was the consideration for providing the emans for interfacing with other systems such as STRIDA II and IUKADGE.

In September 1967, SHAPE submitted a request to the Military Committee for a central programming agency for the NADGE system. The Defense Planning Committee agreed to this request in November 1968, and after negotiations by SHAPE, the SHAPE Technical Centre (STC) and the Contractor, Hughes Aircraft Company, the contract for the NATO Programming Centre (NPC) was signed in December 1970. Then, in March 1971, the Belgian MOD signed the agreement for locating the NPC at Glons, Belgium.

The Glons location was chosen because of the already existing centralized programming agency at that site, set up by three of the NATO nations and called the Programming and Training Centre (PTC). Due to the prolonged negotiations for the NADGE contract, these three nations, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, had decided to go ahead in advance of NADGE with a system called Min-Fac (Minimum Facility Plan) (1), and on the understanding that their investment would be refunded when NADGE came to be. The three nations had then set up PTC to preserve their system integrity and had colocated it with one of the Belgian (radar) sites at Glons.

With the advent of NADGE, the PTC was disbanded and replaced by the NPC (in October 1972). By mid-1973 the NPC had achieved a limited operational capability and 1974 was the first full year of operations.

(1) It appears that the original SHAPE plan at some point in the early 1960s was split into two phases: the Minimum Facility Plan (Min-Fac) and the Overall NADGE Plan.

(Source: The German Luftwaffe Yearbook, 1968)
With the prolonged negotiations of 1962 and 1963, where members of the NADGE program were trying to find a common ground, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany decided to take the initiative and demanded that the Minimum Facility Plan be implemented at four radar sites in the 2nd ATAF area. The planning groups of these three countries worked out the miltary requirements and the system specifications for a system that would allow the ground-based radar to be tied into the fire control system of a new generation of all-weather interceptors via a Data Link communications system and steer the fighter automatically onto an interception course to a target. The new interceptor being phased in at the all-weather interceptor squadrons of these three countries was the F-104G Starfighter.

2nd ATAF F-104G Interceptor Units:
  71st Fighter Wing, "Richthofen" Wittmundhaven
  349th Squadron Beauvechain
  350th Squadron Beauvechain
  322nd Squadron Leeuwarden
  323rd Squadron Leeuwarden

The approval for going forward with the Minimum Facility Plan was given by the North Atlantic Council in Nov 1963.

According to the article in the Luftwaffe Yearbook, the data link equipment had been installed at the four radar sites and test were underway to evaluate the system. The system was scheduled to go into full operation by 1968.

Webmaster Note: The four 2nd ATAF radar sites with Minimum Facilities capabilities were upgraded under the "Growth to Full NADGE" program once the NADGE "system" became available.

  2nd ATAF Min-Fac Radar Sites  
  Uedem, Germany Min-Fac Jan 1969; GFN 1971?
  Brockzetel, Germany Min-Fac 1969; GFN 1971
  Glons, Belgium Min-Fac (date?) (1)
  Nieuw Milligen, the Netherlands Min-Fac (date?) (1)
In the 2nd ATAF area, the German Luftwaffe originally took over four radar sites that had previously been constructed (in the early 1950s) and operated by the British Air Force in Germany:

The German Air Force planned to add two additional radar sites in the 2nd ATAF area (Erndtebrück and Visselhövede): The Erndtebrück radar site became operational in 1966; the Visselhövede site would not go online until 1972. To temporarily fill the gap that existed between the radar sites at Auenhausen and Brekendorf until Visselhövede was operational, the German AF established an interim radar site at Uelzen, that operated from September 1964 to September 1972.
France's contribution to the Integrated Air Defense System (1) (NADGE) prior to pulling out of NATO included:

SOC 4 (Centre d'Opérations du Secteur Interallié  N° 4) at Drachenbornn, France -- with CRC Freising; CRC Meßstetten; RP Burglengenfeld (German AF operated radar sites)
Two fighter wings --
Two NIKE air defense battalions -- 520th and 521st BA
Three HAWK air defense battalions -- 401st, 402nd and 403rd RAA
(1) Source: 20 Jahre (1959-1979) Radarstellung Brekendorf, Mönch Verlag, Koblenz/Bonn, 1979.

German Air Defense Ground Environment (GEADGE)
(Source: Agreement between CINCUSAFE and German MOD, 29 August 1980)

Click here to read copy of Agreement between CINCUSAFE and German MOD to augment the FOURATAF Air Defense Ground Environment during the installation of GEADGE at Boerfink and Messstetten radar stations.

Augmentation was provided by the 603rd Tactical Control Squadron, Mehlingen for CRC Boerfink, and the 602nd Tactical Control Squadron, Tuerkheim for CRC Meßstetten.

(Source: Air Defense Artillery Bulletin, Summer 1984)

NATO Modernizes Its Radar System

by Dan Reeder

There is a beautiful region in southern West Germany unlike any other in the world. But it's not beauty that makes the Fulda Gap unique. It's the way its name keeps recurring in games -- rather, war scenarios -- that strategists develop to predict how confrontations, even wars, might develop and how they can be avoided.

The Fulda Gap, with its inviting open plains to Western Europe, keeps coming up as the spot in the world where a confrontation could serve as the flashpoint for the next major war. So it should come as no surprise that the air defense system protecting the Fulda Gap and the rest of southern Germany is undergoing a major upgrade effort by NATO, the air force of the Federal Republic of Germany and the U.S. Air Force.

Improvements in the automation of West Germany's ground-based command and control system and long-range surveillance radars will reduce the time it takes military commanders to counter airborne threats, making the Fulda Gap and the rest of Western Europe behind it less inviting to aggressors.

The most important portions of the modernization effort include:
German Air Defense Ground Environment (GEADGE), providing a new ground-based command and control system that serves as the baseline structure for other improvements.
Hughes Air Defense Radar (HADR, pronounced hay-dar), which provides two long-range, threedimensional radars for the southern portion of the nation and two for the northern portion.
Airborne Early Warning/Ground Environment Integration Segment (AEGIS), which will integrate NATO's new fleet of E-3A airborne radars into the GEADGE command centers beginning within two years.
Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) Class I terminals, which will provide secure and jam-resistant digital and voice communications between the GEADGE sites and AWACS aircraft in the potentially hostile electronic countermeasures environment above Western Europe.

HADR Radar at CRC site
All four programs have been developed and are produced by Hughes Aircraft Co.'s Ground Systems Group in Fullerton, Calif. Individually each system represents the latest in state-of-the-art military electronics, but combined they provide West Germany and NATO with the most advanced air defense early warning capabilities anywhere.

With GEADGE, the West German air force will have the most modern ground-based air defense command and control system in operation in the world. Replacing a 412L system built in the early 1960s, GEADGE is one of the first of a new generation of air defense systems that provides surveillance data to command centers from a large number of diverse radars, both old and new. Should a single radar cease operation because of routine maintenance, temporary failure or hostilities, a command center will continue to operate using data from the other radars in its reporting area.
GEADGE will provide automatic detection of aircraft in West German airspace, even those unidentified and unauthorized. Commanders, through identification, friend or foe, and other electronic techniques, will attempt to identify the aircraft, its probable destinations and possible intent. Should such identification not be possible, the commanders can dispatch fighter interceptors to make visual identification or take defensive action or order any of dozens of surface-to-air missile batteries in the region to take defensive action.

An efficient ground-based command and control system not only allows for faster reaction times, crucial when the threat is a supersonic aircraft, but also acts as a force multiplier as each valuable friendly aircraft interceptor is used at its maximum efficiency level.

GEADGE is comprised of four control and reporting centers, three fixed, remote reporting posts in the far eastern portion of West Germany and two mobile-radar reporting posts, which can be deployed and integrated quickly in remote parts of the nation. All of the sites are operated and maintained by the West German air force, except one site, which is operated by the U.S. Air Force's 615th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron.

GEADGE will connect directly to the NATO Defense Ground Environment system, including sites in northern West Germany and Italy and to France's STRIDA II air defense system.

The newest long-range radar providing surveillance data to GEADGE is a HADR located in western Germany. In all, three radars have begun operations in West Germany, at sites in the southern and northern portions of the nation. A fourth HADR will begin operations later this year.

HADR combines high power for long-range detections, three-dimensional target reports, reduced susceptibility to electronic countermeasures, advanced digital signal processing for clutter rejection and computerized, automatic plot extraction for fast reaction times.

Through its computer controls, HADR can be programmed to meet changing requirements and optimize its performance under various conditions such as changes in the weather. It also has extensive fault detection and isolation techniques, which reduce the number and skill level of maintenance personnel required to keep the system operational.

Within two years, the airborne radar carried by the E-3A AWACS early warning aircraft will be integrated into GEADGE through the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment AEGIS program. Digitized radar tracks from the AWACS will be relayed to the GEADGE centers and correlated on displays with data from ground-based radars toform one overall picture of the West German airspace.

The addition of target tracks from the AWACS will allow GEADGE commanders to monitor unauthorized low-flying, supersonic aircraft that might attempt to penetrate West German airspace.

NATO will operate its AWACS aircraft differently from the way the United States will use them. In the United States, each aircraft can serve independently as a self-contained command and control center. But for NATO, because the ground-based commanders want to maintain sovereign control of their own nation's fighter interceptors, the AWACS data will be provided to a data pool that is shared by all ground centers.

This tricky but necessary task will be accomplished through the use of JTIDS Class I communications terminals aboard the E-3A AWACS and at the AEGIS ground sites. Besides providing jam-resistant, secure digital and voice communications, each JTIDS terminal can serve as an automatic relay to other terminals within line of sight. This relay will provide AWACS information simultaneously to many ground centers spread across several nations.

JTIDS operates through a variety of techniques which include spread spectrum, frequency hopping, time division multiple access and redundancy. JTIDS, along with GEADGE, AEGIS and HADR, gives West Germany a big leap forward in its continuing efforts to keep its armed forces more capable than the forces of any aggressor, both
now and long into the future.


CRC Börfink 615th AC&WS  
RP Döbraberg 8./FmRgt 31  
CRC Freising II./FmRgt 31 operational May 1984
RP Großer Arber 6./FmRgt 31 operational Oct 1983
CRC Lauda II./FnRgt 32 operational 1984 or 1985
CRC Messtetten I./FmRgt 31 operational 1985
CRP Wasserkuppe 6./FmRgt 32
HADR sites - Messtetten; Lauda; Uedem; Brockzetel

Tieffliegermelde- und Leitdienst (TMLD)
(Source: Email from Anton Schoenberger, Germany, and other sources)

TMLD in NATO's Integrated Air Defense System

TMLD - Burglengenfeld

DEST Fox 2

DEST Echo 4

Tieffliegermelde- und Leitdienst (TMLD) (Low Level Flight Reporting Service) (1960s-1980s)

The TLMD units, formed in the early 1970s, operated short-range MPDR 30 (range of 30 km) radar and were responsible for detecting low-flying planes between 0 - 3000 m altitude. The units were deployed at sites (called DEST - Dauereinsatzstellung) along the FRG-GDR and FRG-Czech borders. There were 24 of these DEST sites, 12 operated by the IV Abteiling of FmRgt 33 in the 2nd ATAF region and 12 (belonging to IV/FmRgt 32) in the 4th ATAF Region. A group of four DEST's would be controlled by a TMZ (Tieffliegermeldezentrale - Low level flight reporting center) which would always pass radar data to two CRC's. In the case of Burglengenfeld, for example, the TMZ at Burglengenfeld reported to CRC Freising. In case of a shut-down of CRC Freising, TMZ Burglengenfeld reported to the CRC at Messtetten.

I was a member of 17./32 (17th Company, 32nd Signal Regiment) in Burglengenfeld in 1989. The call sign of TMLD 17./FmRgt32 was "Angel Face". They had the DEST's Fox 1 - 4  (Angel Face 1 - 4).

The DEST locations of 17./FmRgt32 in Burglengenfeld (

Fox 1:    Fürth im Wald / Dachsriegel ()
Fox 2:    Kirchdorf im Wald / Eschenberg ()
Fox 3:    Philippsreuth / Sulzberg ()
Fox 4:    Passau / Fürstenzell (1) ()

A second low-level flight reporting company was 16./FmRgt32 in Naila (North Bavaria)
The call sign of the 16th was "Honey Pot". They had the DEST's Echo 1 - 4  (Honey Pot 1 - 4).

 1:    Geroldsgrün-Steinbach / Langes Bühl
Echo 2:    Selb-Längenau / Wartberg
Echo 3:    Mähring / Poppenreuther Berg
Echo 4:    Moosbach-Rückersried / Eisberg

Attached you will find a photograph of Echo 4. I took it last weekend when visiting the station which is now the club house of a amateur radio club and a meteorological station of the "Deutsche Wetterdienst".

There was a third TMLD company assigned to the 32nd GE Sig Regt - 18./FmRgt 32. This company was located at Rotenburg/Fulda
() and had 4 DEST's (callsign "Gypsy Rose"):

Delta 1:    Schenklengsfeld-Hilmes / Landecker Berg
Delta 2:    Oberelsbach / Heidelstein
Delta 3:    Bad Königshofen-Evershausen / Lahnberg
Delta 4:    Coburg / Brandensteinsebene (2)
    (1) Michael Grube reports that the DEST site was located on Hill 478 near Fürstenzell-Gföhret
(2) Micheal identifies the location as Bausenberger Höhe near Coburg
IV Abt, FmRgt 32
IV Abt, FmRgt 33

DEST Fox 1

1. Main gate (KB)

2. Site billets (KB)

3. View from billets (KB)

4. Hardstand and garages (KB)

5. Generator shack (KB)