Titan Missile Museum: Antennas QR

Titan Missile Museum: Antennas QR


This is the main antenna on the complex.
It’s called the inner complex radio communication system, or the IRCS. IRCS operates on nine frequencies simultaneously, and has a special channel called the PAS (the primary alerting system) that actually carried the order to launch. The crew could use this antenna to talk to the other 17 sites around
Tucson and the Wing Command Post. The system provides secure data and voice communication for the crew. This antenna is regarded as being soft, which means that it would easily be destroyed in a nearby nuclear detonation. But this is a
really important system, and so to ensure that it would continue to function, even
after a nuclear strike, it has two identical backup antennas. These antennas are hardened, and kept in their own underground silos. This is what they look like in the stowed position. And this is what they look like after they’ve been deployed. With the press of a button in the Control Center, the lid pops open and
the antenna is literally pushed up from underground by pressurized gas. It’s like a piston. This small antenna is for the UHF radio system. Day to day, the crew
could use this to talk to helicopters flying to or from the site with VIPs, or
security people, or maybe spare parts. During wartime, this antenna could be used to listen for the Airborne Command Post, an airplane
called Looking Glass. Looking Glass flew 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365
days a year. They were ready to send the order to
launch, if ground-based command posts were destroyed. The large antenna near
the parking lot is a shortwave radio antenna that provided the crew with
worldwide communications if they ever needed that. But in the 25-year history of
the program, they never really needed that. So it didn’t get used much at all, except to receive time signals they used to set the clock down in the Control Center. That big antenna, of course, is a
soft antenna, meaning that it would easily be destroyed. And so it has a
hardened backup, out there in the far corner of the complex. This is a
telescoping antenna that covers the same frequency bands as the big antenna in
the parking lot, except that it can be stored underground when it’s not needed.
They can raise and lower it to almost any length, from 7.5 feet [2.3 meters], up
to about a 117 feet [35.6 meters], depending on the frequency in use. The big antenna near the parking lot is officially called a discage, and it
still works. Amateur radio operators are invited to use the antenna during normal
business hours, at no charge. The final antenna on the complex is called the SLFCS antenna. SLFCS stands for “survivable low-frequency communication
system.” The actual antenna is buried underground directly beneath the antenna
that you see on display. The display antenna was salvaged from another site
here in town and installed so that you could see what it looks like. SLFCS operates on very low radio frequencies, between 14 and 60 kilohertz,
and it can only be used to listen for messages. The crew couldn’t send any
messages with this system. Messages were in digital form, and were printed on a narrow strip of paper, like a cash register receipt. All of these radio
systems had one basic function, and that was to make sure that the crew could get
the order to launch, no matter what.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *