Ballistic Early Warning System Site
Aerial view of the Alaskan Air Command's Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) site at Clear, Alaska. It had three AN/FPS-50 fixed detection radars, and was the second operational site in the billion dollar system designed to provide early warning to the North American Air Defense Command should a missile attack be launched against the North American continent. BMEWS was constructed in 1958-61 in response to the threat of a potential Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) attack from the Soviet Union. BMEWS was an expansion of existing radar technology rather than a significant innovation, but still was a major engineering achievement. BMEWS provided a minimum of fifteen minutes advance warning for a nuclear strike, but was not a missile defense system. BMEWS remained in operation throughout the remainder of the Cold War, although the technology became increasingly antiquated and difficult to maintain in later years. Photo taken between 1963 and 1966.