HomeAbout UsFact Sheets

Fact Sheet Search

Fact Sheet Alphabetical List

6th Space Warning Squadron

THE 6TH SPACE WARNING SQUADRON

The 6th Space Warning Squadron (6 SWS), located at Cape Cod Space Force Station in Sagamore, Massachusetts, is a geographically separated unit of Space Delta 4, Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado. "Team 6" includes Department of the Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force Airmen and Guardians, DoD civilians, and InDyne employees.

MISSION

Mission: "To surveil air and space to detect missile launches and high-interest satellites while operating, maintaining, and protecting New England’s first Space Force installation."

Vision: "Leaders and innovators in radar and installation operations."

Motto: Ever Aware

The 6th Space Warning Squadron (6 SWS) is located in Sagamore, MA on Cape Cod Space Force Station and is part of Space Delta 4, a United States Space Force organization focused on missile warning operations at Buckley Space Force Base in Colorado. The unit operates the Upgraded Early Warning Radar with the designation of AN/FPS-132. The 6th Space Warning Squadron has the distinction of being the first Pave PAWS installation in America. "Pave" is a program name for an electronics system. "PAWS" stands for phased array warning system. On August 27th, 1973, the U. S. Air Force directed the construction of two sea launched ballistic missile (SLBM) phased array radar systems. Then, on May 23rd, 1975, the Air Force announced that one site would be constructed on the east coast (Otis AFB, MA) and the other on the west coast (Beale AFB, CA) with the Raytheon Corporation earning the contract to build the facilities. Construction began on October 26th, 1976, on Flatrock Hill, the second highest point on Cape Cod. The 6th Missile Warning Squadron and the 2165th Communications Squadron activated on October 1st, 1979.

The 2165th was responsible for all communications and electronics maintenance. The facility was originally named Cape Cod Missile Early Warning Station and became operational on April 4th, 1980. The lease for the land with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was finalized in 1981. It granted approximately 87 acres for the site, 11.5 acres of access road, and 2 acres for utility lines until the year 2026 (100.5 total acres). The station’s name changed to Cape Cod Air Force Station on January 5th, 1982. The 2165th would exist as a tenant unit until 1986, when both squadrons merged into the 6th Space Warning Squadron, formerly part of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The installation was redesignated Cape Cod Space Force Station on June 11, 2021 with the transfer of the unit and mission to the United States Space Force.

There are approximately 130 members in "Team 6," including Guardians and Airmen from the United States Space Force, United States Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force, DoD civilians, and InDyne employees. The 6th Space Warning Squadron has three missions. The unit provides accurate and timely missile warning data to U.S. and allied decision makers for the safety and security of North America. It is the only land-based east coast radar site in the United States with this mission. Next, 6 SWS provides mid-course interceptor guidance data to the Missile Defense Agency to eliminate intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats. Lastly, 6 SWS tracks Earth-orbiting objects, including high interest items such as the International Space Station, any object that deviates from its known orbit, or any new satellite object. This critical tracking information is electronically transmitted to the 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA, where it is used to maintain the satellite catalog; serving the essential roles of collision avoidance and space domain awareness.


EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

The Pave PAWS radar uses 3,584 small active antenna elements coordinated by two computers. One computer is on-line at all times, while the second automatically takes control if the first fails.

The computers control the distribution of energy to the antennas to form precise patterns, allowing the radar to detect objects moving at a very high speed since no mechanical parts limit the radar sweep.
The radar can change its point of focus in milliseconds, while conventional radars may take up to a minute to mechanically swing from one area to another. The main building is shaped like a pyramid with a triangular base 105 feet on each side. The two radiating faces, each with 1,792 active elements, are tilted back 20 degrees. Pave PAWS radar beams reach outward and upward for nearly 3,000 nautical miles in a 240-degree sweep.

At its extreme range, it can detect an object the size of a small car. Smaller objects can be detected at closer range.

HISTORY

On Aug. 27, 1973, the U. S. Air Force directed the construction of two sea-launched ballistic missile phased array radar systems. On May 23, 1975, it was announced one site would be constructed on the east coast (Otis AFB, MA) and the other on the West Coast (Beale AFB, CA). On May 23, 1975, the Raytheon Corporation was awarded the contract to build the facility. Construction began on Oct. 26, 1976, on Flatrock Hill, the second highest point on the Cape.

The 6th Missile Warning Squadron and the 2165th Communications Squadron were activated Oct. 1, 1979. The 2165th was responsible for all communications and electronics maintenance. The facility was originally named Cape Cod Missile Early Warning Station and became operational April 4, 1980.
The station's name changed to Cape Cod AFS on Jan. 5, 1982. The 2165th would exist as a tenant unit until 1986 when both squadrons merged into the 6th Space Warning Squadron, formerly part of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The land, leased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the Department of the Army, was permitted on Sept. 2, 1981 for 25 years to the Department of the Air Force. The permit granted approximately 87 acres for the Pave PAWS site, 11.5 acres of access road, and two acres for utility lines (100.5 total acres). On Aug. 26, 2002, the Army extended the permit through Sept. 30, 2026.

On Dec. 20, 2019, United States Space Force was officially established and 6 SWS became a part of the newest branch of the United States Department of Defense. On July 24, 2020, the 6 SWS was transferred to Space Delta 4, Buckley AFB.