by 1st Lt. Alicia Wallace
7/13/2015 - ANTIGUA AIR STATION, Antigua -- After more than 50 years of operations, Antigua Air Station was deactivated July 7 in a ceremony held on the island.
Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander and presiding officer
of the ceremony, sheathed the detachment colors in a sleeve,
symbolizing the organizations inactive status, while the Honorable Larry
Palmer, ambassador to the U.S. Embassy Barbados, the Honorable Gaston
Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and his Excellency
Sir Rodney Williams, the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, and
his wife Lady Sandra observed the event.
Originally established as a revision of a land-lease agreement with
Great Britain, the mission of Detachment 1, 45th Operations Group, was
to support the space-lift mission of the Eastern Range by providing high
data rate telemetry.
"Antigua Air Station has been an extremely valuable asset to the success
of the 45th SW. It served as one of the primary Range and Control
instrumentation sites for space and launch vehicle tracking support,"
said Armagno. "There was never a launch scrub due to a failure of
Antigua based instrumentation. This is remarkable considering there was
no redundancy for the Antigua radar or command system."
A thorough review of mission requirements in recent years determined
that the mandatory tracking and command responsibilities that were
carried out by AAS could be accomplished using the data rate telemetry
received from other Air Force assets.
"Mission requirements for space and launch vehicle tracking support were
reviewed, and we discovered that we are able to provide the necessary
capabilities with mission design changes and use of the telemetry system
on Ascension," said Lt. Col. Steven Melvin, commander of Det 1.
The decision to inactivate the air station was a difficult one to make,
according to Armagno, but in the constrained fiscal environment, the
wing was forced to make changes. Operating expenses for AAS were over
$10 million USD per year.
In his comments, Palmer described the moment as "historic though
bittersweet." The ambassador said the partnership between the U.S. and
Antigua and Barbuda has and will continue to benefit both nations in the
The C-Band Radar used in AAS is being relocated to Harold E. Holt Naval
Communications Station, Australia. Once established, the sensor will be
integrated into the U.S. Space Surveillance Network.
"Many of our allies and partners rely on the U.S. SSN to provide
foundational elements for protecting space assets," said Melvin. "The
resulting increase in battlespace awareness due to the location in
Australia will provide the warfighter with predictive and actionable
situational awareness through early detection of launches at a lower
inclination than previously available."
Armagno thanked the detachment and the CSR team for their support to the 45th SW.
"The 45th Space Wing will never forget the contributions that Antigua
Air Station has provided over the past 50 years. We will never forget
the support that this Air Station has provided and the wonderful people
that have helped get our mission accomplished," said Armagno. "Today is a
hard day, but you should be gratified. Be proud of everything that
you've stood for and be satisfied for a job well done and know that you
will always hold a special place in the storied history of space launch
for the Air Force and the United States of America!"