6th Space Warning Squadron PAVE PAWS
Published January 25, 2017
The Pave Phased Array Warning System is an Air Force radar system designed to guard North America against sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Pave PAWS radar uses 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. 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.