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7th Space Warning Squadron

7th Space Warning Squadron

7th Space Warning Squadron

The 7th Space Warning Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, CA, guards the U.S. West Coast against Sea-Launched Ballistic Missiles. The unit is a geographically separated unit of the 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, CO. 

Detects Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) or Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), and determines the potential number and probable destination. This information is reported to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Peterson Air Force Base, CO; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, CO; U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, NE; and the National Command Authorities.

Provides defense of the United States against a threat of a limited strategic ballistic missile attack through the use of an upgraded operating system. The radar also detects the location of earth-orbiting satellites.  The squadron maintains and operates the AN/FPS-132(V)1 ground-based radar. This radar is one of five PAVE Phased Array Warning System (PAWS) Early Warning Radars (EWR). The term PAVE is a military program identification code. The system at 7th SWS has been upgraded and is also known as an Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR).

Provides timely and accurate indications and warning and space surveillance data to United States Strategic Command and mission partners to defend North America against strategic attack and enables space superiority for America and our allies. 


The 7th SWS provides early target detection and mid-course target tracking in support of Missile Warning (MW), Missile Defense (MD), and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) missions. It provides detection, attack assessment, and object classification of SLBMs, ICBMs, and Re-entry Vehicle (RV) sized objects penetrating the radar’s coverage area. In addition to the MW and MD missions the radar supports the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Space Surveillance Network (SSN). The radar system supplies space surveillance, tracking, and Space Object Identification (SOI) data.


The primary mission of 7th SWS is Missile Warning. The site is responsible for detecting SLBMs fired from submarines in the Pacific Ocean. The unit determines how many missiles were launched and their probable destination, and reports to the North American Aerospace Defense Command's missile warning center, Cheyenne Mountain AFS; U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB; and National Command Authorities. The unit helps form a two-layered, worldwide network of missile warning systems that also detects ICBMs launched toward North America.


The co-primary mission of 7th SWS is Missile Defense. The unit supports the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. The radar detects, acquires, and tracks inbound missiles to provide the necessary data to identify and engage the target. This target data allows the GMD Fire Control and Communications element to generate a weapons task plan, allowing for the engagement, interception, and negation of threat of a ballistic missile reentry vehicle in the exoatmospheric region of space.


In addition to the MW and MD missions, the squadron conducts the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) mission.  The squadron tracks earth-orbiting satellites, and reports the information to the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) at Vandenberg AFB, CA. This information is then combined with information from other SSN sensors to form the world’s most comprehensive catalog of orbiting satellites. The JSpOC uses the catalog to keep track of more than 17,000 objects in Earth’s orbit.

The radar uses nearly 3,600 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.

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 are tilted back 20 degrees. The radar beams reach outward in excess of 5,000 kilometers and prove 240-degrees of coverage.

The Air Force finished construction of the PAVE PAWS radar site at Beale in October 1979. It attained initial operational capability in August 1980. The unit was originally part of Aerospace Defense Command's 26th Aerospace Division. In December 1979, it became part of Strategic Air Command. In May 1983 the unit transferred to Air Force Space Command, eventually becoming the 7th Missile Warning Squadron (7th MWS). When the Air Force reorganized in 1992, the 21st Space Wing activated at Peterson AFB, CO. The 7th MWS moved to the 21st SW and was given the current designation as the 7th SWS. In 2007, 7th SWS completed a system upgrade and took on the Missile Defense mission, the radar became known as an Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR).

Beale AFB is located in north-central California, midway between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada. The closest cities to the base are Marysville and Yuba City, CA, about 10 miles to the west. Sacramento, the state capital, is 40 miles south of the base.