The Radars at White Sands Proving Grounds  


Radars play an important role in the Saga, particularly with the publication of Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt's second Roswell book- The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell.  In this version, Frank Kaufman's (aka, Steve McKenzie) role in the Incident has been expanded considerably, to the point that Frank/Steve is now the single most important witness Randle and Schmitt have.

Frank's amazing story starts with him of manning a radar set at White Sands, tracking a UFO that was flitting around the area.  His heroic effort in keeping an around-the clock vigil on the orders of a SAC General is exciting stuff.  Once he was relieved, Frank claims, he continued his monitoring of the UFO with the radar back at the Roswell Army Air Base.  This culminated with Frank observing the UFO breaking up by observing the "bloom" on his screen.

Aside from the many, many technical problems with Frank's story, there is one, huge problem:  There were no Radars at the Roswell Army Air Force base in July, 1947!  Additionally, the White Sands radar was
 "... under-going continual modification and testing when not in use for actual tracking of missiles", and was very likely not suitable for round-the-clock surveillance operations.

The document below was released through a FOIA request clearly shows that Roswell Army Air Force planes wanted to utilize the White Sands radar for radar counter-measures training, because the Roswell AAF did not have one of their own!

(This is a document released under the Freedom Of Information Act.  The original format has been preserved as much as possible.)





23 June 1947

SUBJECT: Request for Operation and Radar Equipment at White Sands Proving Ground for AAF Training

TO: Commanding General
Army Air Forces

ATTENTION: Mr. Vincent S. Roddy, AC/AS-4

  1. Attention is invited to the inclosed letter from the Commanding Officer, White Sands Proving Ground dated 12 June 1947, File O.O. 413.44, with inclosure from Headquarters, Eighth Air Force, Fort Worth, Texas dated 3 June 1947.
  2. . The radar equipment at White Sands Proving Ground is manned by civilian personnel from the Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories of the Chief Signal Officer. As pointed out in the inclosed letter from White Sands Proving Ground, this equipment is under-going continual modification and testing when not in use for actual tracking of missiles.
  3. Because of the interference it would cause to the already over-taxed demands on the radar equipment and civilian personnel, and in view of the objections raised by the Commanding Officer, White Sands Proving Ground this office does not concur in participating in a coordinated counter-measures training program for the Eighth Air Force.
  4. This office has no objections to the conduct of radar counter- measure training in this area by the Eighth Air Force with AAF radar equipment at the Alamogordo Air Base, provided that it is conducted on non-missile firing days. A tentative schedule of White Sands Proving Ground firings is attached. Coordination between the Commanding Officer, White Sands Proving Ground and Commanding Officer, Alamogordo Air Base could be set up to take care of changes in the firing schedule.


[signature illegible, for]

Incls H. N. TOFTOY
Ltr, File O.O. 413.4/435 Col, Ord Dept
w/1 incl Assistant
2. Firing Schedule



Basic ltr fr War Dept, Off Ch of Ord, dtd 23 Jun 47, subj: Req for Oprn and Radar Equip at WSPG for AAF Trng.

AFDRE-3/R 1st Ind Hq. Army Air Forces, Washington 25, D. C. 10 Jul 1947

To: Commanding General, Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.

Attention: TSCAD.

  1. The inclosures to the basic letter refer to a radar counter-measures training operation proposed by the Eighth Air Force at White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico.
  2. In accordance with the directive transferring jurisdiction of Alamogordo Army Air Base from Strategic Air Command to Air Materiel Command, it is desired that you issue the necessary instructions to the Commanding Officer, Alamogordo Army Air Base to take care of the needs of the Eighth Air Force on the basis of minimum interference to the guided missile program, and within the limits of the Alamogordo Special Range, if this is possible. If access to the White Sands Proving Ground or the Antiaircraft Artillery firing ranges adjacent to Fort Bliss is necessary, this will be arranged by coordination between the commanding officers of Alamogordo Army Air Base and the other establishments.
  3. The Strategic Air Command is being informed that future requests of this nature should be made to the Commanding Officer, Alamogordo Army Air Base, who will make any necessary arrangements for use of his own facilities or those of Army Ground Forces or the Ordnance Department.





Incls: Brig. General,U.S.A. and n/9 Deputy Asst. Chief of Air Staff-

Added 2 incls.
- Ltr Hq AAF to SAC
(subj as above)
- Ltr Hq AAF to Ch Ord
(subj as above).



[Document concerning mobilization plans that does not seem related
to these matters, not retyped here.]




ORDBS 413.44 12 June 1947

SUBJECT: Request for Operation of Ground Radar Equipment for Radar Countermeasures Training

TO: Chief, Rocket Branch
Ordnance Research and Development Division
Office, Chief of Ordnance
Washington 25, D. C.

  1. Attached is a request from Headquarters Eighth Air Force, Fort Worth, Texas, dated 3 Jun 47, subject as above. It is forwarded to your office for information and appropriate action.
  2. In reviewing the request set out in reference request, the following comments are made by this headquarters.
  3. The radar equipment currently in use at White Sands Proving Ground is under the control of the Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. This equipment is modified SCR-584 designed to operate the AN/APN-55 beacon used in obtaining ballistic information from the missiles fired at this station. This equipment being of an experimental nature obviously is undergoing modifications and extensive testing procedures when not actually in use for a firing. It would, therefore, preclude any possible use by other agencies for procedures set out in subject request from headquarters Eighth Air Force.
  4. Due to the nature of experimental electronic work being conducted by agencies here at White Sands Proving Ground, it would be extremely undesirable to have countermeasures activities in the vicinity of this station.
  5. Because of accelerated test programs here at the Proving Ground, it would be extremely difficult to schedule in advance the training flights as requested in paragraph 3 of request from Headquarters Eighth Air Force.
  6. If the operation of such countermeasures should be scheduled for the White Sands Proving Ground, the rocket test program being carried on here at White Sands would be impeded.

Lt Col, Ord Dept

Ltr fr Hqs 8thAF
to CO, SWPG Dtd
3 Jun 47



A6E 413.44 3 JUN 1947

SUBJECT: Request for Operation of Ground Radar Equipment for Radar
Countermeasures Training

TO: Commanding Officer
White Sands Proving Ground Command
Las Cruces, New Mexico
ATTENTION: Frequency Coordinator (1st Lt R. F. Blomquist)

  1. The Eighth Air Force is conducting a Radar Countermeasures program as part of its training and is desirous of the cooperation of units which use ground radar equipment in permitting training flights to be scheduled with aircraft equipped with electronic jammers and "window" to operate against various types of ground radar sets so that the results and effectiveness of the jamming and training might be observed and made known.
  2. There is a lack of ground radar equipment convenient to Eighth Air Force Bases which are located at Forth Worth, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and Roswell, New Mexico; and since White Sands is easily within easy flying distance of all three bases, your cooperation is particularly desirable.
  3. If training flights could be scheduled so as not to interfere with any of the projects being conducted at the White Sands Proving Ground, and your ground radar equipment operated and photographs were taken of the scopes during the jamming operations and a report of the effectiveness of the jamming made to this headquarters, the RCM training program of this command would be benefited appreciably.
  4. It is therefore requested that your views in this matter be made known to this headquarters and, if favorable, that you furnish a list of the ground radar equipment in use, the location of each set, and the hours during which the equipment could be in operation. Liaison will then be established in some manner between this headquarters and your office or the units which operate the radar equipment, whichever is more favorable, and an agreement made as to when the training flights can be scheduled. A suggested plan is that this headquarters notify your office, or the units involved, by teletype at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of any proposed flight giving full particulars as to date, time, and how the flight is to be conducted, so that the radar equipment can be ready and in operation; or if the flight will interfere with one of the White Sands Proving Ground projects, this headquarters can be informed in sufficient time to cancel the flight.


Captain, AGD
Asst Adj



White Sands Proving Ground Firing Schedule not reproduced.