LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Heavy snow accumulation collapsed a dome at a remote U.S. military radar installation two days after Christmas, causing a “catastrophic failure” that damaged U.S. military capabilities and may have impacted commercial flights.
The “randome” was atop a 10,000-foot mountain in north-central Nevada, near the community of Battle Mountain. The Air Force did not specify the location, but a radar installation south of Battle Mountain at Mt. Lewis appears to be the site.
Some details of the disaster were published Wednesday by the U.S. Air Force’s 505 Command and Control Wing. 8 News Now reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration regarding impact on commercial flights but has not received additional information.
The long-range radar facility, which resumed full operations on July 19, provides coverage for Northern Nevada and southern Idaho. It serves important functions for the military. Work involved “clearing and restoring road access to the top of a 10,000-foot mountaintop, removing the destroyed equipment, locating and refurbishing a replacement antenna and transporting and constructing a 60′ wide x 45′ tall replacement radome weighing 5.5 tons.”
The Air Force didn’t say exactly how long the Common Air Route Surveillance Radar (CARSR) was out of service.
“This radar supports several agencies and feeds into the overall National Airspace System, or NAS, picture used by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, executing a part of their vital mission,” according to Wednesday’s report.
When the protective dome collapsed, it fell onto antennas below. A team of 100 worked to restore radar services and brought the system online for testing and optimization before it was reconnected to the NAS.
Darrell McFarland, 84th RADES Radar Evaluation flight chief, oversaw the team’s efforts, according to Lt. Col. Ryan Smith, 84th RADES director of operations.
“We wanted to get the data back into the National Airspace System as quickly as possible due to the air traffic routing commercial traffic differently than normal, air safety for the traveling public and air defense for NORAD since this radar covers all of northern Nevada and southern Idaho,” McFarland said.
The FAA recognized the team in a ceremony at Salt Lake City on July 23.
“This was a monumental collaborative effort involving multiple federal entities,” Lt. Col. Douglas Boytim, 84th RADES commander, said. “On July 19, the Battle Mountain CARSR was restored to the NAS, thereby closing a critical gap in radar coverage for both the FAA and NORAD.”