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Formerly Diyarbakir, now PirinÁlik Air Facility

John S. Wilkinson

© 2003-2011 by Author

PirinÁlik Air Base or PirinÁlik Air Station, formerly Diyarbakır Air Station, was a 41-year-old American-Turkish military base near Diyarbakir, Turkey. It was known as NATO's frontier post for monitoring the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, completely closed on 30 September 1997.

This return was the result of the general drawdown of US bases in Europe and improvement in space surveillance technology. The base near the southeastern city of Diyarbakir housed sensitive electronic intelligence-gathering systems for listening on the Middle East, Caucasus and Russia.1

The PirinÁlik sensor system consisted of two radio frequency (RF) mechanical radar systems providing radar intelligence, space surveillance, and missile warning data to multiple users. There were two types of radars located at PirinÁlik Air Station (AS). The PirinÁlik, Turkey, RADINT site operated both a detection radar (AN/FPS-17) and a mechanical tracking radar (AN/FPS-79). Both radars operated at an UHF (432 MHz) frequency. Although limited by their mechanical technology, PirinÁlik's two radars gave the advantage of tracking two objects simultaneously in real time. Its location close to the southern Soviet Union made it the only ground sensor capable of tracking actual deorbits of Soviet space hardware. In addition, the PirinÁlik radar was the only 24-hour-per-day eastern hemisphere deep-space sensor.2

AN/FPS-17 and AN/FPS-79 radar systems

The AN/FPS-17 Space Surveillance Radar developed by the Rome Air Development Center (RADC) was the first surveillance radar system designed to detect objects in space. The FPS-17 detection scanning radars have fixed antennae oriented toward the Soviet Union. The Air Force FPS-79 UHF tracking radar at Diyarbakır-PirinÁlik in Turkey is capable of tracking missiles during flight. The 10 meter diameter dish antenna system has a variable focus feed horn system which can provide a wide beam for target detection, and a narrow beam for tracking (other similar radars have scan rates in excess of 10o per second). Operating at 432 MHz, this radar has a maximum detection range in excess of 4,300 kilometers.

AN/FPS-17 fixed antennae radar at the PirinÁlik Air Station oriented toward Kapustin Yar, Soviet Union to monitor missile test launches

Lincoln Laboratoryís phase-coded pulse-modulation receiver/exciter for the VHF AN/FPS-17 radar, built at the PirinÁlik site in eastern Turkey by the General Electric Company, allowed U.S. observers to monitor missile test launches from Kapustin Yar, deep within the Soviet Union.[2] Subsequent installation of another AN/FPS-17 radar on Shemya, a western island in the chain of Aleutian Islands off Alaska, made it possible for U.S. observers to monitor Soviet missile test flights to the Kamchatka peninsula. The AN/FPS-17 radar was the first demonstration of pulse compression in an operational radar system.3

In 1970, the name Diyarbakır Air Station was changed to that of PirinÁlik, the name of the small village 30 km west of Diyarbakır where the unit were actually located. On 1 June 1972, the 7022d Air Base Squadron was activated, under the command of the 39th Tactical Group. On 30 July 1981, this air base squadron was assigned to HQ TUSLOG, the Turkish United States Logistics Group. Its mission is to support the 19th Surveillance Squadron of SAC at PirinÁlik. It received logistical support from ?ncirlik Air Base.

PirinÁlik Air Station is a remote site, where personnel lived in one dorm, had one club to socialize in, could not go off base at night, and had very few shopping or entertainment opportunities other than an occasional temporary duty to ?ncirlik. This site was so small you could practically see the perimeter fence from anywhere on the base. The staff consisted of 150 airmen, 30+ soldiers, 120 American civilian contractors, and nearly 300 Turkish military and civilians.( In 1960 it was much less that what is listed here.)

On September 30, 1996, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Syracuse, N.Y., was awarded a $16,221,360 face value increase to a fixed price incentive contract to provide for FY 1997 operation, maintenance, and logistic support of the sensor facilities at PirinÁlik Air Station. The work was perfumed at PirinÁlik Air Station. The contract was completed September 1997. The 21st Space Wing, Peterson AFB, Colorado, was the contracting activity.

Base closure in 1997

The Secretary of Defense announced February 13, 1997, that the U.S. Department of Defense would end or reduce operations at seven European installations as a result of the latest round of base and force realignment actions. The phrase "return" means the entire installation is vacated by U.S. forces and returned to the control of the host nation. This round included six installations in Germany and one in Turkey -- PirinÁlik Air Base. This action began immediately, with return of the installation to the host nation planned for September, 1997. It affected about 117 U.S. Air Force personnel then assigned to the base.4



2 William P. Delaney and William W. Ward. Radar Development at Lincoln Laboratory: An Overview of the First Fifty Years. LINCOLN LABORATORY JOURNAL. VOLUME 12, NUMBER 2, 2000, pp. 147-166

3 Siebert, W.M. The early history of pulse compression radar - The development of AN/FPS-17 coded-pulse radar at Lincoln Laboratory. IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, Volume 24, Issue 6, Nov 1988, page(s): 833 - 837

4 DoD news release No. 058-97, February 06, 1997

John S. Wilkinson
Rome, NY

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