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The AN/FLR-9 is a type of very large circular "Wullenweber" antenna array, built at many locations during the cold war for HF/DF direction finding of high priority targets. The worldwide network, known collectively as "Iron Horse", could locate HF communications almost anywhere on the planet. Due to their large size and shape, these units were often nicknamed "Elephant Cages" or "Turkey Farms".

Description[edit | edit source]

The AN/FLR-9 Operation and Service Manual[1] describes the array as follows: "The antenna array is composed of three concentric rings of antenna elements. Each ring of elements receives rf signals for an assigned portion of the 1.5 to 30-MHz radio spectrum. The outer ring normally covers the 2 to 6-MHz range (band A), but also provides reduced coverage down to 1.5 MHz. The center ring covers the 6 to 18-MHz range (band B) and the inner ring covers the 18 to 30-MHz range (band C). Band A contains 48 sleeve monopole elements spaced 78.4 feet apart (7.5 degrees). Band B contains 96 sleeve monopole elements spaced 37.5 feet (11.43 m) apart (3.75 degrees). Band C contains 48 antenna elements mounted on wooden structures placed in a circle around the central building. Bands A and B elements are vertically polarized. Band C elements consist of two horizontally polarized dipole antenna subelements electrically tied together, and positioned one above the other."

The array is centered on a ground screen 1,443 feet (439.8 m) in diameter. The arrangement permits accurate direction finding of signals from up to 4000 nautical miles (7 408 km) away.

AN/FLR-9 antenna array Misawa Air Base c.1980.

FLR-9s were constructed at the following places:

Advances in technology have made the FLR-9 almost obsolete. As of 2009, two FLR-9 arrays remained active in Misawa AB, Japan and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. In 1997, the FLR-9 at the former Clark AB in the Philippines was converted into a 35,000-seat fabric-covered amphitheatre. In early May 2002, systematic dismantling of the FLR-9 at San Vito began, and it was totally deconstructed by the end of that month. Although the markings of where the array stood remain in the ground, the structure is completely gone.[2]

The antenna at Misawa was scheduled for shut down and demolition by the end of 2012.[3]

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