Hanscom Afb

Written by Sarah Provost
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Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts was first used in 1942-1943 as a site for training fighter squadrons. The 85th and 318th Fighter Squadrons, both of which trained at Bedford on the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, saw combat in North Africa and Europe. Hanscom also served as a site for testing new radar sets developed by MIT, and since that time has become the Air Force's center for technology and electronics.

In 1952 the MIT Lincoln Laboratory was founded, as a place for electronic and geophysics studies formerly done at Harvard and MIT. Hanscom's 6520th Test Support Wing provided thousands of hours of test flights. In 1961 the Electronic Systems Center was established as the host unit at Hanscom.

The SAGE System Was Developed at Hanscom AFB

SAGE stands for Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, a system developed at Hanscom in the early 1960s in response to the problem of ever-increasing jet speeds and the resulting need to respond more quickly than radar could. This system made it possible to automate defensive response using computers. This control system brought sweeping changes to US air defense. It also played a significant role in the continued development of air traffic control systems.

The Center continues to pursue further advances in communications and control systems. Their mission also includes intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems. Hanscomb is part of the continuing development of Eastern Massachusetts as one of the foremost electronics and technology areas in the country.


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