Workers at Misawa AB, Japan, began a year-long project to demolish the base’s “Elephant Cage” antenna that the Air Force used for gathering radio signals intelligence for nearly 50 years, announced base officials. “During its long life, the antenna played a major part in the Cold War and beyond,” said Col. Andrew Hansen, vice commander of Misawa’s 35th Fighter Wing. “However, the technology has outlived its usefulness,” he said in the Oct. 17 release. The three-ringed, 137-foot-tall AN/FLR-9 antenna was part of a global network that intercepted and pinpointed the location of Soviet and Communist-bloc radio communications. The array, completed in 1965, could detect and locate signals from up to 4,000 nautical miles distance, according to the release. Misawa’s 373rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group controlled the antenna until demolition work began on Oct. 15. A similar antenna at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is the only remaining AN/FLR-9 worldwide, said officials.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.