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Radar Ranges of the Mojave

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Note: If you’ve linked directly into this page you should be aware this is all very old stuff! Like ancient! For a description of what this is and how old it it is, see this intro.

No, I’m not talking about microwave ovens in the desert. What I’m referring to are also known as radar cross section (RCS) facilities. Why should these things be of any interest? Well, a segment of the UFO community has firmly latched on to the idea that these installations are simply covers for “underground bases.” The stories go on to describe multiple levels (with the requisite genetic engineering labs) and discs zipping in and out through surface openings. And we don’t want to overlook the underground tunnel systems that connect the facilities with Edwards AFB and even Area 51 (Ah, at last a connection!).

It would be pretty cool if it were true. But is it?

Personally, the first time I saw one of these weird things (the McDonnell Douglas installation at Gray Butte) while exploring in the desert, my reaction was “What the hell is this place??!” I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude, but I couldn’t make much sense of the sharply angled pylons (some kind of odd antenna??) the massive microwave dishes and the strange, tall building without two sides.

This is the result of my research into these facilities. It includes an number of lurking visits to the facilities, an aerial overflight, combing of public records, a lot of digging into technical journals, books and capabilities brochures, and even a perusal of some of their construction plans. Some of the personnel at the facilities are even willing to talk with you if you don’t appear to be a nut (Apparently I fooled them). While I found nothing to support the underground base premise (although at one facility there are some very impressive underground structures), it did become obvious how some of the stories may have arisen, given that the storytellers seem to have done little research. All of the info I collected is available to anyone willing to spend the time to ferret it out.

The wild stories are a bit unfortunate as some of the facilities are interesting in their own right. That said, there are some stories and oddities involving one of the facilities that I can’t explain and do find a bit unusual. Those will be discussed as well. Since a picture is worth 1k words, you’ll find lots of photos of various details of the installations.

There are four of these thingamabobs in the Mojave, in relatively close proximity. There is Northrop’s facility in the western part of Antelope Valley. Moving east, there is the McDonnell Douglas facility at Gray Butte. Moving further east and north, there is Lockheed’s supremo-high tech installation just north of Helendale. Finally there is a little known RCS facility run by the Navy at China Lake called the Junction Ranch RCS facility.

What is an RCS facility

Northrop RCS facility at Tejon

McDonnell Douglas Gray Butte RCS facility (Now closed and is a drone aircraft facility)

Lockheed Martin Helendale RCS facility (New pics added)

Junction Ranch RCS facility at China Lake


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