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Role of FAA Primary Radar in Air Defense

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Pilot Doc

Well-known member
Mar 10, 2003
I'm following a post on another board about whether universal ADS-B implementation would allow the FAA to decommission it's radar. Someone asked whether the loss of primary radar would be an air defense issue. Any of you guys know how large a role, if any, the _FAA's_ primary radar plays in identifying and/or tracking airborne threats.

Vague answers are fine :)
Primary and secondary ATC radars are currently used to assist air defense organizations. I was present at a recent FAA presentation on the implementation of ADS-B in the NAS. It's coming but will not be mandated for about 8 years from now. While a very useful air traffic management surveillance tool it certainly won't be the only capability that will be exploited for air defense/security of the NAS.
The Air Force helps fund the FAA center radars that are located near the borders of the United States. The USAF has done this for decades because they don't want to wake up one day and find that the FAA has gone 100% secondary radar and just turned off the primary radars.
It's not just the military either, I believe Customs/DEA has a pretty big stake in FAA Primary radar as well.

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