One of the five studies that Analytic Services’ senior leadership highlighted in 1968, in their look back at a decade of work (1958–1968), was the concept development of an over-the-horizon type of radar system. With the Over-the-Horizon Backscatter (OTH-B) radar, able to see far beyond the range of conventional microwave radars, the United States could look out over the western and eastern horizons in ways that had never been done before. It was a Cold War essential: the ability to see an incoming attack as far in advance as possible and react.
In 1969, ANSER wrapped up its studies on the OTH-B system, and the inputs went up to the highest levels of the U.S. Government.
The journey of this study goes back a decade prior to that. In the late 1950s, ANSER suggested to the Air Force that a promising new technology might provide an over-the-horizon radar capability to the air surveillance network for the continental United States. Applied research and advanced development were continued by the Services and, in early 1967, the state of the art had reached the point where ANSER analysts and others believed that serious consideration should be given to the development of an operational OTH system.
In anticipation of an Air Force decision to submit to the Department of Defense (DoD) a Concept Formulation Package/Technical Development Plan (CFP/TDP), ANSER proposed to the Air Force Directorate of Operational Requirements and Development Plans (AFRDQ) that they undertake a background analysis to provide a more current database for the system. In November of 1967, ANSER was asked to assist in preparing the CFP/TDP.
ANSER played a major role in developing the supporting analyses, especially in highlighting the system’s survivability, effectiveness, and feasibility. While they coordinated inputs from both the Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) and the Air Force Systems Command, ANSER’s analyses were the key element in AFRDQ actions and guidance for the development of Air Force recommendations on the preferred configuration and operational rationale for the system.
For example, ANSER’s analyses clearly showed a preference for a configuration costing only about one-half as much as the multihundred-million-dollar program earlier advocated by various Air Force field organizations.
Jointly with AFRDQ and ADC, ANSER published in October of 1968 a CFP/TDP for the OTH-B radar system. In June of 1969, AFRDQ submitted the CFP/TDP to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Research and Development. The Secretary of the Air Force then forwarded it to the Secretary of Defense on July 2, 1969.
After that, ANSER provided technical consultation and data that AFRDQ needed to assist the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Systems Analysis) and the DoD Acquisition Review Council in preparing the draft Presidential memorandum upon which development decisions for the OTH-B radar system would be based.
The following year, when ANSER had moved on to studies related to the OTH-B radar (e.g., electronic countermeasures that might be deployed against the radar system), the Air Force’s Rome Air Development Center developed, installed, and evaluated the radar components that became a prototype for the OTH-B. Developed over many years after that, it became, by several criteria, the largest radar system in the world.