Sydney Route Surveillance Radar - c. early 1960s

This photo of the Sydney Route Surveillance Radar (RSR) was taken in the early 1960s shortly after installation. The buildings beneath the antenna house the transmitters and receivers, and also an emergency power generating plant.

This equipment, supplied by French company Compagnie Générale de Télégraphie Sans Fil (CSF - later Thomson-CSF), was the first 'standard' air traffic control radar equipment to be installed in Australia. Previously only experimental radar systems had been used, mostly at Melbourne/Essendon. The equipment was ordered in December 1960 and commissoned in August 1963. The first units were installed at Sydney and Adelaide, with Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth also receiving units later. The total cost of the radar installation programme was £2.5 million.

The original equipment was a primary-only radar (Primay Surveillance Radar - PSR) with a range of 120NM, later increased to 160NM, using the large reflector antenna seen in the photo above. Radar data was displayed to Controllers on the 'Bright Display' system.

In the early 1970s Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) capability was added by piggy-backing an SSR bar antenna on the PSR antenna. In the Bright Display application, only a limited range of non-discrete SSR codes and track symbols was available. The later Interim Label Display System (ILDS) modification of the Bright Display system, only used in Sydney, enabled use of discrete and non-discrete codes.

These radars were replaced commencing in the early 1990s under the Radar Sensor Procurement Programme (RASPP) by lower-powered primary units with a range of 70NM and long-range SSRs with a range of 250NM.

(Photo: CAHS collection)

Click here to read about the difference between PSR and SSR

Examine a chart showing the extent of radar coverage - 1967

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