12th Space Warning Squadron

The 12th Space Warning Squadron (12 SWS) operates the Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR), formerly the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) - Site I, at Pituffik Space Base, Greenland.



The mission of the12th Space Warning Squadron is to execute flawless Missile Warning, Missile Defense, and innovative Space Surveillance operations in order to deter aggression, secure space, and if necessary, prevail in conflict. 12 SWS crews operate the Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR) weapon system, a phased-array radar that detects and reports attack assessments of sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missile threats in support of strategic missile warning and missile defense. Additionally, the radar supports Space Domain Awareness (SDA) by tracking and characterizing objects in orbit around the earth. 12 SWS is part of the United State Space Force (USSF) and reports to Space Delta 4, located at Buckley AFB CO.

12 SWS operates its UEWR 24 hours per day, seven days per week and is comprised of US and Canadian military personnel and contractors.  The system’s antennas do not move.  The radar beam is electronically steered to a programmed location.  This process, accomplished in milliseconds, increases capabilities and decreases response time.  Each radar face provides 120 degrees azimuth coverage, for a total of 240 degrees coverage.  Each array face contains 3,589 antenna elements. 

In 1946, a combined Danish-American radio and weather station was established at Dundas, later named Thule, then renamed to Pituffik on April 6, 2023. International tensions prompted Denmark and the United States to sign a defense treaty allowing the construction of a complete air base.  Pituffik, much as it exists today, was built during the summers of 1951 and 1952. 

The origin of 12 SWS goes back to the establishment of the BMEWS Site 1 in 1961. Throughout the years, several commands were responsible for the base, including Northeast Air Command, Air Defense Command and Strategic Air Command. 

The unit was first designated as the 12th Missile Warning Squadron and later became the 12th Missile Warning Group.  AFSPC took control of Pituffik in 1983 and the unit was redesignated as the 12th Space Warning Squadron in 1992. In June 1987, the old mechanical radar was upgraded to the more efficient and capable solid-state, phased array system.