Misawa to tear down massive 'Elephant Cage' antennae

The AN/FLR-9 antennae complex, located on Security Hill at Misawa Air Base, Japan, is slated to be decommissioned and dismantled in 2013.


By ARMANDO R. LIMON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 19, 2012

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea —Misawa Air Base’s massive Cold War-era network of antennae known as the “Elephant Cage” will be dismantled sometime in the new year.

The iconic fenced structure, which sits high atop Security Hill on the northern Japan base, stands 137 feet tall and contains three concentric antenna circles. The enormous AN/FLR-9 antennae are managed by Misawa Security Operations Center’s 373rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group.

The “Elephant Cage” — part of the Iron Horse network created at the height of the Cold War — is a three-band antenna array that was designed to detect high-frequency radio communications from the former Soviet Union and China.

“For members of the 373rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, the FLR-9 symbolizes the commitment to the constant vigilance of U.S. airmen on this very spot for the past 60 years,” said Col. Kimberlee Joos, 373rd ISRG commander.

Construction on the project began in 1963 and was completed in 1965 at a cost of $3.3 million by the Nishimatsu Construction Company.
Misawa’s “Elephant Cage” was one of two arrays established in Japan; the other closed at Yomitan, Okinawa, in 2007.

The last operational Elephant Cage resides at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.


Misawa Air Base's AN/FLR-9 antennae network, better known as the ''Elephant Cage,'' will be dismantled in the new year.

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