Systems Training Program/STP


The first I heard of STP was in August 1955, when I got orders to go TDY to the STP Indoctrination Laboratory, 1905 Armacoat Ave, Santa Monica, CA, for 51 days. There were four of us on the orders: 2/Lt James A. Powers, A/3c Samuel C. Barnes, A/3c Richard G. Fulkerson, and me, A/3c Brian A. Coy. Lt Powers was a 1741 and the rest of us were all 27330ís, just 2 months out of Keesler. We were stationed at the 792nd ACWRON, North Charleston, SC, and we had just gone operational. Our Ops Officer, Capt Collins, did us a favor by sending guys from the LA area, so we could get home for a while.

At the STP Lab we were part of a group of radar personnel of varying grades and proficiencies, from all over the US. We were split into 2 crews, and we worked a four-hour shift, one day in the morning and the next day in the afternoon. Our job was to run a simulated Direction Center for testing and refining the STP problems being developed there. Each shift consisted of a 1-hour briefing, a 2-hour STP exercise, followed by a 1-hour debriefing. The briefing/debriefing was guided and monitored by STP personnel.

The idea behind STP was to train radar personnel in combat situations but in a controlled environment, so that errors and problems could be discussed and analyzed. The exercises could be run for a single site, a sector, a division or nationwide.

Each exercise package consisted of a roll of 70mm film and scripts for each 5 or 10 minutes of the exercise. Radar maintenance had a piece of equipment called the T-2 which read the film and projected the aircraft tracks onto the scopes. In normal operation we kept one scope on live radar for surveillance during an exercise, and the other scopes received the STP traffic. The presentation was very realistic, with blips appearing at the appropriate range and altitude, following the flight characteristics of whatever Russian aircraft they were supposed to represent. They would dispense chaff or emit electronic interference, change course and altitude, and be headed for a specific target. There was another piece of equipment in maintenance called a 15-J-1C. This was the interceptor simulator. The weapons controller could scramble a sortie, communicating with the 15-J-1C operator acting as flight commander. The 15-J-1C could be set to simulate the interceptors currently available, and the simulated flight would perform as an F-86, F-100, etc. It would have the performance characteristics, fuel capacity and consumption and weapons load as appropriate. The simulated interceptor track appeared on the scopes along with the STP traffic. When the weapons controller signaled an intercept we used a thing that looked like a Bingo board to determine if a kill had been made. After each exercise we had a local debriefing, and for multi-site exercises there would be a phone debriefing between the sites, on up the chain.

The STP exercises were designed for each specific site, and reflected the local terrain and conditions. All the exercises were designed to interlock with adjacent sites, so that cross-telling, hand-offs and lateral telling could be practiced. The key to an effective multi-site exercise was the starting count-down. The films at all participating sites had to be started simultaneously. There were many exercises, with varying degrees of intensity, so that a training program could be designed to have a progression from easy to difficult. The coordination of the exercises fell on the training personnel at the highest level involved. This was usually done by means of a Frag Order spelling out the exercise number, starting date/time, and rules of engagement.

I do not know if the STP program was extended to SAGE, but I do know that STP was still being used in the manual radar environment in August 1975, when I left King Salmon.