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Posted 7/2/2012 Printable Fact Sheet
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The Air Force Technical Applications Center provides national authorities quality technical measurements to monitor nuclear treaty compliance and develops advanced proliferation monitoring technologies to preserve our nation's security.

AFTAC operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection sensors called the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. Once the USAEDS sense a disturbance underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space, the event is analyzed for nuclear identification, and findings are reported to national command authorities through Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

AFTAC's nuclear event detection mission is directly linked to its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. AFTAC monitors signatory countries' compliance with the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. This treaty prohibits nuclear testing anywhere but underground and prohibits the venting of nuclear debris or radiation from those tests into the atmosphere outside the country's national borders. AFTAC also monitors the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974 and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty of 1976. The 1974 treaty limits the size of underground nuclear tests to 150 kilotons, while the 1976 treaty prohibits the testing of nuclear devices outside of agreed treaty sites.

AFTAC is on the leading edge of technological research and the evaluation of verification technologies for current and future treaties involving weapons of mass destruction that threaten national security.


AFTAC employs nearly 1,000 Department of Defense personnel.


AFTAC is a surveillance organization subordinate to the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency at Lackland AFB, Texas. AFTAC is located at Patrick AFB on Florida's east coast, less than 30 miles south of Kennedy Space Center. There are 10 detachments, four operating locations and more than 60 unmanned equipment locations around the world that support the long range detection mission.


Soon after the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the need to monitor nuclear programs. In 1947 he directed the Army Air Forces to be able to "detect atomic explosions anywhere in the world." In 1949, a sampler aboard an Air Force Office of Atomic Testing B-29 flying between Alaska and Japan detected debris from the first Russian atomic test - an event the experts had predicted couldn't happen until the mid-1950s. When AFTAC was activated, it assumed responsibility for the Long Range Detection Program. This program has evolved into a unique resource that monitors compliance with nuclear treaties, supports our nation's space programs, and helps protect citizens during emergencies involving nuclear materials. AFTAC systems detected and confirmed nuclear weapon tests by India and Pakistan in 1998. In October 2006, AFTAC's USAEDS detected an event associated with North Korea's claim of a nuclear test, and later provided verification to national authorities that the event was, in fact, nuclear in nature.

(Current as of February 2012)

Point of Contact
AFTAC Public Affairs
(321) 494-7688

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