Monday, July 13, 2015

Site R Helipad

The Site R helipad is located near Portals A and B

When the Continuity of Government plan was activated shortly after 10AM on September 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed his deputy Paul Wolfowitz to relocate to Site R along with other key defense leaders. Within minutes of the order, a helicopter landed at the Pentagon to fly them to Site R.

During relocation events, the Raven Rock Mountain Complex operates under "Hasty Access" procedures to expedite the arrival of personnel and their entry into the underground complex. The Site R helipad procedures for evacuations/relocations are code-named "Blue Light" and "Iron Gate".

Using Google Earth, you can see how the Raven Rock Mountain Complex helipad has changed in appearance over the years:

2013 (Google Earth)

2007 (Google Earth)

2005 (Google Earth)

Here is another view of the older helipad design. You can see on the image below that there used to be a small building nearby.

Undated image of Site R helipad (Source)

A 2011 FedBizOpps solicitation for antenna maintenance services for Site R contains a list of equipment installed on top of the mountain (Site RT). Included in this list are two air traffic control military dipole antennas for ground-to-air communications with incoming helicopters.

The short video below is a relocation simulation showing Army helicopters on standby at Davison Army Airfield flying to the Pentagon and then onward to the Alternate National Military Command Center at Site R.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Just How Big is the Raven Rock Mountain Complex?

Site R

This layout shows five 3-story underground buildings

In a 1991 newspaper article, Site R was described as being a 265,000 square-foot bunker located 650 feet beneath the 1,529 foot summit of Raven Rock Mountain.

According to that same article, it has living quarters, a medical facility, dining facility, fitness center, barbershop, chapel, and a convenience store. The underground reservoirs hold millions of gallons of water.

A declassified 1966 document states that Site R was designed to accommodate 3,000 people in an emergency.

The Gettysburg Times - Feb 15, 1954

This  Gettysburg Times article discloses the following facts:

  • Contractors blasted away 500,000 cubic yards
  • The curving tunnel is about 25 feet across with a vaulted roof of about equal height
  • The main chamber is about 35 feet high

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (November 8, 1952)


The FY 2015 DOD Base Structure Report lists the Raven Rock site in Pennsylvania as having 68 buildings totaling 636,261 square feet on 716 acres. For FY 2012, the numbers were 66 buildings totaling around 615,000.  In 2001, there were 59 buildings with a total of 452,000 square feet on the same number of acres.


A 2015 FedBizOpps solicitation for RRMC Base Operations and Support Services seeks a contractor to provide custodial, full service dining facility operations, logistics, and transportation services to the Raven Rock Mountain Complex.

In this solicitation, the DOD Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) provided details about the size of the installation. According to the chart below, there is approximately 300,000 square feet of flooring (carpet, tile, epoxy) in the underground portion of Site R (Items 1-4).  The rest of the items are miscellaneous Site R buildings located above ground.

The list also contains size information for Site C and for the West Power Plant, which is noted as being located off-site (approximately 3 miles away according to the initial solicitation). This may actually be the temporary power plant constructed as part of the four phase Power Plant Modernization project which will double the generating capacity to support future facility mission loads.


A 2013 construction solitcitation on FedBizOpps includes a copy of the 114th Signal Battalion RRMC Engineering Drawing Standards.  This document contains a detailed list of all RRMC on-site supported building systems as of 2007.

Also attached to the same solicitation is the RRMC Mechanical Labeling Standard which lists these additional RRMC-related locations:


The 2014 RRMC Preventive Maintenance-Elevators solicitation reveals there are three elevators at the Raven Rock Mountain Complex.


The 2015 RRMC Base Operations Support solicitation also provides information about the number of meals served daily in the Granite Cove Dining Facility located underground in the Alpha corridor. The numbers below do not include the additional meals required during exercises/relocations.

The contractor is also required to plan, schedule, and coordinate the semi-annual rotation of MRE (meals ready-to-eat) stock.


The Raven Rock Mountain complex can generate its own electricity using diesel-powered engines. The RRMC Operating Permit issued by the State of Pennsylania lists 21 emergency generators and six diesel engines.

If you look up the Raven Rock Mountain Complex using the PA Dept of Environmental Protection's PADEP Facility Search function,  you will see a total of 34 storage tanks shown as currently in use. Note: Pennsylvania does not list tanks with a capacity greater than 21,000 gallons, so the list below may be incomplete.  (ie; tank information is listed for this 2012 modification, but are unlisted for this 2014 modification).


Other ways to portray the size of Site R include the number of personnel assigned to the facility, the annual budget figures for capital and expenses, and the number of computer systems and telecommunication links related to the Pentagon's alternate relocation site.  These topics will be explored in future posts.