Four Permanent Radar Stations

Canadian External Relations - 1955


Volume #21 - 338.









Memorandum from Minister of National Defence
to Cabinet Defence Committee

Document No. D9-55

Top Secret

[Ottawa], February 11th, 1955


1. At the September 1952 Meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, the United States Section of the Board submitted detailed information supporting a request for permission for the United States Air Force to carry out surveys leading to the establishment in Eastern Canada of six temporary radar stations (additional to those contained in the "Pinetree" project) to improve cover against low-flying aircraft. These stations were planned to form part of a double perimeter chain, the other links of which were to be in the United States. One of the proposed units was to provide Early Warning/Ground Controlled Interception, the remainder Early Warning only.

2. Later, at the January 1953 Meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, the United States Section of the Board expanded the request to include three site surveys in British Columbia. These new sites, while also for low-level coverage, were to be for mobile Early Warning Units.63

3. Studies of the United States request for nine stations were carried out, and the Chiefs of Staff Committee recommended approval from the Military and technical point of view and, after Cabinet Defence Committee consideration (91st Meeting, 10 February 1953), approval was granted to carry out the various site surveys although authority to construct the stations was withheld pending completion of the surveys. The United States was so advised in Note D-85 of 2 April 1953.64

4. Subsequently, at the January 1955 Meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, the United States Section advised that as a result of the surveys, careful reassessment, and consequent scaling down, the RCAF and United States Air Force Air Defence Commands have agreed that current defence needs would best be served by modifying the requirements and seeking authority to install four permanent type EW/GCI radar stations as opposed to the one EW/CGI and eight surveillance stations originally requested. Hence the primary purpose of these four stations is the improvement of the existing Pinetree system, rather than as low-level gap-filler radars. Detailed personnel, equipment and geographical specifications for these stations are set out in Appendix "A".† Each station is expected to provide approximate radar coverage of 175 miles above 20,000 feet, augment existing GCI radars, and enhance the coverage for flanking important United States target areas.

5. Paragraph VI(b), Minutes of the 103rd Cabinet Defence Committee Meeting of 24 January 1955, recorded that the Chiefs of Staff were studying this request and would make recommendations. It has been concluded that, from the Canadian point of view, the four stations, although not as important to the defence of the Canadian industrial complex as they are to United States target areas, are nonetheless essential and do contribute to the depth of the Canadian Defence System. A further benefit to Canada lies in the navigation assistance which these stations might be able to give to aircraft of all types.

6. It is recommended therefore, and in accordance with principles expressed at the Cabinet Defence Committee Meeting of 10 February 1953, that:

(a) The United States be authorized in principle to construct, operate and man the four proposed stations, subject to the conclusion of an agreement through diplomatic channels between the two Governments, in general line with the provisions of the agreement now being concluded for the Distant Early Warning System - it being understood that the United States will meet all costs of installation, operation and manning until the RCAF can take over the responsibility for their operation and manning; and

(b) The RCAF should, as soon as manpower is available, assume responsibility for the manning of stations in populated areas.65

R.O. Campney

63 Voir/See Volume 19, Document 680.

64 Voir le volume 19, les documents 681, 685 et 686.
See Volume 19, Documents 681, 685 and 686.

65 Approuvé par le Comité du Cabinet sur la défense le 3 mars 1955. Les stations radar étaient situées à Barrington (Nouvelle-Écosse), Oba et Marathon (Ontario) et Kamloops (Colombie-Britannique). Voir Canada, Recueil des traités, 1955, No 30. La demande des États-Unis concernant ces stations a mené à une discussion sur la défense continentale entre Pearson et Dulles lors de la visite de ce dernier à Ottawa en mars. Voir le document 302.
Approved by Cabinet Defence Committee, March 3, 1955. The radar sites were located at Barrington, N.S., Oba and Marathon, Ontario and Kamloops, B.C. See Canada, Treaty Series, 1955, No. 30. The United States request for these radar sites led to a discussion of continental defence by Pearson and Dulles during the latter's visit to Ottawa in March. See Document 302.