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Cold War Radar

The NWS takes over for the DEW Line

As the radar chains started to be weeded out, the original idea was to use Over-the-Horizon radar and AWACS instead.  By by the mid-1970s, it was clear OTH radar could not be used northwards and there were not enough AWACS to cover the whole area.

Thus as part of the North American Air Defence Modernization Agreement, the North Warning System, or the NWS was created.  It drew on both short and long range radars, building on the former DEW Line.  The short range radars were gap fillers and no personnel were needed. 

Though it followed the DEW Line, it was not just an American plan this time.  As part of the Agreement between Reagan and Mulroney which totaled 7$ billion (for NWS alone about $600-700 million), it was split 60/40.

The NWS’s prime contractor for maintenance was November Frontec Logistics Inc. of Edmonton, giving jobs and $114.2 million to Canada.  This was part of the larger plan of making Canadian defence Canadian, and allowing us to protect our own airspace. 

By this point all nuclear weapons in Canada were back in the United States, the Voodoos were replaced with CF-18s.  By 1984, Canadian airspace was controlled by North Bay, and the United States Air Force's Newfoundland interceptor squadrons had left long before.

The NWS began in Alaska with 13 main stations which were known as Seek Igloo, and then continue into Canada with another 12 main sites, finally connecting to Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland.  It also used 36 gap filler short range radars, and 5 support areas. 

The NWS was effective.  If a bomber wanted to set off an ALCM (Air-Launched Cruise Missile) without being detected, they would have to do so before reaching the System.  This was still about 3000 to 4000 kilometres from any important American target and ALCMS only reached about 3000 kilometres at their strength.  

This was combined with the fact that thos coming from ships could not reach their targets either.  The Arctic froze and even if they made it, it would be too far from land to reach their targets.  Therefore, North America was defended again.

This all became active in 1987-1988 and when the Cold War ended, the radars would become important in the war on drugs, beginning in 1989.