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Cold War Radar

Difficulties Posed by the Arctic


Though the North began to be regarded as important, it also posed difficulties not yet faced.  As radar moved there, other needs became apparent.  Supplies and personnel had to be moved which turned out to be both difficult and expensive.  Trips were made by air, sea, and dog sled, and military, civilians, and Inuit all had to come together to make it work. 

The environment also took some getting used to for those who were stationed there.  It was cold, winters were long, and winds were fast.  This also took a toll on the equipment.  For example, special radomes had to be constructed to contend with the weather.

Polar Cap III:

The Polar Cap III project between the Defence Research Board of Canada (DRB) and the United States Air Force (USAF) looked into the possibility of using Over-the-Horizon radar in the North West Territories.  The tests began in October of 1972 to see whether OTH could be successfully used there and how expensive it would be. 

OTH radar bounced off the ionosphere which allowed the line-of-sight to be increased.  It turned out the radar could not be used facing north though, due to the aurora borealis.