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Cold War Radar

The FtrCOp

History of the FtrCOp

1954 image showing the process of becoming a FtrCOp

Canadians during the Cold War knew about Radar Technicians but few knew about the Fighter Control Operators, or Fighter Cops  (FtrCOps).  Technicians kept up the radar and were important, by they were given most of the credit.

However, no matter how good the radar was, it was nothing without someone who could not only use it, but use it well.

With the combining of radar operators and clerk operations, FtrCOPs were born.  The Fighter Cops worked hard, often into the night and they were under a lot of pressure.  If they had a problem, it would result in a hole in the line of North America's defence.

The Figher Cop had to be able to understand what each blip that appeared on the radar screen meant.  They did not always mean air craft, they could also mean random noise, jamming, permanent echoes, PEs (stationary objects), anamalour propagation (radio frequencies), clouds, ground clutter (terrain), or sea clutter (water).

FtrCOp Course, 1956

1956 FtrCOp course at Clinton

Nevertheless, the perception of some people was that Fighter Cops only placed arrows on a board.  While they did do this, bringing in all of the information, and plotting it correctly, was vital to the system.

Training was done at Clinton, first on the British model, then by 1951, the American.  At this point their training was 9 weeks long, and was improved when the school received a synthetic simulator.

The first four of the nine weeks were in the classroom learning the organization of the trad, r/t procedure, meteorology, navigation and radar theory.  The next five weeks consisted of hands-on experience working with radar.   

By 1954 there had already been about 1150 fighter control operators from 114 classes.

Women first came into the trade in February 1951.