21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron
21 Aerospace Control & Warning Squadron (21 AC&W Sqn) was activated at St.Margarets, NB in 1953 with the signing of the Pinetree Agreement. In 1963, it became part of the Semi-Automated Ground Environment system and became North Bay's Alternate Command Post and Automated Back-up Interceptor Control Unit. In 1988 the unit was disbanded and reformed in North Bay. Today, it is the operational unit performing the Canadian Aerospace Control and Warning mission using the Battle Control System Fixed system.
With its complement of approximately 200 personnel that includes Regular, Reserve and United States Air Force personnel, the Squadron maintains air sovereignty over Canadian airspace, monitors Canada's surveillance assets and controls assigned aircraft.
It coordinates with outside agencies to:
- Identify Air Traffic (over 200,000 flights a year)
- Provide command and control of special air sovereignty incidents
- Assist law enforcement agencies with any suspected tracks into North America
- Support international defence, domestic operations, and peacekeeping commitments
Personnel of 21 AC&W Sqn staff the "nerve center" of the Canadian Air Defence Sector (CADS) from the Sergeant David L. Pitcher building, a 22 Wing state of the art 2-story above ground complex, that was officially opened in October, 2006.
Four main duty crews, which include aerospace controllers (AEC) and aerospace control operators (AC Op), conduct operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Their job is to monitor all radar feeds of air traffic approaching Canadian airspace. The squadron is also staffed by one flight of administration and training personnel (CADS Operations Flight).
Within two (2) minutes, they must identify the track through a number of means, including electronic interrogation, flight plan correlation, track behaviour, visual recognition or information from other agencies, ultimately LIVE intercept may have to be conducted.
In 2013, with the launch of the Sapphire satellite (Canada’s first military satellite), members of 21 AC&W Sqn commenced staffing of the Sensor System Operations Centre tracking, identifying and cataloguing objects in space including satellites and debris within a range of 5,500 km to 55,000 km contributing millions of observations to the US Space Surveillance Network.
Provide surveillance, identification, warning and control of Canadian aerospace, through the use of our national sensor network and airborne assets. As part of the NORAD team, perform air sovereignty and counter air missions – always ready and able to defend against any and all air threats in the defence of Canada and North America.