Canadore College

About 21 Aerospace
Control & Warning Squadron

21 Aerospace Control & Warning Squadron 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.

With its complement of 185 personnel that includes Regular, Reserve and USAF personnel, 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron maintains air sovereignty over Canadian airspace, monitors Canada's surveillance assets and controls assigned aircraft.

21 AC&W Sqn is responsible for:

  • Identifying air traffic (over 200,000 flights a year)
  • Providing control of special air sovereignty and air terrorism events
  • Assisting law enforcement agencies with suspected aircraft smuggling illegal drugs into North America
  • Supporting international defence, domestic operations, and peacekeeping commitments
  • Coordinating the tracking and reporting of objects in space

Personnel of 21 Squadron are the "nerve center" of the Canadian Air Defence Sector (CADS) from 22 Wing's state-of-the-art two-storey above ground complex that was officially opened in October, 2006.

Five main duty crews, which include aerospace controllers and aerospace control operators, run the operation on eight-hour shifts. Their job is to monitor all radar feeds of air traffic approaching Canadian airspace.

Within two 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.

Any tracks that cannot be identified or cause suspicion are passed on to the CADS Director of Operations to determine the appropriate level of response, which may include live interception of the suspect track.