Canadian Detachment History: Part 1 of 4

  • Published
  • By Capt Eric Emanuele, RCAF

This year marks the 40th anniversary of a Canadian co-manning presence at Tinker Air Force Base.


As the United States Air Force was procuring the initial fleet of E-3s, Detachment 1, Head Quarters NORAD was stood up in October 1978 to provide a survivable NORAD command and control element onboard E-3 aircraft. The partnership began in April 1979, as 14 Canadians joined the 47 USAF members of Detachment 1. The efforts of the detachment were recognized in April 1982 by earning an “Excellent” rating from both the Inspector General’s Management Effectiveness Inspection and the NORAD Operational Evaluation. 


On September 1, 1982, Detachment 1, NORAD HQ was stood up as a squadron under NORAD command: the 3rd Airborne Command and Control Squadron. The mission of this squadron was expanded “to train NORAD Airborne Battle Staff for command and control of our defense resources when aboard the E-3.”


Shortly after in July 1, 1986, the Canadian Detachment of 3ACCS became the Canadian Detachment, 28th Air Division. The personnel and mission were transferred to Tactical Air Command’s 28th Air Division to the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing. The Canadian Armed Forces personnel, while still technically belonging to NORAD, were given positions in the 552nd Technical Training Squadron, and three operational squadrons: the 963rd, 964th and 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron.  This change resulted in Canadians filling all crew positions except the Computer Display Maintenance Technician position on the AWACS and increasing the Canadian presence to 43 members by 1988. 


From the beginning, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army members integrated with their USAF co-manners and imported Canadian traditions and events, hosting extremely well attended receptions in honor of Canada Day, a yearly Terry Fox 10 kilometer “Marathon of Hope” and a visit from the Canadian Forces Air Demonstration Team, “The Snowbirds.” 


-Editor's note: This is the first of a four part series overviewing the history of the Canadian Detachment at Tinker AFB as April 2019 is the Detachments 40th Anniversary.