From FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL, 23 December 1955
NEW EUROPEAN AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM
THAT the Soviet threat was "greater than at any previous time" was the view expressed by Gen. Gruenther, the Supreme Allied Commander, in a statement made in Paris last week. The NATO Chiefs of Staff, he said, were of the opinion that Russian bombers could reach any part of the Atlantic Pact area.
The general was announcing the creation of a co-ordinated air defence and radar warning system, under SHAPE, for the whole of Western Europe including Britain. In the past, he explained, SHAPES's control of air defence had been confined to Western Germany, and in other NATO countries had been a national responsibility.
The system did not provide adequate insurance, so four new defence sectors were being established: 1. Norway and Denmark with HQ at Oslo; 2. the Low Countries, Germany and France, with HQ at Fontainbleau, 3. Italy, Turkey, Greece and the Mediterranean, including Cyprus, with HQ at Naples and 4. the United Kingdom. The first three were all existing NATO commands, whereas the United Kingdom was a national command, and the RAF would decide on the deployment of aircraft or missiles to repel an attack.
Gen Gruenther said early warnings were useless unless there was a rapid and effecient communications system. The United States had agreed to share with NATO two radiocommunication systems which provided perfect reception and could not be jammed. One was a tropospheric 'scatter' method which could transmit up to 250 miles. The other was an ionospheric system, which had a range of 1,300 miles.
The staff needed to run them in Europe would not be more than 250 people. The total cost would be £15 million. The United States would be installing pilot plants to cover Norway, from Paris to Naples, and from Naples to Izmir in Turkey.