22 Wing is located at Canadian Forces Base North Bay and is under the operational command of 1 Canadian Air Division.
22 Wing North Bay, also known as the Canadian Air Defence Sector (CADS), is responsible for providing surveillance, identification, control and warning for the aerospace defence of Canada and North America at the Sector Air Operations Centre.
This surveillance and identification of all air traffic approaching North America (200,000 flights per year) is accomplished using radar information received via satellite from the North Warning System across the Canadian Arctic, coastal radars on the east and west coasts of Canada, and Airborne Warning and Control System Aircraft.
All aircraft penetrating this radar coverage are detected and identified by the personnel of 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron (AC&W Sqn), who are always on guard 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Unidentified aircraft, aircraft in distress, or aircraft suspected of conducting illegal activities may be intercepted by CF-18 fighters.
Critical information on air sovereignty events is forwarded to the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, where it is in turn passed on to the command authorities, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada, to decide on the appropriate responses.
Due to this binational nature of the NORAD agreement, 33 American personnel belonging to the USAF's 1 Air Force Detachment 2 operate at the Canadian Sector Air Operations Centre (SAOC). Training of the personnel who perform the air sovereignty mission is done by 51 AC&W (Operational Training) Squadron, an integral unit of 22 Wing.
22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base (CFB) North Bay is the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)’s central wing for guarding North American air sovereignty. RCAF Station North Bay opened on September 1, 1951, part of Canada’s new national air defence network, built in response to the Cold War threat from the Soviet Union.
In 1963, after four years construction, Canada’s North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) Underground Complex (UGC) opened in North Bay. The UGC was specially engineered to withstand a 4-megaton nuclear explosion and keep operating. That would be 267 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. In the UGC, Canadian and American NORAD personnel guarded North America’s Cold War frontline.
The station was renamed CFB North Bay in 1963 and was previously a home to aircraft – including No. 3 All-Weather (Fighter) Operational Training Unit. It was the world’s most advanced air defence flying training school. Over the years the base was home to 430 Day (Fighter) Squadron, 445, 419, 433 and 414 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadrons. In 1992, 414 Squadron left the base, airfield structures were sold or demolished and CFB North Bay became the only air base with no aircraft or airfield.
In 1993, the installation was renamed 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base North Bay, commonly referred to as 22 Wing. In 2006, the new Sgt David L. Pitcher Building replaced the Underground Complex. It had state-of-the-art, 21st Century air defence computers and electronics.
In 2014, 22 Wing began space surveillance, connecting to Sapphire, Canada’s first military satellite. Sapphire is a contributing sensor to the United States Space Surveillance Network. Sapphire looks for “Resident Space Objects” orbiting between 6,000 and 40,000 kilometres altitude. In its first year of operation, 22 Wing saw 1.2 million space objects.
Read more about the history of 22 Wing North Bay.