RCAF Station Sydney

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RCAF Station Sydney (1953-1993) - A Cold War Canadian Radar Station established during the Korean War. Located near Sydney, Nova Scotia. Initially assigned a Site ID of C-34, then a Sage ID of C-34, and later a JSS ID of R-02. First operated as RCAF Station Sydney and in 1967 as CFS Sydney reflecting the integration of the Canadian Forces. The station itself was deactivated in 1993 and then transitioned into operation as Canadian Coastal Radar Site Sydney with a minimally attended FPS-117 radar that is still operational there.


RCAF Station Sydney opened on 15 Mar 1953 and became operational in April 1954 as RCAF Station Sydney manned by the Canadian 221 Aircraft Warning Squadron (RCAF). The station was initially funded and constructed by the U.S. Government but operated by Canadian forces. In June 1961, the Canadian government assumed full financial responsibilities of RCAF Station Sydney under the Triangular Agreement.

Initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and a FPS-6 height-finder radar. In 1961, the FPS-3 search radar was replaced by a FPS-27 Frequency Diversity (FD) radars, and one FPS-26A FD height-finder was added.

In 1986 the FPS-27 Search Radar was replaced by the FPS-508. On 1 Apr 1990 the FPS-26A Height Finder radar was shut down. The current FPS-117 minimally attended radar has been in place since 1991 and presumably, the FPS-508 radar was removed as the CFS Sydney shut down between 1990 and 1993.

Manual System Operation

On 15 March 1953, the 221 Aircraft Warning Squadron (RCAF) activated at RCAF Station Sydney, Nova Scotia. The squadron reported to the No. 2 Air Defence Control Centre (ADCC) in Chatham, New Brunswick. RCAF Station Sydney was connected to the ADCC via telephone circuits. Track data was passed from site operations via voice and teletype circuits.

Operational control shifted to the Bangor Air Defense Sector and the new Topsham SAGE Direction Center DC-05 established at Bangor Maine in 1958. Operations continued in the manual mode until the SAGE annex at RCAF Station Sydney was completed and the new equipment was installed and checked out.

SAGE System Transition

The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with the installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE System, interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.

The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air-conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of air conditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power, and usually a large new addition to the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid-state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.

SAGE System Operation

The site began operation as an automatic SAGE System site on 15 Sep 1962 initially feeding the Topsham SAGE Direction Center DC-05.

The Topsham SAGE Direction Center DC-05 closed in 1969 and it is unclear where operational control of CFS Sydney shifted as the SAGE System constricted. The Canadian North Bay SAGE Direction Center DC-31 came online in 1963 and lasted until July 1983 so it is assumed that the site was connected to that direction center as well as the Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 which also lasted until 1983.

As the SAGE System closed down in 1983 and transitioned to the JSS System, CFS Sydney became a part of the Canada East ROCC located in North Bay and presumably the Griffiss (ROCC) located at Rome, New York.

On 1 Aug 1986 the FPS-27 Search Radar was shut down and then replaced by an FPS-508 search radar. On 1 Apr 1990, the FPS-26A Height-Finder radar was shut down.

CFS Sydney Closure

CFS Sydney shut down between 1990 and 1993 and completed the transition to the much smaller Canadian Coastal Radar Site Sydney with a minimally attended FPS-117 radar set. The FPS-117 was installed on the old FPS-27 tower in 1991.

RCAF Station Sydney AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm Scopes IFF/SIF
Unit Designations
  • 221 Aircraft Warning Squadron (RCAF) (1953-1960)
  • 221 Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1993)
221 Aircraft Warning Squadron (RCAF) Assignments
  • 1 Aug 1953 - 221 Aircraft Warning Squadron (RCAF)
  • 1960 - 221 Aircraft Warning Squadron (RCAF) redesignated 221 Radar Squadron (SAGE)
  • 10 Aug 1967 - 221 Radar Squadron Sydney redesignated CFS Sydney, effective.

RCAF Station Sydney Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1953 1957 W/C Lomas, LJ N/A
1957 1959 S/L Armstrong, GA N/A
1959 1961 W/C MacDonald, RM N/A
1961 1963 S/L Grigg, CF N/A
1963 1966 S/L St. Louis, MBE, PB N/A
1966 1969 W/C Wright, DFC, DFM, RW N/A
1969 1972 LCol Campbell, BR N/A
1972 1975 LCol Sheppard, JF N/A
1975 1977 LCol McEwan, WG N/A
1977 1978 LCol Young, A N/A
1978 1981 LCol Girling, DA N/A
1981 1983 Major McLean, WF N/A
1983 1985 Major McInnis, MM N/A
1985 1986 Major Hodgson, AW N/A
1986 1987 Major Melancon, JRC N/A
1987 1989 Major Billard, JH N/A
1989 ? Major Phillips, L N/A

Current Status

Now an unmanned Canadian Coastal Radar (CCR) site with a minimally attended FPS-117 radar totally funded by Canada. This site occupies a small fenced compound around the original FPS-27 tower which now holds the FPS-117 radar. Other than this small compound most of the other CFS Sydney buildings have been removed or repurposed.

Location: CFS Station Sydney in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 46.1675 Long: -60.16444

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 279'

GPS Locations:

See Also:



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