Senneterre Air Station
Senneterre Air Station (1953-1988) - A Cold War Canadian Radar Station first established in 1953 near the town of Senneterre, Quebec. Named Senneterre Air Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of C-8, later a Sage ID of C-8. Abandoned in 1988. Also Known as RCAF Station Senneterre and after unification on 10 Aug 1967 CFS Senneterre.
History of Senneterre Air Station
Established in 1953 and became operational 1 Jun 1953 as Senneterre Air Station (AS) manned by the 34 AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.
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.
The site began operation as a SAGE System site in 1963 initially feeding the North Bay SAGE Direction Center DC-31. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-20 and an FPS-6 height-finder radar was installed.
Senneterre AS was planned to have four remote unattended gap-filler radar sites but the gap-filler program was cancelled before any of them were completed.
Senneterre AS became a BUIC I GCI site in 1962 and went operational as the first North American BUIC III site on 1 Dec 1968. The Senneterre AS BUIC III system provided a backup for the North Bay SAGE Direction Center DC-31 with the GYK-19 computer system and provided the ability to display sector wide radar data on consoles for local weapons controllers. The system duplicated the functionality of the vacuum tube direction center computers with the more up-to-date GYK-19 computer system and replaced the FST-2 with a more up-to-date coordinate data transmitter, the FYQ-47. As the threat from a soviet bomber fleet lessened, the decision came to mothball the BUIC system in 1973 and the BUIC III system was withdrawn. Senneterre returned to being a long range radar site in 1973 feeding the North Bay SAGE Direction Center DC-31 until that DC was deactivated on 1 Jul 1983.
Two Regional Operation Control Centers (ROCCs) (Canada East and Canada West) replaced the North Bay SAGE Direction Center DC-31. Both were located in the same underground facility that had housed the huge vaccumn tube SAGE computers but now the ROCCs used the much smaller and seemingly more capable FYQ-93 (Hughes H511ME) computer systems as a part of the JSS program. Senneterre continued to feed the Canada East ROCC until it closed in 1988.
Senneterre AS and the 34 Radar Squadron were deactivated 1 Aug 1988.
The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small housing area for critical married personnel. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.
Some buildings remain under private ownership. Housing area under private ownership.