Defense Early Warning Line

Defense Early Warning (DEW) Line

On 17 November 1954, the Air Force Awarded Western Electric Company the contract to build the Defense Early Warning Line's Alaska section. In January 1955, the agreement expanded to include Northern Canada.
Building the Line was challenging because the Air Force did not know how radar and communications technology would handle extreme arctic conditions. Therefore, Western Electric had to conduct multiple tests and significantly alter the systems before the final installation.
Western Electric also had to adapt its construction techniques to counter the weather and permafrost.
On 13 August 1957, Western Electric Company presented the U.S. Air Force Electronic Defense System with a certificate, which stated, "On this date, the land-based section of the Arctic Distant Early Warning Line stands ready to preserve peace and aid in defense of people of the free world."
The official handover happened at Point Barrow and was attended by the press, which observed a demonstration of defense systems capability.
The Defense Early Warning Line consisted of 57 stations stretching across 3000 miles of the Arctic at the turnover. Six main stations served as the center of communications, administration, and maintenance for each sector. Additionally, there were also 23 auxiliary stations and 28 intermediate stations.
The Line gave the U.S. and Canada three to six hours of advanced notice of any Soviet attack of strategic nuclear bombers approaching over the poles during the Cold War.
During those three-to-six hours, both nations would increase their alert status, disperse strategic assets, divert civil air traffic, implement civil defense measures, and send interceptor aircraft to counter the threat.