Maintaining International Partnerships

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexis Pentzer
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

In the fields of Beale AFB, looms a large concrete structure home to the 7 Space Warning Squadron (7 SWS). The U.S. Space Force unit is geographically separated from its home station at Space Delta 4, Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado. 


7 SWS is charged with monitoring the North American space domain, providing strategic missile warning and missile defense. The Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR), at Beale AFB is capable of detecting, characterizing and disseminating missile threat information in seconds and is integrated with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System.  


What many may not know is that a handful of Royal Canadian Air Force members also work at 7 SWS side by side with Space Force Guardians at Beale AFB. The Canadians of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Space detachment work closely with the Space Force in a symbiotic relationship that enhances space monitoring capabilities in North America. 


The NORAD space detachment has 33 people stationed at eight different geographical locations, including various space sensor sites and command and control nodes across the U.S. The partnership is built with the goal to share and collaborate with allied forces to increase our capability for space warning and to provide resiliency, capacity and geographic advantages over our adversaries. 


“I’m part of the Canadian NORAD space detachment, which is an agreement between America and Canada that happened a very long time ago,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Sgt. Kristjan Lindvere, 7 SWS SNCO in charge of training. “Since its inception in 1958, we have been working hand in hand together, almost like a co-op system, where Americans go north to Canada, and Canadians go south to America, and we work together defending the continent.” 


7 SWS also hosts a training schoolhouse on behalf of Space Delta 4. Charged with training new UEWR operator accessions, the unit’s training flight manages a six-week training pipeline. Once fully trained, these operators head out to their UEWR assignments located across the world.  


The instructors continue to operate the live weapon system to ensure proficiency. Maintaining mission currency is a prerequisite for the instructors to allow them to teach. Once graduates arrive at their respective UEWR systems, they undergo local certification training. This training varies site to site, but graduates become familiar with local procedures - ultimately culminating in mission certification. Canadian and American space operators are held to the same standards across training, evaluations, and qualifications.  


“They [the students] all get taught the same thing,” said U.S. Space Force Sgt. Dustin Wallis, 7 SWS deputy staff instructor. “However, having the Canadians here brings in a lot of information and knowledge that students wouldn't get otherwise; offering a fresh perspective gives us a bigger picture.” 


This collaboration between the U.S. and Canada, under NORAD, ensures that space warning capabilities are shared between both countries, protecting the entire North American continent. The students at the 7 SWS learn the specifics of the weapon systems they will be operating and the day-to-day operations of tracking objects through space.  


7 SWS expands beyond our nation's borders by keeping track of satellites and debris that pass through space above the west coast of North America and over the Pacific Ocean. Learning to maintain positive contact with those objects is essential because they pose a hazard to our in-orbit assets and our astronauts, and it provides the opportunity for anti-collision.  Space system operators also provide satellite decay monitoring and tracking to predict where an expired satellite may land. 


“There’s been an increased push for partnerships, such as with Canada, since the Space Force was stood up because of the congested and contested space domain,” said U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Moira Huftalen, 7 SWS student. “The key to winning America’s battles in space are through our partnerships.”