After WWII, the 11th AF was re-designated Alaskan Air Command (AAC) and its headquarters was moved to the newly designated Elmendorf AFB. Alaska's interim air defense system comprised 5 temporary early warning radar sites, 3 fighter squadrons and 2 aerospace control and warning groups. Air defense command and control responsibilities were divided into two sectors. The northern sector was controlled from Ladd Field (near Fairbanks) and the southern sector was controlled from Elmendorf.
The expansion and modernization of radar sites in Alaska started in response to the 1947 Air Force Supremacy Plan. The plan to build a 10 site aerospace control and warning (AC&W) system was approved in 1949. A combat operations center was established at Elmendorf in a Quonset hut in 1950 and on the 27th of Jun 50 the interim air defense system commenced 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week operations. Two additional sites were added to the AC&W plan in 1951 and the 12 AC&W sites became operational between 1951 and 1954. By 1958, Alaska's AC&W system had grown to 18 sites (3 control center sites, 3 GCI sites and 12 surveillance sites). The AC&W system was connected by the White Alice communications system. It was an extensive network of troposcatter and microwave sites installed between 1955 and 1958.
When the Soviets blockaded the land routes into Berlin in March 1948, a massive airlift was required to re-supply the American, British, and French sectors that had been cut off. This began the "Cold War" period. The build up of the Soviet long range bomber force and the deteriorating international situation prompted Canada and the United States to start a bi-national build up of aerospace defense forces. Three CANUS systems were put into place between 1951 and 1955 (39 CADIN-Pinetree radars with a capability for warning and control) installed along the 50th parallel in 1951, 98 Mid Canada line stations installed along the 55th parallel in 1954, and 78 Distant Early Warning (DEW) line sites installed along the 70th parallel in 1955). Six FPS-19 DEW line search radars were installed in Alaska. In Jan 57, the JCS approved the extension of the DEW line into Greenland and the Aleutians and six additional sites were built in Alaska becoming operational in 1959. All of these systems were linked through the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) complex which was later augmented by the Back-Up Interceptor Control (BUIC) communication network.
In 1957, Alaskan Air Command was at its peak air defense strength when operational control of Alaskan air defense forces was transferred to the newly established North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). There were 18 AC&W sites and 12 DEW line sites in Alaska. Air Defense fighter forces consisted of the 10th Air Division at Elmendorf (three FI Squadrons - 64th 65th and 66th) responsible for south sector and the 11th Air Division at Ladd (449th FI Squadron) responsible for north sector. The number of Fighter Interceptor squadrons was reduced from 6 to 4 with the arrival of the F-102s at Elmendorf.
Canada joined the United States to set up the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) on an interim basis on 7 Aug 1957. Formal confirmation of the new agreement was provided by the two governments on 12 May 1958. Alaska became part of NORAD when the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR) was activated on 5 August 1958. The Commander in Chief, Alaskan Command was dual hatted as the Commander ANR.
In 1961, the AAC COC was replaced with the ANR Control Center (ANRCC) and the control center at Murphy Dome became an alternate for the ANRCC. The two air defense sectors were combined and ANR became responsible for all of Alaska's airspace. By 1962, NORAD had reached its high point as an anti-bomber command. The Soviet Union's concentrated build up of ballistic missile forces prompted NORAD to shift its emphasis to attack warning and characterization of the newer threat. Because there was no defense against ballistic missiles, strategic deterrence became NORAD's emphasis. Other NORAD-related activity in Alaska in 1961 included the transfer of Ladd to the Army (renamed Fort Wainwright) and the installation of a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System site at Clear (two others were installed at Flyingdales and Greenland).
Alaskan air defense system modernization and restructuring over the next decade included reducing the number of AC&W sites by three in 1963, the introduction of the F-106 to Alaska, the automation of the ANRCC in 1965 with the operational activation of the FYQ-9 Data Processing and Display system, and the introduction of the F4E to Alaska and Alaskan Air Command in 1970. Even though the F4E became increasingly involved in tactical operations, AAC did not neglect its air defense mission.
The 1974 Air Staff Sabre Yukon study recommended modernizing the Alaskan AC&W system. Two modernization programs were initiated. The first included the modernization of the ANRCC within the program established for the replacement of the SAGE system within the CONUS with a Joint USAF-FAA use Region Operations Control Center/Joint Surveillance System (ROCC/JSS) system. The second, known as the Seek Igloo program, would replace existing site radars with minimally attended radars. The ANR ROCC (nicknamed Top ROCC) became operational on 14 June 1983 and 11 minimally attended radars were installed between 1984 and 1985. The ROCC was operated by Canadian and United States personnel under a bi-national co-manning agreement.
The 1982 Air Defense Master Plan (ADMP) was the result of the US Air Force directed study in 1979. It was accepted by Canada and the United States as the way ahead to modernize the bi-national NORAD air defense system. That same year F-15s were sent to Elmendorf AFB to replace the F-4Es. Canada and the United States agreed on a NORAD Modernization (NAADM) Program at the Quebec City Summit on 18 March 1985. For Alaska, the NAADM program meant that four FPS 117 radars would replace the DEW line radars and that three additional short range FPS 124 radars would be installed on the north slope. The LRRs became operational in 1990 and the SRRs became operational in 1994. Additional Canadians became employed in the ANR as a result of the NAADM program and the draw down of the Cadin Pinetree line. In 1986, a Canadian Deputy Commander was assigned to the ANR (transferred from 25 NORAD Region).
A number of significant changes occurred from 1989 to 1991 that have had a bearing on NORAD operations and readiness levels. The demise of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe took place in 1989 (Hungary, Poland, East Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania). The Berlin Wall came down in Nov 1989 and West Germany and the Soviet Union reach an accord in Jul 1990 enabling the unification of East and West Germany in Oct 1990. Under pressure from Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Warsaw Pact's military structure was abolished on 1 April 1991. The Soviet Union was abolished in Dec 1991 marking the end of the Cold War period. NORAD responded to these changes by implementing progressive and contemporary aerospace control concepts such as flexible and graduated alert. ANR continues to maintain the security of Alaskan airspace and contribute to the security of North American airspace. It does this through the surveillance of Alaskan airspace 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, by exercising control to safeguard its sovereignty, and by maintaining the capability to conduct contingency, deterrence and air defense missions, and validate and warn of air attack.