Who Invented the DEW Line

The invention of the Distant Early Warning Line, commonly known as the DEW Line, can be attributed to a collective effort by numerous researchers, scientists, engineers, and military personnel from both the United States and Canada during the height of the Cold War. Faced with the imminent threat of Soviet bomber attacks, these individuals came together to create a highly advanced radar system that would serve as an early warning network, monitoring the northern skies for any potential threats. Spanning across vast stretches of Arctic terrain, the DEW Line was not only a testament to innovation but also a symbol of the strong partnership between two nations striving to ensure their collective security.

When Did the DEW Line Happen?

The DEW Line, short for Distant Early Warning Line, emerged as a significant project during the Cold War era. It’s development stemmed from concerns about potential Soviet threats to North America from the Arctic region. The construction of this extensive radar network began in the early 1950s, and it required close collaboration between the United States and Canada.

To avoid projecting American domination in the North, both countries made a deliberate effort to present the DEW Line as a joint venture and emphasize the spirit of cooperation. They used terms like “joint-project” and “cooperation” whenever possible, underscoring the shared responsibility and involvement of both nations. This strategic approach aimed to counterbalance any perception of American hegemony in the region.

By the time the DEW Line was ready for operation in 1957, the Canadian government had formulated a policy to ensure that Canadian officers occupied as many command positions as feasible. This policy aimed to assert Canadas presence and involvement in the project. Placing Canadian officers in key roles not only allowed Canada to have a say in the decision-making process but also helped maintain a balanced representation and decision-making authority within the DEW Line command structure.

The Effectiveness of the DEW Line in Detecting Potential Soviet Threats and Preventing Attacks

  • The DEW Line (Distant Early Warning Line) was a crucial system developed in the 1950s.
  • It utilized radar stations positioned along the northern coast of North America.
  • The primary objective of the DEW Line was to detect potential Soviet threats, specifically airborne attacks.
  • These radar stations provided advanced warning of any approaching aircraft or ballistic missiles.
  • By detecting these threats early on, the DEW Line aimed to prevent any surprise attacks.
  • The system was particularly significant during the Cold War and the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • The DEW Line, along with other defense systems, added a layer of security to North America.
  • It ensured that any potential threats from the Soviet Union were detected well in advance.
  • In addition to radar detection, the DEW Line also had communication systems for reporting and coordinating responses.
  • Overall, the DEW Line played a vital role in maintaining the defense and security of North America during the Cold War.


It was the collaborative effort of scientists, engineers, military personnel, and government officials who recognized the need to protect North America during the Cold War. Although there were different contributors involved, it was the combined ingenuity and perseverance that led to the creation of this vital defense system. The story of the DEW Line reminds us of the power of collaboration and innovation in addressing complex challenges, ultimately shaping the course of history.