"Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe" - is that a cool sounding title or what? As an aficionado of
World War II movies and paraphernalia, such terms bring to mind a consortium of countries and countrymen
desperately working and sacrificing together to fend off ruthless aggressors to preserve their cherished
ways of life. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949, just a few years after
the end of WWII in order to formalize an agreement to basically cover each other's butts. To attack any
one member was to attack all members, thereby reducing the chance of onslaught. Part of the strategy
included developing and implementing what would be the most extensive radio communications in existence
at the time. Because of the great distances that needed to be covered, both over-the-horizon
tropospheric forward scatter and line-of-sight radio relay links were essential. This report from a 1957
issue of Radio & TV News
provides a look at what the state of the system was a decade into the
See all available
vintage Radio News articles
Scatter System to Link NATO Nations
One of the most modern and extensive military radio communications systems in the world will combine over-horizon
forward scatter and line-of-sight links.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe recently issued a letter
of intent for the engineering and installation of one of the most modern and extensive military communications systems
in the world. This new network will combine over-the-horizon tropospheric forward scatter and line-of-sight radio
relay links to further integrate, from a communications viewpoint, certain international and national military agencies
and installations. These extend from Eastern Turkey around the broad crescent throughout NATO Europe to the far
reaches of Northern Norway.
The companies involved are International Standard Electric Corp., the overseas
management subsidiary of International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. and Hycon Eastern, Inc., Cambridge, Mass. The
combined estimated contract cost is $9 million.
The main center of this gigantic undertaking will be established
in Paris. Planning, engineering, and general supervision will, in the larger part, be conducted from there. In addition,
there will be field teams for testing, exploration, installation, and supervision which will be deployed in the
many NATO European countries where the forward scatter and radio relay station sites are projected.
system design will employ the most modern techniques known. Consideration is given to very high circuit reliability
and to physical and electronic security in order to provide the greatest dependability.
Diagram showing the path geometry of a tropospheric forward scatter circuit.
In scatter propagation, there is a very large amount of radio energy thrown out into space in the hope that
some of the energy will get scattered around by dust, raindrops, and normal discontinuities in the layers of air
around the earth's surface. The small amount of energy which does get bounced back in the right direction is then
detected, using specially designed, very sensitive radio receivers.
In the scatter process, much energy
is lost, since the radio waves are indeed scattered in every direction. But the percentage of energy which does
get back to earth contains all the information necessary to communicate reliably.
Ordinary radar waves and
other very high frequency radiations travel through space in straight lines. But as the accompanying illustration
shows, two straight lines, properly oriented, can make an angle around a curved surface. It is in this manner that
forward scatter propagation "bends" around the earth's surface and covers much greater distances than in conventional
In the entire operation there will be wide employment of technical personnel
from the NATO countries, and the procurement to the maximum extent of equipment on an international competitive
bidding basis. The project will be both complex and challenging. Posted