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 alliance.
See all available
vintage Radio News
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
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
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.
The 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
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.
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
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 line-of-sight transmission.
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.