A Short History of he Eastern Air Defense Sector
In December 1994, the New York Air National Guard assumed primary responsibility for manning the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), as it was then known. Since then, the Sector has been staffed predominately by New York Guardsmen, along with a Canadian Forces detachment, U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard liaison officers and civilian personnel. EADS more than 180 million Americans, every hour of every day, and has long served as a first line in the nation’s defense.
Air Defense Origins
During WWII, the British developed an air defense reporting system that combined newly-developed radar technology with intelligence and ground observation. This “air picture” enabled air defense sectors to direct fighter aircraft to intercept enemy aircraft. This system proved highly successful during the 1940 Battle of Britain, enabling the outnumbered British fighter pilots to defeat the Luftwaffe and deter an invasion of England.
Air Defense in the U.S.
In 1958, in response to threat of long-range Soviet bombers, the U.S. and Canada signed a treaty creating the bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), responsible for both countries air defense and air sovereignty. Air Defense Sectors were established soon after, including the New York Air Defense Sector, headquartered at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. Responsibility for air defense of the Northeast changed with various reorganizations. In 1983, the 24th Air Division was assigned to Griffiss Air Force Base to provide air defense for the Northeast. In 1987, NEADS was activated and co-located with the 24th AD. NEADS took sole responsibility for air defense mission when the air divisions were de-activate in the early 1990s.
The Air National Guard and Air Defense
In the mid-1990s, the Air National Guard (ANG) assumed responsibility for leader U.S. air defense. ANG flying units had performed the air defense mission for decades. However, as a result of this initiative, activated Guardsmen provided the command and control for the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and its subordinate Sector HQs. The Northeast Sector was the first to transition. In December 1994, the New York Air National Guard activated the Northeast Air Defense Squadron to staff the Sector HQ. That NY ANG unit formally became the 224th Air Defense Group in December 2014.
9-11 Changes Air Defense
During the Cold War, NORAD focused on external threats: long-range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles. In the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, this Air Defense Sector pioneered many of the changes that now allow it to build a detailed internal air picture to identify and engage air threats originating within North America. In addition to the Battle Control Center in Rome, EADS helped stand-up and maintain two detachments in the National Capital Region to defend critical assets and improve interagency communication. In 2006, the Southeast Air Defense Sector was inactivated and NEADS assumed responsibility for defending the airspace east of the Mississippi River. To better align name and mission, NEADS formally became the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) in 2009.