Puneet Varma (Editor)

12th Space Warning Squadron

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Active  1967-Present
Type  Space
Country  United States
Garrison/HQ  Thule AB, Greenland
12th Space Warning Squadron
Branch  United States Air Force
Part of  AFSPC/14 AF/21st Space Wing

The 12th Space Warning Squadron (12 SWS) is a United States Air Force ground based radar used for missile warning, missile defense and space situation awareness, stationed at Thule Air Base, Greenland.



The primary mission of the 12th SWS is to provide critical, real-time missile warning, defense and space surveillance to the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NORAD, and unified commands by operating a phased-array radar—which continuously provides warning of Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and Intercontinental ballistic missile attacks against North America—and detect, track, and identify earth-orbiting objects in support of USSTRATCOM’s space control mission, thus "knitting a blanket of freedom".

The 12th Space Warning Squadron is a unit of the 21st Operations Group, which is part of the 21st Space Wing under Air Force Space Command.

To accomplish its mission, the squadron operates the solid-state phased-array radar located at the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), Site I. The BMEWS site is located approximately 11 miles northwest of Thule AB 76.569°N 68.318°W / 76.569; -68.318. It provides early warning detection of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches from the Russian land mass and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launches from the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans against North America. Additionally, BMEWS keeps track of polar orbiting satellites. The operational crews report through the Missile Warning Center to the NORAD/USNORTHCOM Center.

The Operation Support Flight (DOO) provides direct operational support to the missile warning crews. The flight's Operations Training Section (DOT) provides all crew force initial, recurring, and supplemental training. Other flight responsibilities include hardware, software and maintenance support (MA), operational test and evaluation (DOV), and crew force management (DOU).


The 12th SWS was formed in January 1967 as a successor organization to the Air Defense Command 931st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, which was inactivated at the end of 1965. The 931st AC&WS operated a series of Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar sites in Greenland to detect intrusion of unknown aircraft. The squadron relayed information to the 64th NORAD Region Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system DC-31 Direction Center, and interceptor squadrons stationed at Thule Air Base.

With the development of ICBM and SLBM technologies, the mission to monitor aircraft coming over the horizon from the Soviet Union was transferred to other units, and the 931st AC&WS at Thule AB was inactivated.


  • Activated as 12th Missile Warning Squadron, 1 January 1967
  • Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Group, 31 March 1977 Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Squadron, 15 June 1983 Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Group, 1 October 1989 Re-designated 12th Space Warning Squadron, 15 May 1992-Present


  • 71st Missile Warning Wing, 1 January 1967
  • Fourteenth Aerospace Force, 30 April 1971
  • 21st Air Division, 1 October 1975
  • Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM), 1 October 1979
  • Strategic Air Command, 1 December 1979
  • 1st Space Wing (AFSC), 1 May 1993
  • 21st Operations Group, 15 May 1992 – Present
  • Bases stationed

  • Thule AB, Greenland, 1 January 1967 – Present
  • Equipment operated

    Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS)


    12th Space Warning Squadron Wikipedia

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