Airborne Reconnaissance at International Ice Patrol

Following World War II, the International Ice Patrol shifted from ship-based to aircraft-based reconnaissance. This article describes how the Ice Patrol has used airborne reconnaissance to detect, identify and track icebergs in the North Atlantic as well as to gather oceanographic and iceberg-related data. The Ice Patrol has used several aircraft for reconnaissance, but currently uses the HC-130H Hercules. Another very successful aircraft was the PB1G (B-17 Flying Fortress). The endurance of these aircraft, coupled with payload capability, far exceeds that of any other aircraft used to date, permitting effective reconnaissance flights over large and distant search areas. While many minor modifications have been made to the Ice Patrol's airborne reconnaissance strategy over the years, it has undergone only one major shift since 1946. The operational adoption of side looking airborne radar (SLAR) in 1983 altered the primary sensor for iceberg reconnaissance from visual to radar. Before 1983, the airborne aspect of ice patrol used radar only as a back-up method of detecting icebergs. Although the Ice Patrol has moved its base of air operations several times, it has always been located in Newfoundland. The complex process of conducting ice reconnaissance has been refined over time into a process that works to ensure effective reconnaissance while maintaining crew and aircraft safety. A typical current ice reconnaissance detachment is described in the article.


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  • Accession Number: 01000480
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 21 2005 5:13PM