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Air Defense as Rhein Control’s Partner

Air Defense as Rhein Control’s Partner

The Air Defence organization under the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force (ATAF) for the south of Germany was a closely related partner of Rhein UAC, with Rhein Control having evolved from its forerunner, the 619th TCS, which was part of the air defence system. The separation between the air defence and the air traffic services (ATS) organizations in this portion of the upper airspace only became permanent reality with the establishment of Rhein UAC in 1957. Since then practically two groups of service providers existed for military flights, one in providing “radar direction services” (Flugmelde- und Leitdienst = Aircraft Control & Warning) to certain tactical OAT (ORA, and OAT/CR) flights and the other in providing “air traffic services” to OAT and non-OAT flights, with the latter, again, consisting of civil and military flights.

As regards the ICAO ATS two organizations existed, namely the one under the mandate of BFS, running civil ATS units and owning the airspace, and the other under the mandate of the Federal Armed and the Stationary (NATO) Forces, running military ATS units. Altogether four parties operated within one and the same airspace. In West Germany after 4/59 this resulted in the provision of ATS (ATC, FIS, ALRS) at military air bases of the Federal Armed Forces and their associated CTRs and MTMAs, while Rhein UAC was the provider of area control service.

Until 1977 the ATS at the civil international and regional airports were provided by BFS, and all traffic en-route was provided ATS by the three ACCs of BFS at Hannover, Frankfurt and München in the lower airspace. In the upper airspace above 19.500 feet the ATS (ACC, FIS and ALRS) were provided by Hannover and Rhein UACs. With the move of the UAC to Karlsruhe this situation changed for Rhein UIR traffic.

The counterpart of the „ATS systems“ in accordance with the standards of ICAO are the „Air Defence Systems“ as first operated by the Stationary Forces under NATO command (RAF, USAF and FAF / CAF). As regards West Germany the air defence organization operated three sector operations centres (SOC) and altogether ten control and reporting centres and posts (CRC / CRP).

BFS units under the law on BFS and the ICAO Convention were entitled to handle all types of traffic, civil or military, GAT, OAT or security, whereas the later military “area control” units were only entitled to handle OAT flights. The picture only changed, when the FRG in 1965 transferred its mandate for the handling of traffic in the upper airspace to EUROCONTROL, which was only allowed to handle GAT flights due to its status as a supra-national organization. It remains to be a question if the delegation of jurisdiction over the UIRs from BFS to EUROCONTROL did not actually constitute a “state to state agreement” over the national airspace.

Read More:
German Air Traffic Control During The Cold War
The Story of Rhein Control
Vol 3, The Operation of ATC in South Germany's Upper Airspace 1957-1977


Die umfassende Dokumentation über den Luftverkehrsdienst Flugsicherung. Eine Buchreihe in mehreren Bänden, die von Frank W. Fischer im Verlag der International Advisory Group Air Navigation Services (ANSA) herausgegeben wurde.