4 Wing History

In the early 1950s, an army of construction workers started building Canada's premier fighter base in the heart of the Lakeland. Half a century later, 4 Wing carries on that tradition, and continues to be at the cutting edge of military fighter aviation. The year 2004 marks the Gold Jubilee of a unique relationship between CFB Cold Lake and the communities of the Lakeland. For the last fifty years, the City of Cold Lake has enjoyed a relationship unmatched between a Canadian Forces Base and the civilian world.

4 Wing Cold Lake began in 1952 when the site was chosen by the Royal Canadian Air Force for an air weapons training base. In selecting the site, factors such as population density, accessibility, weather, possible future development of resources and the suitability of land for aerodrome construction had to be considered.

The site near the former town of Grand Centre was finally chosen because of its advantages of adequate drainage, flat terrain and nearby gravel deposits.

Construction of RCAF Station Cold Lake began in 1952, and the first contingent of personnel arrived March 31, 1954. Operations began that day.

In 1953, the federal government signed an agreement with the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan for the use of a tract of land 180 km by 65 km for use as an air weapons range. This was and continues to be the "raison d'être" for 4 Wing Cold Lake and its operations.

The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) has evolved to the point where it is considered to be one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world. The CLAWR covers an area of 1.17 million hectares straddling the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. Several factors unique to the CLAWR make it an ideal choice for combined air operations training.The heavily forested terrain with numerous lakes resembles European topography and differs from the desert conditions in southwestern Nevada. For these reasons, the internationally renowned Maple Flag Exercise is held on the range every year with ever growing success.

In 2004, the Cold Lake base reached a momentous milestone with 50 years of operation and service to the Canadian Forces. The occasion is marked with various activities and events in recognition of this historic accomplishment.


Welcome to Cold Lake.

I am extremely pleased that you are considering the exciting, world-class training opportunities offered by 4 Wing Cold Lake. This fighter-base, which is the largest and busiest fighter base in Canada, is a source of great pride for me, and I am sure the reasons why will become evident as you explore the material contained in this Tactical Training Opportunities for Coalition Partners information package.

4 Wing is an international centre of excellence for tactical fighter operations and training. With its vast expanses of open terrain and unrestricted airspace, its cutting-edge technology, its superior weapons ranges and target complexes, and its knowledgeable and experienced personnel, 4 Wing is ready to work with its international partners to achieve specific unit tactical training goals.

Many exceptional training opportunities exist at 4 Wing for Canada's friends and allies. With its proven expeditionary facilities, knowledgeable personnel, and location in a sparsely-populated area of Canada, 4 Wing is the ideal venue for expeditionary force training.

The fighter-base's reputation and experience with large-scale international air combat exercises such as Maple Flag makes the Wing the perfect venue for any type of tactical fighter pilot training. Exercise Maple Flag presents opportunities for the entire war fighting team to plan, coordinate and execute the coalition air campaign, including the application of the entire weapon system's team against defended targets and capable adversaries in a real-world scenario.

As fighter forces around the world embrace simulation, emulation, no-drop-bomb scoring, ADCTS, etc., venues such as the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) will continue to be vital to the development of coalition air operations.

The secret to 4 Wing Cold Lake's success continues to be commitment, dedication and teamwork underpinned by a burning desire to attain the highest possible level of excellence. I look forward to welcoming you to 4 Wing, and exploring with you the tactical training opportunities available at 4 Wing. I am confident these training opportunities will help maintain and develop allied interoperability and help make our militaries stronger fighting forces.