Canada and US Stepping up Northern Defense

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Air Force Senior Airman Crystal Cash refuels an F-15 during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 over the United States, Oct. 20, 2014. The annual exercise is designed to integrate Defense Department and civil response in support of the national strategy of aerospace warning and control, defense support of civil authorities and homeland defense. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
Air Force Senior Airman Crystal Cash refuels an F-15 during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 over the United States, Oct. 20, 2014. The annual exercise is designed to integrate Defense Department and civil response in support of the national strategy of aerospace warning and control, defense support of civil authorities and homeland defense. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

NORAD to Get $3 Billion in Upgrades

OTTAWA – NEWS – As autocratic regimes threaten the rules-based international order, the security and defence impacts of climate change increase, and our competitors develop new technologies like hypersonic weapons and advanced cruise missiles, there is a pressing need to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) that has kept Canadians and Americans safe for over 60 years according to the Government of Canada.

“As autocratic regimes threaten the rules-based international order, as the security and defence impacts of climate change increase, and as our competitors develop new technologies like hypersonic weapons, there is a pressing need to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) that has kept us safe for over 60 years. The plan brought forward today will deliver modern, state-of-the-art equipment for our Canadian Armed Forces, who put their lives on the line every single day to ensure the security and sovereignty of our country, and it will protect Canadians for generations. NORAD has continually adapted and evolved in response to new threats. Today, we turn another page, and begin NORAD’s next chapter,” states Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence.

Defence Minister Anita Anand, accompanied by General Wayne Eyre, the Chief of Defence Staff, and Lieutenant-General Alain Pelletier, Deputy Commander of NORAD, announced Canada’s plan to modernize Canada’s continental defence capabilities and protect Canadians from new and emerging threats.

Supported by an investment of $3 billion over six years from existing Budget 2022 allocations, starting in 2022-23, with $1.9 billion in remaining amortization (or $4.9 billion on a cash basis), the plan includes a series of new and enhanced capabilities to ensure our Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and NORAD can detect, deter and defend Canadians against threats well into the future.

While for many Canadians and people around the world, the biggest notice of NORAD has been the Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve. However NORAD has a much larger and more important role, especially now with the situation in Ukraine with the Russian invasion.

The government says that these capabilities fall under five, inter-related areas of investment that will:

  • Bolster our ability to detect threats earlier, and more precisely, by modernizing our surveillance systems. We will build a new Northern Approaches Surveillance system that will significantly expand the CAF and NORAD’s situational awareness of who and what is entering Canadian airspace from the North, and we will continue to strengthen the CAF’s current space-based surveillance capabilities.
  • Improve our ability to understand and communicate threats to those who need it, when they need it, through investments in modern technology. We will harness the full capability of 21st century computing and invest further in state-of-the-art tools such as modernized command and control information systems, upgraded radio communications capabilities, and enhanced satellite communications in the Arctic.
  • Strengthen our ability to deter and defeat aerospace threats by modernizing our air weapons systems. We will procure new, advanced air-to-air missiles that can engage threats from short, medium and long-ranges, and that will be compatible with Canada’s modern future fighter fleet, to be certain that our Canadian Armed Forces have the capabilities they need to track, assess and engage targets.
  • Ensure our Canadian Armed Forces can launch and sustain a strong military presence across the country, including in Canada’s North, through investments in new infrastructure and support capabilities. We will acquire additional air-to-air refuelling aircraft, upgrade CAF infrastructure at four locations in Canada’s North, improve CAF main operating bases and quick reaction alert capabilities across the country, and modernize our air operational training infrastructure. And to ensure that new infrastructure fulfills the needs of our military and maximizes broader benefits for Canadians, we will deliver these initiatives working closely with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities.
  • Future-proof our capabilities to defend North America through investments in science and technology. We will create a science and technology program that will assess new and emerging threats, and access and co-develop technological solutions to address them, alongside the United States, which will ensure our defence investments keep pace with rapidly evolving military threats and solutions into the future.

Taken together, these investments will bolster NORAD and CAF’s ability to protect Canadians against new and emerging military threats to North America, protect North America as a base for full and free engagement abroad, and reinforce NATO’s Western flank at a time where autocratic regimes are seeking to threaten the rules-based international order.

Long term investments will also strengthen Canada’s innovation and industrial sectors, while generating significant economic and job creation benefits across the country, and they will offer meaningful new opportunities to deepen National Defence’s strong northern, territorial, and Indigenous partnerships as we work together to advance shared objectives.

Our plan builds on the foundations that the Government has set for NORAD modernization through investments in Budgets 2021 and 2022, and is in line with the priority areas outlined in the Joint Statement on NORAD Modernization from August 2021. Budget 2022 commits to a Defence Policy update, through which the Government will further review the resources, roles and responsibilities of the CAF, to reflect our changing world.

“Defending Canada’s Arctic Sovereignty requires a commitment to working with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners, and today’s announcement demonstrates just that. Investments in northern infrastructure, defence capabilities, and enhanced threat monitoring will benefit all Northerners including Indigenous partners. Inuit communities and their knowledge of the land, waters, and environment play a central role in affirming and defending Canada’s North and Arctic, and we will work collaboratively with Inuit through the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee, and the Inuit Nunangat Policy,” says Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada

“In the face of evolving strategic competition and potential threats to North America across all domains and from all axes, investment in domain awareness and enhanced resilient command and control capabilities coupled with cutting edge research and development will strongly position NORAD to detect and understand potential threats faster, enabling NORAD to provide credible deterrence and, if required, defeat options sooner to military and government leaders,” adds U.S. Air Force General Glen D. VanHerck, Commander of NORAD. 

Background Facts

  • The Government of Canada is investing $3 billion over six years, starting in 2022-23, with $1.9 billion in remaining amortization (or  $4.9 billion on a cash basis), into this continental defence modernization plan. With total funding of $38.6 billion over the next twenty years, this is the most significant upgrade to Canadian NORAD capabilities in almost four decades.

o   Funding over six years was allocated in Budget 2022—Canada’s fiscal framework remains as previously reported.

  • In 2017, the Government of Canada presented its defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) that raises our defence spending by 70 percent. Continental defence modernization is the unwritten chapter of SSE.
  • Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada committed $252.2 million over five years to sustain existing continental and Arctic defence capabilities, and to lay the groundwork for NORAD’s future.
  • Through Budget 2022, the Government of Canada committed more than $8 billion over five years in additional defence spending over five years, including in continental defence.
  • Today’s announcement means that Canada is delivering on the shared strategic priorities identified by the Minister of National Defence and the U.S. Secretary of Defense in the Joint Statement on NORAD Modernization, which includes: situational awareness, especially in northern and maritime approaches to the continent; modernized Command and Control systems; capabilities to detect, deter and defend against evolving aerospace threats to North America, including investments to upgrade and modernize infrastructure to support NORAD operations, especially in Canada’s northern and Arctic region; and, research and development, and innovation.