Tag Archives: Air Force

Enfin, PM Trudeau’s Government Commits Money to Several Aspects of NORAD Modernization

Further to this recent post on US pressure on Canada over NORAD,

US Air Force Chief of Staff Visits Ottawa: What’s Missing in This Story?

the Canadian minister on national defence made the Big Reveal June 20, likely with the June 29-30 NATO Madrid summit in mind (to show allies we are Doing Something on defence) as well as trying to placate the Biden administration.

It is clear the announcement at Trenton air base was rushed–a two tweets:

The news release is here. There is still no “Backgrounder”–customary with such major announcements–giving details about, and projected timelines and costings for, the individual projects mentioned.

Some key points:

1) The initial C$ 4.9 billion over six years (i.e. just over $800 million per year) for NORAD modernization is not new money; it was already included in the government’s April 22 budget; there are no details about what the promised $40 billion over 20 years is for;

2) All the major projects are related to detecting threats and processing the relevant information; only two projects relate to acquiring new kinetic defence capabilities. There are also some upgrades for existing NORAD-related facilities;

3) There is no indication of how these specifically Canadian initiatives relate to US plans to modernize NORAD (some of which may not fit in with this government’s thinking–see “left of launch” post below);

4) Canada is still staying out of the US’ GMD ballistic missile defence system;

5) Minister Anand, for some odd reason, did not name either Russia (main threat now) or China as the adversaries involved.

To begin with, an excerpt from an article last year in Aviation Week and Space Technology:

…the radars of the U.S.-Canadian North Warning System (NWS) are still functioning, although their days seem numbered…

The early-warning system lacks the range to detect Russia’s Tupolev Tu-160 bombers [or Tu-95 ones] before they can launch cruise missiles and the resolution to track the latest Russian cruise missiles, particularly the stealthy nuclear Kh-102, after they are launched.

In other words, right now the capacity to intercept the bomber “archers” before they can launch their missile “arrows” at quite some distance from North American does not exist. And tracking those missiles on their courses to targets inside North America is exceedingly problematic. So it would now appear the main future challenge will be tracking and then shooting down the cruise missiles, not the bombers themselves (which may well have fighter escorts in any event–see this 2015 post: “NORAD to Face Escorted Cruise Missile-Carrying Russian Bombers?“).

Here are extracts from a Globe and Mail story:

Canada commits $4.9-billion over six years to modernize NORAD defences

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Patrick Brethour Tax and Fiscal Policy Reporter

Defence experts told The Globe and Mail the spending commitment, nine days before a NATO Leaders’ Summit in Madrid, seems to be an effort to create the appearance that Canada is devoting more money to the military. Canada has come under pressure from allies, the U.S. in particular, to raise its military spending to meet NATO’s target level for each of its members: the equivalent of 2 per cent of annual economic output. Canada’s current defence spending amounts to 1.33 per cent…

“As autocratic regimes [Russia? China?] threaten the rules-based order that has protected us for decades and as our competitors develop new technologies…there is a pressing need to modernize NORAD capabilities,” Ms. Anand told reporters…

The new setup will have several components, according to Ms. Anand. “Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar” will provide early-warning radar coverage and threat tracking from the Canada-U.S. border to the Arctic Circle [clearly to track cruise missiles through Canadian air space after they have been launched].

The second component will be a “Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar” system to provide the same coverage and tracking over and beyond the northernmost approaches to North America, including Canada’s Arctic archipelago [clearly to track cruise missiles immediately after launch from Russian bombers well away from North American airspace–and perhaps track the bombers themselves–and not vulnerable to interception and attack by NORAD fighters].

A third piece will be a new network called Crossbow, which will be made up of sensors with what Ms. Anand called “classified capabilities.” They will be located throughout Northern Canada, where they will provide another layer of detection.

A final component will be a space-based surveillance system, which will use satellites to collect intelligence and track threats, she told reporters.

…She did not provide a breakdown of how the $4.9-billion would be spent, and did not offer any estimate of when the new surveillance equipment would be up and running. She said Canada will spend a total of $40-billion over 20 years for NORAD modernization under the plan [emphasis added]

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba [a professor who really knows her NORAD and defence stuff], said it’s important that Canada is “thinking about and working on the joint defence of North America.”

But, she added, she thinks Monday’s announcement was aimed first and foremost at Canada’s NATO allies.

“There is incredible pressure that Canada spend more on defence, so they can go to NATO and say, ‘Look, we are spending more,’ ” Prof. Charron said. “At least they are going to the table with something.”..

Asked when Ottawa would reach its 2-per-cent commitment [to NATO], Ms. Anand pointed to Canada’s “upward trajectory” in defence spending….

With the $4.9-billion for NORAD, she said, “our defence spending is now on an even sharper upward trajectory.” However, that $4.9-billion is part of the $8-billion announced in the budget [emphasis added].

But Ms. Anand declined to provide a precise defence-spending target, or to explicitly pledge that Canada would reach the 2-per-cent threshold…

Prof. Charron said the new radar and surveillance projects will take “years and years” to build [emphasis added]

And from a CBC story:

The new network will monitor not only the Arctic — NORAD’s traditional domain — but also Pacific and Atlantic approaches to the continent [see the “Worries” post noted at bottom of this one”–our two fighter bases are well to the interior at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec and ill-placed to deal with threats approaching from those oceans; might we start rotating fighters through east and west coast bases as thought needed?]

Canadian Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander at NORAD, said he and other top military officials have been taking notes on Moscow’s air campaign [vs Ukraine].

“Some of that assessment is classified, but I can tell you that we’re seeing the usage of cruise missiles in that theater, like we were expecting it, and like we expect that that cruise missile may be used in the future, against potential … critical infrastructure in North America [emphasis added],” Pelletier told CBC News in an interview following the minister’s statement.

Asked whether Canada will end its prohibition on participating in the U.S. ballistic missile system (BMD), Anand said the government will maintain the current policy of non-involvement [emphasis added]

As for those new kinetic capabilities:

Canada will also acquire new air-to-air missiles [the new AIM-260 the US is developing?] that will be compatible with the 88 F-35 fighter planes from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which will replace the aging F-18s of the Canadian military aviation in the coming years.

We will also work to develop options for a Canadian ground-based air defense capability” added the minister, remaining stingy with details…

Presumably that ground-based air defence capability will be missiles capable of intercepting cruise missiles closing on their targets. Will they be placed to defend our fighter bases at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec? Critical infrastructure such as ports? Nuclear power plants? Major cities in case of a possible demonstration nuclear attack (a 2016 post: “NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2“)?

Just for comparison’s sake, the current cost for the Stage 2 expansion of the Ottawa’s (pop. some one million) new Light Rail Transit system is $4.6 billion.

Here’s a video of Ms Anand’s announcement and news conference:

Those posts noted above:

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

US Air Force Chief of Staff Visits Ottawa: What’s Missing in This Story?

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr. speaks to members of the U.S. Marine Corps serving as Marine Security Guards at U.S. Embassy Ottawa. Photo from Twitter/U.S. Ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen.”)

Further to this April post,

Now publicly, US Ambassador Puts Pressure on Canada over NORAD Defence Spending–PM Trudeau Talks about “Crown-Inuit partnership” (note June 7 UPDATE and June 11 UPPERDATE)

here’s a story at Air Force Magazine–the Biden administration is having some high-ranking people put pressure, including publicly but still diplomatically, on PM Trudeau’s government for its (pathetic) defence efforts, especially with regard to NORAD upgrading and re-thinking (which our government just doesn’t like to do about defence). When you’ve finished, what is not in the story?

Brown Visits Counterparts in Canada to Talk Arctic, NORAD Modernization, F-35

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. made a trip across the northern border, meeting Royal Canadian Air Force officials in Ottawa to discuss some of the key issues between the two services.

During the June 8-9 visit, Brown met with his RCAF counterpart, Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, and RCAF Chief of Fighter Capability Maj. Gen. Sylvain Ménard. The leaders discussed steps to modernize and increase coordination across NORAD “to provide continuous monitoring and surveillance capability,” a USAF release said [a “readout’].

Modernizing NORAD has been an area of interest for years now but got a boost in November 2021, when U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Canadian National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan released a joint statement outlining their priorities for the effort, including better, more integrated command and control systems, investments in situational awareness, research and development, and capabilities to defeat aerospace threats.

In particular, that joint statement highlighted the need for “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems that can dramatically improve early warning and persistent surveillance of North American airspace and approaches” to replace the aging North Warning System. 

Details on that next-generation system have not been officially announced, but the Ottawa Citizen reported in April that Royal Canadian Air Force officers had briefed industry officials about plans to spend $1 billion on a new radar system to be built in southern Canada with over-the-horizon capabilities.

Also during Brown’s visit to Canada, RCAF officials raised the importance of the Arctic region, emphasizing how their country’s “insights have been vital to identifying new opportunities for cooperation.” [That information is in the USAF readout.]

The U.S. and Canada have frequently collaborated in Arctic exercises and efforts. As the region becomes more and more contested by both Russia and China, and as the effects of climate change open it up for more competition, USAF has defined a strategy for the region and promised more investments.

“We are committed to working with the Royal Canadian Air Force on modernizing NORAD and on Arctic security to meet modern challenges in defense of North America,” Brown said in the statement. “Our continued collaboration is helping better prepare us to meet future challenges in the region together. I’m grateful for our partnership and look forward to building on our productive talks.”

During those discussions, Brown also “further welcomed” Canada’s decision to buy the F-35, the USAF readout states.

The Canadian government picked the F-35 in March as the preferred bidder for its next fighter jet, announcing plans to buy 88 of the fifth-generation aircraft. Deliveries would be slated to start in 2025.

However, the final contracts with Lockheed Martin have not been signed as negotiations are ongoing…according to Global News

Brown, for his part, “noted that the increased capabilities and interoperability afforded by a common platform would bolster the continental defense partnership,” according to the USAF release. Should Canada finalize a deal for F-35s, it would join the U.S., Finland, Norway, and Denmark as Arctic nations that either operate or have agreed to buy F-35s.

Guess what? There is no mention of a readout, or any other official statement, by the Canadian side. Because there was none. The only account of the visit is from the US Air Force readout.

A striking lack of, er, transparency. Especially as PM Trudeau and national defence minister Anand themselves had just visited NORAD HQ in Colorado on June 7. Also striking. No Canadian media coverage, even post facto, of General Brown’s visit.

UPDATE: This from the RCAF a week late. Pathetic:

A very relevant December post about another US Air Force four star general visiting Ottawa:

NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

And for the bigger NORAD picture:

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Trick question. That government doesn’t give a flying beaver’s fart. In any event it’s not just about air defence in (mostly) the Arctic anymore, Americans and Canadians.

Further to this post,

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

if Russian-launched air cruise missiles (ALCMs) targeted against North American can be launched from beyond NORAD radar coverage, and beyond the defensive cover of USAF and RCAF fighters, how useful will be NORAD’s fighter forces? If they can’t get the archers can they then destroy their arrows en route? Seems, er, problematic in terms of numbers of ALCMS coming. Target point defence, both with more fighters and SAMs one answer? Also vs sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). US could try, Canada most unlikely.

Now from a story at Defense News:

NORTHCOM needs better sensors to protect against Russian submarine, missile threat [note NORAD not in the headline]

By Megan Eckstein

The upcoming budget request could include investments in maritime domain awareness close to home, with improved sensors to detect Russian naval threats to the homeland.

Commander of U.S. Northern Command Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee the technologies the U.S. needs to bolster its homeland defense against Russian submarines and missiles are currently available and in use by other countries around the world — meaning the Defense Department could move out quickly on buying and fielding them…

“The AS-23a air-launched cruise missile, for instance, features an extended range that enables Russian bombers flying well outside NORAD radar coverage — and in some cases from inside Russian airspace — to threaten targets throughout North America [emphasis added]. This capability challenges my ability to detect an attack and mount an effective defense. In the maritime domain, Russia has fielded the first two of their nine planned Severodvinsk-class guided missile submarines, which are designed to deploy undetected within cruise missile range of our coastlines to threaten critical infrastructure during an escalating crisis. This challenge will be compounded in the next few years as the Russian Navy adds the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile to the Severodvinsk’s arsenal,” his written testimony continues.

During the hearing, Rep. Joe Courtney, the Democrat from Connecticut who chairs HASC’s seapower and projection forces committee, asked about two solutions VanHerck mentioned in the written testimony: an Integrated Undersea Surveillance System and an Over-the-Horizon Radar system…

VanHerck said modernizing and expanding the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System would be a collaboration between the U.S. Navy and partners such as Canada to “track and maintain awareness of submarine positions around the globe. [It’s] a very challenging environment in the central Atlantic, when they get on the mid-Atlantic ridge, to be able to track them — so to be able to hold them accountable, if you will, before they become a threat is important.”..

“I need improved domain awareness to increase warning time and provide leaders at all levels with as many options as possible to deter or defend against an attack. Global all-domain awareness will generate a significant deterrent effect by making it clear that we can see potential aggressors wherever they are, which inherently casts doubt on their ability to achieve their objectives,” he wrote…

On the Over-the-Horizon Radar system, VanHerck said this system would look out about 4,000 miles in the maritime, air and space domains. Traditional radar systems are limited by the curvature of Earth, and this new system would give significantly better early warning capability compared to existing systems.

“OTHR is a proven technology that will provide persistent surveillance of the distant northern approaches to the United States and mitigate the limitations of the Cold War-era North Warning System, while contributing to broader domain awareness challenges including space domain awareness. The ability to detect air-breathing and spaceborne threats in the approaches to Canada and the United States will be significantly enhanced by fielding OTHR as soon as possible,” he wrote in his testimony.

VanHerck said the radar is “something we can move out on relatively quickly, as well as undersea surveillance,” given that the technology already exists and is in use by other nations…

Russia has the capability today to hold targets in the United States and Canada at risk with long-range air- and submarine-launched conventional cruise missiles. These highly precise and stealthy systems highlight the need for policy determinations regarding what must be defended along with continued demonstrations of resiliency and hardening [emphasis added, that point defence],” he wrote.

In addition to fielding the sensor systems and sharing the collected data globally, to “successfully deter aggression and defend the homeland, we must be able to detect and track the submarines, aircraft, and surface ships that carry weapons systems capable of striking the homeland before they depart from their home stations. We also need to improve our capability to defeat those launch platforms before they are within range of their targets.”

Meanwhile PM Trudeau’s government does not want to face paying serious loonies (those are Canadian dollars) to modernize the increasingly obsolescent radar North Warning System–and the US is getting publicly bothered, see this post last December: “NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons“. In any event I have no confidence that his ministers and most of our senior public servants have any real grasp of the matters now involved with the defence of this continent and the Revolution in NORAD Affairs taking place in the US.

It’s not all about how much money a Canadian government is willing to spend on the North Warning System/NORAD; it’s about what strategy for NORAD/NORTHCOM the US will decide upon and whether Canada agrees (willingly?) to be a full participant therein.

Very relevant posts:

US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

“Left of launch” means acting (in one fashion or another, kinetic or otherwise (e.g. cyber), preemptively before an actual attack starts. What does our government think of NORAD’s being involved/associated with such an approach? Again, have they even thought much? At all? PM Trudeau’s government should be asked to clarify its views on the way ahead for continental defence and not answer just with vapid, blah blah talking points.

Surely real attention must be paid at last now in light of Bad Vlad Putin’s nuclear noises relating to his brutal war on Ukraine?

UPDATE: Let’s see how much funding, how far the government is willing to go beyond North Warning System upgrading toward other aspects of continental defence that US is planning. And ballistic missile defense? Defense vs sub-launched cruise missiles (with real public emphasis on RCN’s ASW role?). Defence vs cruise missiles that get past the High North?

I’d love to be pleasantly surprised and so I’m sure would be Pentagon and Biden administration (see this post: “NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons“):

Canada to unveil ‘robust package’ to modernize NORAD continental defence, Defence Minister Anita Anand says

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Robert Fife Ottawa Bureau Chief

Defence Minister Anita Anand says the Canadian government will soon unveil a significant spending plan to help modernize continental defences under NORAD, a revamp the United States has been seeking for years.

“Make no mistake: Canada will be at the table in the short term with a robust package to modernize NORAD – a system that has kept Canadians and Americans safe for over sixty years,” Ms. Anand told an Ottawa defence conference.

Her commitment at the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence [organized by Conference of Defence Associations and CDA Institute] Friday [March 11] comes just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would consider boosting defence spending in the wake of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine.

*Opinion: Canada may finally have the political will to strengthen our depleted defence capacity

A major component of upgrading North American Aerospace Defence Command is replacing the aging North Warning System, a chain of radar sites that provide surveillance against aerial incursions, which is expected to cost more than $10-billion.

Ms. Anand declined to clarify whether this would include Canada joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence system [emphasis added] when asked by an audience member.

In 2005 former prime minister Paul Martin’s Liberal government rejected joining American missile defence.

“I cannot give away the plans to modernize NORAD in their intricacies at this time but I will assure you we are fully cognizant of the various threats that our current system allows to be present and we are working very hard on bringing forward a robust package of new technologies in the short term,” the minister told the conference.

James Fergusson, deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, wrote in a January 2020 paper [see here] for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think tank that the modernization price tag could be as much as $11-billion according one unofficial estimate. If the cost were split 60/40 with Canada taking the smaller share, that would mean as much as $4.4-billion for Canada [emphasis added].

Last August, on the eve of the 2021 federal election campaign, the Canadian and U.S. governments announced they intend to proceed with “co-ordinated investments” that bolster their ability to protect North America from “a greater and more complex conventional missile threat” including gear that watches for incoming threats from “the sea floor to outer space.”The risk that Canada and the U.S. have in mind is missile technology advancements in Russia and China that can send non-nuclear warheads far greater distances with far more accuracy. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel extremely fast and can dodge and weave during flight to avoid interception, as well as next-generation cruise missiles. This evolution in conventional missiles has made them an increasingly important tool to deter threats or project power without resorting to nuclear weapons.

An August 2021 statement, titled “Joint Statement on NORAD modernization,” set out priorities for the future of North American Aerospace Defense Command, the heart of the Canada-U.S. continental defence pact, saying the two countries must be able to “detect, identify [airborne] threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively.”

The statement said the North Warning System will be replaced with technology including “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems,” which have the ability to detect targets at very long ranges. It also mentions building a network of American and Canadian sensors installed everywhere from the seabed to satellites in space…

Post on that statement:

Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Why Australia is Taken Seriously by the US and UK, Canada less and less (“irrelevant”?)

(Caption for photo of Australian drone at top of the post: “The Boeing ATS, developed in Australia, exploits artificial intelligence to achieve autonomy. Credit: Boeing.)”

Further to this post (do have a look for important background especially on Canada),

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada (note “UPPERDATE”)

excerpts from a Dec. 15 article at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

Australia Joins U.S., Britain In Push For Technological High Ground

Bradley Perrett

Leaping ahead in strategic importance, Australia is entering the inner circle of UK and U.S. technological cooperation.

AUKUS, a “security partnership” created among the three countries in September, is starting out with five areas of technological collaboration. It will presumably move into more later.

*Nations will share cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum and undersea capabilities

*Australia is quietly avoiding economic reliance on China

Furthermore, Washington’s elevation of Australia to something like the status of the UK as a most trusted ally suggests Canberra will also gain wider access to U.S. technology that would formerly have been withheld {emphasis added: what? no Canada?].

Chinese aggression and the risk of war over Taiwan are driving this. Australia, in particular, has come to the fore because it is the only steadfast U.S. ally south of Japan. It has also been in the lead globally in resisting Chinese domestic intrusion, whether intended for political manipulation, espionage or gaining control of key infrastructure.

Moreover, Australia is making itself more useful to the U.S. with a rapid increase in defense spending, from 1.6% of GDP in the fiscal year to June 2013 to 2.1% in 2020-21 [way ahead of the Canadian percentage–and note the twist for our 2020-21 figure]. Further increases are likely. These are rising shares of an economy that tends to grow faster than the Western average, thanks to large-scale immigration.

The country’s location, beyond the reach of Chinese medium-range ballistic missiles, is also increasingly relevant to U.S. strategy. “In Australia, you’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you’ll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation [’emphasis added],” U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Mara Karlin said on Nov. 30, discussing the Pentagon’s latest force posture review…AUKUS is not an alliance; the three countries were already long-standing allies. “It’s basically a memorandum of understanding for sharing advanced technology, defense industrial capabilities and technical know-how,” says Ashley Townshend, director of foreign policy and defense research at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney.

The headline item in the AUKUS announcement was the willingness of the U.S. and the UK to share submarine nuclear-propulsion technology that they had kept between themselves for more than 60 years. Complete access is not being allowed, however, since Australia will not be shown how to build the propulsion plants; instead it will receive them complete, then work them into submarines that it currently proposes to build locally.

The other four areas in which the partners will initially cooperate are cybercapabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technology and additional undersea know-how [emphasis added]

Canberra said in 2020 it would spend A$15 billion ($11 billion) on cyber-capabilities this decade, including capabilities for deployed forces [planned Canadian federal spending on cybersecurity is quite, and probably deliberately, opaque–but certainly nothing approaching the Australian figure].

Australia has a strong background in quantum technology, which exploits fundamental behavior of light and matter and which in military affairs is expected to revolutionize sensing, encryption and communications. The U.S. and Britain are no doubt interested in Australia’s civilian research capacity in the field, since quantum technology appears to have had only a low profile in Canberra’s defense planning. It was mentioned only in passing in a force plan published in 2020.

Quantum technology was one of nine technical areas that Canberra designated in November for priority protection from foreign exploitation—obviously meaning, above all, Chinese exploitation. This is part of an Australian effort that amounts to partial technological disconnection from China, though it is not being called that.

Avoiding reliance on Chinese technology, trade and investment, and preventing technology transfer to China, is much discussed in other countries under the heading “decoupling.” In Australia it is already quietly underway…

Work on AI-enabled autonomy that Boeing and BAE Systems are doing in Australia on the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, a loyal-wingman drone, may be attracting strong U.S. interest. The U.S. Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, told Defense News in March that the drone offered impressive capability. The service had included aircraft modeled on it in a tabletop simulation of a war over Taiwan last year.

It is notable that cyber, quantum technology and AI are commonly regarded as occupying much of the high ground of future warfare, so mastering them is urgent. The three countries should be able to advance faster together than the U.S. could alone—and maybe faster than China can…

Because all this collaboration is described as initial, we can expect more to be added later as the AUKUS relationship develops. One area in which Australia may have much to offer its partners later is high-frequency radio technology, based on its work on over-the-horizon radars. On the other hand, it may already be sharing this know-how with them fairly freely…The AUKUS agreement does not mention hypersonics, another part of the technological high ground of future warfare in which Australia and the U.S. have been working together for many years.

The two countries began in November 2020 to develop an air-launched strike and anti-ship missile with a speed of about Mach 5 under a program called SciFire. Flight testing is supposed to begin in late 2024, with deliveries of the operational missile beginning in U.S. fiscal 2027 under the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile program.

Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon were contracted in September for missile designs. Australia expects the weapon to be carried by Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and P-8A Poseidons and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightnings.

Meanwhile in Canada our armed forces are in an increasingly parlous state. No wonder the US and UK are having increasing doubts about our defence capabilities whilst taking those of Australia increasingly seriously and eager to add to them. Remember the Aussies have just two-thirds Canada’s population and GDP but actually spend quite a bit more on defence and get a lot more bang for those bucks (see the comparisons here).

E.g. both countries have fighters but the RAAF’s are all modern Super Hornets, Growlers and F-35s whereas the youngest of the RCAF’s CF-18s are 40 years old (and some were bought used from Australia recently!). Both air forces have around 80 fighters now but the RAAF has some 30 more F-35As to come; Canada’s first new fighters (F-35A or Gripen E, winner yet to be selected) might arrive by 2026 with the fleet not completely renewed until the early 2030s.

Moreover both the RAAF and the Royal Australian Navy have a wider range of modern capabilities than their Canadian counterparts and have recapitalized much more of their forces over the last 15 years.

The following opinion piece at the National Post puts the almost FUBAR state of the Canadian Armed Forces nicely; our current government has perishingly little concern for actual defence capabilities as opposed to the forces simply being available for help with COVID-19 and for disaster assistance:

Canada’s neglected military reaching point of being ‘irrelevant’

The problem is that lack of military capacity is not a political issue. It’s not a subject that is close to Justin Trudeau’s heart

John Ivison

…In terms of personnel, training and equipment, CAF has rarely been in such rough shape. Government disinterest and lack of direction has reached the point where retired generals are speaking out, offering opinions they say are shared by senior officers still serving…

There are pressures on the Forces at all levels.Officials said last year the military is under-staffed by around 10,000 regular and reserve troops, while the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Craig Baines, said recently he needs another 1,000 sailors...

The pandemic has hit recruitment and training, as well as creating unprecedented demands on the military to help domestically. “Nobody in uniform expected to be sent into a nursing home,” said David Perry, president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute [see this earlier post: “COVID-19/Natural Disaster Response, or, Canada’s Coming Constabulary/Militia Armed Forces?“].

The requirement to provide assistance when floods and forest fires strike, has meant the Forces have had to deploy combat-ready troops to disaster zones.At the same time, the sexual misconduct affair has chipped away at the resolve of many in the officer corps, who feel they have been vilified as a profession.

…The mandate letter [new Minister of National Defence Anita] Anand received from the prime minister made a single reference to building a modern armed forces before turning, at length, to culture change [text of letter here]. “This reflects government priorities. Fulfilling social policy objectives comes first,” said one senior member of the Forces…

In addition to a dearth of personnel and training, the Forces have faced capability challenges because of aging equipment.

The government’s record on buying new equipment in the past decade, under both Liberal and Conservative ministries, has been abysmal.

We still do not have a fighter jet to replace the CF18s a decade after the Harper government decided to sole source Lockheed Martin’s F35 and then reversed itself…

Nor do we have a firm commitment to replace the obsolete [NORAD] North Warning radar system with more advanced technology, despite Sajjan issuing a joint statement with the Americans last summer saying we would do so “as soon as possible [see post below].”..

The lack of capacity has been long noted beyond Canada’s borders. “We are rapidly approaching the point where we are considered irrelevant, which I think is very unfortunate,” said Mark Norman, a former vice-chief of the defence staff. “I really think the Americans are going to start ignoring us because they don’t think we are credible or reliable [emphasis added]. They are not even putting pressure on us anymore [well not quite, see that post below].”

The problem is that lack of military capacity is not a political issue. It’s not a subject that is close to Justin Trudeau’s heart.

The prime minister and his closest advisers have never taken the armed forces that seriously, [emphasis added]” said Andrew Leslie, a former Liberal MP and ex-Canadian Forces lieutenant-general. Leslie said he found the decision-making process on military matters “breathtakingly centralized.” Often, nothing much happened because “PMO (the Prime Minister’s Office) does not see any real political payback on defence expenditures.”

Unless there are votes to be gained (and there aren’t in this case) programs tend to suffer from benign neglect [which in fact has now gone long beyond benign, under both Conservatives and Liberals]

Ultimately, Mark Norman believes that Canada just doesn’t have a culture that is overly concerned about national security or defence – a mindset that only changes when troops are engaged in combat…

As one says these days, absolutely!

That post:

NORAD Commander [US Air Force] puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

(Note second comment for another relevant SLCM map–how much ASW done off western coast of North America? Radar detecting capabilities vs cruise missiles?)

Further to this May 2021 post,

NORAD (and NORTHCOM) Thinking Offense of some sort vs Russian Threats–what does Canadian Government Think?

a few excerpts below from a paper by two very knowledgeable professors at the University of Manitoba, published in Strategic Studies Quarterly (Volume 15 Issue 4 – Winter 2021) of the Air University of the US Air Force.

The paper highlights the pretty urgent need to upgrade NORAD’s detection and defence capabilities, together with US Northern Command, to handle notably increased threats from Russia stemming from technological advances (cruise missiles, hypersonics) and greater resources for them. And then there is the PRC on the rise…Surely working towards defensive denial against some types of attacks beats relying almost completely on punishment? (Though the nature of punishment may be partially shifting in this cyber world.)

North America’s Imperative: Strengthening Deterrence by Denial

Andrea Charron

James Fergusson

In today’s threat environment, adversaries can hold the continent hostage unless leaders can bolster its deterrence posture. Rather than deterrence by punishment, however, the focus of NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and the Canadian Joint Operations Command must be on deterrence by denial and increasing the costs of actions by adversaries should they pursue an attack on North America…

This analysis briefly examines the strategic logic underpinning the need to modernize North American defense, focusing primarily on NORAD and deterrence by denial. It is vital that structural changes to the North American deterrence posture, including necessary investments, are made to alter adversarial perceptions so that North America cannot be held hostage. Beyond the need to modernize NORAD’s early warning and defense control capabilities to meet the new threat environment, both countries must modernize NORAD—the organization—and rethink the importance of protecting the North American homeland…


Alongside detection, defense is the second capability component of a credible North American denial deterrent. As with detection, existing gaps may affect adversary and North American (Canada and the United States) deterrence calculations. Several stand out in the traditional defense domains. Assuming Canada agrees on a CF-18 replacement and given the presence of US anti- cruise missile interceptors, the question becomes whether intercept density relative to NORAD’s assigned assets is sufficient to defend against cruise missile threats.

NORAD is also looking at existing northern forward operating loca-
tions and other possible locations farther south to meet maritime threats and potentially provide some form of layered defense. Additionally, there is a recognized requirement for in- flight refueling capabilities, and the deployment of anti-cruise missile point defenses must be considered. These factors strongly suggest more resources need to be dedicated to the air defense component of North American deterrence and then integrated into the detection side of the equation [emphasis added, esp. by Canada].

Maritime Complexity

…major surface combatants (including the future Royal Canadian Navy combat vessel) need to deploy sufficient anti- cruise missile air defenses [vs SLCMs launched from Russian subs and surface ships–see this post: “US Navy Talks Up Steps it’s Taking vs Russian Subs/Cruise Missiles in North Atlantic–why not Royal Canadian Navy? (Note Norway UPPESTDATE)“–and note image at top of the post], and these defenses need to be integrated into NORAD’s air defense assets. At a minimum, the role of maritime assets must be fully integrated into NORAD exercises to bolster North American deterrence requirements…


From the perspective of North American homeland defense and security, the current CANUS command structure and capabilities are locked into an exclusive deterrence-by-denial posture. Punishment as an alternative is not an option, which does not mean that an adversary does not confront a credible punishment threat. Rather, the punishment threat and thus punishment capabilities reside elsewhere and are exclusively American [emphasis added–but US thinking seems working towards giving NORTHCOM/NORAD a role in punishment, see this post: “Rethinking and Remaking North American Defence, or, a Revolution in NORAD Affairs? How, er, Proactive?” ]. The question then is whether the CANUS part of the equation is adequately structured and resourced to present a credible denial threat to an adversary. Arguably, an adversary could be dissuaded from directly threatening or attacking independent of a punishment threat conceived of as a last resort.

Importantly, any adversary, regardless of perceptions of denial credibility, cannot ignore or simply discount punishment given the reality of US strategic conventional and military capabilities. Of course, as a psychological theory designed to alter adversarial thinking and calculations, it is extremely difficult to know or predict how an adversary thinks and responds to a deterrence posture. Perhaps, then, what is more significant is how North American decision makers think about their own credibility. It is here that the North American conundrum resides.

The North American component of the US- led Western global deterrence posture should exist as the central deterrence hub such that an adversary does not perceive it as a vulnerability that could be exploited to deter US- led responses to regional challenges. Yet it is questionable whether US and Canadian decision makers even think in these terms about the homeland.

Both arguably remain fixated on the overseas components, with North America as an afterthought despite the rhetoric…The American view is that neither Russia nor China would dare strike North America due primarily to its overarching military superiority and last-resort strategic punishment capabilities. The Canadian view is really a nonview. Essentially, Canada does not really think in deterrence terms because it lacks the capabilities to deter credibly and because deterrence is an American responsibility, with Canada helping and warning where it can…

The basic answer is to alter deterrence thinking in North America. Structural changes, including necessary investments, to the North American deterrence [by denial] posture must be made to alter adversary perceptions so that North America cannot be held hostage [emphasis added]

These changes are obviously easier said than done. Despite the best efforts by senior NORAD and USNORTHCOM officials to communicate this message [see this March 2021 post: “US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?“], it may take an unexpected overseas regional challenge resulting in a major crisis in which the lack of North American denial credibility comes to the fore. Unfortunately, by then, it may be too late. The need to refocus on denial is paramount.

Andrea Charron
Dr. Andrea Charron is an associate professor of international relations and director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the home of Canada’s NORAD headquarters.

James Fergusson
Dr. James Fergusson is a professor of international relations and deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba. His latest book is Beyond Afghanistan: An International Security Agenda for Canada (2016)…

Thus a major thrust of the paper’s arguments is that, besides the clear need to modernize NORAD, along with NORTHCOM, to deal with threats to North America at the strategic level, those defences must also be capable of deterring, and if not handling effectively, more limited strikes against North America (conventional or even nuclear) in support of military operations elsewhere aimed at convincing the US to give up resisting those operations.

In that context note this bit from a 2015 post:

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

…Moscow’s bomber force remains a traditional component of its nuclear triad, but also forms a useful element in its quest for conventional deterrence, conferring the ability to reach out and touch the U.S. or NATO allies at great range…

Meanwhile the US in putting increasing pressure–including publicly by the dual-hatted USAF four-star general commanding NORAD and NORTHCOM–on PM Trudeau’s government to start committing to serious and funded actions on upgrading NORAD–a post:

NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

One hopes some senior bureaucrats and, gasp, maybe a few ministers are at least briefed on the professors’ paper. Dream on, eh?

These tweets illustrate the current government’s continuing er, lackadaisical approach to NORAD (Mr Trudeau has been prime minister for over six years):

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Gen. Glen VanHerck said he gave a candid risk assessment to senior Canadian military and government leaders on Tuesday [Nov. 30] regarding hypersonics. (Corporal Jeff Smith, Canadian Forces Support Group Ottawa-Gatineau Imaging Services)”–from this CBC story.)

Further to this post,

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

US Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck (dual-hatted as commander of US NORTHCOM, responsible for missile defence, amongst other things) goes to Ottawa to, it seems to me, lay down some markers for the prime minister’s government. That government has dithered for several years over committing definitely to necessary–and costly–actions to contribute to the renewal of NORAD that is badly needed and that the US government badly wants.

From a Canadian Press story:

Norad modernization awaiting political direction as China, Russia develop new threats

By Lee Berthiaume

The commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command says China and Russia are developing new ways to attack the continent as he waits for political direction to modernize Norad’s outdated early-warning system.U.S.

Gen. Glen VanHerck made the comment to reporters Tuesday during his first visit to Ottawa since taking over in August 2020 as commander of Norad, the joint American-Canadian command responsible for continental defence [in other words unilaterally getting his points our to the Canadian public].

VanHerck’s visit coincided with growing concerns about the development and deployment of long-range cruise missiles and so-called hypersonic weapons by Russia and China that are capable of striking North America.

Military officials have been warning for years that the string of 1980s-era radars responsible for detecting an attack on North America is unable to detect such modern threats, a message VanHerck says he repeated to Canadian officials while in Ottawa.

“The North Warning System is designed for a threat from 50 years ago,” VanHerck said. “A bomber that has to fly over the North Pole to drop gravity weapons, has to fly over Canada and North America into the United States to drop any of those weapons [emphasis added].”

Canada and the U.S. have committed for years to upgrade the entire system, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden most recently issuing a joint statement to that effect on the eve of the federal election this past August [see this post: “Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There“].

Yet those efforts are still very much in their infancy, VanHerck said, adding he is hoping for direction soon from Defence Minister Anita Anand and her American counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, so work on meeting those threats can begin in earnest [emphasis added–this is telling Canada to get its ass in gear; the mention of the US defence secretary is diplomatic politisesse, as one is sure that Gen. VanHerck has already got the direction he needs from the US government].

“North America is only going to become more vulnerable to future capabilities being developed by potential adversaries,” he said. “And decisions need to be made in the not-too-distant future. So I’d love to see those happen sooner than later.”..

There have been questions about how much the entire effort will cost. Most experts predict the price tag will be in the billions, with Canada on the hook for 40 per cent of the total {emphasis added].

VanHerck admitted to having some preliminary cost estimates, but would not reveal any numbers until a decision is made on a specific modernization plan.

Political direction is needed to establish a framework in which each country will lay out its requirements and boundaries for a new system, such as whether the new system will include actual defensive measures to intercept incoming attacks [i.e. will Canada take part in defensive systems aimed at hypersonics as well as cruise missiles].

Such discussions have previously carried significant political sensitivity, notably when Canada opted in 2005 not to join the U.S. in developing and deploying a ballistic-missile defence system…

Much of the attention in recent weeks and months has focused on China’s rapidly growing military might, which includes dizzying technological advances that have included reports of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test in August [see this post: “US Joint Chiefs Chairman over-hyper over PRC’s FOBS Hypersonics? (note UPDATE)”]…

Yet VanHerck noted China has yet to actually field hypersonic weapons while Russia has had them in its arsenal for years. To that end, he said, “Russia’s the primary military threat to North America. China’s about a decade behind [emphasis added, good on the general for downplaying the hypersonics hype].”

While Ottawa and Washington have yet to provide specific directions on what the next iteration of Norad should look like, VanHerck said his priority is to build a system that will provide military and political officials time to detect a threat and decide the appropriate response.

That will involve collecting data and intelligence from numerous sources not only in North America but around the world, and using artificial intelligence and other automated systems to analyze it faster, though he insisted people will still be in charge [see this post from March: “US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?“].

“I’m not talking about machines making decisions,” he said. “Humans are still making decisions.”

NORAD has issued a press release about the visit. Only the NORAD commander’s “quote” contains any substance, another diplomatic US shot across our bow:

…With competitors now capable of striking discrete military targets and critical infrastructure in both Canada and the United States, the need for continued collaboration and support is key to the ongoing success of NORAD and the security of North America.

The Biden Administration is plainly losing its patience with PM Trudeau’s government’s unwillingness to take defence seriously. They have also just called them out over their failure to live up to UN peacekeeping promises made several years ago. Another Canadian Press story:

U.S. presses Canada to make good on promised 200-soldier peacekeeping force

An earlier post on our government and peacekeeping:

UN Peacekeeping: PM Trudeau and Liberals too Fearful to Meet their Pledges when they Realized the Realities of “Killer Peacekeeping”

And our government expects the U.S. to cut us some slack on trade issues when we won’t do our defence bit. Adolescents in the bilateral biz.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Top UK Officer Highlights Russian Activities in Arctic, whilst Royal Canadian Navy Silent about whose Subs might be a North Atlantic Threat (plus Royal Navy/Canadian Coast Guard)

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “HMS Lancaster sails into Arctic Circle for High North operation” 2020.)


Further to this recent post,

US Navy Talks Up Steps it’s Taking vs Russian Subs/Cruise Missiles in North Atlantic–why not Royal Canadian Navy?

now the Brits weigh in–note the specific mention of the Atlantic link to Canada–as the Canadian Armed Forces give almost no public notice to Russkie activities relevant to our NATO anti-submarine mission in the North Atlantic (and the Royal Canadian Navy plays the “Silent Service” about the object of that ASW mission). Weird. From US Naval Institute News:

Defense Chief: U.K. Needs to Develop ‘Capability and Deterrence’ in the High North

By: John Grady

Keeping the Atlantic open so European allies can remain in the loop with the United States and Canada during a crisis has “always been the case in NATO military strategy” and remains so today, the chief of the United Kingdom’s defense staff said Tuesday [Oct. 19].

Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter said that even in this “era of consistent competition” with authoritarian powers like Russia and China, London looks first to the challenges coming from Moscow in assessing threats.

Speaking at a Center for New American Security forum, he said the Kremlin’s advances in submarine technologies and deep undersea capabilities in its Northern Fleet means “you are right to focus on the maritime” from the North Atlantic to the Arctic as a major security concern for allies and partners like Sweden and Finland.

Seeing this as a new threat, Carter said “we need to be thinking hard about … capability and deterrence” in the High North, especially where operating conditions are difficult…

The United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands – what Carter called “the Quint” – “are focused on the region” and the changing maritime security conditions in the Arctic [of course mainly on the European side of the Atlantic]

And look at this Canadian angle that the UK has publicized and which, as far as I can find, has had no official mention by the Canadian government or Coast Guard–a Royal Navy news release:

Royal Navy sailors to get Canadian polar training as part of a new collaborative agreement

More Royal Navy sailors will be trained in taking ships into challenging polar waters thanks to a new collaborative agreement with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Its sailors will benefit from Canadian training in navigating through icy waters, breaking sheets of ice where necessary, while Canadian Coast Guard personnel will have operational training opportunities and gain experience with crewless technology with the Royal Navy.

The agreement was signed between the two NATO nations at the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) headquarters in Ottawa by its Commissioner, Mario Pelletier, and Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine…

The agreement follows an initiative in early 2020 which saw several watchkeeping officers from HMS Protector, the UK’s sole ice patrol ship, gain valuable experience in ice operations aboard a CCG vessel…

The sharing of the Canadian Coast Guard’s wide experience and expertise will mean British sailors are better-equipped when sailing to the frozen region. 

In recent years the Royal Navy has demonstrated renewed interest in the Arctic region given its key strategic importance to the security of the UK…

Why do Canadians often have to find out about defence matters our country is involved with from other countries? And why cannot we be specific about countries that our services may have to deal with? See this classic case–a tweet:

Hint: the country is (once again) Russia.

UPDATE: NATO can name Russia, why not our Navy?

Nato agrees master plan to deter growing Russian threat

More here from NATO.

OSINT UPPERDATE: Aircraft tracking by people points out RCAF CP-140 patrol plane in Iceland, clearly surveilling for Russian subs with NATO. Yet our air force, navy never mention this mission:

The lack of transparency about our military’s missions is a joke. And increasingly ineffective in an OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) world.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

Further to this recent post,

Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There

the US Air Force general commanding NORAD makes his thinking very public. One wonders what PM Trudeau’s government thinks of it all–if they even are paying any notice, what with the imminent federal election they have have been planning, and have now called, taking up almost all their mental bandwidth.

1) At C4ISRNet (notice how far down the story upgrading the North Warning System is):

US and Canada want to collaborate on NORAD modernization

By Nathan Strout

At an Aug. 17 Center for Strategic and International Studies event, VanHerck outlined some modernization initiatives that would enable teams to see threats sooner and react faster.

“Homeland defense doesn’t start in the homeland. It starts abroad. I don’t want to be shooting down cruise missiles over the national capital region. I think that’s a little bit late in the process. So I’d like to be engaging or deterring, well, what I call left of launch,” said VanHerck [emphasis added].

That means moving even earlier than the instant detection of a launch provided by overhead persistent infrared sensors on orbit. Using signals intelligence, geospatial intelligence and other data sources, VanHerck wants to establish a pattern of behavior on the ground around potential threats. That way, when NORAD or other observers see a deviation in behavior, they can begin preparing responses. That sort of capability could give commanders hours, or even days notice of a threat — well before an actual launch [emphasis added].

VanHerck also wants to see modernization that aligns with the Department of Defense’s overarching concept of Joint All-Domain Command and Control, which envisions a series of technology upgrades that enables data from any sensor to be processed and fed to appropriate weapon systems in real time. That process would be largely autonomic, fast and effective.

But today, NORAD relies on what VanHerck describes as analog steps. Once a radar detects a potential threats, sensor controllers rely on literal telephones to pass warning data on to operators at a command center, which then calls the appropriate regional authority (CONAR, ANAR or CANAR), which in turn relay the information to NORAD headquarters. That process takes minutes, said VanHerck, and that’s not good enough.

What the general wants is a single pane of glass where all of the sensor data is seamlessly integrated in real time, with forces able to interact with it from anywhere on the globe and collaborate…

There is also a need to upgrade the actual radars and systems that make up NORAD’s sensing capabilities, said VanHerck, something also highlighted in the joint statement issued by Canada and the United States.

NORAD’s main sensing capability is the North Warning System, which was set up in the Cold War to detect bombers…

2) At US Naval Institute News:

Russia is Top Military Threat to U.S. Homeland, Air Force General Says

By: John Grady

Russia, with its array of hard-to-detect cruise missiles and advanced submarines, poses the primary military threat to the American homeland today, the commander of U.S. Northern Command said Tuesday.

“They’ve developed capabilities that didn’t exist 20 years ago …very low radar cross-section cruise missiles [and] submarines on par with our submarines,” Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck said.

Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies online forum, he described the crucial difference between cruise and ballistic missile threats. Cruise missiles “can be launched from multiple platforms, from air-launch capabilities to sea-launch capabilities to submarine-launch capabilities to a container on a commercial vessel. There are multiple ways to do that.”

He added that the advanced cruise missiles in Russia’s arsenal have the range to strike the United States when launched from inside Russian territory [emphasis added, so much for air defence vs the launching bombers (archers) anywhere offshore the North American Arctic–it also seems clear to me that the Americans are placing much less focus on destroying those missiles well away from the continental United States, certainly in the Arctic area itself]

Related posts:

NORAD (and NORTHCOM) Thinking Offense of some sort vs Russian Threats–what does Canadian Government Think?

Will US Essentially be Leaving NORAD–and Canada–Behind?

Maybe NORAD’s North Warning System can be Modernized without an urgent total Re-Do

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There

Further to this post,

Maybe NORAD’s North Warning System can be Modernized without an urgent total Re-Do

it seems intentional, probably by the PM Trudeau government side, that this “Joint Statement” was released on a Saturday, the day before that government called a Canadian federal election and while the final Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was imminent–thereby guaranteeing almost no media or other public attention. But the estimable Prof. Andrea Charron picked it up and tweeted it:

Here’s the document, from the Canadian side–vague as can be but the Americans have clearly laid down markers regarding their broad priorities: note the references to deterrence, maritime threats, and “a system- of-systems approach” to awareness:


August 14, 2021 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Minister of National Defence of Canada, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, and the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Lloyd James Austin III, approve this Joint Statement to guide cooperation between Canada and the United States to enhance the ability of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to execute the missions outlined in the NORAD Agreement while facing evolving threats.


No two sovereign, neighboring nations enjoy as strong, supportive, and enduring a partnership as Canada and the United States. We understand that, to meet our security and defense objectives, both countries must be secure within our shared North American continent. The stronger and safer we are at home, the more we are capable of engaging and acting together in the wider world, in support of a strong, rules-based international order.

Canada and the United States have long benefited from the protection afforded by North American geography. However, growing strategic competition, rapid advancements in technology, and ongoing changes in our climate are eroding that protection, including by exposing North America to a greater and more complex conventional missile threat [long-range cruise missiles launched from Russian bombers, perhaps even from close to the Russian mainland, and submarines].

As an integral part of ongoing work to strengthen the security and defense of Canada and the United States, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting NORAD’s ability to detect, deter, and defend against aerospace threats and to detect maritime threats to North America, today and in the future. In particular, NORAD must be able to detect and identify those threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively, including aerospace threats transiting our northern approaches [see this post: “NORAD (and NORTHCOM) Thinking Offense of some sort vs Russian Threats–what does Canadian Government Think?“].

Defending our shared continent in a changing world

This Joint Statement is intended to guide our collaborative efforts to modernize NORAD over the coming years. This work is guided by our common understanding of NORAD modernization, which refers to our shared commitment to:

Modernize, improve, and better integrate the capabilities required for NORAD to maintain persistent awareness and understanding of potential threats to North America in the aerospace and maritime domains, to deter acts of aggression against North America, to respond to aerospace threats quickly and decisively when required, and to provide maritime warning consistent with the NORAD Agreement.

Priority areas for new investments should include:

*Situational awareness, especially in the northern and maritime approaches to the continent.

Significant progress has been made to identify solutions for detecting, identifying, characterizing, and tracking new conventional threats to North America. Canada and the United States share a desire to coordinate in fielding new capabilities to complement and eventually replace the North Warning System with more advanced technological solutions as soon as possible [emphasis added, how much money will a Canadian government be willing to spend”? See this post if not enough: “Will US Essentially be Leaving NORAD–and Canada–Behind?], including next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems that can dramatically improve early warning and persistent surveillance of North American airspace and approaches. 

Ensuring effective awareness ultimately requires a system-of-systems approach including a network of Canadian and U.S. sensors from the sea floor to outer space.

The existing North Warning System is to be maintained until appropriate replacement capabilities are in place.

Modernized command and control systems

Enhanced capabilities in this area can better fuse and integrate data from all-domain sensors into a common, comprehensive operating picture, enabling faster and better informed decision-making [see this post: “US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?“].

The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) continue to explore and field solutions for robust and resilient communications, including in remote and contested environments, as required to execute NORAD missions.

Capabilities to deter and, if necessary, defeat evolving aerospace threats to North America

This includes investments to upgrade and modernize the infrastructure required to support robust NORAD operations, including in our Arctic and northern regions [e.g. forward operating location air bases at Yellowknife and in the Canadian Arctic that will be costly upgrades].

Research, Development, and Innovation

The DND and DoD recognize that one of the most fundamental challenges facing North American security and defense is the rapid pace at which both threats and solutions continue to evolve.

Strong, collaborative research and development and new approaches to leveraging Canadian and U.S. strengths in innovation are critical to enabling the objectives set out above in the years to come.

Renewed Partnership, Deliberate Approach

The DND and DoD intend to move forward deliberately with coordinated investments that reflect the continuing importance of the role that NORAD plays in North American and allied deterrence, and in maintaining North America as a secure base for active engagement around the world. This work is to be advanced through ongoing engagements between DND and DoD.

UPDATE: An excellent Globe and Mail reporter has noticed the joint statement–excerpts from his story, Prof. Charron, a true expert on NORAD, is quoted:

The joint announcement from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his American counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin was published Saturday night, on the eve of Sunday’s federal election call in Canada. There were no spending commitments.

The risk that Canada and the U.S. have in mind is missile technology advancements in Russia and China that can send non-nuclear warheads far greater distances with far more accuracy, said Dave Perry, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel extremely fast and can dodge and weave during flight to avoid interception, as well as next-generation cruise missiles [emphasis added]. This evolution in conventional missiles’ power have made them an increasingly important tool to deter threats or project power without resorting to nuclear weapons.

…the Liberal government insisted Sunday [Aug. 15] this does not represent a deviation from its policy to avoid participation in U.S. ballistic missile defence, announced in 2005…

One of the most imminent spending decisions for Canada is rebuilding the soon-to-be obsolete North Warning System, a joint United States and Canadian radar system that includes dozens of radar sites from Yukon to Labrador. Its job is to detect airborne threats. The price tag has been estimated at more than $11-billion…

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, said modernization of NORAD will comprise far more than North Warning System renewal and the statement helps prioritize where Canada can focus its efforts while the United States engages in a “wider rethink of homeland defence [emphasis added, note the American talk of deterrence and ‘left of launch’ action].”

“Certainly what you can read into this is the United States needs Canada to make certain commitments – and sooner than later – and so ‘Here we are prioritizing them for you [emphasis added]’,” she said…

A recent post about the imminent calling of the election:

Justin Trudeau Not Fit for Purpose as Prime Minister

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Maybe NORAD’s North Warning System can be Modernized without an urgent total Re-Do

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “A short-range FPS-124 radar at North Warning System Site LAB-3, which is located on Cape Kiglapait, Newfoundland and Labrador, has operated since 1992. Credit: Raytheon via Canadian Department of National Defense”.)

Here’s a very interesting article at Aviation Week and Space Technology that may suggest why the US is not putting more heavy pressure on Canada to invest big time in the system’s upgrade:

NORAD Plots New Course For North Warning System Replacement

Steve Trimble

*Russia’s latest cruise missiles detectable

*Incremental updates for NWS planned

…the radars of the U.S.-Canadian North Warning System (NWS) are still functioning, although their days seem numbered. The original 20-year service life of the NWS expires in 2025, yet the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) expects to continue operating the radars through 2035.

Disturbingly, the existing radars—a mix of long-range Lockheed Martin FPS-117s and short-range FPS-124s—appear to be outclassed by new threats. In 2017, two scholars at the Manitoba-based Center for Defense and Security Studies warned that the NWS falls short in two areas. The early-warning system lacks the range to detect Russia’s Tupolev Tu-160 bombers before they can launch cruise missiles and the resolution to track the latest Russian cruise missiles, particularly the stealthy nuclear Kh-102, after they are launched [the two are Profs. Andrea Charron and James Fergusson–see “NORAD and the Evolution of North American Defence” and full paper “Beyond NORAD and Modernization to North American Defence Evolution“].

To these critiques, NORAD now has an answer: software.

“We don’t feel that we have a gap across the entirety of the North Warning System right now,” says Col. Ross Morrell, chief technology and innovation officer at NORAD and U.S. Northern Command (Northcom).

Replacing all 13 long-range and 36 short-range sites of the NWS with new radars could cost billions of dollars and take years. It also could include the challenge of negotiating agreements with Canada’s indigenous population over access to new facilities on tribal lands.

But a one-for-one radar replacement may no longer be necessary. A recent series of demonstrations under the data-fusion initiative Project Pathfinder indicates that new software techniques can dramatically reduce the hardware component of any future NWS replacement program [emphasis added], Morrell says. “What we found is that the sensing mechanisms we have out there today are sensing a significant amount more than what we are actually able to ingest and process.”

In other words, the data picked up by the receivers in the NWS radars can detect small targets, such as a Kh-102 missile. But the processors installed in 1980s radars are not discerning enough to pick up the track. Modern software algorithms, however, can fill the gap between the sensor data and the processing power used to exploit that information.

“By ingesting the entirety of the raw data set, we were actually able to detect and track not only the large aircraft but small objects and low [radar] cross sections,” Morrell says.

…The data has changed how NORAD views the timing and scope of replacing the FPS-117 and FPS-124 radar sites in the NWS. An incremental upgrade strategy might be possible, rather than a sweeping, binational replacement program [emphasis added].

“Are the North Warning System radars old? Yes,” Morrell says. “Do they need to be replaced? Yes. Do they all need to be replaced right now? No. So we can strategically take a look at where certain areas need to be replaced.”

In a way, the NWS modernization has become one of the first beneficiaries of NORAD’s shift to Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) [emphasis added–how many in Canada have heard of it?]. Project Pathfinder was originally launched to demonstrate alternative approaches to modernizing NORAD’s multiple Battle Control Centers (BCC).

NORAD created a national network of BCCs in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001, but the rapid development created a fragmented system. Air traffic data streamed in from FAA-controlled radars and military radars had not been integrated into a single database to create a common operating picture.

In addition to unifying the disparate data feeds, Project Pathfinder also applied new software algorithms to historic radar data. The results show that the FAA’s radar data is capable of discriminating between an aircraft and a large flock of birds.

Likewise, the new JADC2 system could also be used to unify other types of surveillance systems for Northcom [emphasis added]. The data from the command’s early-warning radars for North Korean ballistic missiles, for instance, have not been integrated with NORAD’s NWS radars to establish a common operating picture, Morrell says.

In any event it looks like the US military are looking at the defence of North America in ways well beyond the traditional air defence provided by NORAD and missile defence by US NORTHCOM–see these posts:

NORAD (and NORTHCOM) Thinking Offense of some sort vs Russian Threats–what does Canadian Government Think?

Will US Essentially be Leaving NORAD–and Canada–Behind?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds