Citing threat from Russia, Canada announces major investment in air defense

Anita Anand (Joey Coleman/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Canada has announced a major investment to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the joint U.S.-Canadian defense organization designed to detect security threats.

Defense Minister Anita Anand cited growing threats from Russia and new technologies as she announced the C$4.9 billion ($3.8 billion) upgrade plan on June 20.

The spending will roll out over the next six years and upgrade the aging Cold War-era North Warning System, whose radar stations from Alaska to northern Quebec are incapable of responding to modern missile threats.

The funds are to be spent on land- and satellite-based radar that can spot incoming bombers or missiles “over the horizon,” as well as a network of sensors capable of monitoring Arctic air and sea approaches to the continent.

The new spending represents “the most significant upgrade to NORAD from a Canadian perspective in almost four decades,” Anand said at a news conference at Canada’s largest air base in Trenton, Ontario. It will push the “line of sight” farther to the north, “ensuring that we will be able to respond to fast-moving threats.”

Anand cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as one of the reasons the investments are coming now.

“As autocratic regimes threatened the rules-based international order that has protected us for decades, and as our competitors develop new technologies like hypersonic weapons and advanced cruise missiles, there is a pressing need to modernize Canada’s NORAD capabilities,” Anand said.

Canada’s Arctic region represents about 40 percent of its total landmass. Much of Russia’s Arctic area, which is about one-fifth of its landmass, faces Canada and Alaska.