Canada has indicated that it will significantly invest in North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) modernization in the coming years. The , or NORAD, is a joint U.S.-Canadian defense organization that detects security threats. 

Anita Anand, Canada’s Minister of Defense, announced on June 20 the $4.9 billion or $3.8 billion upgrade proposal. She noted escalating potential threats from Russia as well as technological advancements.

Against the backdrop of the Cold War and the ever-present threat of an aerial assault by the Soviet Union throughout that era, Canada and the United States founded the world’s only intergovernmental military command more than six decades ago, according to Anand, citing a historical reason why the plan is a “pressing need,” in the speech.

When money is spent on military programs in Canada, the result is frequently years of contentious political debate but very little progress. But this news that Canada will spend roughly 5 billion Canadian dollars over the next six years to upgrade NORAD’s defensive systems was met with hardly a peep of objection.

Except from Russia.

The ‘Lagging’ NORAD

NORAD was established in 1958 during the height of the Cold War. It is the only joint operation carried out by the armed forces of Canada and the United States. Its original purpose was to provide aerial support for the defense of both countries and to monitor inbound warplanes from the Soviet Union that were loaded with nuclear weapons.

Today, NORAD has come to unveil another set of a venture as it continuously becomes accustomed to the threats of the current defense climate. “NORAD has continually adapted and evolved in responses to new threats. Today, we turn another page and begin NORAD’s next chapter,” Anand expressed.

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand addressed media members during a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., on April 28, 2022. (Source: U.S. Secretary of DefenseCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Defense policy specialists have long held the opinion that NORAD’s systems, which have not been modernized in over four decades, have lagged in technology development and demand comprehensive industrialization. However, these calls have taken on a greater sense of urgency ever since Russia’s incursion on Ukraine.

The existing system cannot intercept cruise missiles, and it would only become aware of hypersonic missiles when it is too late to do anything about them. The report said there is currently no viable defense against the recently developed class of rockets, resulting in an arms race outbreak.

New Face of NORAD

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III arrives at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., June 7, 2022. Austin visited U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Defence Anita Anand. (Source: U.S. Secretary of DefenseCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Speaking with reporters at CFB Trenton, the particulars of the “spending commitments” were not shared with the media. However, Anand explained that the detailed breakdown of how the money would be spent is now being determined and that the program will capitalize on five distinct domains.

These will include the latest northern approaches surveillance system, an Arctic over-the-horizon radar system that provides warning of radar coverage from the Canada-US border line to the Arctic Circle, and a polar over-the-horizon radar system that will give early radar coverage. All of these systems will cover the area from the Arctic Circle to the north of that border, according to Anand.

Early warning sensors will also be deployed across the country as part of a new ” Crossbow ” system to locate possible threats. The modernization of NORAD will also see the rollout of a space-based surveillance endeavor that will use satellites to investigate provocations worldwide.

“In addition to these immediate investments, this plan is funded for the long term. This plan has a total value of approximately $40 billion over the next 20 years. And it will deliver new capabilities to protect Canadians for generations to come,” the minister of defense added.

The North Warning System, which is a network of radars established in Canada’s Far North in the 1980s to recognize impending Russian bombers and is the backbone of this country’s contribution to Norad, will be replaced by the new system under the proposed program, which will also be erected in Canada’s Far North. However, neither Anand nor Gen. Wayne Eyre, the chief of the defense staff, nor Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander of Norad, was able to utter when the North Warning System would be replaced by the new one.

Preparing for Russia’s Possible Threats

Anand mentioned the annexation of Ukraine by Russia as one of the reasons investments are being made at this time in Canada. In addition, she asserted an urgent need to revitalize Canada’s NORAD prowess since “autocratic regimes threatened the rules-based international order that has protected us for decades.”

The Arctic area of Canada comprises approximately 40 percent of the country’s overall landmass. The Arctic region of Russia, which accounts for around one-fifth of the country’s total landmass, has a significant portion that borders Canada and Alaska.