Canada invests $4.9 billion to modernize North American defenses

OTTAWA — Defense Minister Anita Anand pledged billions in new spending over the next 20 years to modernize North America’s aging defensive systems in a dramatic announcement Monday that lacked several important details.

OTTAWA — Defense Minister Anita Anand pledged billions in new spending over the next 20 years to modernize North America’s aging defensive systems in a dramatic announcement Monday that lacked several important details.

Chief among them: Exactly when these investments will actually address what senior Canadian and U.S. military officials have been warning for years is a dangerous gap in their ability to detect and stop an impending attack. on the continent.

Standing on the tarmac at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in front of several military aircraft, including a specially transported CF-18 fighter, Anand announced that Canada will invest $4.9 billion over six years in continental defence.

“This is the most significant Norad upgrade, from a Canadian perspective, in nearly four decades,” she said in reference to the joint US-Canadian system used to identify attacks. land and sea on North American soil.

“In addition to these immediate investments, this plan is funded for the long term. This plan has a total value of approximately $14 billion over the next 20 years. And it will provide new capabilities to protect Canadians for generations to come.

The Minister then listed five areas where these investments will be focused, starting with the establishment of a new “layered” surveillance system that will include long-range radars and sensors capable of detecting incoming threats from the arctic.

The new system will replace the North Warning System, a chain of radars built in Canada’s far north in the 1980s to identify approaching Russian bombers and which represents the backbone of that country’s contribution to Norad.

Yet neither Anand nor Chief of Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre or Lt. Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander of Norad, was able to say exactly when the North Warning System will be replaced.

And this despite the fact that Canadian and American military officials have warned for years that it is now nearly obsolete thanks to recent developments in missiles and long-range weapons – a concern that increased dramatically after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

“As we will have more information on the exact timing of the transition from one system to another, we will clarify that,” Anand said when asked about the lack of timing.

“At this point, what we are introducing is that we will be transitioning to a new monitoring system. And until then, the North Warning System will remain in place and will be operated and maintained.

Pelletier acknowledged the “limitations” of the North Warning System in a separate interview with The Canadian Press, particularly in terms of detecting cruise missile attacks from long-range bombers flying over the Arctic.

“The current reality is that long-range aviation has the capability to launch cruise missiles outside of North Warning System detection range,” he said. “So that’s the challenge.”

The new funding also includes plans for new command and control systems, advanced air-to-air missiles and other capabilities.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 20, 2022.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


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