Annex C: Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan

In Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada committed to outlining its investments to modernize Canada's contributions to NORAD at a later date, and in June 2022 released Canada's NORAD Modernization Plan—the largest investment in Canada's NORAD capabilities in a generation.

NORAD has been the cornerstone of North American defence since it was established in 1958. It remains an alliance like no other in the world today—a trusted partnership manifested through a binational command with authority over shared geography.

The global security environment and military technologies have evolved significantly since the last major investment in NORAD's capabilities in the 1980s. We face aerospace threats that can outpace our defences, as Russia and China are rapidly fielding advanced weapons specifically designed to threaten North America. The North Warning System is growing obsolete, our command and control systems need to be digitalized to operate at machine speed, and our northern airfield infrastructure needs to be reconfigured to mount effective responses to potential threats. Canada must boost its aerospace defences to protect our interests and assert our sovereignty.

For these reasons, our new investments prioritize key areas jointly identified by Canada and the United States as NORAD's most pressing requirements. These include:

  • Bolstering our ability to detect threats earlier by modernizing our surveillance systems. Today's advanced weapons can be launched from further away, travel faster and are more manoeuvrable. To meet this threat, Canada will invest $6.9 billion in new technologies to modernize our surveillance systems. This will include a more effective, layered surveillance system composed of over-the-horizon radars and satellites.
  • Improving our ability to understand and communicate threats to decision makers in a timely manner. An effective command, control and communications system maximizes the value of vehicles, vessels and aircraft by connecting them into a single network. Canada is investing $4.13 billion in the following ways:
    • Modernized command and control information systems;
    • Cloud-based command and control, equipped with machine learning and other computing technologies;
    • A new combined aerospace operations centre from which to plan and execute air operations;
    • Enhanced long-term Arctic satellite communications, providing coverage at extreme northern altitudes;
    • Position navigation and timing air navigation infrastructure and systems, suited to support air operations in remote areas; and
    • Improved radio communications for non-satellite command and control.
  • Strengthening our ability to deter and defeat aerospace threats by modernizing our air weapons systems. Canada's current and new fighter aircraft will be equipped with advanced air-to-air missiles to maintain their operational advantage against new, more technologically-advanced missile threats. Canada is investing $6.38 billion to increase the number of short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles, and acquire new long-range air-to-air missiles for both the CF-18 fighter aircraft and the new F-35 fighter aircraft.
  • Ensuring the Canadian Armed Forces can sustain a strong military response through investments in new infrastructure and support capabilities. Our airfields and supporting infrastructure will be modernized and improved to support the new aircraft and the broader range of aircraft needed to mount an effective response to air-based threats. Canada is investing $15.68 billion for infrastructure and support capabilities, including the following:
    • Infrastructure support for additional strategic tanker transport aircraft;
    • Upgrades to NORAD Forward Operating Locations at Inuvik, Yellowknife and Iqaluit, and Canadian Armed Forces Base Goose Bay;
    • Infrastructure upgrades for the new fleet of F-35 fighter aircraft; and
    • Modernization of air weapons training infrastructure.
    • Wherever possible, we will be investing in airfields, roadways and infrastructure in consultation with local and Indigenous partners. By prioritizing multi-purpose investments, Defence will aim to meet the needs of our military while partnering with northern communities and other government departments, to ensure all can benefit from collective investments where possible.
  • Future-proofing our capabilities to defend North America through investments in science and technology. Canada will support the ongoing evolution of continental defence capabilities with investments supporting researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs in assessing new and emerging threats, evolving research and development work, and co-developing innovative technological solutions in immediate priority areas:
    • Polar over-the-horizon radar systems;
    • Hypersonic and advanced cruise missile defence;
    • Novel and robust space systems in low earth orbit;
    • Autonomy and counter-autonomy;
    • Undersea surveillance;
    • Cyber and artificial intelligence;
    • Quantum technologies;
    • Cloud-enabled command, control, communications and computers intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and
    • Enabling defence research and development in the Arctic.

These areas of investment deliver on the priorities identified in the 2021 Joint Statement on NORAD Modernization issued by the Minister of National Defence and the United States Secretary of Defense. The majority of projects will reach Initial Operational Capability within the next decade.

Canada's NORAD modernization plan is a fundamental component of our response to the growing threat environment affecting Canada and the Arctic and North America more broadly. These efforts are important and necessary first steps that, when combined with the initiatives laid out in this defence policy, will restore the military advantage that we have long enjoyed on the continent, and ensure that Canada, the Arctic and our approaches do not become an avenue of attack on North America.

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