NORAD modernization project timelines
Fact sheet: NORAD modernization project timelines
In June 2022, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced Canada's $38.6 billion plan to modernize North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) over the next two decades. This is the largest investment in Canada's NORAD capabilities in a generation.
This $38.6 billion of funding over twenty years on an accrual basis for NORAD modernization is broken down into five inter-related areas of investment:
- Bolstering our ability to detect threats earlier and more precisely by modernizing our surveillance systems;
- Improving our ability to understand and communicate threats to decision-makers in a timely manner through investments in modern technology;
- Strengthening our ability to deter and defeat aerospace threats by modernizing our air weapons systems;
- Ensuring the Canadian Armed Forces can sustain a strong military presence across the country, including in Canada’s North, through investments in new infrastructure and support capabilities; and
- Future-proofing our capabilities to defend North America through investments in science and technology.
These areas of investment build upon 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. Project timelines are available in the following table:
|Area of Investment: Modernizing our surveillance systems||Scheduled for Definition Phase||Scheduled for Initial Operational Capability||Scheduled for Full Operational Capability|
Northern Approaches Surveillance system (NASS)
We will establish a new Northern Approaches Surveillance system (NASS) to significantly expand NORAD and Canadian Armed Forces situational awareness of objects entering Canadian airspace from the North.
This will represent a dramatic improvement to Canada’s continental defence to supplement the existing 30-year-old North Warning System.
Arctic Over the Horizon Radar (A-OTHR)
NASS will include an Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar system to provide early warning radar coverage and threat tracking from the Canada-United States border to the Arctic circle.
Polar Over the Horizon Radar (P-OTHR)
NASS will also include a Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar system to provide early warning radar coverage over and beyond the northernmost approaches to North America, including the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Finally, to establish NASS, National Defence will also work with the United States to develop a complementary network of sensors with classified capabilities, distributed across Northern Canada, as another layer of detection.
Defence Enhanced Surveillance from Space (DESSP)
We will also strengthen the Canadian Armed Forces’ space-based surveillance capabilities, including of Canadian territory and maritime approaches, by investing additional funds to complete and augment the new state-of-the-art, space-based surveillance project announced in Canada’s 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged.
|Area of Investment: Technology-enabled decision making||Scheduled for Definition Phase||Scheduled for Initial Operational Capability||Scheduled for Full Operational Capability|
Modernized Command and Control Information Systems (MC2IS)
We will modernize key Canadian Armed Forces’ command, control and communications capabilities and systems.
Future Combined Aerospace Operations Centre (FCC)
We will modernize the Canadian Combined Air Operations Centre by delivering an advanced, defended airpower Command and Control (C2) system. C2 will consist of personnel, process and equipment to plan, direct, monitor, control and coordinate domestic, continental and global operations 24/7/365.
Position Navigation and Timing Air Navigation (PNT AirNav)
We will also advance work on a new Positioning, Navigation, and Timing capability to assist with air navigation in remote areas by integrating an air navigation capability that does not rely solely on Global Positioning System (GPS).
High Frequency/Low Frequency Communications (HFLF)
We will upgrade the Canadian Armed Forces’ high and low frequency radio capabilities that provide essential command control capabilities for the Canadian Armed Forces and ensure they are maintained and renewed on a continual basis.
Enhanced Satellite Communication – Polar (ESCP-P)
We will enhance satellite communications in the Arctic through additional funding to complete and augment the polar communications project announced in Strong, Secure, Engaged.
RCAF Air Weapons Control Coverage Expansion (RACE)
We will replace and expand digital radio coverage to continue to provide Air Traffic Service Ground-Air-Ground communication for operators at both NAV CANADA control centres and as a priority service to the Canadian Air Defence Sectors.
NORAD Cloud-Based Command and Control (CBC2)
We will also work with the United States to expand support for the NORAD CBC2 system formerly known as the Pathfinder initiative. This project will take advantage of cloud-based computing and machine learning to ensure that NORAD commanders can make informed, rapid decisions.
|Area of investment: Modernizing air weapons||Scheduled for Definition Phase||Scheduled for Initial Operational Capability||Scheduled for Full Operational Capability|
Advanced Short Range Missile (ASRM)
We will procure new, advanced air-to-air missiles to ensure Canada’s fighter aircraft maintain the ability to engage threats from short ranges.
Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (MRAAM)
We will procure new, advanced air-to-air missiles to ensure Canada’s fighter aircraft maintain the ability to engage threats from medium ranges.
Long Range Air-to-Air Missile (LRAAM)
We will procure new, advanced air-to-air missiles to ensure Canada’s fighter aircraft maintain the ability to engage threats from long ranges.
|Area of investment: Infrastructure and support capabilities||Scheduled for Definition Phase||Scheduled for Initial Operational Capability||Scheduled for Full Operational Capability|
Additional Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR+/STTC+)
We will acquire additional air-to-air refueling aircraft. Additional funding will expand the number and scope of tanker aircraft to be acquired through an already mature Air–to-Air Refueling/Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) project, announced in Strong, Secure Engaged. The STTC project will replace the existing Canadian Armed Forces capability to conduct strategic airlift and air-to-air refueling.
Defence of Canada Fighter Infrastructure Project (DCFI)
We will upgrade fighter infrastructure and NORAD Quick Reaction Alert capabilities at bases across Canada to support the arrival of our new fleet of F-35 fighter jets and United States NORAD capabilities.
Northern Basing Infrastructure
We will upgrade Canadian Armed Forces’ infrastructure at four Forward Operating Locations in Canada’s North (Inuvik, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, and Goose Bay).
The planning process is underway to ensure that this infrastructure will meet NORAD and broader Canadian Armed Forces military requirements, and we will consider multi-purpose opportunities where practical through engagement with Indigenous and Northern governments and partners.
Operational Training Infrastructure Enterprise Modernization (OTIEM)
We will modernize the Canadian Armed Forces’ air operational training infrastructure.
|Area of investment: Research and development||Scheduled for Definition Phase||Scheduled for Initial Operational Capability||Scheduled for Full Operational Capability|
Investments in DRDC science and technology
We will provide funding for Defence Research and Development Canada to invest in science and technology that will assess new and emerging threats, accessing and co-developing technological solutions with the United States.
The $38.6 billion investment also includes $1.18 billion for internal services.
Note: Figures may not add due to rounding.
In the context of a significantly changing global security environment, further demonstrated by Russia’s unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal invasion of Ukraine, and with climate change increasingly impacting our defence and security, as well as the rapid development of new weapons technology such as hypersonic weapons and advanced cruise missiles, there is a pressing need to modernize Canada’s NORAD capabilities, and Canada’s NORAD modernization plan will ensure that this occurs.
In January 2023, Minister Anand also announced that Canada has finalized an agreement with the United States government and Lockheed Martin with Pratt & Whitney for the acquisition of F-35 fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The acquisition of 88 state-of-the-art fighter jets is the largest investment in the RCAF in the past 30 years.
Taken together, these investments will bolster NORAD and CAF's ability to protect Canadians against new and emerging military threats to North America.
Long term investments will also strengthen Canada's innovation and industrial sectors, while generating significant economic and job creation benefits across the country, and they will offer meaningful new opportunities to deepen National Defence's strong Northern, territorial, and Indigenous partnerships as we work together to advance shared objectives.
Since the release of Canada's NORAD Modernization Plan in June 2022, Canada has also been undertaking the following work to modernize our continental defences:
- Deepening bilateral planning and collaboration with the United States, for example, on Over-The-Horizon Radar, to maximize strategic impact for the defence of our shared continent;
- Preliminary exploration of possible locations for Over-The-Horizon Radar sites;
- Engagements with Indigenous and territorial partners on shared priorities, including early discussions on Forward Operating Location (FOL) site plans; and
- Establishing new internal services capacity to ensure the institution's ability to deliver these projects for Canadians.
NORAD remains the model of a successful defence partnership and a symbol of our enduring and mutually beneficial cross-border relationship with the United States. NORAD has evolved to keep North America safe from modern aerospace and maritime threats, and with these additional investments, will continue to uphold its mandate well into the future.
- In 1958, against the backdrop of the Cold War and threat of Soviet air attack, Canada and the United States formally established what is now the NORAD, which is responsible for the shared monitoring and defence of North American aerospace and maritime warning, and thereby reinforcing, NATO's western flank.
- NORAD's enduring importance to Canadians and Americans alike remains evident. This includes NORAD's role in detecting, identifying and responding to China's high-altitude surveillance balloon that recently violated American and Canadian airspace and international law. Cooperation between Canada and the United States, including through NORAD, ensures the security and defence of North America – and NORAD modernization is therefore a pressing mutual priority.
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