Canada’s defense minister announced upgrades to Arctic air and missile defenses with the United States on Monday, citing growing threats from Russia and new technologies such as hypersonic missiles.
At a news conference at Canada’s largest air base in Trenton, Ontario, Minister Anita Anand outlined 4.9 billion Canadian dollars (US$3.8 billion) in military spending over the next six years.
The monies 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 with “classified capabilities” to monitor Arctic air and sea approaches to the continent.
The new systems will replace an aging Cold War-era North Warning System, whose almost 50 short- and long-range radar stations from Alaska to northern Quebec are incapable of responding to modern missile threats.
“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.
The new spending, she said, represents “the most significant upgrade to NORAD from a Canadian perspective in almost four decades” and will “push our line of sight further north, ensuring that we will be able to respond to fast-moving threats.”
The United States has already budgeted new spending for continental defenses.
In March, Ottawa also unveiled plans to buy 88 US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets to replace its aging fleet. Their main role will be to patrol the far north.