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NORAD Completes Long-Planned Air Operation in the Arctic


The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted Operation NOBLE DEFENDER – a dynamic force employment operation – across multiple locations in the Arctic, and the coasts of Canada and the United States, between Jan. 15-31, 2023.

This Operation NOBLE DEFENDER demonstrated NORAD’s capability and readiness to defend Canada and the United States in the challenging Arctic environment.

“Our ability to operate in the Arctic is critical to our ability to defend our homelands,” said General Glen VanHerck, Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command. “Operation NOBLE DEFENDER successfully demonstrated our willingness and capability to conduct operations above the Arctic Circle in even the harshest weather conditions, and proved a concept of integration with key Arctic partners to defend northern approaches to North America.”

American and Canadian personnel and aircraft from all three NORAD Regions deployed to Thule Air Base, Greenland, Iqaluit Forward Operating Location, Nunavut, 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, and from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The operation involved approximately 225 American and Canadian personnel supporting and operating four F-35s, three CF-18s, four KC-135s, one CC-150, one E-3, and one CH-149.

This long-planned iteration of NOBLE DEFENDER signifies the first time NORAD has deployed F-35s to Thule, Greenland, displaying the agility of capabilities in support of Arctic defense with support from the Kingdom of Denmark to allow air defense operations from this location.

To conclude the period of operations, NORAD fighters exercised an intercept of a U.S. Strategic Command B-52 representing a threat platform to demonstrate the command’s ability to conduct globally integrated layered defense. NORAD CF-18s escorted the U.S. bomber as it was transiting through northern Canada and the central United States.

As a joint operation, NOBLE DEFENDER demonstrated collaboration with mission partners and interoperability to defend the entirety of our northern approaches, as well as the necessity of our forces to integrate our efforts to defend North America.

NOBLE DEFENDER is a recurring NORAD air defense operation that takes place throughout the year. It demonstrates our capability to maintain mission readiness in various environments and to preserve capacity for follow-on operations.

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