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Statement from the Minister of National Defence on the NORAD Change of Command

The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Bill Blair, issued the following statement:

“Today, United States Air Force (USAF) General Gregory M. Guillot took command of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (US NORTHCOM), replacing USAF General Glen D. VanHerck, during a ceremony held at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend our sincere congratulations to General Guillot for taking on this new role. Canada is also grateful for General VanHerck’s contributions in keeping a watchful eye on the skies of Canada and the United States, and for bolstering military cooperation between our two countries.

“Canada’s commitment to NORAD is steadfast. In June 2022, we announced Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan, backed by an historic investment of $38.6 billion over the next twenty years. This is the largest Canadian investment in NORAD in a generation. We are already making strides towards the goals set out in this plan, in order to meet the timelines to which we committed during President Biden’s visit to Canada in 2023. We have made early progress towards fielding next-generation radar systems, developing upgraded binational command and control systems, advancing the site development process for significant improvements to Canada’s Northern airfields, and delivering new and upgraded fighter infrastructure across the country to employ the F-35 in continental defence.

“We are also making major investments in new platforms that will support the NORAD mission. In fact, since 2022 alone, Canada has finalized the procurement or upgrade of approximately 140 new aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Just over a year ago, Canada finalized a $19 billion agreement to acquire 88 F-35 fighter jets. In July 2023, we awarded a contract to Airbus to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-150 Polaris fleet with nine air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft, which will almost double our fleet size and support NORAD operational requirements.

“In addition, in November 2023, Canada finalized an agreement for the acquisition of up to 16 P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force. This aircraft will provide Canada with an advanced multi-mission platform to conduct maritime and overland surveillance in defence of Canada and will contribute maritime surveillance data in support of NORAD’s maritime warning mission. Further, in December 2023, Canada announced the acquisition of eleven MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, which will increase our interoperability with the United States and support our NORAD contributions.

“For over sixty-five years, this binational command has safeguarded North America and shown the world the unparalleled integration of the Canada-U.S. defence relationship. I thank all Canadian and American armed forces members for their work to monitor and defend our millions of square kilometres of airspace – and I look forward to continued collaboration with Secretary Austin and General Guillot to protect citizens on both sides of our border.”

ADDITIONAL INFO

• NORAD is a binational military command responsible for aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in defence of North America. It is the cornerstone of Canada’s contribution to the defence of North America, as well as the cornerstone of Canada’s defence relationship with the United States.

• NORAD has been defending Canada and the United States since 1958 and celebrated its 65th anniversary on May 12, 2023.

• NORAD monitors and defends North American airspace 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Over the years, the strength of NORAD has rested in its ability to evolve in response to the changing strategic environment to keep North America safe from modern aerospace and maritime threats.

• The Commander of NORAD is typically a four-star American general, while the Deputy Commander is a three-star Canadian general. Lieutenant-General Blaise Frawley of the Canadian Armed Forces was appointed Deputy Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command, in June 2023. The Deputy Commander North American Aerospace Defense Command is the highest-ranking Canadian officer within NORAD.

• Since 2022 alone, the Government of Canada has finalized the procurement or upgrade of approximately 140 new aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force, many of which will support the NORAD mission.

○ In January 2023, the Government of Canada announced it finalized an agreement with the United States Government and Lockheed Martin with Pratt and Whitney to acquire a new fleet of eighty-eight state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets. This investment is estimated at $19 billion. The new fighter fleet will ensure Canada can meet its military obligations at home and deliver on its commitments under NORAD and NATO.

○ In July 2023, Canada announced it awarded a contract to Airbus Defence and Space S.A. to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-150 Polaris fleet with a total of nine aircraft, to be designated the CC-330 Husky.

○ In November 2023, the Government of Canada announced that it had finalized a government-to-government agreement with the United States government for the acquisition of up to 16 P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

○ In December 2023, the Government of Canada announced it will invest $2.49 billion to acquire a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) capability. The system will be capable of detecting, recognizing, identifying, tracking, and engaging targets in complex environments. It will also enable Canada to optimally fulfill its NORAD and NATO missions while increasing interoperability with United States and NATO forces.

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