(OTTAWA) Russia has begun returning long-range bombers to North American airspace over the Arctic after a brief hiatus in the first months of the war in Ukraine, a senior Canadian military official says.
Russian submarines are operating off both coasts as Moscow seeks to demonstrate its ability to strike Canada and the United States, said Lt. Gen. Alain Pelletier, deputy commander of NATO’s Aerospace Defense Command North America (NORAD).
“We’ve seen a reduction this year, especially since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine on February 24. However, some of those activities have now resumed,” Peltier told the Senate Defense Committee on Monday.
“The actions are not limited to long-range aviation. Russia is now using its submarines on the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast to demonstrate its true strategic capabilities and threaten North America,” he reports.
NORAD officials announced last month that two Russian long-range bombers were intercepted by US fighter jets after approaching Alaska, although Lieutenant-General Pelletier has not yet given specifics. The bombs did not enter North American airspace before takeoff.
Pelletier and other defense officials said Canada and the United States have begun work to modernize NORAD, America’s first line of defense, a shared early warning system. It was against a foreign air attack from the north.
The Liberal government announced in June that Ottawa plans to invest $4.9 billion over six years and $40 billion over the next 20 years.
That includes replacing a chain of 1980s-era radars in northern Canada, which form the backbone of the country’s contribution to NORAD, with modern systems that can see more than detect and track new types of weapons.
“We’re in the early stages,” said Defense Department official Jonathan Quinn. The announcement was made in June, but we are implementing detailed plans with milestones, setting up project offices at National Security Headquarters to move specific initiatives forward. »
This comes especially as Russia and China deploy their forces in the Arctic and begin developing new weapons that could more easily strike North America, including hypersonic cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons.
Quinn told the panel that while research and development of new radars and other equipment to detect and stop such weapons is progressing rapidly, it will be some time before they are on the ground.
Canada and the United States will be forced to rely on the threat of retaliation to deter such attacks until then, Quinn added.
“During the transition period, until North American defenses are strengthened to support deterrence by denial, we will rely a little more on deterrence by punishment than we would like,” Quinn opined.
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