North American Aerospace Defence Command
Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters
Quartier général de la région Canadienne du NORAD
The Canadian Forces of the
North American Aerospace Defense Command
NORAD’s Bi-national Command Structure
NORAD is a bi-national combined Canadian and American military command, with an
integrated mix of Canadian and American personnel at all levels. The commander of NORAD
is an American officer who is responsible to the Canadian and U.S. governments through the
Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the
United States. The appointment of the Commander of NORAD must be approved by both the
Canadian and U.S. governments.
There are three NORAD regions: Canadian NORAD Region (CANR), Alaskan NORAD
Region (ANR) and Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR). Each of the three NORAD
regions has a similar structure. ANR and CONR have American Commanders and Canadian
Deputy Commanders. CANR has a Canadian Commander and an American Deputy
Canadian NORAD Operations
The North Warning System (NWS) provides surveillance of potential attack routes via Arctic
airspace. The NWS consists of 15 long-range radars (11 in Canada, four in Alaska) and 39
short-range radars (36 in Canada, three in Alaska) along the northern edge of North America.
The state-of-the-art radars form a 4,800-Km-long and 320 Km-wide "tripwire" stretching from
Alaska to Newfoundland. In addition, Canadian coastal radars on both the Atlantic and Pacific
coasts complete the Canadian portion of the electronic “fence” that surrounds North America.
Data from Canadian radars and sensors are compiled and analyzed at the Canadian Air
Defence Sector’s underground complex located at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, then
forwarded to the Air Operations Centre at CANR Headquarters in Winnipeg, and to NORAD’s
Cheyenne Mountain Operations Centre in Colorado, as necessary.
Should information indicate that an intervention by NORAD is necessary, fighter aircraft can
be scrambled from any one of a number of Air Sovereignty Alert locations across North
America to intercept, identify and, if necessary, engage any threat to Canada and the United
Information: (204) 833-2500, extension 5176
Renseignements : (204) 833-2500, poste 5176
In addition to personnel at 22 Wing North Bay and CANR HQ in Winnipeg, Canadian Air
Force units assigned to NORAD include 441 “Silver Fox” and 416 “Lynx” Tactical Fighter
Squadrons at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, and 425 “Alouette” and 433 “Porcupine” Tactical
Fighter Squadrons at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. All four squadrons fly the CF-18 Hornet
NORAD employs a network of space- and ground-based radars, fighters, tankers and
surveillance aircraft, coordinated by several control centers in order to ensure the air
sovereignty of North America. NORAD fighters comprise Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets
and United States Air Force F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Canadians in the U.S.
There are currently 300 Canadian personnel based at various NORAD locations in the U.S.
However, the actual number of Canadians assigned to designated NORAD positions
constantly changes to reflect the current needs of Canadian defence policies. The majority of
Canadian personnel assigned to NORAD in the U.S. are at Headquarters NORAD at
Peterson AFB, Colorado, and Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. Tinker AFB is the home of the 552nd
Air Control Wing, which provides NORAD with airborne radar coverage using the Boeing E-3
Sentry Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS). Canada contributes aircrew and technicians
to AWACS operations.
E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)
The E-3 Sentry is a modified Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe
with a rotating radar dome. The dome is 9.1 meters in diameter, 1.8
meters thick, and is held 3.33 meters above the fuselage by two
struts. It contains a radar subsystem that permits surveillance from
the Earth's surface up into the stratosphere, over land or water. The
radar has a range of more than 375 kilometers for low-flying targets
and farther for aerospace vehicles flying at medium to high
altitudes. The radar, combined with an identification friend or foe
subsystem, can look down to detect, identify and track enemy and
friendly low-flying aircraft by eliminating ground clutter returns that
confuse other radar systems.
Other major subsystems in the E-3 Sentry are navigation,
communications and computers (data processing). Consoles
display computer-processed data in graphic and tabular format on
video screens. Console operators perform surveillance,
identification, weapons control, battle management and
communications functions. AWACS aircraft can detect targets then
guide Canadian or American NORAD fighter aircraft to intercept
and visually identify unknown aircraft. Two Canadian bases provide
designated support to AWACS operations when required: 4 Wing
Cold Lake, Alberta, and 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec.
In addition to E-3 Sentry aircraft and crews from the 552nd Air
Control Wing, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
NATO international AWACS crews from Geilenkirchen, Germany,
conducted OPERATION EAGLE ASSIST. From mid-October 2001
to mid-May 2002, NATO E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft helped protect
the US homeland. 830 crewmembers from 13 NATO countries,
including Canada, flew nearly 4300 hours and over 360 operational
sorties. The operation was terminated by the North Atlantic Council
on the basis of material improvements to the US air defence
posture and enhanced cooperation between civil and military
authorities, and following a US evaluation of homeland security
The Counter Drug Mission
Since 1991, NORAD has assisted in the detection and monitoring of aircraft suspected of
illegal drug trafficking. In cooperation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and U.S. drug
law enforcement agencies, CANR monitors all air traffic approaching the coast of Canada.
Any aircraft that has not filed a flight plan may be directed to land and be inspected by the
RCMP and Customs Canada.
After September 11th
Immediately following the terrorist attacks, all NORAD forces went onto a heightened state of
alert in order to be ready to respond to further attacks. This quickly became OPERATION
NOBLE EAGLE, which continues as NORAD’s internal air defence mission. The mission of
NORAD to deter, detect and defend North America against aerial threats has not changed.
However, NORAD now has an additional mission focus. While NORAD was previously
concerned with threats that originated outside North American airspace, NORAD now deters,
detects and defends against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American
CANR CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft are on continuous alert to respond to any potential aerial
threat to the safety of Canada and Canadians. CF-18 Hornets conduct on Random Air
Patrols across Canada in support of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE. In addition, CANR
continues to fly exercises in support of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE. By exercising their
skills, Canadian Air Force aircrew and ground crew are ensuring that they are fully prepared
to respond to any eventuality.
NORAD has served the citizens of Canada and the United States as the first line of defence
against an air attack on their homelands 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since 1958.
NORAD has also acted as a clear deterrent to aggressors through its surveillance and
warning capabilities. By adapting to the changing world, NORAD will continue to play an
important role in the defence of Canada and the United States.