Aerospace Control Alert Sites Dropping to 14

In April 2013, the number of aerospace control alert sites in the continental United States—where fighters sit at the ready to defend domestic airspace—will go down from 16 to 14, Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, NORAD commander and head of US Northern Command, told lawmakers this week. He said the decision to take fighters off of around-the-clock alert at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., and in Duluth, Minn., was “very difficult,” but was part of NORTHCOM’s efforts to shed costs and find efficiencies in the way it operates—just as the Defense Department is doing across the entire US military. “I believe we can mitigate any additional risk that we assume by reducing the 24/7 presence,” he said before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. He added, “I have the authority to move to another level of alert and go from 14 bases with 28 fighters to 23 bases with 46 fighters in just a matter of 48 hours. I also have the authority to restore a [combat air patrol], to restore a presence over each one of those bases, in less than an hour.” (Jacoby’s prepared testimony)