NORAD Shifts Focus to Russian Threat

The NORAD mission—fundamentally shaped by the threat of asymmetric terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—is shifting its focus once again to counter a significant threat from Russia, top officials told Air Force Magazine. Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of NORAD, called Russia “one of our primary air domain threats,” in a Jan. 27 interview. Col. Jeremy Sloane, vice director of operations at NORAD, said the focus of the threat is “long-range aviation.” His concern is “the increase in the number of [Russian] flights that we’ve seen, specifically starting back in the 2007-2008 timeframe, and then highlighted by an uptick over the past couple of years.” In response, NORAD fighters have—over the past five years—conducted “an average of five intercepts per year of Russian military aircraft” in the US or Canadian Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ/CADIZ), according to NORAD public affairs officials. The ADIZ/CADIZ is defined as “a zone of airspace, which extends approximately 200 miles from the coastline of Canada and the US, and is mainly within international airspace.” In light of this renewed threat, Robinson said one of NORAD’s greatest priorities going forward is “to be able to detect at range, to track at range, ID at range, because things have changed with Russian long-range aviation.”