USAF Nearly Finished With First Phase of Homeland Defense Upgrades

The Air Force is “nearly finished” with the first phase of the Homeland Defense Design effort, which looks to better protect against cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft by installing Active Electronically Scanned Array radars on F-16s protecting the National Capital Region, the head of US Northern Command told lawmakers Thursday. Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, NORTHCOM commander and head of North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday the command also is on track to begin the second phase in Fiscal 2018, which will “expand aerospace surveillance capabilities.” The third phase of the program is in “concept development and is intended to validate and incorporate emerging technology and explore scalable and deployable options for the rest of North America,” according to her prepared testimony. NORAD needed to improve its ability to detect cruise missiles based on the increased ability of potential adversaries, according to the prepared testimony. “The increased standoff capability, low altitude, and small radar signature of cruise missiles make defending against them a technical and operational challenge,” Robinson said. “I am confident in the layered approach by our family of systems to conduct cruise missile defense.” Despite the increased tests by North Korea and its intent to be able to reach the US homeland, Robinson said she is confident in the steps being taken to protect from this threat.