The federal government has announced a $4.9-billion plan to modernize defence of Canadian airspace, with a focus on the North.
The plan will include new radar-based surveillance systems for monitoring northern airspace and investments in new military infrastructure and bases across northern Canada.
It marks Canada’s first significant upgrade to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, in almost four decades.
A news release accompanying this week’s announcement said the plan will work to “protect Canadians against new and emerging military threats” at a time when “autocratic regimes are seeking to threaten the rules-based international order.”
The federal government also cited the development of hypersonic weapons and advanced cruise missiles, being led by the United States, China and Russia, as a reason to invest in updated military technology like improved missiles and communications technology.
Earlier this spring, the premiers of the three northern territories met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to address the question of Canadian Arctic sovereignty.
A statement from Trudeau’s office following the meeting emphasized the federal government’s commitment to “supporting the health, security, and prosperity of the Arctic while defending Canadian sovereignty and upholding regional security.”
Russia has long held a variety of interests in the Arctic and climate change has made the waters around northern Canada increasingly navigable.
But Arctic security experts are divided on whether Russia poses a real threat to the Canadian Arctic.
“The plan brought forward today will deliver modern, state-of-the-art equipment for our Canadian Armed Forces, who put their lives on the line every single day to ensure the security and sovereignty of our country,” defence minister Anita Anand said in a statement.
The total investment in upgrades over the next 20 years is expected to come in at $38.6 billion, with almost $5 billion spent in the next six years. This money is part of the military spending proposed in the federal budget earlier this year.
Beyond those figures, little information was immediately available about how or when the money will be spent.