North American Aerospace Defense Command

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North American Aerospace Defense Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command logo.svg
Crest of North American Aerospace Defense Command
Founded12 May 1958
(62 years, 2 months)
[1]
CountriesFlag of the United States.svg  United States of America
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
TypeBinational Command
RoleThe North American Aerospace Defense Command conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America. [2]
Headquarters Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
Commanders
Commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, USAF [3]
Deputy Commander Lieutenant-General Alain Pelletier, RCAF
Chief of Staff (acting) BGen Austin E. Renforth, USMC
Command Senior Enlisted Leader SgtMaj Paul McKenna, USMC
NORAD Regions and Sectors NORAD Region-Sector Map.jpg
NORAD Regions and Sectors

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD /ˈnɔːræd/ ), known until March 1981 as the North American Air Defense Command, is a combined organization of the United States and Canada that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and protection for Northern America. [4] Headquarters for NORAD and the NORAD/United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) center are located at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The nearby Cheyenne Mountain Complex has the Alternate Command Center. The NORAD commander and deputy commander (CINCNORAD) are, respectively, a United States four-star general or equivalent and a Canadian three-star general or equivalent.

Contents

Organization

CINCNORAD maintains the NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Center at Peterson AFB serves as a central collection and coordination facility for a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the commander and the leadership of Canada and the U.S. with an accurate picture of any aerospace or maritime threat. [5] NORAD has administratively divided the North American landmass into three regions:

Both the CONR and CANR regions are divided into eastern and western sectors.

Alaskan NORAD Region

The Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR) maintains continuous capability to detect, validate and warn off any atmospheric threat in its area of operations from its Regional Operations Control Center (ROCC) at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska.

ANR also maintains the readiness to conduct a continuum of aerospace control missions, which include daily air sovereignty in peacetime, contingency and deterrence in time of tension, and active air defense against manned and unmanned air-breathing atmospheric vehicles in times of crisis.

ANR is supported by both active duty and reserve units. Active duty forces are provided by 11 AF and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and reserve forces provided by the Alaska Air National Guard. Both 11 AF and the CAF provide active duty personnel to the ROCC to maintain continuous surveillance of Alaskan airspace.

Canadian NORAD Region

Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters is at CFB Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was established on 22 April 1983. [6] It is responsible for providing surveillance and control of Canadian airspace. The Royal Canadian Air Force provides alert assets to NORAD. CANR is divided into two sectors, which are designated as the Canada East Sector and Canada West Sector. Both Sector Operations Control Centers (SOCCs) are co-located at CFB North Bay Ontario. The routine operation of the SOCCs includes reporting track data, sensor status and aircraft alert status to NORAD headquarters. In 1996 CANR was renamed 1 Canadian Air Division and moved to CFB Winnipeg.

Canadian air defense forces assigned to NORAD include 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta and 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at CFB Bagotville, Quebec. All squadrons fly the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft. [7]

To monitor for drug trafficking, [8] in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the United States drug law enforcement agencies, the Canadian NORAD Region 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 RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency.

Continental United States NORAD Region

The Continental NORAD Region (CONR) is the component of NORAD that provides airspace surveillance and control and directs air sovereignty activities for the Contiguous United States (CONUS).

CONR is the NORAD designation of the United States Air Force First Air Force/AFNORTH. Its headquarters is located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The First Air Force (1 AF) became responsible for the USAF air defense mission on 30 September 1990. AFNORTH is the United States Air Force component of United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

1 AF/CONR-AFNORTH comprises Air National Guard Fighter Wings assigned an air defense mission to 1 AF/CONR-AFNORTH on federal orders, made up primarily of citizen Airmen. The primary weapons systems are the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

It plans, conducts, controls, coordinates and ensures air sovereignty and provides for the unilateral defense of the United States. It is organized with a combined First Air Force command post at Tyndall Air Force Base and two Sector Operations Control Centers (SOCC) at Rome, New York for the US East ROCC (Eastern Air Defense Sector) and McChord Field, Washington for the US West ROCC (Western Air Defense Sector) manned by active duty personnel to maintain continuous surveillance of CONUS airspace.

In its role as the CONUS NORAD Region, 1 AF/CONR-AFNORTH also performs counter-drug surveillance operations.

United States outside of NORAD: Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific region

The United States Pacific Command (PACOM) would make the determination that an inbound missile is a threat to the United States in the Pacific Region. Hawaii is the only state in the United States with a pre-programmed Wireless Emergency Alert that can be sent quickly to wireless devices if a ballistic missile is heading toward Hawaii. If the missile is fired from North Korea, the missile would take approximately 20 minutes to reach Hawaii. PACOM would take less than 5 minutes to make a determination that the missile could strike Hawaii and would then notify the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA). HI-EMA would issue the Civil Defense Warning (CDW) that an inbound missile could strike Hawaii and that people should Shelter-in-Place: Get Inside, Stay Inside, and Stay Tuned. People in Hawaii would have 12 to 15 minutes before impact. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not required to be notified for approval to cancel an alert. Signal carriers allow people to block alerts from state and law enforcement agencies, but not those issued by the President. FEMA can send alerts to targeted audiences but has not implemented this as of January 2018. Other states can take as long as 30 minutes to create, enter and distribute a missile alert. [9] [10] The nationwide system for Wireless Emergency Alerts to mobile devices was tested for the first time on 3 October 2018.

History

The North American Air Defense Command was recommended by the Joint Canadian–U.S. Military Group in late 1956, approved by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in February 1957, and announced on 1 August 1957. [11] NORAD's command headquarters was established on 12 September 1957 at Ent Air Force Base's 1954 blockhouse. [12] In 1958, Canada and the United States agreed that the NORAD commander would always be a United States officer, with a Canadian vice commander, and Canada "agreed the command's primary purpose would be…early warning and defense for SAC's retaliatory forces." [13] :252 In late 1958, Canada and the United States started the Continental Air Defense Integration North (CADIN) for the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment air defense network. [13] :253 The initial CADIN cost-sharing agreement between the two countries was signed off on 5 January 1959. Two December 1958 plans submitted by NORAD had "average yearly expenditure of around five and one half billions", including "cost of the accelerated Nike Zeus program" and three Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) sites. [14]

The 25-ton North blast door in the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker is the main entrance to another blast door (background) beyond which the side tunnel branches into access tunnels to the main chambers. NORADBlast-Doors.jpg
The 25-ton North blast door in the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker is the main entrance to another blast door (background) beyond which the side tunnel branches into access tunnels to the main chambers.

Canada's NORAD bunker at CFB North Bay with a SAGE AN/FSQ-7 Combat Direction Central computer was constructed from 1959 to 1963, and each of the USAF's eight smaller AN/FSQ-8 Combat Control Central systems provided NORAD with data and could command the entire United States air defense. The RCAF's 1950 "ground observer system, the Long Range Air Raid Warning System", [15] was discontinued and on 31 January 1959, the United States Ground Observer Corps was deactivated. [13] :222 The Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker's planned mission was expanded in August 1960 to "a hardened center from which CINCNORAD would supervise and direct operations against space attack as well as air attack" [16] The Secretary of Defense assigned on 7 October 1960, "operational command of all space surveillance to Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) and operational control to North American Air Defense Command (NORAD)". [17]

The JCS placed the Ent Air Force Base Space Detection and Tracking System (496L System with Philco 2000 Model 212 computer) [18] "under the operational control of CINCNORAD on December 1, 1960"; [19] during Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker excavation, and the joint SAC-NORAD exercise "Sky Shield II"—and on 2 September 1962—"Sky Shield III" were conducted for mock penetration of NORAD sectors. [20]

NORAD command center operations moved from Ent Air Force Base to the 1963 partially underground "Combined Operations Center" for Aerospace Defense Command and NORAD [21] at the Chidlaw Building. President John F. Kennedy visited "NORAD headquarters" after the 5 June 1963 United States Air Force Academy graduation and on 30 October 1964, "NORAD began manning" the Combat Operations Center in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. [19] By 1965, about 250,000 United States and Canadian personnel were involved in the operation of NORAD,[ failed verification ] [22] On 1 January 1966, Air Force Systems Command turned the COC over to NORAD [23] The NORAD Cheyenne Mountain Complex was accepted on 8 February 1966. [19] :319

1968 reorganization

United States Department of Defense realignments for the NORAD command organization began by 15 November 1968 (e.g., Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM)) [24] and by 1972, there were eight NORAD "regional areas ... for all air defense", [25] and the NORAD Cheyenne Mountain Complex Improvements Program (427M System) [23] became operational in 1979. [26]

False alarms

On at least three occasions, NORAD systems failed, such as on 9 November 1979, when a technician in NORAD loaded a test tape, but failed to switch the system status to "test", causing a stream of constant false warnings to spread to two "continuity of government" bunkers as well as command posts worldwide. [27] On 3 June 1980, and again on 6 June 1980, a computer communications device failure caused warning messages to sporadically flash in U.S. Air Force command posts around the world that a nuclear attack was taking place. [28] During these incidents, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) properly had their planes (loaded with nuclear bombs) in the air; Strategic Air Command (SAC) did not and received criticism[ by whom? ], because they did not follow procedure, even though the SAC command knew these were almost certainly false alarms, as did PACAF.[ citation needed ] Both command posts had recently begun receiving and processing direct reports from the various radar, satellite, and other missile attack detection systems, and those direct reports simply did not match the erroneous data received from NORAD.[ citation needed ]

1980 reorganization

The North Warning System as envisioned by Canada and the US in 1987. North Radar System.png
The North Warning System as envisioned by Canada and the US in 1987.
NORAD/USNORTHCOM Alternate Command Center prior to the Cheyenne Mountain Realignment. NORADCommandCenter.jpg
NORAD/USNORTHCOM Alternate Command Center prior to the Cheyenne Mountain Realignment.

Following the 1979 Joint US-Canada Air Defense Study, the command structure for aerospace defense was changed, e.g., "SAC assumed control of ballistic missile warning and space surveillance facilities" on 1 December 1979 from ADCOM. [30] :48 The Aerospace Defense Command major command ended 31 March 1980. and its organizations in Cheyenne Mountain became the "ADCOM" specified command under the same commander as NORAD, [21] e.g., HQ NORAD/ADCOM J31 manned the Space Surveillance Center. By 1982, a NORAD Off-site Test Facility [31] was located at Peterson AFB. [32] The DEW Line was to be replaced with the North Warning System (NWS); the Over-the-Horizon Backscatter (OTH-B) radar was to be deployed; more advanced fighters were deployed, and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft were planned for greater use. These recommendations were accepted by the governments in 1985. The United States Space Command was formed in September 1985 as an adjunct, but not a component of NORAD.

NORAD was renamed North American Aerospace Defense Command in March 1981.

Post–Cold War

In 1989 NORAD operations expanded to cover counter-drug operations, for example, tracking of small aircraft entering and operating within the United States and Canada. [33] DEW line sites were replaced between 1986 and 1995 by the North Warning System. The Cheyenne Mountain site was also upgraded, but none of the proposed OTH-B radars are currently in operation.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the NORAD Air Warning Center's mission "expanded to include the interior airspace of North America." [34]

The Cheyenne Mountain Realignment [35] was announced on 28 July 2006, to consolidate NORAD's day-to-day operations at Peterson Air Force Base [36] with Cheyenne Mountain in "warm standby" staffed with support personnel.

Former NORAD Regions/Sectors
19661967196819691970–198319841985–198619871988–19901991–19921993–19951996–20052006–2009
20th 1966–19671969–1983
21st 1966–19671969–1983
22d1966–1987
23d 1969–1987
24th 1969–1990
25th 1966–1990
26th 1966–1990
27th 1966–1969
28th 1966–19691985–1992
29th 1966–1969
30th 1966–1968
31st 1966–1969
32d 1966–1969
34th 1966–1969
35th 1966–1969
36th 1966–1969
NW 1987–1995
NE 1987–2009
SE 1987–2005
SW 1987–1995
1955 Sears ad with the misprinted telephone number that led to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program. NORAD Tracks Santa follows Santa Claus' Christmas Eve journey around the world. Why NORAD Tracks Santa.jpg
1955 Sears ad with the misprinted telephone number that led to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program. NORAD Tracks Santa follows Santa Claus' Christmas Eve journey around the world.

Movies and television

The NORAD command center located under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado is a setting of the 1983 film WarGames and the television series Jeremiah and Stargate SG-1 . In the 1996 science fiction film Independence Day , NORAD was destroyed by the alien invaders.

NORAD Tracks Santa

As a publicity move on 24 December 1955, NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), informed the press that CONAD was tracking Santa Claus's sleigh, adding that "CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas", and a Christmas Eve tradition was born, [41] known as the "NORAD Tracks Santa" program. Every year on Christmas Eve, "NORAD Tracks Santa" purports to track Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. [42]

See also

Related Research Articles

Semi-Automatic Ground Environment Historic computer network

The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) was a system of large computers and associated networking equipment that coordinated data from many radar sites and processed it to produce a single unified image of the airspace over a wide area. SAGE directed and controlled the NORAD response to a Soviet air attack, operating in this role from the late 1950s into the 1980s. Its enormous computers and huge displays remain a part of cold war lore, and a common prop in movies such as Dr. Strangelove and Colossus.

Cheyenne Mountain Complex Military base in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, United States

The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a military installation and defensive bunker located in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado, next to the city of Colorado Springs, at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, which hosts the activities of several tenant units. Also located in Colorado Springs is Peterson Air Force Base, where the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) headquarters are now located.

PAVE PAWS early warning radar

PAVE PAWS is an elaborate Cold War early warning radar and computer system developed in 1980 to "detect and characterize a sea-launched ballistic missile attack against the United States". With the first solid-state phased array deployed, the system at the perimeter of the contiguous United States used a pair of Raytheon AN/FPS-115 radar sets at each site as part of the United States Space Surveillance Network. One system was sold to Taiwan and is still in service with that island nation.

Ent Air Force Base

Ent Air Force Base was an Air Force base located in the Knob Hill neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado. A tent city, established in 1943 to build the base, was initially commanded by Major General Uzal Girard Ent (1900-1948) for whom the base is named. The base was opened in 1951. From 1957 to 1963, the base was the site of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which moved to the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. The base became the Ent Annex to the Cheyenne Mountain facility in 1975. The base was closed in 1976. The site later became the location of the United States Olympic Training Center, which was completed July 1978.

Ballistic Missile Early Warning System

The RCA 474L Ballistic Missile Early Warning System was a United States Air Force Cold War early warning radar, computer, and communications system, for ballistic missile detection. The network of twelve radars, which was constructed beginning in 1958 and became operational in 1961, was built to detect a "mass ballistic missile attack launched on northern approaches [for] 15 to 25 minutes' warning time" also provided Project Space Track satellite data.

Southeast Air Defense Sector

The Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS), was a unit of the US Air Force located at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida. It provided air defense and surveillance of the southeastern region of the US. SEADS closed in winter 2005, giving up surveillance and control of their airspace to the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) and the former Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS).

Aerospace Defense Command 1946-1980 United States Air Force major command responsible for air defense of the United States

Aerospace Defense Command was a major command of the United States Air Force, responsible for continental air defense. It was activated in 1968 and disbanded in 1980. Its predecessor, Air Defense Command, was established in 1946, briefly inactivated in 1950, reactivated in 1951, and then redesignated Aerospace rather than Air in 1968. Its mission was to provide air defense of the Continental United States (CONUS). It directly controlled all active measures, and was tasked to coordinate all passive means of air defense.

9th Space Division

The 9th Space Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Air Force Space Command, being stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. It was inactivated on 1 October 1991.

Western Air Defense Sector

The Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) is a unit of the Washington Air National Guard located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, Washington.

Thomasville Air Force Station

Thomasville Air Force Station is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 1.9 miles (3.1 km) north-northwest of Thomasville, Alabama. It was closed in 1969.

Southwest Air Defense Sector

The Southwest Air Defense Sector (SWADS) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the First Air Force, being stationed at March Air Force Base, California. It was inactivated on 31 December 1994.

213th Space Warning Squadron

The 213th Space Warning Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard provides early warning of Intercontinental ballistic missiles and Submarine-launched ballistic missiles to the Missile Correlation Center of North American Aerospace Defense Command. The squadron is a geographically separated unit assigned to the 168th Wing at Eielson Air Force Base.

Chidlaw Building

The Chidlaw Building is a former United States Air Force facility located in the Knob Hill neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The building associated, but not within the Ent Air Force Base complex, was leased by the military for several decades and was headquarters of several military commands, starting with the Air Defense Command (ADC) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). When Chidlaw was completed, personnel from multiple locations, including the Ent Air Force Base, were consolidated into the new building.

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station (CMAFS) is located on Cheyenne Mountain on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado, USA, next to Colorado Springs, The Cheyenne Mountain Complex, an underground facility on Cheyenne Mountain AFS, was first built for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Combat Operations Center, though NORAD moved day-to-day operations to its headquarters on Peterson AFB in 2006. However, day-to-day operations were moved back in 2011 after a major overhaul and renovation. The location now supports U.S. Strategic Command's Missile Warning Center, other strategic warning and survivable capabilities, and provides a ready alternative operating location for NORAD's command center.

Space Defense Center

The Space Defense Center (SDC) was a space operation center of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. It was successively housed at two Colorado locations, Ent Air Force Base, followed by Cheyenne Mountain's Group III Space Defense Center The 1st Aerospace Control Squadron manned the SDC at both locations, which used the Electronic Systems Division's 496L System for processing and displaying data combined from the U.S. "Air Force's Space Track and the Navy's Spasur" (NAVSPASUR).

North American Aerospace Defense Command is a military organization of Canada and the United States, and the name or military NORAD abbreviation may refer to :

Continental Air Defense Command

Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) was a Unified Combatant Command of the United States Department of Defense, tasked with air defense for the Continental United States. It comprised Army, Air Force, and Navy components. It included Army Project Nike missiles anti-aircraft defenses and USAF interceptors. The primary purpose of continental air defense during the CONAD period was to provide sufficient attack warning of a Soviet bomber air raid to ensure Strategic Air Command could launch a counterattack without being destroyed. CONAD controlled nuclear air defense weapons such as the 10 kiloton W-40 nuclear warhead on the CIM-10B BOMARC. The command was disestablished in 1975, and Aerospace Defense Command became the major U.S. component of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

Missile Warning Center

The Missile Warning Center (MWC) is a center that provides missile warning and defense for United States Space Command's Combined Force Space Component Command, incorporating both space-based and terrestrial sensors. The MWC is located at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.

601st Air Operations Center

The 601 Air Operations Center (AOC) plans, directs, and assesses air operations for the North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command, and the United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM). The AOC provides aerospace warning and control for NORAD Defensive Counter Air (DCA) activities. As well as it directs Air Force air capabilities in support of NORTHCOM homeland security and civil support missions. The 601 AOC directs all air sovereignty activities for the continental United States.

Construction of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex

Construction of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex began with the excavation of Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 18, 1961. It was made fully operational on February 6, 1967. It is a military installation and hardened nuclear bunker from which the North American Aerospace Defense Command was headquartered at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The United States Air Force has had a presence at the complex since the beginning, the facility is now the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, which hosts other military units, including NORAD.

References

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