OTTAWA | The Trudeau government promises $4.9 billion for new radars capable of detecting modern Russian missiles, but shuns an anti-missile shield that would protect us from these bombs by destroying them before they reach their target.
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“Built-in deterrence means being able to fight back to defend against threats, but there wasn’t much for that in this ad,” said Robert Huebert, a University of Calgary professor and associate director. of the Center for Military and Strategic Studies.
Defense Minister Anita Anand on Monday announced an investment of $4.9 billion over six years to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which is jointly managed with the United States.
In a context of high geopolitical tensions, this investment should make it possible to detect missiles as soon as they are launched from the ground, the sea or under water outside our borders, explained Lieutenant-General Alain Pelletier, deputy director of NORAD.
For Mr. Huebert, “it is a good start, absolutely necessary”, but it is too little and too slowly in the face of the emergency.
He points out that Russia went to war in 2014 by invading Crimea, and rearmed massively between 2002 and 2010, all without Ottawa taking the measure of the danger.
“If something goes wrong in Ukraine and pushes Vladimir Putin to carry out his threat of nuclear war, we will have missed the boat,” he warns.
Until the delivery of the new radars, “the current systems are not able to detect the hypersonic missiles that have been used in Ukraine by the Russians,” confirmed Major General Paul Prévost, of the Strategic Joint Staff. , before the Senate on Monday.
“We are very aware of the evolving threat,” assured Lieutenant-General Pelletier. If this is the case, Canada should join as soon as possible the American anti-missile defense program which makes it possible to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles in flight, estimates Mr. Huebert.
Washington has been demanding for years that this shield be integrated into NORAD.
But Minister Anand rallied to the historic position of the Liberals, who fear since Paul Martin that this technology will increase international tensions and lead to the militarization of space.
A SYSTEM TO MODERNIZE
Among other things, Ottawa wants to modernize the North Warning System (NAS), a chain of 50 short- and long-range radars located in the Arctic, 47 of which are on Canadian soil.
This series of radars built at the end of the Cold War is designed to detect low-flying aircraft and missiles. These instruments can do nothing today against advanced cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons.
— With Raphaël Pirro and Guillaume St-Pierre