The head of U.S. Northern Command last week said the U.S. and Canada are working on upgrades to protect against cruise missile threats posed by countries such as Russia and North Korea — the first substantial buildup in more than two decades.

Gen. Lori J. Robinson, also the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, told audiences at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute in Ottawa that the two countries have established a “binational steering group to manage the eventual replacement of the North Warning System, which is our network of surveillance radars across Alaska and northern Canada.”

“For the first time ever, the United States has agreed to do a binational analysis of alternatives with Canada to explore surveillance systems for all domain situational awareness of the northern approaches to the continent,” she said Feb. 16.

“Because we need to create persistent long-range surveillance to enhance our indicators and warnings against air breathing and sub-maritime threats, we also need to increase our ability to detect, track, ID and if necessary engage cruise missiles,” she said.

Robinson said the defense strategy comes at a time when “Kim Jong Un is unpredictable and volatile,” and that Russia remains a “game changer” because “Russian cruise missiles can reach us from ranges we’re not used to. No longer do they have to enter or come close to North American air space and hold us at risk.”

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