DRDC supports effective aerospace defense of North America

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Determining where to position fighter jets and surveillance sensors to keep North America safe depends on many factors, and Canada plays a key role.

Scientists from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) are assisting colleagues from North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) Command—a joint US-Canada organization whose missions include aerospace warning and control for North America—to develop models to do just that.

To accomplish the aerospace control mission, NORAD uses a network of satellites, ground-based and airborne radar, and fighters to detect, intercept and, if necessary, engage air threats to Canada and the US.

DRDC scientists specializing in operational research and strategic analysis are on three- to four-year postings at NORAD-US Northern Command headquarters at Peterson Airforce Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. These scientists have developed algorithms to determine the best locations to base assets such as fighters, as well as the type surveillance sensors most likely to be effective in deterring adversaries and defending against threats.

The team of NORAD scientists, including the Canadians, developed a model to estimate fighter response time. The model uses a possible threat to detect and set the coordinates of locations where a NORAD fighter response may be required. The model returns the optimal set of locations where fighters should be based, as well as an estimate of the minimum time required by the fighters to reach interception points.

The model “is a prime example of how defence scientists posted to NORAD stand on the shoulders of giants—our colleagues previously posted here—in order to further the science and its application to NORAD missions,” says Dr. Bohdan Kaluzny, DRDC NORAD Operational Research and Analysis Team Lead.

Dr. Kaluzny further explained that DRDC scientists and their US counterparts are currently employing this model and others, to support decision making for DRDC’s All Domain Situational Awareness Program. Through this five-year, $133 million investment, DND is conducting research and analysis to support enhanced awareness of the air and maritime approaches to Canada, particularly those in the Arctic.

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