The US Department of Defence (DoD) has announced that the US and Canada plan to further modernise the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

The announcement was made by Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand and US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin III at a bilateral meeting at the Pentagon on 10 February.

During the meeting, the two officials discussed a wide range of defence and security issues, including the steps to enhance NORAD modernisation and joint investment in ‘modern, ready and capable forces’.

The latest modernisation efforts come after a recently claimed incursion of a suspected Chinese intelligence-gathering balloon in the US’ airspace.

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The balloon was shot down by US fighter jets, in close coordination with Canada through NORAD, on 4 February.

Following the initial incident, the US confirmed that NORAD had detected other similar ‘high-altitude airborne objects’ above Alaska and Lake Huron, Michigan, on 11 and 12 February respectively.

On the directives of US President Joe Biden, the unidentified object over Alaska was brought down by the Air Force’s two F-22 aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, while the latter object was shot down by F-16 aircraft at a height of around 20,000ft.

Austin said: “That coordination underscored the importance of our alliance and the need for continued investment in NORAD modernisation on both sides.

“We remain concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) increasingly assertive efforts to subvert the rules-based international order that keeps us all secure.”

Anand said: “The object did not fly into Canadian airspace. NORAD deployed aircraft to track and monitor the object and provided important information to decision-makers – and the object was taken down earlier today by US Northern Command.”

As a US-Canada organisation, NORAD is responsible for undertaking missions related to aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in North America through joint arrangements with other commands.