RealNews

Canadian air defence lags behind U.S. after Sept. 11

American planes most likely to respond to terrorist attack on Canada’s major cities. In the minutes before the arrival of a hijacked airliner, the lives of tens of thousands of Canadians could depend on rapidly scrambled U.S. combat jets and a desperate telephone call to an Ottawa cabinet minister to secure a timely “shoot-down” order. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have led to huge changes in U.S. homeland defence, including sharp increases in the number of warplanes on ready alert and powers giving military commanders instant authority to order hijacked airliners shot down. But many of those key changes have not been mirrored in Canada, complicated by a more cumbersome command authority and the geographic reality that Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are far removed from the country’s two permanent fighter air bases, at Cold Lake, Alta., and Bagotville, Que. “In Canadian airspace, a direct order from the Canadian government is still needed before a hijacked airliner can be shot down,” said Captain Dave Muralt, a spokesman for Canadian NORAD regional headquarters in Winnipeg. Full Story

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