Renuart: Nation needs enhanced radar

The commander of the U.S. Northern Command believes America needs to invest more resources in improved radars for monitoring the U.S. airspace.

Air Force General Victor "Gene" Renuart Jr., commander of Northcom as well as of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, spoke of the need for new radars in remarks to military representatives and government contractors at the National Homeland Defense Symposium. The event was held Oct. 5 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Renuart said the nation needs to invest in new radar technology to develop "the kind of capability that will marry fixed sites and space-based (sensors) that will build our situational awareness," according to remarks published by the Colorado Springs Gazette.

However, there is no funding for such a system, Renuart added.

Combining sensor and surveillance input into a coherent picture for situational awareness has been an active area for government contractors and systems integrators. Currently, similar projects are occurring or in the planning stages in advancing maritime domain awareness and in the Secure Border Initiative Network border surveillance system, among others.

Some current airspace monitoring sites are aging and crumbling, Renuart said. At the same time, Northcom is concerned that the Federal Aviation Administration's plan to convert to a new radar system may undermine Northcom's and Norad's airspace monitoring capabilities, he said, according to media reports.

Northcom, located at Patterson Air Force Base in Colorado, was established after the 9/11 attacks to be in charge of homeland defense and was officially five years old last month. The command's area of operations includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding waters out to about 500 nautical miles.

In a separate event on Oct. 2, Renuart confirmed that Northcom is participating in successful testing of the nation's ballistic missile defense system.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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