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Fact Sheet Article View

FACTSHEET | Oct. 20, 2021


Operation NOBLE EAGLE is the name given to all North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) aerospace warning, control, and defense missions in North America. Through Operation NOBLE EAGLE, NORAD deters, detects, and defeats potential threats to U.S. and Canadian airspace 24/7/365. 

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff designated military operations supporting homeland security as Operation NOBLE EAGLE, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. While NORAD's mission has always been to defend the airspace of the U.S. and Canada, prior to 9/11 NORAD was primarily postured to look outward.  

Over the last two decades, NORAD's mission has changed to include a focus on threats that may originate within the U.S. and Canada, and the addition of a maritime warning mission. 

NORAD Regions 
NORAD has three subordinate regions: the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR), the Canadian NORAD Region (CANR), and the Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR). Together, the three NORAD regions provide airspace surveillance and control, and directs air sovereignty activities for their respective airspace.  

Aerospace Control 
NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian aerospace control, to include air defense operations, through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, rotary wing air interceptors, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense radars.  

By using this network of sensors, NORAD detects airborne objects approaching North America and conducts its air defense mission by tracking, identifying, and taking appropriate actions. Appropriate actions may include, but are not limited to, monitoring a track, scrambling fighters to intercept and identify an approaching aircraft, and/or escorting an aircraft through an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) or a Temporary Flight Restriction Area. 

An ADIZ begins where sovereign airspace ends and is a defined stretch of international airspace that requires the ready identification of all aircraft in the interest of national security. There are three ADIZ identified for North America: Alaska ADIZ, Canada ADIZ, and Contiguous U.S. ADIZ (Continental U.S.).  

Air Defense Operations 

Temporary Flight Restriction Areas (TFRs)
NORAD closely coordinates air defense activities with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NAV Canada, monitors those operations and responds to requests for assistance and emergency situations.  

NORAD works with the FAA and NAV Canada to enforce temporary flight restriction areas, often referred to as TFRs. 

Aircraft with an approved flight plan that takes them through a TFR are authorized to fly in a TFR. Pilots must also be in communications with ATC, have their transponder on and squawking throughout their transit into the TFR. If a pilot unknowingly or intentionally enters a TFR in violation of FAA or NAV Canada requirements, NORAD responds. 

NORAD interceptors will safely and professionally attempt to gain compliance of a violating pilot and communicate a desired course of action.  

NORAD fighters or helicopters are typically used as a last resort and are often used because other attempts at communication have failed. NORAD efforts could include guiding the pilot out of the TFR or instructing them to land at the nearest suitable airfield. 

Through the execution of Operation NOBLE EAGLE, NORAD deters, detects and denies, potential threats to Canadian and U.S. airspace around the clock, with a 360-degree defense of North America. 

Current a/o Sept. 7, 2023