A component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) provides airspace surveillance and control and directs air sovereignty activities for the continental United States (CONUS).
Since Sept. 11, 2001, CONR has been the lead agency for Operation Noble Eagle, an ongoing mission to protect the continental United States from further airborne aggression from inside and outside of U.S. borders.
CONR is presently divided into two defense sectors: the Western Defense Sector, with its headquarters located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and the Eastern Defense Sector, with its headquarters located at Rome, N.Y.
Co-located with Headquarters First Air Force (Air Forces Northern) at Tyndall AFB, Fla., a Combined Air Operations Center coordinates CONR sector activities and executes the NORAD air sovereignty mission for the continental United States. First Air Force (AFNORTH) plans, conducts, controls, and coordinates all Air Force forces for the NORAD-NORTHCOM Commander. The best of America's fighter inventory, the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, fly as CONR’s primary weapons systems.
First Air Force is comprised of 10 aligned Air National Guard fighter wings, but gains additional fighter wings as needed. With the transfer of responsibility for continental air defense from the regular component of the Air Force to the Air National Guard, First Air Force became the first numbered air force to be made up primarily of citizen airmen.
CONR is one of three NORAD regions. The two other regions are the Canadian NORAD Region (CANR), with its headquarters located at Canadian Forces Base, Winnipeg, and the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR), with its headquarters located at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that employs a network of space-based, aerial and ground-based sensors, air-to-air refuelling tankers and fighter aircraft, controlled by a sophisticated command and control network to deter, detect and defend against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American airspace.