The U.S. and Canada missed an opportunity to deploy an upgraded NORAD radar-based air defense system before the 2001 terrorist attacks because of problems that have hindered both countries' efforts to field a tried-and-proven system for more than a decade, including escalating costs, blown deadlines, mismatched technology and mismanaged programs, according to government audits and acquisition documents.
Two years before the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. and Canadian NORAD partnership was supposed to start installing a new command-and-control (C2) system for the radars with capabilities that possibly could have been used to help stop terrorists from slamming their hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The technology for that system would serve as the building blocks for the system the two countries eventually deployed last year - the Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F).
The cancellation of the earlier program in the late 1990s not only ate up about $200 million in investments by the two countries, but also caused a crack in the NORAD partnership on C2 air defense systems, according to a Canadian National Defence Headquarters audit, "Modernizing the NORAD System in Canada - National Defence," released this month.
Canadian defense officials argued the modernization program could still work.
After dropping the joint NORAD improvement project, both countries set off on separate and ultimately costly C2 modernization tracks for the radar systems.
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