NORAD Chief Sees Value in Light Air Defense Aircraft

Adm. James Winnefeld, US Northern Command and NORAD boss, told reporters Thursday in Washington, D.C., that he is concerned about potential capability gaps in the domestic air defense mission, particularly against low and slow moving threats. “In terms of the high end, we have the F-16, an aircraft which is more than capable for the mission,” he said. Winnefeld cited the F-16’s ability to respond rapidly, cruise at high altitude, and take decisive action against threats, if needed. However, he also noted there are “some missions that are hard for an F-16 to do,” particularly responding to low, slow threats, such as the small aircraft that a pilot purposely flew into an IRS building in February in Austin, Tex. “I’m not ready to express a requirement for this, but I’m interested in a slower, lighter aircraft . . . that could potentially fill in some gaps,” he said.