The military command created at the height of the Cold War to defend the United States and Canada from nuclear attacks is facing a new threat from Russia: hypersonic weapons.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, is marking 60 years of existence. On the heels of that anniversasry, though, CNBC learned that multiple U.S. intelligence reports assess Russia will be capable of fielding a hypersonic glide vehicle, a weapon that no country can defend against, by 2020.
"[Hypersonic weapons] is a developing field, so there is not much that I can state here officially," said Canadian Lt. Gen. Pierre St-Amand, deputy NORAD commander, when asked about the CNBC report at a discussion at the Canadian embassy in Washington.
"We are tracking and providing advice so that we can be in a position to continue to develop our mission in the future," St-Amand said, adding that NORAD is watching and discussing the hypersonic weapons threat.
Since its creation in the late 1950s, NORAD has been responsible for detecting incoming threats and protecting the air space above the United States and Canada. In a nod to the Cold War paranoia of the time, the command was constructed nearly a mile inside of a mountain and underneath 2,400 feet of granite.