No Fighter Escorts For Santa

You know the Defense budget is getting tight when we can't spare a few measly fighter planes to escort an imaginary character.

You know the Defense budget is getting tight when we can’t spare a few measly fighter planes to escort an imaginary character.

Air Force Times (“NORAD: No Fighter Escorts For Santa“):

As it has every year since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command will be tracking Santa on his whirlwind journey to deliver presents to all the good little boys and girls around the world.

But he won’t be escorted by armed fighter jets.

When NORAD recently launched its yearly online Santa tracker, the site featured a video showing the jolly old elf being escorted by U.S. fighter jets “bristling with missiles,” as the Boston Globe put it.

That caused a minor earthquake in the Twitterverse about why Santa would need an armed escort. The answer: Russia.

But a NORAD spokesman confirmed to Military Times that the “missiles” are actually fuel tanks.

“Guilty as charged, we tried to give it a more operational feel this year; that was purposefully done to try to highlight our mission sets,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis. “If you look at the second promo video we have where it talks through a mock training exercise, it really lays out what our different missions are and shows the different radar sets.”

So while NORAD will be tracking Santa’s flight this Christmas, if St. Nick gets into a tussle with some MiGs, his only defense will be the evasive capabilities of his reindeer.

This gives war on Christmas a whole new meaning.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, Santa just better watch his ass if he flies over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands!

  2. KM says:

    Sorry to be a Scrooge but I have to agree with this. Jets are expensive and quite frankly there are better things to spend the money on that would more accurately reflect the season’s tidings if that is the intent. It’s a lovely idea (like all childhood fantasies are) but in the real world, military escorts are way past frivolous. There’s indulgence and then there’s just waste.

    If NORAD really wanted to do something Christmassy for the general public, then donate the money that would have cost to Toys for Tots or something.

  3. KM says:

    Besides, Santa’s supposed to have been doing this for ages now. With the best tech around (how else does the latest tricked out electronics get to you?). Surely he’s got better gear then we do since he’s not on a budget. The man’ll be fine…..

  4. rudderpedals says:

    It’s good that the armed escort is disappearing. He’s being escorted by F22s. They ought to be stealthy, why not?

    Santa’ll probably put in an appearance on Mission Control’s situation map on the NASA Select cable channel. Film at 2300