The Pentagon is quietly working to set up an elaborate network of defenses to protect American cities from a barrage of Russian cruise missiles.

The plan calls for buying radars that would enable National Guard F-16 fighter jets to spot and shoot down fast and low-flying missiles. Top generals want to network those radars with sensor-laden aerostat balloons hovering overU.S. cities and with coastal warships equipped with sensors and interceptor missiles of their own.

One of those generals is Adm. William Gortney, who leads U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, and North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. Earlier this year, Gortney submitted an “urgent need” request to put those new radars on the F-16s that patrol the airspace around Washington. Such a request allows a project to circumvent the normal procurement process.

While no one will talk openly about the Pentagon’s overall cruise missile defense plans, much of which remains classified, senior military officials have provided clues in speeches, congressional hearings and other public forums over the past year. The statements reveal the Pentagon’s concern about advanced cruise missiles being developed by Russia.

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