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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Liberals will spend $133 million in five years for Arctic Surveillance

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

OTTAWA — The Canadian government will spend $133 million over the next five years for new technologies to improve surveillance of the Arctic.

Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut. 7 April 2014 – Twin Otter aircraft crew, Captain (Capt) Chuck Rockwell, Capt Andrew Oakes and Corporal Mike Nesbitt takes off from Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut after a personnel and equipment drop off on April 7, 2014 during Operation NUNALIVUT. (Photo: Master Seaman Peter Reed, CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia)
Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut. 7 April 2014 – Twin Otter aircraft crew, Captain (Capt) Chuck Rockwell, Capt Andrew Oakes and Corporal Mike Nesbitt takes off from Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut after a personnel and equipment drop off on April 7, 2014 during Operation NUNALIVUT. (Photo: Master Seaman Peter Reed, CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia)
The research project dovetails with the election promise of the Liberals who said they would increase surveillance in the Far North.

The work could also provide new technology for Canada as it enters into the renewal of the North American Aerospace Defence Command agreement with the United States. Senior NORAD officers have suggested that to be relevant past 2025 the alliance should improve its surveillance capabilities in the north.

Defence Research and Development Canada, the military’s science organization, is co-ordinating the surveillance research. The project will “enhance all domain situational awareness” of the air, sea and underwater approaches to Canada, particularly in the Arctic, according to a DRDC notice recently issued to companies and universities.

“Right now we’re generating interest,” said DRDC spokeswoman Kathleen Guillot. “The call for proposals is anticipated in the fall.” The DRDC notice sent to industry noted that climate change is making the north more accessible, increasing economic activity and international interest in the Arctic.

“Such increased Arctic activity brings additional responsibilities for the Department of National Defence and other government departments in search and rescue, emergency response and environmental monitoring,” the notice noted. “A greater awareness of the potential challenges posed by foreign military and commercial activities in the Arctic region is also essential for Canada.”

It also stated that the current North Warning System radar technology, used for providing surveillance of northern air approaches to North America, will need to be replaced as early as 2025.

We view the Arctic as an emerging operating area with much yet to be defined.

“Starting work now to define cost effective solutions that would provide the situational awareness capabilities required into the future is critical for the defence of Canada, and the United States, against continuously evolving potential adversary systems and threats,” according to the DRDC notice.

Whatever technology to be considered for the Arctic must be suitable for a remote setting, where there is limited power, harsh weather and “vulnerability to capture,” it said.

U.S. officers are already viewing improvements in surveillance in the Arctic as an important part of protecting the continent. At a January 2015 news conference, Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command, said the Arctic remains “key terrain as the northern approach to North America.”

“We view the Arctic as an emerging operating area with much yet to be defined,” he said.

Canadian defence officials see the provision of a new radar system in the Arctic as potentially fulfilling part of its contribution to the future of NORAD, according to a September 2013 Department of National Defence briefing note. NORAD conducted a strategic review in 2014 noting the need for improved sensors, communications and infrastructure in the high North in order to remain effective into the future.

Canada’s Arctic coastline is 162,000 kilometers long and only one-tenth of its northern waters are charted.

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