Satellites are essential to Canada’s Arctic surveillance strategy

The Canadian government is strengthening its defense and surveillance capabilities in the Arctic, emphasizing the use of space resources and new technologies.

Anita Anand, Canada’s defense minister, said the federal government’s 2022 budget, released on April 7, contained C $ 252 million ($ 199 million) to begin research on the modernization of Canada-US cooperation. Arctic North Warning System. In addition, the money will be used for long-range communications for the north and for research on radar systems above the horizon.

Ananda had earlier indicated that no further announcements of new Arctic-related projects had been made. In an April 4 appearance before the Canadian Senate Defense Committee, Anand noted that concerns about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russian activity in the Arctic were driving new funding.

“The current defense and security climate has also underscored that we need to do more to strengthen our defenses in Canada and North America,” he said. To that end, in the coming months we will launch a strong investment package to strengthen our continental defense in close cooperation with the United States. A

In a March 29 meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Anand stressed that modernizing the capabilities of the North American Space Defense Command is a top priority for the Canadian government. Much of this modernization will focus on upgrading the Northern Warning System or NWS.

The NWS was built between 1986 and 1992 and consists of a series of long and short range air defense radar sites. Forty-seven of the 50 sites are located in the Canadian Arctic region.

Canadian and American defense officials have not yet released the details of the modernization, but the estimated cost of such a national project is expected to be around $ 10 billion.

Bill Matthews, Canada’s Deputy Secretary of Defense, told the senators, “You see here the multi-year effort, clearly working hand in hand with our allies to prioritize work and land on specific plans.”

However, in an agreement reached on August 21, 2021, Canada and the United States established priority areas for investment. This includes situational awareness, especially for continental Arctic and marine approaches. It will see the replacement of the Northern Warning System with the next generation of over-the-horizon radar systems and more advanced technological solutions as soon as possible, the two countries stressed in a statement issued at the time. Sensors for both seabed and space are also included. “The existing northern warning system must be maintained until the appropriate replacement capacity is in place,” the two countries noted.

Consideration should also be given to a modern command and control system that would include strong and resilient communications for remote locations in support of the NORAD mission.

In addition, members of the Canadian defense and aerospace industry were briefed on April 7 by Canadian Defense Department officials about some space initiatives that will be taken in the future.

One of the core programs is the Enhanced Satellite Communication Project – Polar (ESCP-P). It will involve a satellite to provide reliable and secure communication access to the Arctic.

Preliminary work on the project, which will provide narrowband and broadband communication capabilities, is expected to begin next year, according to a briefing given to the industry by Cam Stoltz, director of aerospace requirements at the Ministry of National Defense.

The budget has not yet been set, but the Department of Defense estimates it could be C $ 4.9 billion.

At one point, the Canadian government considered orbiting a constellation of satellites to provide Arctic communications and collect weather information from the region. This project proved to be very scary and was canceled in 2016. Instead, Canada has decided to focus solely on communication capabilities, with the result being ESCP-P. Other countries, including New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, the United States and France, have also expressed interest in working with Canada on the ESCP-P.

The system is expected to be operational by 2034 and will be interactive with the US Department of Defense and NATO.

Work on the Enhanced Defense Surveillance from Space (DESSP) project will also begin next year. This space-based system will provide surveillance over the Canadian Arctic and its marine approaches, as it is currently designed to upgrade one of the defenses provided by the RADARSAT constellation mission.

Launched in 2019, RADARSAT uses three radar imaging satellites to perform constellation missions, marine and Arctic surveillance. RCM is equipped with an Automated Identification System (AIS), which allows the detection and tracking of ships.

The Department of National Defense has consulted with industry about DESSP and received feedback from companies on technology in November 2021 that may be available for future projects. How to proceed will now depend on the defense officials.

However, DESSP’s initial operational capability is envisaged in 2033, Stoltz told industry officials.

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue of SpaceNews Magazine.

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