Government of Canada awards contract for new space-based SAR technology

Through Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the Government of Canada is ensuring that our women and men in uniform have the equipment they need to do their jobs and to protect Canadians.

On May 10, Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, and Francis Scarpaleggia, Member of Parliament for Lac-Saint-Louis, on behalf of Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, announced that the Government of Canada has awarded a $39 million contract to Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates Corporation (MDA) of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., to design, build and deliver 10 search and rescue repeaters for National Defence’s Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) system.

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This contract will help create or maintain 44 jobs over its length, which will stimulate economic growth in Quebec.

Deployed on a satellite, a repeater detects signals from distress beacons across the country and along Canada’s coastlines and relays them to a ground station.

As part of an agreement between National Defence and the United States Air Force (USAF), the Canadian repeaters will be hosted on the USAF’s next-generation GPS satellites.

The MEOSAR system is expected to deliver improved response times for search and rescue activities and increase accuracy to locate people, ships or planes in distress. It will replace Canada’s current search and rescue system, which has been in place for several decades.

“Our government is committed to providing the Canadian Armed Forces with cutting-edge technology for search and rescue operations to save those in distress in Canada,” said Garneau. “These repeaters will be designed and built with homegrown Canadian aerospace expertise, supporting our aerospace sector and stimulating economic growth in Quebec.”

“Through this investment, our government is supporting the Canadian Armed Forces in their important work to help save people’s lives both on land and sea,” said Scarpaleggia. “The contract with MDA will also help sustain economic growth in our community with 44 good middle-class jobs.”

“This project builds on the successful partnership between National Defence and MDA to develop innovative solutions that are vital to Canada’s sovereignty and security,” said Mike Greenley, group president of Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates Corporation. “Once qualified as operational, this system will dramatically improve both the speed and location accuracy for detecting beacons, and as a result, greatly enhance the coordination and dispatch of search and rescue teams to help people in distress.”

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Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, reaffirms Canada’s commitment to invest in our military, and sustain our search and rescue capabilities.
  • Alongside the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Armed Forces responds to more than 9,000 search and rescue calls annually, approximately 1,000 of which result in the launching of search and rescue air assets.
  • The contract will run until Feb. 1, 2029. The government may extend the contract to Aug. 1, 2034, if it elects to acquire an additional 12 repeaters.
  • The contract was awarded following an open, fair and transparent competitive procurement process, which included a fairness monitor who observed the procurement process.

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