Canada has signed onto a global wideband satellite communications system that will fill the strategic satellite communications requirements of the Canadian Forces over the next 20 years.
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding Tuesday afternoon.
“The Canadian Forces’ recent efforts in Libya and Afghanistan have highlighted the critical importance of rapid communications between headquarters and deployed forces,” said Minister MacKay. “This agreement with our allies will meet the requirement for secure data and voice transmissions, which are essential to the success of modern military operations.”
“Our Government is demonstrating its commitment to providing our Canadian Forces with the modern capabilities that ensure our brave men and women the best probability of mission success,” said Minister Fantino. “Canada is pleased to participate in this international partnership that is critical to the success of future Canadian Forces missions.”
“In addition to bringing long-term benefits to the Canadian Forces, this investment brings economic benefits to Canada and, in particular, Canada’s space industries,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry. “Thanks to Canada’s Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy, this project will translate into new work for Canadian firms.”
Canada joins allies such as Australia, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States who have also signed the WGS Memorandum of Understanding. This international partnership is an investment in developing a global satellite communications system of up to 10 satellites. WGS satellites provide X- and Ka-band capacity from geostationary orbit.
In exchange for a contribution of $337.3 million, the Canadian Forces will obtain approximately 20 years of access to reserved frequencies for military communications systems in theatres of operation across the globe. This cost is less than what Canada would pay if it continued to purchase satellite communications capacity on the commercial market and approximately $140 million less than what was approved by the Order in Council in October 2011.