MDA Wins Department of National Defence Contract for SAR/GPS Repeaters

Artist rendering of the US Air Force GPS III satellite. Credit: US Air Force.

Maxar Technologies announced last Friday that MDA, its Canadian division, had won a contract from the Government to provide 10 flight-ready Search and Rescue/Global Positioning System (SAR/GPS) repeaters.

It’s an important win for the company and fits in nicely with the Department of National Defence’s (DND) ongoing implementation of Canada’s new defence policy, Strong, Secure, and Engaged.

The 10 SAR/GPS repeaters will be hosted on the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation Global Positioning Systems (GPS) III satellites and used as part of DND’s Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) system.

According to the media release the repeaters “detects signals from distress beacons across the country and along Canada’s coastlines and relays them to a ground station. 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.”

The value of the contract is $39M and runs through February 1, 2029. The government has the option to extend if it decided to acquire and additional 12 repeaters. That would increase the contract value to over $55M according to MDA.

The work will be done in MDA’s Montreal facility in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and “will help create or maintain 44 jobs over the length of the contract.”

Marc Garneau, the Minister of Transport said “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. These repeaters will be designed and built with homegrown Canadian aerospace expertise, supporting our aerospace sector and stimulating economic growth in Quebec.”

Mike Greenley, group president of MDA said “this project builds on MDA’s previous successes and ensures MDA’s commitment to develop innovative solutions that are vital to Canada’s sovereignty and security. 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.”

The first GPS III satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, was launched December 23, 2018 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The next two GPS III satellites are expected to launch in late July and October. The first Canadian SAR/GPS repeaters will be available by 2026 and fully functional by 2027 according to DND.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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