Canada Ordering Aerostats and Towers
The need for affordable 24/7 surveillance of key areas like bases and geographic chokepoints is a key feature of both modern counterinsurgency, and domestic/ border security. In the USA, this has resulted in programs like Raytheon’s RAID/ GBOSS towers and aerostats, Lockheed Martin’s TARS aerostats along the southern border, and Lockheed Martin PTDS aerostats on the front lines. The same trend can be observed in places like Thailand and in Israel, whose experience has led to export orders in Mexico and India.
In mid-June 2009, the Government of Canada decided to take a similar approach, and order aerostats and surveillance towers for use on the front lines. Instead of awarding contracts to Raytheon or Lockheed Martin, however, the 1st phase of Canada’s Enhanced Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Project awarded a pair of contracts to Thales Systems Canada Inc. (C$ 12.5/ $10.8 million) and Rheinmetall Canada (C$ 13.6/ $11.75 million). The contracts will include supply and delivery of equipment and associated accessories, training, spares, and contractor integrated logistics support.
These awards are small, but there is a definite possibility that Canada’s decision will increase competition in the international military aerostat/surveillance tower market. In both cases, one can expect the awards to feed back into their parent company’s capabilities matrix, with the Canadian subsidiaries positioned as potential global centers of excellence.