High-tech Canadian radar sold to Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Monday, 28 January 2008, 12:46 GMT]
A high-frequency surface wave radar, hailed as the only one of its kind in the world and developed with Canadian taxpayer's money at a cost of $39 million has been sold to Sri Lanka. This high-tech radar, jointly developed by Canadian defence scientists adn Raytheon Canada Limited, is capable of monitoring small boats hundreds of kilometers away.

A high-tech radar intended to monitor small boats operated by drug dealers and terrorists on B.C.'s coast and developed with Canadian tax dollars is being installed in Sri Lanka after the federal government decided it couldn't use the system.

The high-frequency surface wave radar, developed at a cost of $39 million by Ottawa defence scientists and Raytheon Canada Limited, had been hailed several years ago by federal officials as the only one of its kind in the world and a major boost for domestic security.

The federal government set aside $43 million to build and operate eight radar sites on the East and West coasts as part of its push to improve security in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But the government has shut down the existing experimental radar sites in Newfoundland, and the program has been cancelled. The project was derailed after one complaint was received that the radar interfered with civilian communications. The experimental radars had been operating for 10 years without a complaint.

But Raytheon Canada, which builds the high-frequency surface wave radar, is pushing ahead with marketing the system to other nations. It has sold the radar to Sri Lanka with the help of the Canadian Commercial Corp., a Crown agency that helps companies market their products overseas. Other international customers are being lined up, said Raytheon Canada vice-president Denny Roberts.

"The technology works," Roberts said. "Other countries don't seem to have a problem with it."

The radar is unique in that it can track ships at much greater distances than regular surveillance systems. It can detect objects as far away as 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from Canada's coasts.

The information gathered by the network was to have been fed into the navy's surveillance centres in Esquimalt and Halifax and shared with various federal agencies.

Canada has been leading development in the area of surface wave radar technology. The British government built a similar system during the Second World War, but it had limited range.

With recent advances in computer processing, scientists from Defence Research and Development Canada's Ottawa laboratories decided to revisit the idea.

The system transmits high-frequency waves that follow the curvature of the Earth to detect and track objects hundreds of kilometres over the horizon. Regular radars are restricted to objects in their line of sight on the horizon.

The Canadian navy had hoped the radars would cut down on surveillance costs, in particular the flying time of Aurora maritime patrol planes.

 

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