Yesterday the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Department of National Defence has plans for a $1 billion Arctic Surveillance Satellite Network follow-on program to the yet to be built RADARSAT Constellation Mission.
The new information was obtained by the Ottawa Citizen from documents that showed DND had outlined the plan to then defence minister Julian Fantino.
One could look at this and just laugh. After all, the DND is faced with budget cuts including its military space assets. The RADARSAT Constellation Mission has yet to be built and is currently on hold pending, it would seem, the outcome of the current Aerospace Review. The Review will deliver its findings to the government in mid-December after which the government should provide some direction to the aerospace community in the new year.
But instead of laughing out loud, consider this. The Department of National Defence must look forward with its planning. As with any organization, short, mid and long range plans are drawn up. It’s only prudent. The proposed Arctic Surveillance Satellite Network is just one such plan. Will it ever be built? At this point the answer would be no based on current budget outlays looking forward. But plans and priorities change over time which is why an annual Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) is issued. The current DND RPP has only seven references of the word “arctic” which tells you a lot about how the government in reality has been scaling back its plans for the arctic. So the proposed Arctic Surveillance Satellite Network is only a white paper at this time with no budget or plans to actually build it.