Canada May Host Radar Site for US Missile Defense System

An X-Band radar site in Goose Bay, Labrador, would cost around $500 million

From David Pugliese, Ottowa Citizen:  Canadian military officials are trying to revive a plan to install a high-tech radar system at Goose Bay as an offering to the U.S. for Canadian participation in the Pentagon’s missile shield.

The debate over Canada’s potential involvement in the missile defence shield was back in the news last week, with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews commenting on a television talk show that a broader discussion was needed on the issue. Toews declined to comment on news reports Canada was looking at various options on how it could contribute.

Speaking in the Commons last week, Defence Minister Peter MacKay would not rule out any future involvement, saying: “We have, in the past… consistently reviewed our security policies with a mind to ensuring that Canadians were protected at home and abroad.”

U.S. officials have said there have been no recent discussions with Canadian representatives about the missile defence shield, but that’s because Canada is still gathering information for various options it hopes to present to the U.S. government.

A radar located at CFB Goose Bay, NL would have an advantage over other sensors as it would be able to give several minutes more advance warning of a missile attack on North America’s eastern seaboard.

One of the top options is reviving a 2005 proposal that federal government and aerospace industry representatives were moving on shortly before then-Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Canada would not take part in the American missile defence system. That proposal centred on the installation of an X-Band radar for surveillance missions and to provide another set of eyes for the Pentagon’s shield. Such a radar on the East Coast could detect an incoming rocket fired from the Middle East.

At the time, the construction of the X-Band radar was not only being promoted as a way to contribute to the North American Aerospace Defence Command’s (NORAD) surveillance mission but, in addition, to keep a strong military presence at Goose Bay. The cost of the proposal was pegged at around $500 million. The offering to the U.S. this time around would only include territory for the radar and support services. The U.S. would have to provide the radar.

Defence officials believe they have a good chance of convincing the Conservative government to move ahead with the plan because of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pro-military stance and his desire to fulfill election promises for Goose Bay. (graphic: Ottowa Citizen)

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