RCM will have other maritime roles and capabilities. It can be used for environmental missions, such
as monitoring oil pollution or changes in coastlines.
It also can provide data on ice quantity and density,
aiding in safe navigation for commercial and military fleets.
While the RCM is primarily focused on maritime
security requirements, it will have a capability to
monitor ground targets, particularly those in the
Arctic. The constellation will provide up to four satellite passes per day in Canada’s far north, and several
passes per day over the Northwest Passage.
Rear Adm. Gilles Couturier, deputy commander of
the Royal Canadian Navy, told Seapower that the service
considers RCM “a force multiplier for maritime domain
awareness” and an improvement on the surveillance
capabilities provided by Radarsat- 2.
“The Royal Canadian Navy plays a key role in
detecting, identifying and tracking vessels of inter-
est in Canada’s maritime areas, the Arctic region
and in support of expeditionary operations around
the world,” he said. “RCM will make this task a lot
easier with expanded coverage and more frequent
Other Canadian federal government departments,
ranging from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Agriculture
Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources
Canada and Public Safety Canada, will use RCM data.
But the biggest user will be the
Canadian military, accounting for
around 80 percent, Frawley said.
The surveillance to be conducted by the satellites is not
limited to the approaches of North
America and its northern regions.
“The orbit of the constellation
is such that it will cover pretty
much the entire globe at inter-
vals,” Frawley said. “With three
satellites in formation, we’ll be
able to revisit anywhere we want
on the surface of the Earth.”
Frawley said the U.S. govern-
ment is keen on RCM and the data
it will be able to provide.
“We have relations with
the NGA [National Geospatial-
Intelligence Agency] and NRO
Office],” he said. “It’s predomi-
nately the NGA we work with to
determine what their require-
ments might be with RCM.”
He noted that since NORAD has expanded into the
maritime domain, the RCM will contribute to the orga-
nization’s situational awareness, particularly of the
maritime approaches to the continent.
“The U.S. is very interested in what RCM is going to
bring to the fight,” Frawley said.
To receive the data from the RCM, the Canadian
Armed Forces has started the Polar Epsilon 2 (PE- 2)
On June 17, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan
announced that the government had awarded a 48. 5
million Canadian dollar contract to MacDonald,
Dettwiler and Associates for that project.
Ground stations will be situated on the east and
west coasts of Canada. The contract includes two years
of in-service support to operate and maintain the
“PE- 2 is what we will use to pull down that critical
RCM information and feed it to the warfighters and the
ops centers that require it,” Frawley said.
At one point, there was consideration to upgrade
the existing facilities that currently are receiving data
from Radarsat- 2. But Frawley said newer technology is
needed to deal with RCM.
“With new computing capabilities it requires new
ground stations and antennae,” he said. “The plan is for
that to be in place when RCM is up and running.” n
The Radarsat Constellation Mission is shown in this artist’s concept. Its three radar-imaging sat-
ellites can track vessels at night and through cloud cover, and will be used to enhance Canada’s
maritime situational awareness and feed data to the U.S. military.