GD secures $32M NATO contract

Ottawa employees at General Dynamics Canada are gearing up to fulfill a $32-million subcontract to work on a ground surveillance program for NATO.

The contract comes from the program’s prime contractor, Northrop Grumman Corp. The local branch of General Dynamics will provide communications management software, ruggedized computer workstations, intercom systems and engineering support for the project.

The NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Program will enable the organization to perform surveillance over wide areas from high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicles.

The new program has a budget of more than $1 billion and could result in future opportunities for the company, said Mike Greenley, the international vice-president of General Dynamics’ C4 systems.

“A new defence system is in the field for 20 or 30 years,” he said in an interview at the company’s west-end facility Friday. “Any new platform is a potential new long-term opportunity.”

The contract, which will take two to three years to complete and is already underway, will likely lead to a support contract for fixes and upgrades. Additionally, the company’s experience in airborne surveillance and communication between vehicles means potential opportunities for future work on the project, he said.

“This is the door opener, the initial contract to get you involved,” he said.

With 850 employees working out of the office in Bells Corners, this contract will sustain those jobs but likely won’t lead to many new hires, Mr. Greenley said.

The local office of the international defence and security firm focuses on all aspects of the business, including communications for armies and ground units, airborne surveillance and underwater surveillance technology – all elements that make the company a prime candidate for contracts on the fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft procurement project as well as the national shipbuilding procurement strategy.

“There will be lots of opportunities keeping track of those programs,” Mr. Greenley said.

As well as providing communications for the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force, General Dynamics services the United States Army and Marine Corps, as well as the British Army. The company does work for military forces in the middle east, a market expected to yield lucrative business opportunities over the next year or two, he said.

At an event celebrating the contract at General Dynamics’ office, Ottawa MP and Conservative cabinet minister John Baird passed on his congratulations.

“How many people drive by here on Robertson Road and know about the world-class work we've got here being exported right around the globe?” he asked.

General Dynamics Canada has offices in Calgary, Nova Scotia and Ottawa.

Development and production of the AGS program is expected to take place over the next three years, with initial operation scheduled for November 2016.