MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates is pleased to announce that on June 6, 2017, the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) presented their Military Achievement Award to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for their Unclassified Remote Sensing Situational Awareness (URSA) program, which provides superior Maritime Domain Awareness. As prime contractor for the URSA program, MDA was recognized by the CAF under their award as a key contributor. The Military Achievement Award distinguishes exceptional GEOINT accomplishments by an individual or team from the military service branches or the Department of Defense that contributes to the increased effectiveness of national security.
In December 2016, the CAF deployed the URSA system to the Middle Eastern Area of Responsibility under Operation FOUNDATION. Developed by MDA under a contract awarded in 2011, URSA is comprised of two transportable satellite ground stations capable of being rapidly deployed to any area of interest at home and abroad. Each URSA can receive and process commercial satellite imagery from multiple optical and synthetic aperture radar satellites, and provide direct delivery of unclassified, and therefore sharable commercial satellite imagery, giving deployed CAF commanders key information in near real time of their area of interest. URSA can be deployed anytime and virtually anywhere the CAF operates.
Norman Hannaford, MDA’s vice president and general manager responsible for this business said, “We are honoured and proud to be part of the team that delivered the support to Operation FOUNDATION, and congratulate the Canadian Armed Forces for receiving the Military Achievement Award, the first time the recipient of the award was outside of the U.S. We would like to thank the many CAF and MDA teams whose dedicated efforts helped achieve the goal of improving situational awareness for deployed commanders.”
The innovative addition of Near Real-Time Ship Detection (NRTSD) capability from MDA’s RADARSAT-2 satellite to the existing offerings provided by URSA allows the mobile ground system to support CAF and Coalition Maritime Operations by sharing with the regions Combined Maritime Forces and the United States Naval Command Central. Space-based radar ship detection reports combined with satellite imagery provides an enhanced maritime common operating picture, improved situational awareness for deployed commanders, and cross-cueing of any number of Space, Air, or Seaborne assets. URSA is a force multiplier highlighting the effective operational use of space based Maritime Domain Awareness.