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Jun 07, 2009
Canada sending motion detectors to thwart Afghan bombers
A high-tech surveillance system supplied by an Ottawa-based company could be in Afghanistan by year end to help protect troops from roadside bombs and insurgent attacks.
The Thales Canada system, which can detect movement out to 40 kilometres, will be used to keep a 24-hour watch on roads and approaches to Canadian bases.
The Canadian military is spending a little more than $12 million on the eight systems to be used to detect enemy forces planting improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, as well as suspicious movements near the troops’ forward operating bases. IEDs are the weapon of choice of the Taliban in Afghanistan and roadside bombs or landmines have contributed to a large number of the Canadian deaths in the war.
Mike Reid, a director of special projects at Thales Canada, said the system will not only help protect troops in Afghanistan but could eventually find a role at home with civilian police forces for such security functions as counter-smuggling or providing surveillance at the Olympics. A number of police agencies have expressed interest in the system.
“It can tell the difference between a horse and a person by the movement between their arms and legs,” said Reid. “We see out past 40 kilometres and we can definitely pick up people, pick up someone crawling on the ground at two kilometres plus.”
The sensors, which include radar and camera, are outfitted on a tower. An alarm is sounded when the radar picks up ground movement and the operator of the system can then use the long-range camera to examine what has been detected. Other sensors could also be hooked up to the system if desired, noted Reid.
The Dutch military is currently using a similar system in Afghanistan.
The Defence Department said it could not respond to a request for comment on the project.
Reid said all the systems will be delivered by the end of the summer, but did not have a specific date when the equipment would be sent to Kandahar. “My indication is that the next rotation (of troops) is in the fall,” he said. “That would be a logical time for (the sensors) to go over. We know it’s urgent.”
A second part of the project, to purchase a camera system mounted on a balloon or aerostat as it is called, is expected to soon be announced. Raytheon Canada, which has offices in Ottawa, has put in a bid for that project. The company’s systems are already in use in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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