OTTAWA, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Canada has announced plans to upgrade and modernize a pair of military radar systems in a bid to boost the defense of North American airspace.
In announcing the move, Defense Minister Peter MacKay said the new portable tactical radar systems for the Canadian military in Alberta and Quebec are part of an $80 million project upgrading the country's air force
The project also includes the acquisition of 65 new F-35 jet fighters.
The new radars will replace aging systems and afford "long range air surveillance and aerospace control capability" in support of military operations in Canada and abroad, a defense ministry statement said.
It said the new system, to be delivered beginning in February 2013, would help the military track flights during humanitarian missions such as last year's deployment to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
In remarks made in Winnipeg, MacKay said the funding for the project will derive from state funds allocated in the last budget.
The project, plus the recent purchase of F-35 stealth jet fighters show that the conservative government in Canada is giving the country's military the tools to execute its duties.
"Our government's investments are helping to ensure that our airmen and women have the up-to-date equipment and infrastructure needed to perform their missions and build on their remarkable successes," said MacKay.
"We continue to demonstrate our commitment to providing the Canadian Forces the right equipment and facilities to do their jobs effectively."
The minister explained that the multimillion-dollar contract was awarded to Thales Canada Inc. for the purchase of two modern deployable radars. The contract is said to provide, also, investment in industrial and regional at 100 percent of the contract value, creating approximately 40 employment opportunity, media reported.
"The air force is certainly appreciative of announcements that provide new equipment to further modernize our capabilities," said Maj. Gen. Yvan Blondin, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division. "Acquisition of both the new tactical control radars and the cargo loaders will provide the air force with an even greater capacity to meet our ongoing commitments, both at home and abroad."
Opposition liberals have vowed to scrap the F-35 contract, replacing it with a new bidding process for aircraft that will replace Canada's aging fleet of CF-18s. The opposition lawmakers argued that the planes are "not the right priority" for Canada at a time of when the federal government holds a record deficit.