MDA to deliver mission-critical SAR information for maritime surveillance

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

12 September 2018


MDA, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates), announced that it has signed a multi-million dollar contract with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) for a one-year maritime surveillance program that includes the delivery of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data products from the RADARSAT-2 satellite, using MDA's global network of ground receiving stations.

The contract includes two additional option years.

As part of the Presidential program Operation Phakisa, SANSA has been tasked to acquire SAR imagery with the aim of enhancing the monitoring and protection of South Africa's coastal regions and oceans.

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Initiatives under this program are considered crucial in accelerating the delivery of South Africa's development priorities. Operations Phakisa estimates that the approximate total contribution of coastal resources (marine fishing, port and harbour development, attractive lifestyles, recreation and tourism) is 35% of South Africa's GDP.

The information provided by the SAR data contributes to ensuring improved governance and enables the securing of South African resources, such as the National Ocean and Coastal Information System.

The South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is roughly 1.5 million square km and forms part of the economic resources and trade routes of South Africa. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa's central and premier scientific research and development organization will create the ship and oil detection products for SANSA to share with various government agencies.

"RADARSAT-2 provides a unique method of cost-effectively and accurately monitoring very large areas and providing information in near real-time, demonstrating immediate value to users," said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA. "MDA has decades of remote sensing expertise to help our customers anticipate and address their most complex mission-critical challenges with confidence."

Under this contract, using RADARSAT-2 information, MDA will provide systematic weekly broad-area surveillance over South Africa's EEZ and on-demand high-resolution image acquisitions.

RADARSAT-2 Ocean Surveillance Mode is well suited for broad area maritime surveillance, and is unique as a single scene covers over 250,000 km2 and allows for the detection of ships and oil within the coastal and offshore regions regardless of light or weather condition