The most recently released federal records indicates that Canada transferred over $2-billion CAD in military exports to customers around the world in 2018. Left unpublished are the vast military exports to Canada’s closest trading partner, the United States.
For years, Canada’s arms exports to the United States have been largely exempt from federal reporting protocols. Such exemptions persist despite Canada’s September 2019 accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which explicitly calls for universal standards in reporting.
According to Export Controls Canada, roughly half of Canada’s annual arms sales are to its southern neighbour. These include both the primary armaments used in conflict, such as firearms, munitions, and combat vehicles; and the critical supports, services, parts, and components that keep the U.S. military operational.
Prime contracts to the U.S. valuing over $150,000 USD are brokered through the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). Subcontracts, however, are fulfilled directly between the Canadian supplier and U.S. customer. Where annual CCC records provide insights on the value of Canadian prime contracts to the U.S., lack of government reporting of subcontracts make them more difficult to track.
What follows are details about the five largest publicly announced Canadian arms contracts and subcontracts to the United States from 2015-2020, collected through media, government, and open sources by Project Ploughshares. Estimates based upon historical precedent are used when exact values are unreported.
MX-10D EO/IR units
This contract is the largest in the history of Burlington, Ontario’s L3 Wescam, a global leader in military imaging technology. The company’s long-ranged electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) camera systems are used on more than a dozen U.S. aerial, land-based, and maritime military vehicles. The MX-10D variant can spot and track targets during the day and night, and can direct munitions with a laser designator.
Over five years, MX-10Ds are being fitted onto U.S. Army RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These compact, rail-launched aerial platforms engage in reconnaissance and target acquisition and have been deployed to a number of active theatres.
Development, support, and testing of M1126 Stryker armoured fighting vehicles
This subcontract with the U.S. Army is shared by London, Ontario’s General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada and General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Since 2005, the Canadian operation has supplied the U.S. Army with Strykers, derived from the Canadian LAV IIIs. Although, at its core, the Stryker is an armoured transport vehicle, the platform is fitted with an array of weaponry, and has taken on a variety of combat roles.
Strykers were used in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, and, more recently, by U.S. special forces in northern Syria.
Landing gear repair and overhaul services for C-130, E-3, and KC-135R aircraft
This renewed long-term contract is with Longueuil, Québec’s Héroux-Devtek, one of several large commercial and military aerospace suppliers located on the southern Canadian shore of the Saint Lawrence River. Initially unreported, the deal includes the manufacturing and delivery of aftermarket components.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) employs the C-130, E-3, and KC-135R aircraft in a variety of roles, including transportation of personnel and cargo, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), and mid-air refueling.
PT6 turboshaft engines for MH-139A “Grey Wolf” helicopters
Pratt & Whitney Canada is also located in Longueuil. Their PT6 turboshaft engines power many military airframes, including MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters.
In 2018, the USAF announced the procurement of as many as 84 Grey Wolves to replace the well-known Vietnam-era Bell UH-1N “Huey.” The first units, delivered in 2019, will undergo testing until 2022, when the U.S. Department of Defense will make a decision on further procurement. The helicopters are initially tasked with protecting nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile silos in the central and midwestern United States. Expanded procurement could see them deployed to active conflict zones.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of CF6-50C2 engines and accessories
MTU Maintenance Canada, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a subsidiary of Germany’s MTU Aero Engines, a major global aerospace power plant and service provider. These two joint contracts with Lockheed Martin are for the engines in the KC-10 refueling tanker aircraft.
KC-10s—larger KC-135s—extend the reach and mobility of U.S. and allied aircraft during operations, doubling as transport vessels for cargo and personnel. The aircraft have been deployed by U.S. forces in many conflicts, including wars in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The KC-10 is expected to remain in service until 2043.