Canadian Manufacturing

Burlington, Ont. defence firm L3-WESCAM gets $75M federal loan

An aircraft with a WESCAM heat sensor was key in capturing the gunman who in 2014 ambushed three RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B.



BURLINGTON, Ont.—Canadian aerospace and defence technology company L-3 WESCAM is receiving $75 million in federal loans to support research and development of air, land and sea surveillance cameras and sensors which federal Industry Minister James Moore says are essential to Canada’s search and rescue, defence and security operations.

The Burlington, Ont.-based company says it will invest $2 million for this project and will partner with 60 suppliers from across Ontario. Wescam will also collaborate with Canadian universities and colleges to help train Canada’s future security and defence technology workforce.

The money comes from Canada’s Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI), a program launched in 2007 to provide repayable contributions that support research and development projects in the aerospace, space, defence and security sectors.

Moore says the project will “lead to the creation of new high-paying, high-tech jobs across southern Ontario’s defence manufacturing supply chain, in addition to maintaining 200 existing positions in Burlington and Don Mills.”

“WESCAM surveillance and targeting technology has been used to help police forces conduct manhunts and track marijuana grow ops here in Canada. Abroad, Canadian armed forces have used similar aerial systems during Canada’s 10-year mission in Afghanistan to capture high-value targets,” said Moore at a press conference in Burlington.

L-3 WESCAM is Canada’s largest manufacturing defence company for advanced airborne imaging and sensors, and it is a leader in defence, surveillance, and search and rescue applications.

“Camera and sensor technologies are an integral part of Canadian command, control and communications capabilities and are essential to the defence and security of our country. These technologies also advance science and technology for civilian and commercial applications,” said Christyn Cianfarani, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). “These investments demonstrate a healthy partnership between industry and government that fuels Canadian innovation, creates high-value Canadian jobs, and leverages the strength of the Canadian defence and security industrial sector.”

WESCAM’s cameras have played a significant role in recent high-profile police and military missions. In 2014, a Transport Canada aircraft equipped with a WESCAM heat sensor was instrumental in the capture of the gunman who ambushed and killed three RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B.

WESCAM surveillance equipment has also been used along Canada’s border to intercept drug traffickers.

In 2013, Canada’s aerospace and defence industry was responsible for more than 172,000 jobs and contributed $28 billion to the economy. The defence component of that industry employs more than 63,000 highly skilled workers and generates more than $9.4 billion in revenue each year.

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