By David Pugliese, Reporter
The Ottawa Citizen
Defence deal set to bring up to 200 jobs to Ottawa; Thales Canada wins military contract worth $184 million
The Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Up to 200 new jobs could be created in the Ottawa area as a result of military contracts announced Monday.
Thales Canada, which has about 190 employees in Ottawa, will receive a $184-million contract to develop software for the army’s command and control system. The contract runs for five years, but there is an option to continue such work for an additional five years.
Thales spokesman Conrad Bellehumeur said the contract will sustain 60 jobs at its Ottawa facility. Those employees had already been working on earlier versions of the software for the army’s command and control systems.
The new contract would also create 30 new jobs at the firm’s offices in Ottawa and Quebec City, he said.
With subcontracts and spinoff work going to other high-tech companies, there is the potential for another 170 new jobs in Ottawa because of the Defence Department contract, according to Bellehumeur.
The battle management system being developed by Thales is based on original software that the firm created for the French army.
Bellehumeur said the firm sees a growing market for such software for civilian agencies, such as for police forces and those who deal with large-scale security operations, such as the Olympics.
He declined for security reasons to get into specifics about what the firm is doing for the Defence Department. But Bellehumeur said it involves integrating the flow of information from various sources on the battlefield.
“Thales’s strength is systems integration, so it’s taking all of the components of the system, whether it’s a handheld (device) for a soldier on the ground or computer imagery and integrating all of that,” he said.
There is also great potential to export such software to other countries, Bellehumeur added.
Thales Canada has 1,350 employees in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto.
The Ottawa branch handles the defence portion of the company’s work, said Bellehueur. The bulk of the firm’s employees are in Toronto and work on systems for urban rail such as subways. The company’s parent firm is based in France.
The second contract announced Monday was awarded to General Dynamics Canada of Ottawa, but the bulk of the work will be done in the firm’s Calgary facilities.
General Dynamics Canada was awarded the long-term support contract for the Canadian army’s land command support system. The contract is valued at $341 million and runs for five years.
General Dynamics Canada spokeswoman Amy MacLeod said the contract will sustain 250 existing jobs at the company’s Calgary location.
General Dynamics has been providing support for the army’s digital communications systems since 2003.