Selling military goods to the United States

March 25, 2021

By Kelsey Gallagher

Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 42 Issue 1 Spring 2021

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), an independently operated Crown corporation, arranges contracts between Canadian manufacturers and foreign governments. Between 60 and 70 per cent of these contracts involve military goods, making the CCC Canada’s largest arms broker. It is worth noting that, under the 1956 Canada-United States Defence Production Sharing Agreement, all prime contracts for Canadian weapons to the United States valued in excess of 250,000 USD must go through the CCC.

The information that follows is on the 10 Canadian military suppliers that were awarded the most in CCC-brokered prime contracts in FY2020, a 12-month period that ended March 31, 2020. Data was obtained through Access to Information and Privacy requests to the CCC. If the supplier was awarded more than one prime contract, the total value for all contracts is given. Values for one contract to Mexico and another to Montenegro were redacted by the CCC in the data provided and were therefore omitted in our analysis.

The resulting list contains only contracts to the United States, worth in total more than 876-million CAD.


U.S. contracts in FY2020: $219,170,676.47

Category of contracts: “Defence”

GD-OTS Canada, a division of U.S. giant General Dynamics Corporation, is a major manufacturer and exporter of munitions. Its products range from smaller calibre rifle rounds to larger artillery and tank shells.

GD-OTS Canada produces the widely used 5.56×45mm cartridge, a standard rifle round for NATO-member countries; the M-67 hand grenade; and the 155mm High Explosive M10 cartridge used in the U.S. M777 howitzer. GD-OTS Canada also manufactures artillery fuses, energetic materials (e.g., propellants) for use in munitions, and “Simunition” non-lethal training rounds for U.S. law enforcement.


U.S. contracts in FY2020: $129,211,361.39

Category of contracts: “Aerospace” and “ICT [information and communication technologies] & Security”

L3Harris WESCAM is a world-leading manufacturer of electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) imaging sensors, typically fitted to aircraft, but now also often found on ground and maritime vehicles. The sensors are used to surveil, detect, and, in some instances, direct fire on targets.

L3Harris WESCAM manufactures a variety of EO/IR sensors with an extensive range of capabilities. The growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has fueled an increase in WESCAM sales.

L3Harris WESCAM sensors are used on many U.S. helicopters and gunships, light attack aircraft, UAVs, surveillance aircraft, precision strike aircraft, and ground vehicles. Notable are the AC-130J GHOSTRIDER and C-130 Hercules aircraft, the Sikorsky UH-60 utility Black Hawk helicopter, and the AAI RQ-7 Shadow UAV.


U.S. contracts in FY2020: $74,986,789.60

Category of contracts: “Advanced Manufactured Goods” and “Defence”

GDLS-C has been manufacturing light armoured vehicles (LAVs) for decades. The company also offers sub-system integration, training, upgrades, and repairs.

GDLS-C is a major producer of the Stryker family of eight-wheeled armoured vehicles, based on the Canadian-designed LAV III platform. The Stryker has been called the backbone of the U.S. Army, which has been supplied with hundreds of these Canadian vehicles since 2002. Many of these vehicles have been deployed in U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.


U.S. contract in FY2020: $70,433,084.33

Category of contract: “ICT & Security”

Ultra Electronics TCS is a subsidiary of British Ultra Electronics Holdings, which manufactures a wide array of defence-related materiel. Ultra Electronics TCS primarily manufactures radio and communications equipment. Exports to the U.S. military include the AN/GRC-245 High Capacity Line-of-Sight radio systems and, more recently, the Orion X500 radio.


U.S. contract in FY2020: $48,824,599.31

Category of contracts: “Aerospace”

Beginning in foresting, the Coulson group of companies is now a world leader in outfitting aircraft to fight fires.

The 2020 contract with the U.S. Air Force was to install Retardant Aerial Delivery System (RADS)-XXL Firefighting Systems on C-130H aircraft for use by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


U.S. contract in FY2020: $30,650,488.62

Category of contract: “Health”

Emergent BioSolutions Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. Emergent BioSolutions Inc., is a pharmaceutical company that produces medical applications to combat infectious diseases and chemical agents. For several years, Emergent BioSolutions Canada has supplied the U.S. military with pharmaceuticals, including the Canadian-engineered Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion Kit used to counter the effects of chemical warfare.


U.S. contract in FY2020: $30,453,383.84

Category of contract: “Aerospace”

EMS Technologies Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Honeywell, specializes in satellite communication networks and avionics. A long-time supplier of the U.S. military, it has supplied Inmarsat satellite communication systems for U.S. aircraft and performed avionics upgrades to the U.S. E-3 707 early warning aircraft fleet.


U.S. contracts in FY2020: $27,667,237.64

Category of contracts: “Aerospace”, “Defence,” and “ICT & Security”

A business unit of Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, Indal Technologies manufactures support systems for maritime aviation. Since at least 1984, it has supplied the U.S. Navy with Recovery, Assist, Secure & Traverse (RAST) systems that stabilize helicopters landing on ship decks and with deck handling equipment, actuating systems, acoustic sensors, and cargo and hangar doors.


U.S. contract in FY2020: $26,324,166.25

Category of contract: “Aerospace”

Canadian Helicopters, a division of HNZ Group, provides commercial and transportation services related to oil and gas production, military support, mineral exploration, hydro/utilities, forest management, construction, air ambulance, and search & rescue. From 2009 to 2014, it provided Bell 212 and Sikorsky S61N helicopters to transport U.S. military personnel and supplies to bases in Afghanistan.


U.S. contracts in FY2020: $24,988,578.73

Category of contracts: “Defence” and “ICT & Security”

GDMS-C provides an array of electronic subsystems, including communications and network devices, sonars and sensors, and “fire control” computing systems for military sea, land, and air applications.

Like its sister subsidiaries, GDMS-C supplies many weapons systems to the U.S. military. The Digital Fire Control System, for example, helps to control and fire large-barreled weaponry; it is used in the U.S. M777 155m Howitzer, the Stryker Mobile Gun System, and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

Research Assistant Ben Toubol contributed to this article.

From Blog

Related Post

Get great news and insight from our expert team.

February 27, 2024
Analysis and Commentary

Redefining the battlefield: Drone warfare tactics in Ukraine

February 8, 2024
Analysis and Commentary

In lifting Turkish arms embargo, Canada politicizes arms controls

Let's make some magic together

Subscribe to our spam-free newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.