Top Canadian military suppliers to the US: Fiscal year 2023

March 26, 2024

By Kelsey Gallagher

Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Spring 2024

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The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), a crown corporation and agency of Global Affairs Canada, is Canada’s largest broker of military goods. Each year, the CCC facilitates large-value contracts with foreign governments to supply defence-related materiel, with the United States generally the largest customer.

As established under the Defence Production Sharing Agreement between Canada and the United States, all contracts valued at more than U.S.$250,000 that involve the shipping of Canadian-made military goods to the United States are required to be administered by the CCC. For fiscal year (FY)2023 (April 1, 2022-March 31, 2023), the CCC signed contracts worth more than $885 million* with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on behalf of 30 companies.

What follows is a list of the top recipients of CCC-brokered prime contracts for the supply of military goods to the DoD in FY2023. The data was obtained through Access to Information and Privacy requests. Further information on individual contracts and suppliers was found in secondary sources, including DoD procurement data, CCC promotional materials, and company press releases.  

The values represent the sum of all prime contracts listed for each supplier to the United States for FY2023. Many large-value individual awards are elements of larger, multiyear contracts that consist of scores, sometimes hundreds, of individual subawards. The total value indicated for each Canadian supplier includes all awards to those suppliers in FY2023.

Project Ploughshares conservatively estimates that the total annual value of Canadian military exports to the United States exceeds one billion dollars. However, the Government of Canada does not regulate the majority of Canada’s military transfers to the United States; the total is, therefore, not officially reported or known.

1. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (Canada) (GD-OTS) - $229,364,980

GD-OTS, a Canadian plant of U.S.-based General Dynamics, is a major manufacturer of ammunition and explosives, from smaller calibre simulation rounds to howitzer and tank shells. The company has three locations in Québec and a fourth site in Newfoundland and Labrador. With a dominant share of the Canadian market for ammunition, GD-OTS is also typically among the top Canadian suppliers of military exports to the United States.

In FY2023, GD-OTS won contracts worth approximately one-quarter of the total value of reported CCC-brokered prime contracts to the DoD. The total represents a major increase over FY2022, when GD-OTS contracts to the United States were valued at $116 million. The increase appears to have been fueled by a surge in orders of 155mm artillery shells to replenish Ukrainian stockpiles, with the GD-OTS Canadian operation producing the propellants.

2. Ultra Electronics Tactical Communications Systems (TCS) Inc. - $82,274,865

Ultra Intelligence and Communications (formerly Ultra Electronics TCS) is the Montreal-based subsidiary of the large defence contractor Ultra, based in the United Kingdom. Ultra Intelligence and Communications produces a wide range of communications, command-and-control, and cyber security goods.

During FY2023, Ultra Intelligence and Communications was engaged in fulfilling two major contracts with DoD: a 10-year contract worth up to U.S.$145 million for the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Tactical Communications System (ATCS), and a five-year contract worth up to U.S.$500 million to supply Orion radio systems to the U.S. Army’s Terrestrial Transmission Line of Sight (TRILOS) Radio Program.

3. General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada - $74,525,589

GDLS-C is perhaps one of the best examples of the significant integration between Canada’s defence industrial base and the U.S. military. At any given time, GDLS-C is engaged in long-term CCC-brokered contracts with the DoD worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the manufacture, upkeep, and servicing of armoured vehicles.

In particular, GDLS-C has been a major supplier of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the DoD since the 1980s. Canadian-made LAVs saw their first combat use by U.S. forces in Panama in 1989. In November 2000, the U.S. Army selected an altered version of the LAV-III as its new six-wheeled combat vehicle, later named the Stryker. The U.S. Army has since procured more than 4,000 Strykers, which have been used in multiple operations.

4. Lockheed Martin Canada Inc. - $56,097,683  

U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin has five campuses in Canada. Its Québec manufacturing centre and largest recent benefactor of these CCC-brokered contracts, Lockheed Martin Canada Commercial Engine Solutions, is currently under contract with the U.S. Air Force to overhaul the KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft’s F108 engine. The contract, originally signed in 2020, is currently scheduled to run until 2025. The KC-135R provides aerial refueling capabilities to U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft, extending the global reach of U.S. combat and surveillance aircraft.

5. L3Harris Wescam - $48,693,993

L3Harris Wescam, located in Waterdown, Ontario, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of optical surveillance and targeting sensors, which are used to detect and identify targets and, in some cases, direct smart munitions to those targets. Wescam boasts that more than 80 countries use its sensors in the air, sea, or on land.

The DoD is likely Wescam’s largest customer. In FY2023, Wescam was fulfilling a number of CCC-brokered prime contracts with DoD, including multiple awards related to the supply and servicing of Wescam’s MX-series systems to the U.S. Army that were tied to a larger U.S.$380 million contract brokered by the CCC in 2020.

* Unless otherwise indicated, all figures are in Canadian dollars.

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