The potential benefits of a navigable Northwest Passage are significant, with ship routes from Europe to Eastern Asia reduced by 4,000km and faster access to oil and mineral reserves in the Northern regions of the American continent.
The key to safe and environmentally responsible shipping traffic in the region, would be reliable route planning and guidance through the ice as well as consistent monitoring and risk management. An important component to establish this could be the installation of a coastal surveillance radar system that can detect, identify and track all ground and sea-moving targets, in all-weather conditions at strategically important chokepoints.
The applied German-Canadian research project, PASSAGES, with partners from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics, FKIE, in Germany and led by Airbus Defence and Space, investigated the operational needs and the architectural options to establish such a monitoring and risk assessment system. Reliable and accurate data covering the areas of interest was required to identify the best locations for the surveillance radar towers, to ensure complete coverage of every point of interest in these regions.