SINGAPORE — Canada’s defense minister asserts that Northrop Grumman’s high-flying UAV is just one of several contenders being considered by the country for aerial surveillance of the Arctic.

Northrop Grumman has submitted an unsolicited proposal to Canada to provide three modified RQ-4B Global Hawks, dubbed the Polar Hawk. It says the modifications would include an Iridium satellite communications link to provide command and control north of 70 deg.

“Without naming names, I can say that it is not just Global Hawk that we are considering,” Defense Minister Peter MacKay told Aviation Week June 3 on the sidelines of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue here. Canada also is interested in smaller UAVs as well, he adds.

MacKay says the UAVs that Canada acquires for the Arctic must be very robust and able to cope with the extreme cold and very high winds prevalent in that harsh environment.

“Connectivity is also a major requirement for us,” says MacKay, adding that the UAV’s satellite communications systems will be crucial. It will need to communicate with relevant ground stations too, he says.

MacKay declines to give a time frame on when Canada will order the aircraft.

Canada also is considering acquiring unmanned marine vehicles, in addition to UAVs, to meet the country’s surveillance requirements in the Arctic.