Ellesmere Island


Nasittuq is the contractor providing site-support services, program management and administration support to the Canadian Government for the maintenance and operation of CFS Alert.

CFS Alert is a military station located in Nunavut on the north-eastern tip of Ellesmere Island. The station is approximately 817 km from the North Pole. The nearest settlement is the Inuit community of Grise Fiord, about 725 km to the south.

History of CFS Alert

CFS Alert began as a Joint Canadian Forces experimental wireless station and Environment Canada Weather station in 1956 and has operated as a permanently occupied station to this day. At its zenith, the station was home to over 300 persons providing signals monitoring and interpretation (SIGINT) capability for Canada on a permanent basis.  In the mid 1990’s however, the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio System (CFSRS) Remoting Project was initiated with a goal of turning the sites at Masset, Gander, Alert and Leitrim into Remote Collection Facilities and when the project was completed in 1998, there were only a few remaining SIGINT technicians required at CFS Alert to maintain the signals monitoring equipment.
Virtually all Station infrastructure remained however, yielding significant surplus capacity.  A decade later, a commercial support contract approach was initiated (circa 2009) to reduce the uniformed presence on Station to a manageable minimum.  This integrated approach, DND led with alternate service delivery (ASD) support, now meets the needs of National Defence and OGDs utilizing the Station, while maintaining a sovereign uniformed presence in the Canadian Arctic.
In early 2009, the ownership of CFS Alert was transferred to the Canadian Air Force, and the Station began a new phase of its existence as a more versatile Federal Arctic asset with a broader mission concept.  The core task of collecting SIGINT data is still maintained, and continues to exert a significant influence on the activities of the Station, but the surplus capacity of the facility is increasingly dedicated to supporting Arctic Science and other authorized tasks in support of Canadian Arctic sovereignty.  Military regional operations and Search and Rescue (SAR) tasks are still routinely conducted out of the Station, but National and International science projects, sponsored largely by OGDs, are playing an increasing role in the life of the Station.
The CFS Alert Station is composed currently of approximately ninety (90) buildings, with some nineteen (19) major structures in the core complex.  These were typically built between 1960 and 1998, and total approximately 22,500 square meters of facilities. The collective facilities provide all the necessary capability to live and work in the Arctic environment on a permanent basis.  There is a 5500 ft gravel runway, several kilometres of roads, a quarry operation, landfills, fuel farms, scientific labs, and antenna farms in the local area.
CFS Alert is currently assigned to 8 Wing Trenton, ON, and all command and control and logistical support is provided through that Wing.  The Alert Management Office in 8 Wing is the primary coordination agency to support Station activities over the medium term, and most weekly sustainment flights depart and return to that location.  Seasonal support operations (OP BOXTOP) are coordinated from the Alert Management Office, but are executed as a general Air Force operation with national resources.
Even as the role of the Station expands in support of Canadian sovereignty, CFS Alert remains a closed military facility, and it is not open to general public access or use.