MONTREAL -- Even though the final costs for the RADARSAT Constellation mission went from $600 million to more than $1 billion, the multi-satellite project is being described as a "win-win-win" situation.

Those comments were made at a news conference on Wednesday as MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX:MDA) announced a $706-million deal with the Canadian Space Agency for the construction of three satellites.

The contract will lead to the completion of construction, the launch of the satellites planned for 2018 and the first year of operation of the satellite system.

The project will build on technology that MDA has developed through the RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 missions.

Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis joined CSA president Steve MacLean and MDA's Mag Iskander to launch the final stage of the project at the company's satellite systems plant in the Montreal suburb of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Paradis admitted he ordered an audit as the costs were rising. He appeared satisfied with the end result.

"We have a fixed-price contract, with a technology which will be the best according to our needs and now we can go (ahead) with a good outcome in the most cost-effective way for taxpayers," he said.

The project was delayed as negotiations on the final construction stage continued to the last minute.

MacLean stressed there is now a contractual date and MDA is to required to launch the satellites in 2018.

The three satellites will provide complete coverage of Canada's land and oceans and can be used for maritime surveillance, disaster management and monitoring environmental change.