Canada Crafting High-End UAV Requirements
Based on the RQ-11 Raven’s performance in Afghanistan, Canada was looking to buy its own set of mini-UAVs to complement its Sperwer tactical UAVs. Both systems are in the procurement pipeline as Canada prepares to send 2,000 new troops to Afghanistan in February 2006. Meanwhile, Canada’s Air Force is also crafting a multimillion-dollar plan to purchase the Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS), for fielding around 2010.
Funding for these medium or high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles will be about C$ 500 million (USD $420 million). Smith, who is JUSTAS project director, said the military hopes to approach industry to meet its initial UAV needs by 2007. So, what’s the early scoop re: Canada’s potential requirements?
In a recent Defense News article, JUSTAS project director Lt. Col. Gord Smith noted the hope that by 2010, the Canadian Forces would be able to put a unit overseas that can do that area surveillance work that a MALE [medium-altitude, long-endurance] type of airplane would fulfill, and able to integrate with other UAV-type assets on the ground. A five-person team working on determining the Canada’s UAV needs in this sector, with the aim of employing them for sovereignty missions such as surveillance of Canada’s coastlines as well as for overseas operations.
The Canadian Forces flew its SAGEM CU-161 Sperwer tactical UAVs on 86 missions in support of tactical land operations in the Kabul area in 2003 and 2004. They also pushed the operating parameters of Sperwer farther than any other military had at that point, and the Sperwer had four widely publicized crashes in Afghanistan.
The Oerlikon-Contraves Sperwer is currently in service with Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, and Sweden, for now. DID says “for now” because the Danes are moving to cancel their Sperwer/Kestrel program and dispose of the UAVs.
The Canadian Forces insist that the Sperwer was not a mistake. It was, according to officials quoted in the Defense News article, “the right one for the job which we understood we had to do at the time. It’s just not good enough for what we’re going to do tomorrow… Now, having had a taste of [UAVs], we want more… we want them to go farther, deeper, higher up.”
Smith, who is JUSTAS project director, said he has a five-person team working on determining the Canadian Forces’ UAV needs. The aim is to employ UAVs for sovereignty missions such as surveillance of Canada’s coastlines as well as for overseas operations. By 2007, the military hopes to approach industry to meet its initial UAV needs.
- An outsourced fleet of Heron UAVs appears to be Canada’s Phase 1 choice.
- General Atomics (June 18/13) – GA-ASI and CAE Expand Partnership Beyond Canada: New Working Agreement Envisions Integration of Simulation Systems for Global Sales.
- Genberal Atomics (April 23/13) – GA-ASI and OMX Partner to Identify Suppliers for Canada’s JUSTAS Program. They are offering the MQ-9 Reaper, and the jet-powered Predator C.
- Flight International (May 30/12) – Northrop Grumman pitches Global Hawk variant for Canada
- Flight International (Nov 17/06) – Canada signals plans to arm new MALE UAVs. The overall JUSTAS project has not been Governmentally approved yet, and was split into 2 phases in August 2006. Phase 1 is intended to provide near term overland surveillance with 9 MALE UAVs, and a contract may be forthcoming in Summer 2007 in order to achieve initial operating capability by February 2009. Phase 2 will introduce a maritime/ arctic surveillance capability comprising up to 6 HALE [High Altitude, Long Endurance] aircraft and an additional 3 medium altitude MALEs by 2025. Phase 2 is expected to be heavily influenced by US and Australian selections for the BAMS project.
- The Canadian CASR defense think tank notes that Canada has already tested the General Atomics Altair UAV in this role. Altair is closely related to the MQ-9 Predator B and Mariner maritime surveillance UAVs.