Dutch, Canadians Purchase Mini-UAVs for Use in Afghanistan
Welcome to the commando Olympics, to use a term from StrategyPage that we quoted in our November 2005 coverage of Afghanistan’s mini-UAVs like the American RQ-11A Raven and British MiTex Buster. Likewise, we have also covered field reports from the 101st Airborne in Iraq re: their Raven mini-UAVs.
As sizeable contingents from Canada and the Netherlands settle in to southern Afghanistan as part of a beefed-up ISAF force under British command, portable mini-UAVs are the subject of emergency orders from both countries. At the same time, Canada is also holding a full-fledged mini-UAV procurement competition.
Loyal Benelux reader David Vandenberghe informs us that the Dutch have bought 10 Aladin UAVs and 5 ground stations for their Uruzgan mission in Afghanistan; Dutch troops will receive a crash course from the German army, who have used it in North Afghanistan. See MINDEF release, in Dutch.
The Canadian purchase is part of the $200 million set of emergency purchases for Operation Archer that DID covered in December 2005. At the time, we included a picture of Elbit’s small and ultra-quiet Skylark UAV, which had just been selected by Australia for use in Iraq. It turns out that this is indeed the UAV purchased by the Canadian Forces. Five of these Israeli mini-drones are being delivered immediately, with a possible further five to follow. Canada also has a full-fledged mini-UAV competition underway, and the shortlist is reportedly Elbit’s Skylark, IAI’s I-View 50 with its unique parafoil landing system, and Boeing’s larger ScanEagle UAV with its dual land/maritime role.