Canada wants its own UAVs, but has done little to make it happen
- By William Welsh
- Jan 03, 2013
Despite an effort begun six years ago to establish an unmanned aircraft capability, Canadian Forces still have neither fielded unmanned aerial vehicles for routine surveillance of the country's coasts nor for overseas missions, reports the Ottawa Citizen.
The country's Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS) program was supposed to be operating drones in 2010, but that deadline slipped and officials are now saying it might be 2017 before the country's air force has operational unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), the story said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed in the election campaign of 2006 that Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador would become home to a new 650-member military rapid reaction unit, as well as a new squadron operating long-range UAVs, the story said. But that never came to pass.
The Canadian military continues to be bogged down pondering with the requirements and capabilities of JUSTAS, according to the story. It has not said when a contract for UAVs would be finalized.
The Defence Department asked industry in 2012 what type of aircraft might be available, the story said. It hopes to get preliminary approval for an acquisition this year. The program is estimated to cost at least $1 billion,.
Canadian military forces leased and operated unarmed Israeli-built Heron UAVs in Afghanistan, the story said.
Northrop Grumman has proposed to the Canadian government that it buy a fleet of the company's Global Hawk UAVs to use for various missions, including surveillance of Canada's coastline, the story said.
William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.