Canada plans for expansion of UAV inventory

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Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) is formally establishing a project office to oversee a planned acquisition of up to five medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft systems to enter operational service between 2009 and 2012.

Ottawa is also negotiating a contract with Sagem to purchase another five Sperwer tactical UAVs to augment its existing fleet. It is meanwhile preparing to acquire three former Danish army Sperwer ground stations to allow for expanded operations and to establish a standing training capability.

A separate competition for small tactical UAVs is to be launched within the next three months, with a qualifying flight demonstration planned for August-September before a restricted tender release late this year. Systems expected to participate include the Advanced Composite Research Silver Fox, Aerosonde Sting, Boeing ScanEagle and MiTEX Buster. The DND plans to award a contract by mid-2007, with five systems of between six and 10 air vehicles each to be in service by 2008.

The MALE programme office is expected to finalise a requirements specification and prepare tender documents over the next 12 months.

The indicative requirement for five systems is based on one deployable system for offshore operations; one each located on Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts; one in the country’s north; and one for training purposes.