Unmanned air vehicle acquisitions will be co-ordinated under JUSTAS project

The Canadian Forces want to introduce a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle into operational service by 2010 and will explore a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) tactical UAV capability after 2008 under a new joint forces UAV roadmap.

The first iteration of the roadmap, details of which were released at the Unmanned Vehicle Systems Canada 2004 conference in Ottawa earlier this month, also proposes a second tactical UAV purchase between 2006 and 2008 and development of an operational mini-UAV capability for ground forces from 2006.

The acquisitions will be co-ordinated under the Joint Unmanned Surveillance and Target Acquisition (JUSTAS) project, which has an approved budget of C$250 million ($194 million). Initial funding is expected to be provided in the 2006-7 defence budget. The JUSTAS project will also fund the development of a UAV battlelab from mid-2006.

Companies positioning for the MALE requirement include EADS, Elbit, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries.

The initial roadmap calls for fielding of a basic level of UAV capability across the Canadian Forces by 2010. Further evolution of the plan is intended to be carried out over the next two years to refine the 2010 objectives.

Canada currently operates a single Sagem Sperwer tactical UAV system, comprising four operational air vehicles from the six purchased last year for use in Afghanistan, and a Silver Fox UAV system from Advanced Ceramics. The latter was acquired in April 2004 and is intended to support UAV experimentation activities until 2006-7.

According to Lt Col Kevin Doyle, head of the newly established Canadian Forces Joint Project Office for UAVs, the developing roadmap will pursue maximum commonality between the various UAV classes acquired. Research by the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre "strongly suggests that a family of UAVs will ultimately be required", with these representing a number of different UAV classes, says Doyle.

"Having a small but well integrated and versatile family of UAVs would allow the Canadian Forces to gain the greatest synergy and widest array of capabilities possible", he adds. "For industry, it means we need cross-platform interoperability to be a design feature in any UAV engineering architecture."



Source: Flight International