General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has secured a contract from Canada for 11 MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
Ottawa states that it will obtain the RPAs for C$2.49 billion ($1.97 billion). The deal will be conducted through a direct commercial sale with GA-ASI, although some components will be obtained through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales mechanism.
Also included in the sale are six ground control stations, a new ground control centre, two hangars, weapons, sustainment, training, and other associated elements.
Deliveries will run from 2028-2033.
The aircraft will serve domestic roles such as border protection and disaster relief, but will also be deployed in support of military operations overseas. This will help Canada fulfil missions for North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) and NATO.
“At a time when defence and security needs are changing faster than ever, we must ensure Canada has a modern, adaptable military that is prepared to respond to evolving and emerging security challenges,” says defence minister Bill Blair.
“Canada must meet the growing demand for domestic assistance while preserving our ability to defend Canada, protect North America, and support our allies. This remotely piloted aircraft system capability will provide Canadian Armed Forces members with nimble response options during deployed operations, further contributing to their safety and effectiveness.”
GA-ASI’s offering involves other parties under its Team SkyGuardian Canada campaign. The coalition includes companies such as CAE, MDA, and L3Harris Technologies.
“Canada’s vast territory and complex terrains, including in the Arctic, require a cost-effective multi-mission RPA solution that can endure long periods on station, fly in harsh weather environments, and safely operate in all airspaces,” says GA-ASI chief executive Linden Blue.
“MQ-9B SkyGuardian delivers those critical capabilities. GA-ASI and Team SkyGuardian Canada are honoured by this opportunity to become a key partner to Canada for the very long term in delivering these no-fail defence and security outcomes.”
The US government in September approved Canada to purchase $313 million worth of armaments for the MQ-9, hoping to entice Ottawa to select General Atomics type. The package included 219 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles, 18 Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition tail kits and Mk82 general purpose bombs to be integrated with MQ-9Bs, which were requested by Ottawa.
Canada will also acquire 12 General Atomics Lynx multi-mode radars.
The MQ-9B announcement is part of larger overhaul of Ottawa’s aviation capabilities that includes the acquisition of 88 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters, nine Airbus Defence & Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports (designated the CC-330 Husky locally), up to 16 Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, as well as 13 upgraded and three new CH-149 helicopters – which is based on the Leonardo Helicopters AW101.