Canada will furnish Ukraine with 800 small uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support the beleaguered Eastern European country in its war against Russian invasion.

Ottawa on 19 February said it will donate more than 800 multi-mission Teledyne FLIR SkyRanger R70 quadcopters to Ukraine, a package valued at C$95 million ($70 million).

The multi-rotor UAV boasts a payload of up to 3.5kg (7.7lb), including the ability to carry surveillance and munitions packages.

Canadian defence officials say the new UAVs will assist the Ukrainian military with some its most urgent battlefield needs.

“These drones are critical for surveillance and intelligence gathering, and can also be used to transport and deliver supplies,” the Canadian defence ministry says.

“Canada is working with Ukraine on a training plan and delivery schedule, with delivery expected to begin this spring,” the department adds.

Teledyne FLIR produces the SkyRanger in Waterloo, Ontario. Canada in 2023 separately provided Ukraine with over 100 L3 Wescam high-resolution cameras that will be paired with the new UAVs.

skyranger r70-inflight

Source: Teledyne FLIR

Small, commercially-available UAVs have proven to be one of the most effective battlefield platforms throughout the two-year war in Ukraine

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war two years ago, small commercial drones have emerged as a cheap and effective means of filling a range of battlefield functions, including precision strike, reconnaissance and artillery spotting.

Both parties in the conflict have raced to secure a supply chain for the increasingly critical assets.

“We will continue to provide Ukraine with the military aid that it needs to fight and win this war,” Canadian defence minister Bill Blair says. “Canada will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Ottawa says the SkyRanger R70s come equipped with an autonomous navigation system and the ability to carry a range of camera systems used to detect and identify targets.

“These capabilities will help Ukrainian operators to recognise individuals, vehicles and any heat source from a long distance, especially in dark conditions and poor weather,” the ministry says.

The latest tranche of aid comes as Canada is stepping up its materiel support to European security, including direct assistance to Ukraine and commitment of additional resources to NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the region.

Canada recently announced a $44 million contribution to support the development of logistics and sustainment capabilities in Ukraine for the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter.

Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands have pledged several of their ageing F-16s to Ukraine, with deliveries expected to commence once a minimum sustainment and operational capability has been developed within the Ukrainian air force.

Separately, Canada is stepping up its commitment to NATO’s enhanced forward presence (EFP) in Latvia. Ottawa leads the multi-national combat formation along the alliance’s eastern flank, which includes troops from nearly a dozen member states.

In December, Ottawa announced it would begin the rotational deployment of Royal Canadian Air Force rotary-wing assets to the Latvia EFP, including four Bell CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters and an unspecified number of Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift types.

At a NATO meeting in Brussels on 15 February, Canada also pledged to furnish the Latvia EFP with new air defences, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles and a range of defensive measures intended to protect ground forces from loitering munitions and other small drones.