General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) and simulator manufacturer CAE have announced a partnership to enter Canada's joint unmanned surveillance target acquisition system (JUSTAS) competition.
Under the terms of the deal, announced 25 May, GA-ASI will provide Predator B vehicles and ground control stations, while CAE will provide training consoles, systems integration and logistics support. Any prospective sale would be contingent upon winning a competition and subject to standard foreign military sales (FMS) protocol. Possible competitors in the medium altitude long endurance (MALE) category include the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP, EADS Talarion and BAE Systems Mantis.
Canada's JUSTAS program has been crawling at a snail's pace since its formal launch in 1999, with initial operational capability originally expected in 2009; an RFP is now expected in 2012, with a construction contract awarded in 2013 and initial operational capability in 2015.
In a 2008 the Canadian army leased IAI Heron drones to support forces deployed to Afghanistan. The Heron lease was renewed in 2010, but will expire with the imminent withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. GA-ASI declined to bid for the 2008 lease deal, citing concerns about heavy penalties in the contract terms for late aircraft deliveries.