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October 22, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

Canada Refining Requirements for New UAV Fleet; Request for Proposals Expected Next Year

Canada Refining Requirements for New UAV Fleet; Request for Proposals Expected Next Year

Canada Refining Requirements for New UAV Fleet; Request for Proposals Expected Next Year

October 21, 2019 - by Shaun McDougall

The Canadian government is in discussions with a pair of unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturers to refine requirements for a new fleet of armed medium-altitude, long-endurance drones. The new aircraft are being acquired through the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) project, previously known as the Joint Unmanned Surveillance and Targeting Acquisition System (JUSTAS).

General Atomics has teamed with CAE Canada, MDA, and L3 Wescam to offer the MQ-9B SkyGuardian. L3 MAS is working with Israel Aerospace Industries to bid the Artemis unmanned aircraft system, which is based on IAI's Heron TP.

The program officially entered the Refine & Review Requirements phase in July 2019, at which point the government and industry teams began discussions to refine program requirements. These discussions will help inform a formal Request for Proposals, which is expected to be released in fiscal year 2020/2021 (between April 2020 and March 2021). A contract is anticipated in fiscal year 2022/2023, barring any delays. Deliveries could begin in 2024/2025.

Canada's desire for a new fleet of UAVs surfaced around 20 years ago, but little progress has been made since then. The Royal Canadian Air Force had been preparing to award a contract to General Atomics for its Predator UAV in 2007, but the program was halted due to concerns about a lack of competition.

At one point, the government outlined a new two-phase approach. The first phase would include an armed UAV for overland missions. A second phase would buy a system primarily for maritime surveillance off Canada's coasts, as well as limited Arctic surveillance. This plan was scrapped in 2013 and the program went back to the drawing board. Ultimately, government documents show the Air Force has tried and failed six times since 2005 to acquire a new UAV fleet.

Following the initial delays of the JUSTAS program, Ottawa leased Heron UAVs as an interim solution to fulfill an urgent requirement for additional ISR capabilities in Afghanistan. The first system was delivered to Canada in October 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan shortly thereafter. The Herons replaced smaller SPERWER UAVs that were in service since 2003.

The value of the RPAS program has not been announced, and Canada has not specified how many aircraft it will buy. The government's Defence Capabilities Blueprint indicates the program will fall within a very broad price range of between CAD1 billion and CAD4.99 billion, one of the preset funding ranges used by the blueprint to categorize programs.

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  • CAE awarded contract by GA-ASI to develop synthetic training system

    January 28, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    CAE awarded contract by GA-ASI to develop synthetic training system

    CAE announced on Jan. 24 that the company has been awarded a contract from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to develop a comprehensive synthetic training system for the United Kingdom's Protector RG Mk1 remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) program. The Protector will be operated by the Royal Air Force and is the U.K.-specific variant of GA-ASI's certifiable MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS, which can meet the most stringent certification requirements of aviation authorities. Under terms of the contract, CAE will design and develop a comprehensive synthetic training system that will include desktop and high-fidelity mission trainers specific to the Protector RPAS. The high-fidelity Protector mission trainers will be based on GA-ASI's certifiable ground control station (CGCS) and will be the first simulators developed for this advanced CGCS. CAE will also provide brief/debrief and scenario generation stations as part of the overall synthetic training system. “We are pleased to continue our global training partnership with GA-ASI to support the U.K. Protector program,” said Gene Colabatistto, CAE's group president, defence and security. “Protector will offer a new level of capability in an unmanned air system and will require well-trained aircrews. We will leverage developments we have made over the past several years creating the highest fidelity training devices for the Predator family of remotely piloted aircraft to produce a world-class synthetic training system for the Protector program.” Initial deliveries of the synthetic training system will be targeted for delivery in 2020 to RAF Waddington, the hub of U.K. Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) that will be the main operating base for the Protector. “MQ-9B SkyGuardian, which Protector is based on, represents the next-generation of remotely piloted aircraft capabilities, including longer endurance and automatic take-off and landing,” said David R. Alexander, president, aircraft systems, GA-ASI. “The Protector synthetic training system will play a key role helping the Royal Air Force develop skilled aircrews, and we are pleased to collaborate with CAE as our training partner on this critical program.”

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  • Canadian Admiral: Kids Won't Join the Navy if Ships Don't Have Wi-Fi

    May 9, 2019 | Local, Naval

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