Feb 17, 2014
Heron, Reaper and Hermes 900 Compete for Canada’s Arctic mission
General Atomics’ Guardian is a marinized verstion of the MQ-9 Reaper, designed for maritime and border patrol missions. Canada’s military wants its next unmanned aircraft system to be capable of dropping search-and-rescue supplies in the Arctic and in other areas as it looks to expand UAS roles into activities formerly conducted by manned platforms.
Head of the Royal Canadian Air Force, explained that UAS could carry some equipment, whether it is weapons or other equipment, to be able, when it is patrolling the Arctic, to carry a search-and-rescue package to drop any time.
The Air Force did not respond to questions about whether it would be willing to fund research and testing into adding equipment transport capability to UAS. But a National Defense Department source said the Air Force hopes industry will provide solutions to Canada’s project to purchase the UAS, known as the Canadian Forces Joint UAV Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS). Adding additional weight for every mission of an unmanned mission is unlikely as the extra weight will reduce the volume of fuel carried on board, dramatically reducing mission endurance, increasing system’s wear (due to excessive takeoff and landing) and increasing the risk of losing aircraft.
The Air Force’s quest for leading-edge UAS technology has raised some concerns. John McKay, the defense critic for the opposition Liberal Party in the House of Commons, said he is worried that adding such a capability would further delay JUSTAS, which has already fallen years behind schedule.