RCN on track to acquire Unmanned Aircraft Systems

An Unmanned Aircraft System onboard a RCN ship.
The RCN in co-operation with QinetiQ Target Systems (QTS) Canada carried out a demonstration under the Unmanned Targets Repair, Overhaul and Engineering contract, awarded to QTS in 2015. Photo: RCN PA

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 By Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl DeJong

The Director of Naval Requirements (DNR) is leading the first phase of the Unmanned System programme with the acquisition of a family of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) that can be operated from all Canadian Warships in order to provide near real-time intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) information.

Over the last decade, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has maintained its course in investigating and developing a robust Unmanned System programme. As a force multiplier, the UAS will provide information required to extend a commander’s situational awareness, increase interoperability with joint forces ashore, and ensure that the Halifax­-class maintains a tactical advantage over potential threats while minimizing risk to the ship and maritime helicopter.

During the RCN’s contributions to Operation MOBILE in Libya in 2011, and more recently during Operation ARTEMIS, UAS support helped interrupt terrorist funding activities by intercepting multiple illicit narcotics shipments. Additionally, the UAS reduced the risk to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) maneuver elements by providing visual surveillance.

The RCN has recently re-affirmed its commitment to the programme. In October 2016, DNR conducted a capability demonstration onboard HMCS Summerside where the AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) was evaluated. In early November 2017, HMCS Winnipeg successfully conducted a Maritime Evaluation of Class 1 Rotary Wing UAS. The information and results obtained during the Maritime Evaluation are vital for the RCN’s development of unmanned systems use at sea, and the evaluation of ships’ critical defence systems. “We are very pleased with the support that UAS provided to us during this demonstration,” says CPO1 Dejong.

Strong, Secure, Engaged outlines the Government’s over-arching intent to invest in an extensive range of new capabilities for CAF by acquiring a fleet of remotely piloted systems (RPS) for the RCN, the Canadian Army (CA), and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Image gallery

  • A Rotary Wing Unmanned Aircraft System on board HMCS Winnipeg.
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