Photo provided by General Atomics via The Canadian Press In addition to self-piloted drones, the acquisition announced Tuesday by the federal government includes six ground control stations, a new ground control center to be based in Ottawa, two new aircraft hangars, weapons and training technology . Infrastructure costs are included in the overall project budget.
Ottawa plans to spend $2.49 billion to acquire 11 remotely piloted drones to help the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) conduct long-range surveillance, federal officials announced Tuesday.< /p>
Canada will buy the drones from U.S. company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., with some components from the U.S. government. Defense Minister Bill Blair said in a news release that the drones, known as remotely piloted aircraft systems, will provide the Canadian military with “agile response options” during deployments.< /p>
“We must ensure that Canada has a modern, adaptable military ready to respond to emerging and evolving security challenges,” said Mr. Blair. Canada must meet the growing demand for domestic assistance while preserving its ability to defend Canada, protect North America and support its allies. »
About the size of a fighter jet, these large drones will be used to monitor Canada's coastline and territory and help the military when responding to natural disasters such as wildfires and floods. Officials said the drones will also help Canada fulfill its missions with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and ensure interoperability of the Air Force with allied armed forces.
In addition to the aircraft, the acquisition includes six ground control stations, a new ground control center to be based in Ottawa, two new aircraft hangars, weapons and technology training. Infrastructure costs are included in the overall project budget.
Tuesday's announcement was made during news conferences at Canadian Forces bases in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and Comox, British Columbia, where the new aircraft will be stationed. The drones will also be operated from an unspecified forward operating location when used to support missions in northern Canada.
The first drones are expected to be delivered in 2028 and the program will be fully operational by 2033.
Officials said that under the contract with General Atomics, the drone project has the potential to create “nearly 700 jobs per year for Canadian industry and value chain partners “, and contribute $97 million per year to Canada's gross domestic product over a nine-year period.
On the other hand, officials indicated that the remotely controlled aircraft system will be capable of detecting, recognizing, identifying, tracking and engaging targets in various environments, including in the Canadian North. It will only be armed when necessary for specifically assigned tasks.
The drone program fulfills a promise the Canadian government made to the military more than a decade ago. This also follows the federal government's announcement on November 30 that it had finalized an agreement with the United States to purchase up to 16 P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Air Force.
At an estimated cost of $10.4 billion, the P-8A is expected to replace Canada's maritime patrol aircraft – the CP-140 Aurora – which has been in service for more than 40 years.