On Wednesday, the National Post’s John Iveson claimed that anonymous sources have stated that the Canadian Department of National Defense is tendering a contract to purchase around six ‘remotely piloted vehicles’ of the Predator type (used by America in conflict zones around the world). Only on Monday did this blog report other claims that a drone contract was under active consideration.
Iveson notes that General Atomics has been trying to sell Predator or Reaper drones to Canada for years, but neglects to mention that the US arms maker was frozen out last time the Canadian government made an acquisition of large drones. The Canadian government spurned the Americans in favour of the Israelis.
The Conservative government of Canada appears to favour doing business with the Israeli regime, and recent visits by Canadian cabinet ministers to Israel may portend another big deal with the Israelis. Certainly all the Israeli Heron and Hermes drone contenders are capable of being armed, and Israeli drones are known to have attacked and killed people in Gaza in 2009. Indeed the Israelis use their drone attacks on Gaza to claim that their drones are ‘battle tested’.
The Canadian government already has a relationship with Israeli Heron drone producer IAI though Canadian affiliate Macdonald Dettwiler. My bet is that the Conservatives will buy drones from an Israeli company, avoiding the relatively onerous bureaucracy that goes with buying American weapons, and cementing the perception of the government as a ‘friend of Israel’.
Active militarists, the Conservatives will be keen to be seen taking positive steps as their signature F-35 jet purchase project flounders. A relatively small drone purchase of a few hundred million dollars would probably distract the negative attention their failed jet purchase initiative has been getting.