The Canadian Press is reporting that drones will be tested in the summer of 2012 by Canadian Forces in the Canadian arctic, at Inuvik NWT, and at Churchill Manitoba. Drones have already been tested at Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord, in the High Arctic. This information was given to a Senate committee by Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, head of the army’s domestic command. For an extensive transcript of Semianiw’s conversation in the Senate, go here.
The Scaneagle, a small tactical drone, appears to have been used in the arctic in 2011 during annual exercises (Nanook). Note, I have not seen the Scaneagle drones referred to by name by Canadian government sources. It isn’t completely clear what drones are undergoing ongoing testing in the arctic.
A proposal by Northrup Grumman to provide Canada with Global Hawk drones was made public last week. The competition to provide Canada with drones is heating up, as Project JUSTAS proceeds to a conclusion. Project JUSTAS is the initiative to assess Canada’s need for drones, and to presumably recommend a drone acquisition programme.
Northrup Grumman is likely facing an uphill battle. The current Canadian government has favoured Israeli drone manufacturers in the past and heavily supports the supremicist regime. MacDonald Dettwiler, the agent for IAI which manufactures the Israeli Heron drone, already has experience providing satellite surveillance of the Arctic to the Canadian government. Although Macdonald Dettwiler’s relationship with the government may be strained at present, as the government has waffled on full funding of arctic satellite surveillance. This report, by Kole Kilbrada, documents some of the lobbying efforts of Israeli aerospace companies with respect to providing drones to the Canadian military.
Semianiw did not provide information relating to the drone testing facility in Suffield Alberta. It is unclear whether military drone testing is continuing there, although a recent tender for trailers to move several ‘helicopter’ drones gives an indication about what might be happening. Suffield has conditions in winter that might mimic Canadian arctic conditions.