Archive for category Alberta
Oxfam-Québec maintient une campagne contre le commerce mondial des armes.
Il ya beaucoup d’entreprises au Québec qui ont un rôle dans le commerce des armes. Toujours en Alberta.
Par exemple, Pratt and Whitney Canada maintient usines dans les deux provinces. Pratt and Whitney fabrique des moteurs pour les drones israéliens, entre autres.
(D’autres, plus tard)
US Customs and Border Protection has flown a Predator-B drone patrol along the Western Canadian border from Lake of the Woods, Minnesota to near Spokane, Washington, using an expanded ‘Certificate of Authorisation’. (It is already flying drones on an eastern section of the border, as reported by the CBC. Apparently the patrols focus on the Akwesasne Reserve, subject to persistent allegations of smuggling). Security Magazine reported that the Predators had been grounded for some time by unreported software problems.
This is not the first drone flight along the Western Canadian border, flights have been carried out since February 2009, presumably under a different level of authorisation.It is uncertain how many flights have been carried out, and whether they have provided any useful information. The RCMP believe that they will benefit from information obtained by the American drones. Wired Magazine reported that the drones would be controlled from Grand Forks and their information analysed in Washington and Riverside, California.
MSNBC reports that the drones, which cost more than $10 million each, will have laser spotlights that light up ‘targets’ with light only visible to wearers of special goggles, for example crews of intercepting helicopters.
There is no indication the drone was armed, although Predator drones are the mainstay of US attacks on Pakistani territory. Government Security News reports that there were two Predator B drones operating from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota in 2009, which is the home base of these drones.
One assumes that the Predator now has, or will have, an array of surveillance equipment. UPI reports that the drones would transmit ‘live video, radar streams, and photos of footprints’ back to base. Scripps News reports that there would be both infrared and HD video.
One assumes, though that may be too much to assume, that the drone will fly only in American air space. The drones would be able to fly in Canadian airspace with Canadian permission. Would that require them to meet Canadian standards for flying in civilian air space?
The drone will gather information from the immediate border territory as well as well beyond the border into adjacent parts of Canada. Scripps News reported that the Predator’s sensor array monitors a 25 mile (40 km) swath of land, but won’t be flown within 10 miles (15 km) of the Canadian border, meaning that it would monitor a 15 mile (25 km) swath of land within Canada.
(Scripps News reported scepticism over the drone deployment, noting that several commentators felt it was a technological solution promoted for political purposes).
It is uncertain what types of information are best obtained from Predator drones. There are other types of surveillance arrayed near the border (I’ve encountered cameras on the border years ago in Waterton Park). And satellites are capable of providing very detailed images if required.
Will the drones simply make occasional or regular passes along the border? Will they sometimes stay ‘in situ’ overhead, circling? Will they be collecting other data about Canada or Canadians, essentially covert long distance espionage?
One imagines long periods in which the drone operators and the people analysing the data find nothing at all. The area monitored will be approximately the size of Great Britain. Perhaps they will spend their time gathering data for their next fishing trip north of the line? Will they be spotting marijuana patches in the Kootenai Mountains? More sinisterly, will there be a lot of false positives, generating tensions between the two countries?
Dvorak Uncensored blog reported that US border official Michael Kostelnik as saying:
“There are vast parts of the border where, on any given day, we’re not sure what’s going on, so part of this is to try to deal with the unknown and not be surprised.”
Most of us could telling him what is mostly happening on a given day. Not very much at all .
Airstar International has tried to sell its Airstar drone to law enforcement agencies and energy companies for use to patrol energy installations in the Dawson Creek area of British Columbia, where someone has been bombing installations at night. The Skyhawk would provide thermal imaging and patrol the sites at night. (Source)
The Government of Alberta has dedicated resources to supporting and developing the arms industry in Alberta, citing the location of defence establishments in Alberta, for example Camp Wainwright, Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, Suffield Base
It recently published information supporting the arms industry in Alberta.
In July 2010 a Heron drone built by Israeli Aircraft Industries and operated by MacDonald Dettwiler, crashed near Suffield AB, after striking power lines.
This is just one of a number of crashes of drones worldwide that has made civilian populations uneasy about living under drones.
In 2009 a drone was involved in a ground incident with another object or vehicle.
While most crashes have been in remote areas, the plans to use drones for surveillance of civilian activities, makes their unreliability a concern.
MacDonald Dettwiler is seeking to develop a wide range of civilian uses for drones in Canada, presumably using Heron drones built in Israel by its partner Israeli Aircraft Industries.
Proposed uses would include pipeline monitoring, forest fire detection, agricultural and crop insurance monitoring.
Unstated is the potential for monitoring of all kinds, cheapening surveillance to the extent that a great deal surveillance of human activities happen.
Nor the boost for the Israeli arms industry that would result from civilian sales of more Heron drones. A matter of ploughshare sales boosting income for the sword manufacturers.
MacDonald Dettwiler, the Canadian partner of Israeli Aircraft Industries, has posted a job vacancy for a ‘UAV Payload Operator Instructor’ .
Among the operator instructor’s roles would be to train additional operators, ab initio, (from ‘scratch’).
The candidate hired would have to train for four months in Israel, and be willing to deploy to Afghanistan.
Note that there are no educational qualifications listed, but clearly the posting if intended for people who are already drone operators, and have a military/defence background.
The job was posted in May, 2010 and reposted in September, 2010, suggesting that MDA is having trouble filling the position.
The person hired would work with MDA employees already in Afghanistan.
Project Noctua is the program by which the Canadian DND leases drones from contractors, specifically leasing Israel Aeronautic Industries Heron drones from IAI’s Canadian partner, MacDonald Dettwiler. REF
In 2008, Peter Mackay, Minister of National Defense, ‘quietly awarded’ the contract for drones for use in Afghanistan to the IAI Macdonald Dettwiler consortium, after the contractors for the US Predator drone bowed out of the bidding because the size of the contract wasn’t worth their trouble. REF
Recently Australia has received a Heron drone and training in operating Heron drones from Canada. This is a bit perplexing, since one wonders why Australia doesn’t get its drones straight from Israel.
The drones are presumably acquired through the partnership between Israel Aerospace Industries and MacDonald Dettwiler of Canada, which has an operation at Suffield Alberta, where it tests UAVs and trains operators for the drones that Canada has acquired from Israel.
Australia appears to have plans to acquire more drones, and the fact that they are already using a Heron drone suggests that future drones may also be acquired from Israel, providing support for the Israeli arms industry.
Australian drone operators are being absorbed into the Canadian Heron UAV detachment at Kandahar Afghanistan.
More information here.
MacDonald Dettwiler Associates operates a facility at Suffield Alberta to test and demonstrate Israeli UAVs, as well as train operators and do R&D. In addition to its contract with the military to provide surveillance in Afghanistan, MDA is promoting the Israeli-build Heron UAV for civilian purposes.
Israeli Aerospace Industries (maker of the Heron UAV) suggests that the Heron drone might be used in fighting forest fires, monitoring pipelines, and by insurance companies to spy on clients and claimants. The Civil Air Search and Rescue has participated with MDA and IAI in trials of using the Heron drone for search and rescue.
(It is not clear at this point which other civilian purposes the Heron drone will be put to. However, civilian sales of Israeli drone technology or services will directly support the Israeli arms industry, and indirectly support the Israeli military in its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories).