Posts Tagged MDA

Who is lobbying the Canadian government about drones?

Project JUSTAS is the Canadian initiative to acquire large military surveillance drones. Like other military procurement projects Project JUSTAS has been delayed for many years by bungled procedures and shifting priorities. Most recently the government is claiming to have finished the acquisition process by 2023, with contracts going out by 2017. The military is still lobbying for armed drones, and it appears that the procurement for military surveillance drones will be separated from the procurement for arctic surveillance drones. Due to the need of the current government to minimise expenditures leading up to the October election no movement is likely to happen before the end of 2015.

General Atomics has lobbied eight government departments, including Department of National Defence and the Canadian Senate, in support of its bid to provide large military drones under Project JUSTAS. Their lobbyist was Patrick Gagnon, of The Parliamentary Group (consulting company and lobbyists) . Gagnon is a former Liberal MP, and former Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada, and is well connected due to many roles in government. General Atomics would also like to sell the Canadian government its Avenger drone for arctic surveillance competing with the ‘Polar Hawk-Global Hawk’ offering of Raytheon (see below).

Also lobbying the government with respect to Project JUSTAS was MacDonald Dettwiler Associates (MDA), a Canadian company with widespread business with the government. Most pertinent is its role providing the Canadian Government with leased Heron MALE drones for use by Canadian forces in Afghanistan. (The lease ran out in 2011). Though the public lobbying records don’t state it, presumably MDA would act as an agent for Israeli Aerospace Industries, manufacturers of the Heron MALE drone. The active lobbyists for MDA are listed as Daniel Friedman, CEO, and Donald Osborne, the Executive Vice President of MDA. Records show that Osborne lobbied Bill Jones, Senior Associate Deputy Minister National Defence, though it isn’t certain that Project JUSTAS was the subject of all communication between the two. There were other contacts with respect to Project JUSTAS as well.

Raytheon, and American arms company producing the ‘Global Hawk’ family of jet powered drones also lobbied the Canadian government on a variety of subjects, including Project JUSTAS. Raytheon has been trying to sell the Canadian Government Global Hawk variants for arctic patrols.

Elbit Systems, the large Israeli arms company, retains powerful CFN Consultants to lobby on its behalf. Lobby records don’t show any communications with the government within the past year. CFN Consultants is made up mostly of former military personnel with strong ties in government circles.

Thales, the French arms company which promotes the Anglo Israeli Watchkeeper drone, uses Bluesky Strategy Group as its registered lobbyist had three recorded contacts with the Department of National Defence in the past year. But it isn’t recorded whether the Watchkeeper drone was discussed.

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Israeli Company Deliver’s First Heron UAV to Canadian Forces

15 October, 2008, Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) delivered the first of its Heron drones to Canadian Forces, as part of a $95 million contract. Management, training, and in-theatre maintenance will be the responsibility of MacDonald Dettwiler.

This follows previous collaboration between IAI and MDA, who tested Heron drones earlier at the Suffield UAV centre CCUVS.

In information released on 2008, MDA claimed that the Heron flight carried out that day was the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle flight in Alberta. (This seems improbable, and may depend on definitions, because there have been cruise missile flights, which are arguably UAV’s, and lots of remotely controlled flights of smaller aircraft).

IAI toured Canadian Forces Defence Attache through their facilities. Col. Georgie Elms is Hebrew speaking and has served in peacekeeping in Palestine/Israel, and in Kabul, Afghanistan. Elms is looking for consulting contracts, presumably after his CF contract is up.

Herons were also delivered to the Israeli Air Force in March, 2008. They are capable of flying at 30,000 feet, are relatively quiet, and can stay in the air for 40 hours. Herons have also been sold to Turkey, as part of a joint venture with Israeli company Elbit systems (vendors of the Hermes drone). These were being delivered in 2007. The Herons will carry a varying payload of surveillance equipment, which may include laser designators, used for marking targets for other weapons systems. Turkish Forum reports that the Herons were being used by the Turkish military in their conflict with Kurdish insurgents. (ed: PKK?) Turkish Daily News reported that the sale of Israeli drones to Turkey caused problems for the US, since US contractors were excluded from the bidding for technical reasons. An unstated implication was that the bidding process was intentionally unfair, and related to aspects of the close relationship between Turkey and Israel.

Israel has sold UAV’s to South Korea.

Israel has sold Searcher UAV’s to India. Other customers include Chile, Singapore, and the US. An Israeli Military Innovation: UAV, Joint Force Quarterly, 2002, by Ralph Sanders, is a good overview of the development of the Israeli UAV industry.

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