Thursday, February 9, 2012

Canadian Military Unmanned Aircraft To Be Deployed On Mediterranean Missions

Canada Military Drones: ScanEagle, Unmanned Aircraft, To Be Deployed On Mediterranean Missions

First Posted: 11/22/11 Updated: 11/23/11 

OTTAWA - Canadian warships will soon be deploying drones on overseas operations.
The crew of HMCS Charlottetown is currently testing the lightweight ScanEagle, a leased, unmanned aircraft the army used to great effect in Afghanistan.

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, head of the Royal Canadian Navy, says the idea is to deploy the drone when the frigate heads back to the Mediterranean next year as part of the government's recently announced plan to keep a warship in the region throughout 2012.

But instead of hunting for Taliban planting roadside bombs, Maddison says the plane will provide surveillance over both sea and land.

The Canadian navy has experimented with drones, but the use of the ScanEagle represents the first step towards their introduction into service.

The ScanEagle, with a three-metre wing-span, is capable of staying airborne for 20 hours and carries an infrared camera as well as a radar system.

It's launched by catapult and lands by snagging a wire.

Maddison says the drone is not a substitute for the vessel's aging Sea King helicopter, but will enhance the warship's existing capability.

"A UAV provides an excellent capability ... to do that surveillance and reconnaissance," he said. "We saw this as a real opportunity."

The frigate is currently testing the drone off the coast of Nova Scotia.

American warships have used unmanned aircraft since 2005 and defence experts say they've proven themselves especially valuable tracking pirates in the Gulf Aden and in the waters off Somalia.

Maddison made the comments in a teleconference while visiting HMCS Vancouver, which has been directed to join NATO's standing counter-terrorism mission in the Mediterranean.

The ship will be relieved next year by the Charlottetown, which has taken aboard an entirely new crew since it returned in September from taking part in the Libya campaign.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Drones crashing consistently and unpredictably due to a wide array of failures from technical malfunction, to complications in dealing with air traffic controllers, to downright incompetence. T
A sub-contracted operator from Merlin RAMCo launching a MQ-9 Reaper from the runway at the Seychelles International Airport without getting the go-head from the control tower. The same operator then accidentally switched off the engine without noticing and then tried an emergency landing, but did not release the wheels. The $8.9 million drone was a write-off. It was the second similar accident at the site in just five months.
While operating from an airport that is also heavily used by civilian planes Merlin RAMCo employed inexperienced pilots and was exempt from efficient local supervision as it had signed a highly classified contract with the Air Force.
In Djibouti – which the US uses as a base for its operations against Somali pirates and Al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen – five drones have crashed in recent years.
Recently crashed air drone whose throttle had failed, but which was carrying a live missile. Luckily, it did not explode upon impact.
US Federal Aviation Authority only allows drones in the US to fly on specially-approved missions, mostly around airbases.
All current safety strategies use visuals – “see-and-avoid” – as the ultimate accident prevention measure. The drone pilots do not have the same visibility, and cannot make the split-second decisions that are often required. Even with electronic data about their craft, they are also not able to fully assess the problems when equipment starts to malfunction. For instance, the Air Force reports noted several occasions where pilots would have been able to notice errors if they simply heard the noise the aircraft was making.
FAA has balked at the demanded rate of progress and violations of privacy concerns, taking its time to designate test sites.
Nalliah Thayabharan