Military Wants Swiss Army Knife Drone

August 24, 2014 in News by Russ Niles


The Department of National Defence’s specifications for a new fleet of drones are so broad that most companies say there isn’t a single design that can fulfill them.

That’s sent senior military planners back to the drawing board to decide whether to hold separate competitions for two types of drones.

The military wants drones that can provide surveillance domestically (think the North) and overseas but it also wants them with teeth so they can carry Hellfire missiles on operations overseas.

Generally, surveillance drones have small engines and long endurance to provide long loiter times and autonomous operation.

Attack drones are fast and powerful and are almost always under direct control of ground-based pilots.

In 2012, DND invited eight companies to respond to a request for information for a one-size-fits-all drone and five of them proposed a “mixed fleet” according to the Globe and Mail.

The Globe reported that it’s the latest chapter in a story that goes back 10 years and involves six separate attempts by the military to buy drones. It did have a small fleet of unmanned aircraft called the Sperwer during deployment to Afghanistan and it also used some Israeli-built Herons in Kandahar but turned those over to Australia when the Canadian deployment ended.

There is some time for the the military to sort out the current situation. DND doesn’t actually have a plan to pay for new drones until 2019.