Canada’s Department of National Defense’s project for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) has now gone into the definition phase, and the federal government has shortlisted two eligible suppliers for the program.
L3 Technologies MAS Inc. and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., in addition to the government of the United States were determined to be eligible for the program by the Public Services and Procurement Canada. L3 Technologies MAS Inc. sent its proposal for its Heron TP aircraft, developed by the Israeli Aircraft Industries, while the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. and the U.S government jointly proposed the MQ-9 aircraft, under invitation by the Canadian government.
Jessica Lamrinade, the spokesperson for the defense department stated: “The project team officially initiated engagement with qualified suppliers in July 2019 as part of the Refine & Review Requirements phase. As part of the RRR phase, the project team will continue to engage qualified suppliers and develop a Request for Proposal.” This request for proposal is expected in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
Canadian Armed Forces Seek Multifunctional Capabilities
According to Lamrinade, the RPAS project contract is expected to be given out during the financial year 2022-2023. Further, the RPAS project will purchase a fleet of medium altitude, armed, long endurance drone variants with surveillance, intelligence gathering, precision strike, and recon capabilities, aimed towards supporting operations conducted by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Lamrinade spoke about the proposed drones, saying: “This capability will be integrated into a network of systems to enable near real-time flow of information essential to CAF operations, and to support domestic law enforcement and civilian authorities. Additionally, it will significantly expand Canada’s ability to contribute to joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations with its allies.”
According to estimates by the Defense Capabilities Blueprint, funding for the project would range between 1 and 4.99 billion. The acqusitions will be important as Canada’s search for UAV systems have been going on for years, starting in 2006, with multiple proposals, most of which were declined before the purchase of Richmond-based MDA’s Sprewer drones for the war in Afghanistan.