The federal government announced December 19, 2023 is to to acquire a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) capability for $2.49 billion.
The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) will provide the CAF with a large and sophisticated remotely piloted aircraft, roughly the size of a fighter jet. Unlike small drones, these Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems will be designed and certified to the rigid airworthiness standards applicable to crewed aircraft.
This acquisition includes:
• eleven remotely piloted aircraft;
• six ground control stations;
• a new ground control center
• two new aircraft hangars;
• initial weapons;
• sustainment services;
• a training solution that includes training devices, mission crew and technician courseware;
• supporting information management and technology; and
• associated work and equipment.
The first delivery is anticipated in 2028 and the full operational capability by 2033.
At home, the RPAS capability will allow the CAF to monitor Canada’s large territory and long coastline. It will support civilian aid operations such as responding to forest fires and floods.
In deployed operations, an RPAS will provide commanders an overview of operational situations with near real-time information. The system will be capable of detecting, recognizing, identifying, tracking, and engaging targets in complex environments. It will also enable Canada to optimally fulfill its North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) and NATO missions while increasing interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces. On top of enhancing these capabilities, the system will reduce the risk to personnel involved in combat operations on the ground, as well as aircrew. There is no risk to aircrew life if a remotely piloted aircraft is lost or damaged because of an incident or enemy attack.
General Atomics photo.