ING Engineering, which maintains UAS for Canadian Forces, trains soldiers on how to use them and launches and recovers them for the Forces in Afghanistan, showcased its remote-controlled planes at the two-day military industry trade show CANSEC.
To date, ING’s seven-member team in Afghanistan has flown more than 30,000 hours with the Canadian Forces with the gas-powered Scan Eagle, which can fly for nearly 20 hours straight and has a range of 100 km. Three are launched every day and two each night. “The mission in Afghanistan is really looking for bad people doing bad things, and you’ve got a large area you’ve got to watch over,” said Ian Glenn, ING’s chairman and CEO. “You need persistent surveillance day and night looking for folks who might be digging holes in roads and doing other things that they shouldn’t be. That’s exactly what the Scan Eagle allows them to do. “It’s like having a video camera on-call in the sky.”
In 2009, the federal government awarded Insitu, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing, a $30 million contract to provide unmanned aircraft for the Canadian Forces. ING was selected to run the CF’s UAV operations in Afghanistan
According to Lt.-Col. Christian Lemay, chief public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces’ expeditionary force, the drones have proven “very useful” in Afghanistan. “They’re a force multiplier in our ability to cover large areas in support of our ongoing operations,” he said. “At the same time, they are a platform that doesn’t put the lives of pilots in danger.”
Canada is also using the smaller Maverick drone, which runs on a lithium-polymer battery (similar to a laptop computer) and has a flying time of 30 minutes to one hour and a range of about 10 km.
The Maverick only weighs 1 kg and can be rolled up into a tube no larger than a yoga mat. Like the Scan Eagle, it too provides real-time thermal imaging and high-definition video back to base, but is also capable of sending the video directly below to a laptop in battle. “You can literally see what’s on the other side of the wall or around the corner,” Glenn said.
While UAS have been around since the Second World War, and saw increased use in Vietnam, Korea and the Israeli conflicts, their use has really “taken off” in the past decade, according to Glenn. “As a major, I was responsible for the army’s UAS programme back in 1996. Back then, if you were a country with a UAS and you flew 150 hours a year, you were somebody. Today, we fly that by 5 p.m. on a Tuesday,” he said. “The ability to do persistent surveillance economically, safely, effectively and reliably, that’s the big change.”
Source: Toronto Sun