Canadian American Strategic Review






DND 101

Background  —  CF  UAV —  MTSC  (Meggitt)  CU-162  Vindicator

The CU-162 Vindicator drone is a small aerial vehicle designed primarily as a target for anti- aircraft fire but also employed as training aids for CF UAV operators. Like the larger CU-161 Sperwer tactical UAV, the Vindicator drones are launched pneumatically from a take-off rail (left and bottom, right) mounted on a light trailer in the CU-162's case.

Complicated Parentage –  Bristol Begets Schreiner
The Vindicator was designed for the Canadian Navy designed by Bristol Aerospace to train naval gunners in anti-aircraft techniques (guns and missiles). Actual airframes were built by Tasuma in the UK. The project was taken over by Schreiner which, in turn, was taken over by Meggitt. [2] Vindicator II is controlled from a Universal Target Control Station (left) controlling two or more drones at once. The UTSC is based on COTS PC hardware with Linux operating systems. Operators are streamed  real-time video and data from the drone.

The CU-162 itself is a small, delta-winged aircraft with twin endplate fins. Power is provided by a rear-mounted Wankel-type rotary engine  –  the UEL AR731 – driving a two-bladed, wooden pusher propeller. [3] Payloads are carried in three fuselage bays (nose, midsection, and rear). Vindicator can be fitted with a miss- distance indicator (acoustic or radar ) and can carry up to 12 flares –  infrared or smoke.  To compensate for the CU-162's small airframe and  radar cross-section, up to six  Lüneburg lenses ( 4 on the nose,  2 on the fuselage)  can be fitted to act as radar reflector antennae. [4]

The passive radar enhancement of the Lüneburg lenses means the CU-162 can mimic larger air vehicles – simulating a strike aircraft, a UAV, or an anti-ship missile. This suits the Canadian Navy but the focus of Meggit's marketing has been south of the border. The US Navy used Vindicator IIs during their  2000 AEGIS  ship trials, the drone replicated missiles and helicopters. [5] As a result of this US interest, perhaps, Canada's Navy prefers Vindicator II (the maker's name) to its designation. As TUAV stand-ins, the CU-162 onboard camera familiarizes UAV operators with "looking down the straw".

  MTSC CU-162 Vindicator  UAV Specifications
 Size:   Length: 2.59 m,  wing span: 2.52 m
 Weight:   Take-off: 77.3 kg, unloaded: 55 kg
 Payload:   (sensors &/or flares) 9.1 kg (20 lb)
  UEL AR731 rotary engine,  208cc,
  26.1 kW  (38 bhp)  at  7800 rpm
  Max. speed: 300 km/h, endurance:
  75-90 min., radius (optical): 10 km,
  recovery time: approx. 30 minutes

[1] True to its name, the Universal Target Control Station can be used to control other aerial and sea-based  (eg: MTS Barracuda) targets.
[2] In late 2004,  MTS took over Medicine Hat-based Schreiner Target Services ( becoming Meggitt Defence Systems Canada ).  Schreiner Canada had previously been the target drone division of  Boeing Canada. In July 1999, Schreiner had bought the Vindicator program from its originator, Winnipeg-based  Bristol Aerospace Canada which,  just to complete the whole circle, had connections with Boeing Canada.
[3] UEL is UK-based UAV Engines Ltd  (Alvis UAV Engines Ltd until 1994). The engine actually originated with Norton motorcycles – the final production bikes being two-rotor rotaries. The appeal of  rotary engines for aerial targets (and short-life UAVs) is their high power to weight ratio. Specific Fuel Consumption is 0.57 lb/bhp/hr at max power, 0.52 lb/bhp/hr at cruise (regular grade Mogas or 'low lead' AVGAS.
[4] Lüneburg lens sizes are as follows – nose-mounted: three x 2.5-inch and one x 7.5-inch lenses; fuselage-mounted: two x 7.5-inch lenses.
[5] Prior to its use in AEGIS ship trials, the Vindicator II  had to be accurately calibrated. The precision radar cross-section measurements were preformed in the LAC (Large Anechoic Chamber) at the US Navy Radar Reflectivity Lab at NAWCWPNS (Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division) at Point Mugu, CA.  For the helicopter tests, the Vindicator employed the Boeing Helicopter Radar Signature System.