This CASR Background Index covers Canadian UAVs –
those unmanned aerial vehicles, uninhabited aerial vehicles, or what you will. Canadian industry had an
early lead in UAVs resulting in some export successes. The Canadian military was less sure about the UAV's value
and their investigations dragged on for decades.
Yet another dragged-out DND procurement project sounds bad, but it might not have been. Unpiloted military
aircraft have been around since WWI but, over all, UAVs remain an immature technology. Indeed, that
helps explain the confused UAV terminology – 'robot' drones were replaced by
remotely-controlled aircraft which, in turn, are being eclipsed by UAVs with computerized, onboard guidance.
In other words, fixed and pre-programmed flightpaths were replaced with radio or other remotely-linked control by
human operator, and finally independant control through terrain-mapping or satellite-links – or a mix of
any of the above controls.
Note: Pages listed/linked below will be arranged by subject, not chronologically.
Background — DND / CF Project Articles Index
Canadian Forces UAVs – Introduction and a Brief Historical
The Canadian Forces Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Project
The Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre began UAV testing in earnest in April of 2002 at CFB
Suffield (right). What emerged from these ongoing trials is a CF require- ment for three
distinct forms of UAV – the miniature UAV for short-range reconnaissance, tactical UAVs for overall battlefield
awareness, and larger MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) UAVs to patrol Canada's Pacific, Arctic and
Canadian UAVs and CF Drone
The Canadian Army was one of the first to field what would now
be called a battlefield reconnaiss- ance UAV. A brief overview of the Canadair CL-89 Midge and CL-289
tactical UAVs, and the 'flying peanut' CL-227 Sentinel.
UAV Test-Drives – the Canadian Forces' On-Going
Experiment with UAVs
Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre Trials
Three different sizes and types of UAV were trialled by CFEC at CFB Suffield in 2002:
FQM-151A Pointer, I-GNAT, and CL-327 Guardian. These non-operational trials employed leased
CF UAV – Ongoing Developments and Trials
Interim fixes – German ISAF Luna X2000 mini- UAV held over in Kabul while Canada worked out
Sperwer's bugs. Maritime surveillance UAV demonstrations – CU-160 Eagle flying from Tofino BC, and the General Atomics CU-163
Altair on the east coast.
General Atomics CU-163 Altair A
single CU-163 Altair (a long-span relative of the better-known US Predator) was leased for the
duration of ALIX, the Atlantic Littoral ISR ( Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance)
JUSTAS (Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System) Project
The JUSTAS section is being revised. This project – potentially involving both HALE and MALE UAV types – has dragged on for years and existing pages were obsolete. In theory, JUSTAS is
a $500M project meant to provide UAV coverage to East, West, and Arctic coasts (hence the unsolicited 'Polar Hawk' proposal).
Tactical UAV – the Canadian Forces'
SAGEM CU-161 Sperwer TUAV
TUAV – SAGEM CU-161 Sperwer Tactical
UAV The CF's ISAF Kabul deployment forced the issue of tactical UAVs. The French-made
Sperwer were to prove crash-prone and a big learning curve for CF operators. Despite this,
five more were ordered from their makers in late 2005.
CU-161 Sperwer deployment is covered
separately. In Sept 2006, DND awarded a contract to SAGEM to "standardize" 10 ex-Danish Sperwer
(called Kestrels or Tårnfalken). This will also be covered separately.
CU-162 Vindicator Drone / UAV
The CU-162 Vindicator was designed as a target drone but also acts as familiarization trainers for the
Surveillance Acquisition Group to practice spotting and tracking.
Mini UAVs – the Canadian Forces' Miniature Tactical UAVs
CF Trials Mini UAV – ACR CU-167
In April 2004, DND bought Silver Fox mini UAVs and their launchers from ACR for use in
CF trials leading up to their miniature UAV contest (below).
Fly-Weights – the CF Mini-UAV Contest. DND
bought five Israeli Skylark mini UAVs in March of 2006 with options on a further five. On 29 Nov. 2005,
a separate $10M contest was announced for 10 low altitude reconnaissance / surveillance mini UAVs.
The outcome was predictable but we will look at the three candidates.
Mini UAV Candidate – IAI Malat I-View. The
I-View 50 is a scaled-down, electric-powered version of the already-small IAI Malat I-View (right).
I-View UAVs are distinguished by a power-on landing technique, using a para-foil for extra
Elbit Systems Skylark Mini UAV.
Israeli mini UAVs dominated the CF competition. Having already been bought as Immediate Operational
Requirements, Skylarks had a built-in advantage. Skylark is a simple, hand-launch UAV with
Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle. The Scan-
Eagle was the most radical mini UAV candidate. A ScanEagle has no con- ventional landing
gear. Take-off is a normal enough catapult launch but 'landing' consists of snaring a wingtip