Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Trials – Background
Pointer – " ... but slowly slowly, creeping on from point to point ... "
The smallest of participants in the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre's April 2002 trials is probably
the UAV with the most combat exposure.  Aerovironment's little Pointer is basically a
remotely- controlled model sailplane. A quiet 300W electric motor mounted on the parasol wing drive a two-bladed
propeller above the narrow tail- boom. The system is 'back-packable' – the
operating crew of two carrying the Pointer and the ground control unit as separate loads.
After assembling the composite airfame, the aircraft (which weighs only 3.6kg) is launched by
hand. The radio-controlled Pointer has a mission radius of 8km at a sedate 29-80km/h. Payload is only
0.9kg but this is sufficient for a video camera. To land, the operator puts the aircraft into deep stall
and it settles to earth.
I-GNAT – " ... I, the gnat which dances in thy ray ..."
Passing for conventional in an odd-looking class of aircraft is the I-GNAT.  With its 11m
wingspan, the I-GNAT is larger than the Pointer and more capable. Sensors consist of
synthetic aperture radar (with 1m resolution) plus electro-optical / infrared sensors in a chin turret.
Data relay is by satellite. To keep its nose free for sensors, I-GNAT is driven by a tail propeller (
necessitating a stalky undercarriage and inverted-V tail). The I-GNAT was trialled during Exercise Robust
Ram. The UAV was also used to provided surveillance for the Kananaskis G-8 summit later in 2002. In the
latter case, the I-GNAT (operated by General Atomics) used synthetic aperture radar and optical sensors to provide
surveillance for the CF.
Mr Peanut Rides Again – Bombardier's Chunky-Style CL-327 Guardian
While I-GNAT requires a conventional paved runway, no such restriction applies to the vertical take-off
and landing CL-327 Guardian. Bombardier's aircraft is a direct outgrowth of the Canadair CL-227 – basically applying a turboprop engine and larger contra-rotating propeller blades to
the same central 'stack'. An electro-optical/infrared sensor is mounted in the bottom lobe of the
peanut-shaped main body. With its rotor span of a mere 4m, the CL-327 is very compact compared to the I-GNAT.
However, rotary-bladed propulsion is costly in terms of endurance – the Guardian has a
maximum endurance of just over 6 hours at 92 knots whereas the winged, propeller-driven
I-GNAT can stay aloft for the better part of two days.
 Designated FQM-151A by US forces, Aerovironment's hand-launched Pointer first saw action in the Gulf
during Desert Storm in 1991. Development began in 1986 and Pointer entered US service in 1988.
Pointer has a maximum endurance of 1.5 hours at a moderate speed. The aircraft can be fitted either with
a miniature 'daylight' video camera (as was the case with the leased CF aircraft) or an infrared imager.
 I-GNAT stands for Improved GNAT-750, an earlier model. I-GNAT is similar to General Atomics'
larger, better-known Predator. Power for I-GNAT is a turbocharged 1.2 litre Rotax piston
engine (adding 1700m to maximum altitude). Designed for light aircraft, these 4-stroke engines are much
quieter than the 2-stroke 'chainsaw' engines used by most of the smaller UAVs ( including the
CF's CU-161 Sperwer ).
 Leasing UAVs and having company technicians operate the aircraft is a very cost-effective and low-risk method
of assessing available technologies. However, using foreign civilians in an operational area is a slippery slope.
This becomes especially unnerving when a large area of Crown Land (collectively owned by the citizens of
Canada) has been made out-of-bounds to Canadians exercising protest rights.