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Canada buys mini-UAV system.

Looking to plug a gap in its intelligence-gathering abilities, the Canadian Forces purchased a Silver Fox miniature unmanned aerial vehicle (mini-UAV) system for testing. Under a contract awarded to Thales Systems Canada, which will act as the prime contractor in acquiring the system, the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre at Shirley's Bay, Ontario, plans to test a number of different sensors and communications suites on the UAV, which is much smaller than UAVs like the Predator and Global Hawk.


Manufactured by Advanced Ceramics Research (Tucson, AZ), the Silver Fox that is already used by the US Marine Corps measures 6-ft long, weighs about 20 lbs., has 8-foot-wide detachable wings, and can reach an altitude of around 1,000 ft, through the use of a model-plane engine. Canadian Forces spokesman Maj. James Simiana said he didn't know exactly what types of payloads would be tested with the UAV Canada will purchase, but that they would include infrared and electro-optical sensors. Delivery of the system, which cost $649,000, is expected in mid-July.

The only UAV that the Canadian Forces have deployed to date is the Sperwer, a tactical UAV designed by Sagem and used in Afghanistan. The Canadian Army has purchased four of the Sperwer UAVs through prime contractor Oerlikon Contraves (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada) and uses them for beyond-line-of-sight surveillance and target acquisition. The idea of a mini-UAV, according to Maj Simiana, is to provide commanders on the ground with a means to conduct reconnaissance without relying on other units. In addition, "there isn't a host of airspace-integration issues you would face with something like a Predator UAV, because obviously that will be flying at commercial operating altitudes," he said.

The Silver Fox may be launched with the use of compressed air and, with a GPS-based navigational system, is able to fly according to preset coordinates. Various organizations within the Canadian Forces plan to test the use the Silver Fox in a number of different applications, including its use off a naval vessel. Maj. Simiana noted that Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and UAVs are one possible means of patrolling it.

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Title Annotation:AMERICAS REPORT; Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Author:McKenna, Ted
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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