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Canada launches UAV, ISR experiment.

In August, Canadian Forces conducted a two-week experiment to learn how best to distribute data collected from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sources.

Supervised by the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre (CFEC), the Atlantic Littoral ISR Experiment (ALIX) ran from August 22 through August 31 on Baffin Island and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, among other locations.

A General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (San Diego, CA) Altair UAV (shown here, in flight at Goose Bay, Newfoundland), leased by the Canadian Forces earlier this year solely for use in the experiment, was the main UAV used for three difference scenarios, the first of which was a domestic emergency in southern Baffin Island, the second a peace-support operation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New Brunswick, and the third a domestic security operation in the Grand Banks fishing area, east of Newfoundland.


But Lt. Col. Fig Newton of the CFEC noted that while the Altair UAV happens to be the UAV selected for the ALIX, the emphasis of the experiment is really on how the information collected from a UAV--or a helicopter, satellite, or some other asset--is shared among commanders on the ground or at headquarters, with allies, and with national agencies like Fisheries & Oceans Canada. So while the ALIX will, in part, help determine how best to use UAVs in operational scenarios, the experiment primarily focused on the architecture used for collecting and distributing ISR data to battlefield commanders and others that can use it.

"Canada has quite a large geography, so if we are able, for example, to have the ground commander in Baffin Island on the ground talking to the UAV commander located in Ottawa and sharing information, then the guy in Ottawa can help him solve his problems," according to Lt. Col. Newton. An early report on the ALIX with some of the lessons learned was to be prepared by mid-September, Lt. Col. Newton said, while a huge database of information collected from ALIX will be prepared over a longer period and will fuel studies for years to come. An "information portal" to which the various participants of the experiment were connected--including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Tranport Canada, and Fisheries & Oceans Canada, among others--provided an instant means of letting the various participants draw lessons from the experiment.

All three of the planned UAV flights were to last about 23 hours. In the first flight, data collected by the UAV--which has been equipped with maritime radar and an electro-optical/infrared camera--was sent not only to a commander on the ground on Baffin Island but also to Halifax, the location of the joint force commander of an exercise called NARWHAL that occurred on simultaneously with the ALIX; to land forces operating at a base in Gagetown; and to a UAV operations center in Ottawa. In the second scenario, the Altair UAV was used in conjunction with the Advanced Ceramics Research (Tuscon, AZ) Silver Fox Mini-UAV, which Canada purchased specifically for this experiment. A Coyote reconnaissance team, like the kind now deployed in Kabul as part of Canada's peacekeeping contribution there, operated the Silver Fox. In the third scenario, the Altair UAV was used in a surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting mission over the Grand Banks, with data sent to the commander of the Maritime Forces Atlantic headquarters.
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Title Annotation:AMERICAS REPORT; Unmanned aerial vehicles; Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
Comment:Canada launches UAV, ISR experiment.(AMERICAS REPORT)(Unmanned aerial vehicles )(Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance )
Author:McKenna, Ted
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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