The Canadian Defence Industry has a substantial need for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), specifically for:
- its Armed Forces missions overseas
- the patrol of its 5,500 mile long border
- Arctic exploration
Canada offers the most open, accessible and transparent public sector market for U.S. goods and services outside of the United States and prides itself as having the United States as its major trading partner. Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced that Canada will spend $95 million over two years to lease unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. The company says there is an option for a third year worth approximately $35 million. Canada will send an extra 250 soldiers to Afghanistan to help operate the helicopters and UAVs. This program is a reflection of Canada’s dedication to annually increasing defense spending over the next twenty years.
Included in its 2006 Budget, the Government of Canada (GOC) aimed to provide $5.3 billion over five years and $1.8 billion annually starting in 2011-2012 towards defense funding. Once again reiterated in Budget 2008, the Canada First Defence Strategy establishes predictable long-term funding, based on an automatic annual increase in defense spending from the current 1.5 percent to 2 percent, beginning in 2011-12. Over the next 20 years, this is expected to provide DND and the CF with an additional $12 billion. The defense program consists mostly of fixed-cost elements such as infrastructure and equipm that have very long life cycles and require budgetary expenses to be locked in over many years, thus bringing long-term stability to the DND and the CF.
In addition to the increased dedication to the CF and DND, the Canada First Defense Strategy has created predictable long-term funding and better direction for future equipment acquisitions and replacements, therefore offering an excellent opportunity for industries – particularly defense - to new technologies that will support the future requirements of the CF. The Strategy then allows for significant opportunities for businesses in the high-tech and high-value shipbuilding, aerospace and defense sectors.
Canada is currently using Sperwer UAV, produced by the French company Sagem Défense Sécurité on its mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian UAV industry is composed almost entirely of small businesses that are operating in specific sub-areas within the business. Almost all of the businesexport related – primarily to Canada’s largest trading partner – the United States.
By Lucy Latka