Gen. Vance wants drones with strike capability

OTTAWA -- The country's top military commander came out strongly in favour of acquiring armed drones for future operations in a bold statement Monday that is likely to make the Liberal government uncomfortable.

See Full Article

Gen. Jonathan Vance, in an appearance before the Senate defence and security committee, said he has raised the priority for the air force's drone program, which has been in the planning stages and proceeding in fits and starts for more than a decade.

Remotely piloted aircraft are important not only for surveillance at home, but to contribute to multi-national missions overseas, where the ability to strike at an enemy is necessary, the defence chief told reporters following his testimony.

"I think it's important for a military force to have a range of options available to it," he said. "In my view, there's no point in having a UAV that can see a danger but can't strike, if it needs to."

The Liberals made buying surveillance drones a commitment in their election platform last fall and put out a quiet call to defence contractors in January for their ideas on what systems could be provided.

But the air force, which has long advocated for an armed drone system, made the option of weaponizing the platform one of its key considerations. In fact, the request for information, which closes in mid-April, was specific and said the country was looking for a drone that could deliver one Hellfire missile and two 113-kilogram bombs.

A spokesman for National Defence recently acknowledged the air force wants a strike capability, but the drones Canada intends to buy will "be used primarily for surveillance and reconnaissance" of the coastlines and the Arctic.

Legal experts have warned that the government and the military not only need to develop a policy for using armed drones, but must also create a legal framework that clearly makes the government accountable for their use.

In the U.S., the CIA and Pentagon both run drone programs, which have faced public scrutiny and increasing criticism in light of the dramatic rise in strikes over the last eight years and claims of civilian casualties.

Vance said he's confidence the legal and technical issues can be thrashed out during the Liberal government's upcoming defence policy review.

"I suspect there will be debate, particularly as it applies to Canadian operations," he said. "So, I think it'll form a part of that."

The effort to buy drones -- a capability most other nations already possess -- has been long and tortuous.

The air force started research and shopping a decade ago, with a budget of roughly $500 million. Some estimates peg the revised program at $3.2 billion.

The plan was largely shelved when the Conservative government had to put a temporary system in place during the Afghan war. The country leased Heron drones from an Israeli defence company, but gave up the platforms when the Kandahar combat mission came to an end in 2011.

The program to provide a more all-encompassing capability only restarted a few years ago and the department's own acquisition guide doesn't anticipate a contract award until 2020, with final delivery of the system in 2025.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • New Orleans takes down white supremacist monument

    World News CTV News
    NEW ORLEANS -- A monument to a deadly white-supremacist uprising in 1874 was removed under cover of darkness by workers in masks and bulletproof vests Monday as New Orleans joined the movement to take down symbols of the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South. Source
  • The Promise's director thinks Armenian genocide deniers are behind hostile online ratings

    World News CBC News
    Repercussions from the Armenian genocide have been felt for more than 100 years, but with the release of a new historical drama, the conflict has taken an unexpected direction — into the world of online film ratings. Source
  • State Department-run blog promoted Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. State Department has removed its promotional posting about President Donald Trump's Florida resort, after a storm of ethics criticism Monday. In an April 4 blog post that was republished by several U.S. embassies abroad, Mar-a-Lago was described as "Trump's Florida estate," where he has hosted foreign leaders. Source
  • Unusual bacterial infection forces Elton John to scrap string of shows

    World News CBC News
    Elton John has cancelled more than a month of upcoming shows after contracting an unusual bacterial infection during a South America tour that left him in intensive care for two nights. John is scrapping all upcoming April and May dates of The Million Dollar Piano at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, as well as performance on May 6 in Bakersfield, Calif. Source
  • Halifax to debate motion that could change commemoration of city's founder

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX - The story of Edward Cornwallis in Nova Scotia is told two ways: The tale of a brave leader and his entourage of soldiers and settlers trying to survive in a new world, or the commander of a bloody and barbaric extermination campaign against Mi'kmaq inhabitants. Source
  • Ex-Fox News host Andrea Tantaros claims she was harassed online by Fox in lawsuit

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros says in a lawsuit she believes network operatives used bogus social media accounts to torture her after she complained about sexual harassment. She also says she believes someone hacked her computer and phone. Source
  • Russian woman shot execution-style in Oregon park in love triangle with accused killer, another woman: Prosecutors

    World News Toronto Sun
    CORVALLIS, Ore. — A woman who was found shot in the Oregon woods arrived in the United States last month from Russia and was having a relationship with the man arrested in her death, authorities said Monday. Source
  • Truck with radioactive material stolen in Mexico

    World News Toronto Sun
    MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities say a company’s pickup truck carrying industrial X-ray equipment that uses radioactive material has been stolen in northwestern Mexico. The Interior Department says the truck was stolen Sunday in Tlaquepaque, a town in Jalisco state. Source
  • Arkansas executes Jones; plans second lethal injection of night

    World News Toronto Sun
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they’re guilty but fear their poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections set for Monday might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the U.S. Source
  • Finalists hope to become a Canadian astronaut [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Canadian Space Agency unveiled a list of 17 finalist in the competition for two jobs as the country’s next astronauts. There were 3,772 applicants. The Toronto Sun spoke with three of the finalists: •What motivated you to apply for this position? Source