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Project Noctua & the Heron UAV - Interim capability to support Afghanistan Ops

Ping Monkey

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More good news...   :(

Pullout by key U.S. manufacturer thins ranks of drone bidders
STEVEN CHASE

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

May 8, 2008 at 4:44 AM EDT

OTTAWA — The world's top manufacturer of aerial drones is pulling out of a $93-million competition to supply surveillance equipment that Canada must acquire by next February as a condition of keeping soldiers in Afghanistan.

The move by U.S.-based General Atomics, which makes the well-known Predator drones, reduces the competition for the contract and could leave Ottawa hostage to only one possible supplier: Elbit Systems of Israel and its Hermes pilotless aircraft.

It will also make it more difficult for the Canadian Forces when it comes to interoperability with their U.S. partners in Afghanistan, because the Americans use General Atomics Predator drones for the same mid-level surveillance.

Under a Canadian Forces program called Project Noctua - Latin for owl - the military is in a hurry to lease pilotless surveillance aircraft for at least two years to help soldiers battle the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Internet Links
Special Report: Canada's mission in Afghanistan
The schedule is tight, even though the military has been trying to acquire drones ever since Canadian soldiers moved to Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province in 2005.

A January report on the future of Canada's war effort in Afghanistan prodded Ottawa to act on the drones by saying their acquisition should be one of the conditions for extending the country's military mission to 2011.

After a drawn-out debate, Parliament approved an extension of the mission in Afghanistan to 2011 from 2009, as long as allies supplied 1,000 soldiers to help Canada and the military acquired helicopters and drones by February, 2009.

Last month, however, General Atomics wrote to John Sinkinson, an official at Canada's Public Works Department, informing him that it won't bid on the deal.

Sources say the deal breaker for General Atomics is that Ottawa wants the drones by January, 2009 - just six months after the contract is signed, which it contends is not possible.

General Atomics also warned Ottawa that the stipulations it has placed on the tender would expose a contractor to an unacceptable level of risk, adding that it's hard to believe any company that accepted its terms could provide the professional support needed for the program, sources say.

In combination with a hurried timeline, the contract includes big penalties worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for missed deadlines.

Although Elbit and its partners plan to bid for the contract, it's not yet known whether a third company, Israel Aerospace Industries, might step forward.

The Department of National Defence declined to discuss the General Atomics withdrawal, referring questions to the Department of Public Works.

Public Works spokeswoman Lucie Brosseau said "it would be premature to speculate on how many bidders will apply and how many will qualify."

The call for bids closes May 20 and the contract is expected to be awarded by July.

The drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles, are to be used for intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080508.wdrones08/BNStory/Afghanistan/home
 

jzaidi1

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Damnit,

No surprising though.  The rare moment when Canada is actually willing to pull the trigger relatively quickly on a purchase, we are slapped in the face with something like this.  Damned if you do and Damned if you don't.

J
 

tomahawk6

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Top reasons for GA NOT to accept this contract.
1. 6 months delivery from contract signing
2. Unacceptable level of risk which would prevent professional support
3. Big penalties for missing timelines

Right now GA has all the business they can handle from DoD which might be a big concern.Although a deal might have been worked out for Canada to cut the line so to speak to acquire the UAV's ontime.The DoD budget for FY08 was $2.3b and is seeking $2.6b for FY09.This money is for a variety of UAV's but the emphasis is on the larger UAV's like Predator and the Army's Sky Warrior with their weapons carrying capability.

In review it now looks like a mistake for the government to make this a competitive bid.Had the CAF gotten its way they would have gone for the Predator and be done with it.I suppose the government could cancel the bid and make a deal direct with GA anyway.
 

cavalryman

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One must keep in mind that Mr Weston is a polemicist, not a journalist.  He writes what he thinks (or, God forbid, he feels) rather than take the time to conduct objective research and report fact.  Whatever he states is the "truth", I take to be 180 degrees opposite to reality.  So what we get gear from the Israelis?  ::)  At the very least, the Israelis have a bit more experience in anti-insurgency ops than we do, and know what works.  Another slow news day at the Sun...
 

BrownTown

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wouldn't having israelis on our side needlessly put our soldiers at risk? it is a muslim country, and I don't think the locals would take too kindly to that. I could be entirely wrong, please don't tear me a new a**hole.
 

Shec

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Greg Weston has just qualified for the "What's the Dumbest Thing You've Read Today?" thread. 

(With apologies to  http://forums.milnet.ca/forums/threads/76543.45/topicseen.html)
 

stegner

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One must keep in mind that Mr Weston is a polemicist, not a journalist.  He writes what he thinks (or, God forbid, he feels) rather than take the time to conduct objective research and report fact.  Whatever he states is the "truth", I take to be 180 degrees opposite to reality.  So what we get gear from the Israelis?

The issue is not the CF are buying Israeli equipment, it is that Israeli contractors may be used to operate the UAV's.  Given that Afghanistan is a Muslim country and not exactly known for being magnanimous to its Jewish citizenry and to Israeli this process may prove to cause some backlash.   
 

Edward Campbell

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It may be that contractor reps, Israeli contractor reps, perhaps even Jewish-Israeli contractor reps will have to go to Kandahar to support the systems - if we are, indeed, buying Israeli UAVs. (Is that decided, yet?)

How, pray tell, does one spot a Jew? Do they have funny hats and long, hooked noses?

I'm guessing that most contractor reps might stay inside the KAF perimeter and that those who might have to go "outside the wire" are unlikely to be wearing Star of David patches.
 

stegner

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No of course not.  The Canadian Forces will have to inform the Government of Afghanistan that they have foreign contractors within sovereign Afghan territory.  The issue is not whether these folks will be in danger.  Israel is ostensibly as dangerous as Afghanistan and Israelis know how to handle themselves.  The issue is whether the use of Israeli contractors would cause some backlash diplomatically between Canada and Afghanistan.
 

Loachman

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So who said that the company personnel who would manage the system would necessarily be Israelis, or even Jewish?

Should Afghans have any concerns about Judaism or Israelis, I'm sure that the company either already has non-Israeli/non-Jewish employees or can recruit some.

This should be a minor issue.

It is more important that the system performs better than what we currently have.
 

GAP

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stegner said:
No of course not.  The Canadian Forces will have to inform the Government of Afghanistan that they have foreign contractors within sovereign Afghan territory.  The issue is not whether these folks will be in danger.   Israel is ostensibly as dangerous as Afghanistan and Israelis know how to handle themselves.  The issue is whether the use of Israeli contractors would cause some backlash diplomatically between Canada and Afghanistan.

So then we should inform the Government of Afghanistan of all nationalities of all our personnel, just in case the might object?

Sounds like we could go out of our way to create an issue, or we can just deal with our Israeli contractors the same way we do all contractors to the Canadian Government
 
M

MG34

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An unarmed UAV is about as useless as tits on a bull,regardless of who makes it. It's sad and pathetic that Canada,a country that had one of the world's greatest aerospace industries cannot now even produce a decent UAV.
 

stegner

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So then we should inform the Government of Afghanistan of all nationalities of all our personnel, just in case the might object?

They are not 'our personnel' they are contractors.  WE are guests of the Afghan government we are not invaders so yeah we have an obligation to inform them if we are using non-Canadian contractors.  Afghanistan is a sovereign country-so determined by the Supreme Court of Canada.     


Sounds like we could go out of our way to create an issue, or we can just deal with our Israeli contractors the same way we do all contractors to the Canadian Government

In theory this sounds good.  In practice it might prove more difficult.    We are after all not in Canada and must abide by Afghan law, customs and sensitivities. 

It is more important that the system performs better than what we currently have.

I fully agree. 

So who said that the company personnel who would manage the system would necessarily be Israelis, or even Jewish?

Greg Weston. 

However, Elbit one of the two Israeli firms, the finalists of the CF UAV competition has many affiliations and alliances.  From Wikipedia:

ESA, the US office for Elbit, operates the following subsidiaries: IEI in Talladega, Alabama, Kollsman in Merrimack, New Hampshire, VSI in San Jose, California (a joint venture with Rockwell Collins), Talla-Com in Tallahassee, Florida and EFW in Fort Worth, Texas (the latter also serves as ESA's home office).
In 2005 Elbit set up a joint venture company in the UK with Thales, UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), developing the British Army Watchkeeper WK450. Elbit's EFW subsidiary also
operates a joint venture with Rockwell Collins, Vision Systems International (VSI).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbit_Systems
 

Teddy Ruxpin

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Everyone needs to give their heads a shake.  MDA - a Canadian company - is the contractor, not the Israelis.  MDA is submitting an Israeli system as the basis for its bid; it does not necessarily follow that we'd see Israelis on the ground in Kandahar or on any other Canadian mission where MDA's equipment would be used.

Frankly, while I am annoyed we didn't buy Predator right off the shelf, this is a ridiculous non-issue.
 

MarkOttawa

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Canadian company L-3 MAS is taking the actual lead on the Elbit side.
http://www.mas.l-3com.com/htm/main.asp?language=en
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?k=4607&id=a1694e18-8cfd-47af-9739-9f3ef6882341

And note this (second link above):

...L-3 has joined forces with Elbit Systems Ltd. of Israel, which is already leasing Hermes 450 UAVs to British forces in Iraq...

Somehow I doubt there are any Israelis with the Brits in Iraq. More on leasing the UAVS for Afstan (Project NOCTUA), with the MERX "Letters of Interest (LOI) Notice" and requirements:
http://www.sfu.ca/casr/doc-loi-noctua-uav.htm

Mark
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MarkOttawa

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I think this comment at a Torch post says it all:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=22793240&postID=127031520706718849&pli=1

Note - The Canadian partners (Thales, MDA and L-3) for the UAVs have been fast and furious with job postings for retired Canadian Forces members in the various military base newspapers specifically offering employment with UAVs in Kandahar since early April.

Mark
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STA Gunner

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MG34 said:
An unarmed UAV is about as useless as tits on a bull,regardless of who makes it.

I disagree.  Being able to track a belligerent to his safe house can provide much more value than just hammering him with the one Hellfire that an UCAV can carry.  As an ISR platform, it is much more valuable in providing SA to commanders and soldiers on the ground.

Teddy Ruxpin said:
Frankly, while I am annoyed we didn't buy Predator right off the shelf, this is a ridiculous non-issue.

Predator is unavailable for the forseeable future.  This project here is the interim lease until Predator can be purchased.  And I agree that this is a non-issue.

As for the contractors, we, the CF, do not have to beg permission of the host nation to allow certain contractors into theatre.  We've had Swedes, Norwegians, Australians, Americans, French, Indian, Nepalese, South African contractors (that I'm personally aware of) and it was not a diplomatic challenge to see if they can come into theatre.  However, that being said, typically, the contractors have to make their own way into theatre (Ariana airlines. anyone?) or the military has to make special arrangements to arrange it.

Personally, being involved with UAVs, and working with contractors, is going to be less of a heartache than integrating UAVs effectively into the ISTAR plan.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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STA Gunner said:
I disagree.  Being able to track a belligerent to his safe house can provide much more value than just hammering him with the one Hellfire that an UCAV can carry.  As an ISR platform, it is much more valuable in providing SA to commanders and soldiers on the ground.

A UAV with offensive capability can do both well, no?  More options the better.
 

STA Gunner

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Lone Wolf Quagmire said:
A UAV with offensive capability can do both well, no?  More options the better.

It can be, under the right circumstances.  A UAV that can launch munitions requires runway to take off and land.  A smaller one that is used for ISR can be point launched and recovered.  A UCAV requires weapons handlers.  One without does not.  A UCAV takes hours to prep and get into battle.  A smaller UAV takes minutes and can direct other effects onto targets.

I just think that the blanket statement that unarmed UAVs are useless defeats the purpose of having them.
 
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