Israeli and Canadian companies team up on breakthrough spy drones

Ottawa has been seeking a high-altitude, long-endurance system for surveillance as well as an armed UAV for its deployments abroad.

June 4, 2018 01:21
2 minute read.
israel drone israeli airforce technology unmaned aerial vehicle (uav)

An Israel Aero Space Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) stands on the tarmac during a media presentation at the airbase in the central Swiss town of Emmen September 20, 2012.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN)


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Israel Aerospace Industries has partnered with Canada’s L3 MAS to offer the state-of-the-art Artemis Unmanned Aerial System for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) program, the company announced on Sunday.

Based on IAI’s Heron TP, the Artemis UAS is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS with a proven operational track record. While it is not clear if it will be a weaponized UAS, it will be equipped with a wide variety of sensors and other payloads designed specifically to meet Canada’s requirements.

Even though Israel is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime – an informal voluntary association of 35 countries which act to limit trade in UAS systems that can deliver Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) – it has agreed to only export strategic weapons systems such as combat UAVs to member countries, such as Canada.

Ottawa has been seeking a high-altitude, long-endurance system for surveillance of its vast northern regions as well as an armed MALE UAV for its deployments abroad.

 “The Artemis UAS is uniquely positioned to assist Canada in preserving its national security and sovereignty interests at home and abroad,” read a statement released by IAI.

Under the RPAS program, Canada’s Department of National Defense will procure a number of MALE UAS aircraft, with associated ground control stations, sensor suites and support equipment. The contract is scheduled to be awarded in 2021-2022 and will include the acquisition of the equipment and the full spectrum of In-Service Support (ISS) for 20 years.

According to IAI, L3 MAS will be the prime contractor and will be building on its extensive ISS, airworthiness, integrated logistics and program management experience.

“IAI is excited to propose our advanced, flexible and operationally proven Artemis solution for Canada’s RPAS project,” said Shaul Shahar, IAI Executive Vice President. “We are excited to have L3 MAS as our partner to cooperate with and bring this impressive capability to the Royal Canadian Air Force. The unique solutions we are offering provide tremendous advantages to Canada, and we look forward to the opportunity to compete on the RPAS project.”

L3 MAS, which is located in Mirabel, Quebec, will also lead the Artemis Canadian industrial team, including Pratt & Whitney Canada, which will provide the power plant for the UAS, as well as other prominent Canadian partners to be named at a later date.

“RPAS provides a welcome opportunity to deliver a world-class UAS capability to the RCAF,” said Jacques Comtois, vice president and general manager of L3 MAS. “As the prime contractor, mission systems integrator and ISS provider, L3 MAS looks forward to breaking new ground in Canada’s defense and aviation sectors with IAI’s Artemis UAS.”

The Heron TPs are IAI’s most advanced UAVs with 40-hour endurance, maximum take-off weight of 11,685 pounds and a payload of 2,204 pounds. They can be used for both reconnaissance as well as combat and support roles, and can carry air-to-ground missiles to take out hostile targets.

While IAI’s export Heron TP variant is almost identical to the company’s domestic version, the export variant carries a 992-pound payload in order to allow members of the Missile Technology Control Regime to procure the UAV. Israel has agreed to only export strategic weapons systems such as combat UAVs to member countries.

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