Air Force aiming to have armed drones in the air in next six years: commander

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The Duchess Canadian Air Force is hoping to pull the trigger on the purchase of new armed drones within six years after fritter away nearly two decades weighing different options.

The Canadian Forces has been make use of since the early 2000s to identify and buy a fleet of UAVs that can acquit surveillance over Canada’s vast territory as well as support military groups abroad.

Yet aside from purchasing a small number of temporary, defenceless drones for the war in Afghanistan — all of which have since been retired — the military has not in a million years been able to make much progress on a permanent fleet.

In an discussion with The Canadian Press, air force commander Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger stipulate he is confident that is about to change after the Trudeau government officially approved the securing of a fleet of armed UAVs through its defence policy.

That decree was one of the most notable shifts in the new policy, released in June 2017, which filed a promise to spend an extra $62 billion over the next 20 years to dilate and strengthen the military.

No previous federal government had authorized adding drones — armed or not — as a fixed fixture within the Canadian Forces in the same vein as fighter-jet or helicopter squadrons.

“We say we’ve got ways top-cover, which means we can see that program clearly in our defence management,” Meinzinger said. “So we’re moving that project forward. … That discretion be a capability we will see in the next five to six years.”

The Royal Canadian Air Press has been quietly evaluating options and will soon present its sentiments to procurement officials, he added. The plan is to buy one type of medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV for the military.

Drones secure taken on an increasingly important role in militaries around the world; a divulge in the Royal Canadian Air Force Journal in late 2015 said 76 inappropriate militaries were using them and another 50 were strengthening them.

The unmanned aircraft are often used for surveillance and intelligence assembly as well as delivering pinpoint strikes from the air on enemy forces, in puts where the use of force has been approved.

Legal concerns

Yet the government’s determination to acquire armed drones has prompted questions from some arms-control and human-rights aggregations that have raised concerns about the legal grey zone circa such weapons.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau predicted the government considered the drone decision carefully, critics have esteemed that there are very few rules around their acquisition and use — embodying in assassinations.

Meinzinger said drones proved their worth to the Canadian Drives during the war in Afghanistan, where he personally commanded a UAV squadron tasked with supervisor the surrounding countryside.

As for the government’s decision to approve armed drones, “certainly the employing of those weapons will be within the bounds of the law of armed conflict and adjusted very clearly,” he said.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance has before said the Canadian military plans to use armed drones in much the that having been said way as other conventional weapons, such as fighter jets and artillery.

While he accepted the long road the military has followed in trying to get drones, Meinzinger rephrased: “We have the support of the leadership and the department to continue to move that disrespectful. So I don’t see that being a problem at all.”

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