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article imageOp-Ed: Canadian military to spend one billion dollars on armed drones

By Ken Hanly     Aug 7, 2012 in Politics
Ottawa - The Canadian military intends to spend about one billion dollars on armed drones. The military claims that the drones will enable Canadian Forces to fill critical deficiencies and are needed in the Arctic.
Even during Canadian participation in the war in Libya senior Canadian defence officials were itching to use the occasion to spend up to 600 million on armed drones to use in the conflict according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. The war ended but not the desire to obtain armed drones. Now the military-industrial complex is at it again.
Even though the Conservative Harper government is all for reducing our budget deficit as quickly as possible that can be done by cutting social programs. What is crucial is to have armed drones that can be used to defend the Canadian Arctic. No doubt they can also help out in U.S. or NATO adventures around the globe. The Chief of Staff of the Canadian Forces General Walter Natyncyk is closely linked to the U.S. military and was a high official in the Iraq war even though Canada was supposedly not involved. Canada even awarded him a medal for service in a war in which we refused to take part.
Natynczyk attended the U.S. Army War College, and was subsequently appointed Deputy Commanding General, III Corps and Fort Hood. In January 2004, he deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans, and subsequently as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps (Iraq) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Natynczyk led the Corps' 35,000 soldiers, consisting of 10 separate brigades, stationed throughout the Iraq Theatre of Operations... He was later awarded the Meritorious Service Cross specifically for his combat efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom January 2004 to January 2005.
The Harper Conservative government already approved last month that a request be sent out to various aerospace firms to ascertain what is available. Companies must provide relevant information by Sept. 28.
The Canadian Forces had already been using unarmed surveillance drones in Afghanistan but have long been wanting to move on to the purchase of armed drones. Back in 2007 the Ottawa Citizen had reported that the Defence Department requested approval to buy Predator drones for the Afghan mission. The purchase was never made however as there were concerns that there would be no competitive bidding. No doubt there might have been some concern for the political fallout as well.
Instead the Canadians leased Israeli-built unarmed Heron drones from MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates of B.C. U.S. firms are already aware that the Canadian military is anxious to purchase drones, no doubt with government support. Northrop Grumman made a pitch to the Conservative government at a trade show in May this year to sell the military a fleet of Global Hawk drones. These drones could patrol the Arctic. However the Hawks are not armed and are useful only for surveillance. The military wants drones that can pack a punch or as they put it should be able to carry precision-guided munitions:"This capability will allow the CF (Canadian Forces) to fill critical deficiencies”. Apparently lack of armed drones are critical deficiencies in our defense budget and no doubt this is a much higher funding priority than critical deficiencies in our health care system such as long waiting times.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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