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Sep 08. Canada’s military is pushing ahead with its plan to buy aerial drones outfitted with weapons even as the Harper government is promising to pull out troops from Afghanistan in 2011. The government’s Afghanistan Procurement Taskforce has released details to the defence industry about the $500m project to purchase a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. The first of the UAVs would be delivered in February 2012, according to the material provided to the defence industry on Sept. 5. Executives from aerospace and defence companies will meet in Ottawa on Oct. 2 and 3 to get further information about the project from Canadian Forces officers and officials from Public Works and Government Services Canada. Armed UAVs have been playing a key role during the last several years in hunting down Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan and more recently in Pakistan. The aircraft, mainly U.S.-built Predators, have launched missiles at a number of locations where insurgent leaders are thought to have been meeting. Some top insurgent officials have been killed in the attacks but at the same time civilian casualties have been reported. The Defence Department program, called the Joint UAV Surveillance and Target Acquisition System or JUSTAS, has been planned for some time. According to the documents the project would initially purchase a fleet of drones for “primarily overland operations both domestically and overseas.” “Phase 1 will acquire a long-range UAV system, suitable for worldwide operations, and capable of carrying a suite of sophisticated payloads and precision weapons,” the documents added. Sensors onboard the UAVs will be required to track targets at least as small as a human carrying a weapon. The letter of interest sent to industry is considered the first step in moving ahead with the project. Information gathered from defence companies will then be used to further refine the proposal which still needs approval from Treasury Board and cabinet. The release came shortly before Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada would pull its troops out of Afghanistan in 2011. But Defence Minister Peter MacKay has said some soldiers will remain beyond that time, working mainly on training Afghan troops and on reconstruction. (Source: Google)

Sep 08. “Investigative reporter Bob Woodward states that America has developed secret capabilities ‘to locate, target and kill key individuals in groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency and renegade Shia militias, or so-called special groups. The operations incorporated some of the most highly classified techniques and information in the US government.’ The LA Times now reports, ‘As part of an escalating offensive against extremist targets in Pakistan, the United States is deploying Predator aircraft equipped with sophisticated new surveillance systems that were instrumental in crippling the insurgency in Iraq, according to US military and intelligence officials.’ Part of the capabilities appear to be that the unmanned flying drones can track targets even inside of buildings.” (Source: Slashdot.com)

15 Sep 08. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. provided an update on recent accomplishments of its Predator®-series UAS family, noting the achievement of numerous historical milestones. Key milestones are as follows:
* Predator-series aircraft have amassed over a half-million flight hours and will soon complete 50,000 total missions, with 85-percent of that time spent in combat. The 500,000-hour mark was achieved by P-131 on July 26 while performing an armed reconnaissance mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This Predator A aircraft has flown over 300 combat missions and logged almost 6,000 flight hours in the two-and-a-half years it has been deployed.

15 Sep 08. “A clear winner in the recent Russo-Georgian War is unmanned aircraft,” said Larry Dickerson, Unmanned Vehicles Analyst for Forecast International. “This

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