The Royal Canadian Navy is sailing a new drone concept to serve as eyes and ears beyond a ship’s horizon.
Kingston-class coastal defense ships will deploy Puma fixed-wing drones to provide beyond-visual-line-of-sight intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, a naval release stated.
Manufactured by AeroVironment, the drone can stay aloft for two hours and fly as high as 10,500 feet with a range of 12 nautical miles. The naval model will be equipped with optical and infrared cameras that can to capture still imagery and video.
“With Puma they’re able to detect these vessels, get over the horizon intelligence and surveillance on these vessels so the crew is able to see if there’s anything suspect,” explained Lieutenant-Commander Atkinson.
“It helps the commander then make a decision on how they want to approach, if there any risks, and what the concerns may be. Another advantage of Puma is that it can be launched by hand. This is of particular use to the navy as moving and setting up a launch platform aboard ships is more complex than on land because they need to be bolted to the deck before use.”
The drones will be deployed by two new naval detachments on both the East and West Coasts. Atkinson said the navy will select personnel from the Naval Combat Information Operator and Weapons Engineering Technician trades. They have recently completed their initial training with Canadian Special Operations Forces Command personnel at 4th Division Canadian Support Base Petawawa.
The three-week course included theory of flight, mission planning, launch and recovery procedures, and flight maneuvers.
“The training and experience gained on the course was unique and specialized,” said Leading Seaman Meghan Heal.
“I’m enthusiastic about the capability that Puma will now bring, and how we can employ these systems for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance locally and abroad.”