Mark Collins – RCAF Acquiring (a few) ISR Planes from US for Special Forces

Further to this post, maybe new aircraft after all though all still a bit confusing (typical with our procurements, eh?):

Canada Seeks ISR Planes for Spec Ops

Sources say Canadian special forces officials are interested in acquiring aircraft such as the US Air Force’s MC-12W Liberty surveillance planes for their ISR capability [more here and here]. (Senior Airman Elizabeth Rissmill / US Air Force)

Canada’s special operations forces are planning to acquire a small fleet of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to improve their capability to track and target insurgents on the ground.

It would be the first time that Canada has fielded such a capability.

Four aircraft will be purchased, outfitted with signals intercept capability and sensors to target ground movement.

The Royal Canadian Air Force would operate the planes, mainly for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM [website here]), although they can be made available to other units.

Dan Blouin, a Department of National Defence spokesman, said the requirement is for an operational level, multi-sensor manned airborne ISR capability that would be used to complement existing intelligence and reconnaissance platforms, such as the CP-140 Aurora. The Aurora is the Canadian version of the US Navy’s P-3 [more here, two will take part in the campaign against ISIS].

The new aircraft could be deployed on short notice and, unlike the Aurora, which is largely a maritime surveillance plane, the fleet is to support ground operations [for which role the Auroras are now very capable, see Libya].

“It is being examined as a dedicated ISR platform capable of direct support to ground troops, however it shall also be capable of supporting all operations,” Blouin said.

He noted that the procurement, dubbed the Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance program, would allow the Canadian military to expand its ISR capabilities.

Blouin said the program has no firm milestones that are publicly available.

…in August of this year, CANSOFCOM changed its procurement process, indicating it would proceed with the purchase of the airframes through a foreign military sale (FMS) with the US government [website here]…

[Mike] Ferguson [Boeing official in charge of business development for RAMIS–more here] said the change in Canada’s procurement plan — moving from the purchase of aircraft from a company to the acquisition of aircraft through an FMS case — doesn’t affect Boeing’s interest in the program.

“If it’s modifying existing aircraft we’re ready to do that and we have programs do that,” he explained. “Or if it is buying new aircraft from the United States through an FMS case, we’re ready to support them on that.”..

Industry officials have not been provided with details on when the project would proceed…

So maybe we’re considering used USAF planes or other aircraft–used or new–reconfigured by someone for the ISR mission.  But in any case bought through the US government’s FMS program.  Sometime.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


4 thoughts on “Mark Collins – RCAF Acquiring (a few) ISR Planes from US for Special Forces”

  1. Just a passing thought–such an aerial capability might be right handy should the Canadian Forces be involved in a prolonged campaign against the Caliphate; indeed the Iraq Air Force already has similar aircraft:

    Plus more on the Canadian project at Canadian American Strategic Review:

    Mark Collins

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