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Canadian Forces Procurement  –  JUSTAS Project for UAVs  –  July 2013

Canadian Forces UAV Procurement: A DND JUSTAS Project Timeline


The Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System  ( JUSTAS )  Project

Over a decade on, the Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System Project has nothing to show for itself. In theory, all Canadian Forces UAV procurement attempts fall under the JUSTAS Project. So, JUSTAS Project staff could be said to be responsible for the troublesome CU-161 Sperwer Tactical UAV. But no procurement of  larger Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance or High-Altitude Long-Endurance UAVs has been made under this project.

JUSTAS has produced spin-off projects - such as the stillborn Joint Airborne ISR Capability (JAIC) Project and Project Noctua. The latter ultimately resulted in the deployment of leased UAVs to Afghanistan. Both of  these spin-offs projects are covered in our JUSTAS timeline.

At the time of writing, the JUSTAS Project has been nudged forward again. Since that  lease of contractor-maintained UAVs is the JUSTAS Project's sole accomplishment to date, it must be difficult for potential suppliers to get overly excited. Garnering most press attention is the promise of UAV patrols over Canada's High Arctic. Heady stuff. But citizens must remember that JUSTAS UAVs weren't due to patrol the Arctic until 2025. And that was when JUSTAS was still on schedule and the first JUSTAS UAV was to be operational by February of  2009.

Here, we track the progress (or, rather, lack thereof ) of  the JUSTAS Project since it began in 2000. [1]  For context, we include the first DND mentions of  US Global Hawk HALE UAVs.






A Rough Timeline for the Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System

Late 1999 –  MND Art Eggleton announces US Global Hawk overflights of  Canada.

Early 2000 –  Planned overflights of  Canadian territory by US Global Hawk cancelled.

Sept 2000 –  JUSTAS UAV project first emerges as an experimental concept.

Oct 2000 –  JUSTAS Project endorsed by DND's Senior Review Board (SRB).

23 June 2001 –  Planned US Global Hawk overflights of  Canada cancelled indefinitely.

26 June 2001 –  Rescheduled US Global Hawk overflights of  Canada (2000).

April 2002 –  Exercise Robust Ram, CFB Suffield, three UAV types leased [2] Included in Ex Robust Ram was a single General Atomics I-GNAT medium-altitude long-endurance UAV.

25-27 June 2002 –  General Atomics I-GNAT deployed for G8 Summit at Kananaskis, AB.

July 2003 – Pacific Littoral ISR Experiment, DND leased a single IAI Malat CU-160 Eagle.

2004 –  Decision to place all UAV 'acquisitions' under an 'omnibus' JUSTAS Project.

Aug 2004 – Atlantic Littoral ISR Experiment, DND leased a single General Atomics Altair.

2006 –  DND's Director Air Requirements (DAR 8) stood up for JUSTAS and UAVs

Jan 2006 –  Harper election promise to form a new UAV squadron at Goose Bay, NL.

March 2006 –  Canadian Forces UAV Campaign Plan published. [3]

Aug 2006 –  $500M JUSTAS Project implementation planned in two phases:

  •  JUSTAS Phase 1 overland capability (domestic and expeditionary)
    –  6 x MALE UAVs (later revised to 'armed') anticipated for JUSTAS Phase 1
  •  JUSTAS Phase 2 domestic maritime and Arctic UAV capability
    –  6 x HALE + 3 more MALE UAVs (by 2025) anticipated for JUSTAS Phase 2

Nov 2006 –  JUSTAS contracts anticipated by mid 2007 (LCol Wade Williams, DAR 8).

[ 2007 begins below ... ]




Early 2007 –  JUSTAS Project 'implementation phase' put on hold.

Early 2007 –  $100M Joint Airborne ISR Capability ( JAIC ), an 'interim' JUSTAS Phase 1.

March 2007 –  DND/Air Force proposed a sole-source purchase of GA-ASI Predator B.
  —  Harper Cabinet rejects DND's Predator B purchase request as being non-competitive.

July 2007 –  'Joint Airborne ISR' Letters of Interest ( LOI ) notice issued for JAIC Project.

Mid 2007 – Anticipated JUSTAS Project contract signing for up to 9 MALE UAVs (2006).

Nov 2007 –  Thales UK/Elbit Systems/L-3 MAS enter Hermes 900 into JAIC contest
  —  Anticipated competition: General Atomics-ASI Predator B and IAI Malat Heron.

Winter 2007 –  JAIC Project Request for Proposals ( RFP ) notice issued.

Jan 2008 –  Manley Report* recommends MALE UAVs for use in Afghanistan
  —  * Formally entitled the Independent Panel in Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan.

Jan 2008 –  JAIC Project 'reconstituted'  (superseded by Project Noctua, below)

Jan 2008 –  $93-to-$95M Project Noctua for leased, contractor-maintained MALE UAVs.

Feb 2008 –  Project Noctua Letters of  Interest ( LOI ) notice issued.

10 Mar 2008 –  Date for responses requested from prospective bidder for Project Noctua.

Spring 2008 –  Anticipated JAIC Project contract award (2007).

Apr 2008 –  Project Noctua Notice of  Proposed Procurement ( NPP ) notice issued.

08 May 2008 –  General Atomics announces that it will not to bid on Project Noctua.

20 May 2008 –  Leader, Thales UK, dropped out of  'Team Canoctua' for Project Noctua
  —  Elbit Systems and L-3 MAS decide to proceed alone with the Hermes 450 TUAV.

June 2008 –  Tories' Canada First Defence Strategy promises Arctic UAV patrols by 2020.

July 2008 –  Anticipated contract award announcement for Project Noctua.

July 2008 –  MDA announces trial FWSAR mission with IAI Malat Heron MALE UAV.

Aug 2008 –  Project Noctua contract awarded to McDonald Dettwiler Assoc./IAI Malat.

Aug 2008 –  MND Peter MacKay says details of  UAV solution "yet to be worked out".

Sept 2008 –  Letters of  Interest ( LOI ) notice published for renewed JUSTAS Project .

02-03 Oct 2008 –  Planned DND/industry consultation on JUSTAS (cancelled by PCO).

Nov 2008 –  JUSTAS Project  'Industry Days' held in Ottawa  (03-04 November 2008).

[ 2009 begins below ... ]




Jan 2009 –  Ops begin at Kandahar Airfield with leased CU-170 Heron MALE UAV.

Feb 2009 –  Anticipated Initial Operational Capability for JUSTAS MALE UAVs (2006).

04 Apr 2009 –  LOI notice issued to announce a 26 May 2009 JUSTAS Industry Day.

15 May 2009 –  LOI notice announcing deferment of 26 May 2009 JUSTAS Industry Day.

26 May 2009 –  Scheduled Industry Day for JUSTAS Project (later cancelled, see above).

June 2009 –  Anticipated Initial Operational Capability for deployed JAIC UAVs (2007).

08 Sept 2009 –  LOI asking for industry alternative suggestions to JUSTAS plans.

Early 2010 –  Anticipated service entry of first JUSTAS Phase 1 MALE UAV (2006)

2010 –  Canadian Forces will require 369 more people for one new squadron for UAVs
  —  According to Information Request documents obtained by Ottawa Citizen in 2012.

Fall 2010 –  Anticipated contract award for JUSTAS Project Phase 1 MALE UAVs (2008).

2011 –  Preliminary request by DND for armed UAVs ($600M). Request not approved.

25 May 2011 –  General Atomics-ASI partners with Saint-Laurent, PQ-based CAE.
  —  CAE to provide C4ISR infrastructure, engineering support, etc. for Predator B UAV.

July 2011 –  TF Erebus ceases KAF flying operations with 3 leased  IAI Malat CU-170s.

Aug 2011 –  DND briefing paper links JUSTAS Project to then ongoing Libyan campaign.

Fall 2011 –  Staff positions held for JUSTAS reassigned to CH-147F MHLH squadron.

Nov 2011 –  MND MacKay reaffirms DND's desire for 'armed drones' under JUSTAS.

Feb 2012 – Anticipated IOC for the first JUSTAS Project Phase 1 MALE UAVs (2008).

2012 –  Unsolicited bid by Northrop Grumman for Polar Hawk HALE UAV for JUSTAS.

Early 2012 –  RCAF review of all ISR assets and requirements (including JUSTAS).

Feb 2012 –  Anticipated Initial Operational Capability for JUSTAS Phase 1 UAVs (2008).

30 May 2012 –  Northrop Grumman and L-3 MAS partner for Polar Hawk variant
  —  Northrop Grumman exhibits full-scale mockup Polar Hawk at CANSEC 2012.

24 July 2012 –  LOI/RFI for three JUSTAS UAS packages (with up to 12 armed UAVs).

30 July 2012 –  Hiring starts for 4 contract Senior Engineers for the JUSTAS Project.

12 Oct 2012 –  Closing of 24 July 2012  JUSTAS Project  LOI / Request for Information.

2013 –  DND to request preliminary approval for $1B JUSTAS Project purchase
  —  JUSTAS Project schedule cancelled, no known RCAF timeline for JUSTAS.

Mar 2013 –  CAS LGen Yvan Blondin reports on JUSTAS to SScnSD with Arctic emph.
  —  Wants air-drop SAR kits and claims JUSTAS delays are technologically beneficial.

26 Apr 2013 –  General Atomics-ASI partners with Toronto-based software house, OMX.

May 2013 –  IAI Malat announces that Heron TP MALE UAV will be entered for JUSTAS.

2015 –  Anticipated Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for JUSTAS Phase 1 (May 2011).

2017 –  Anticipated 'service entry' of  first JUSTAS Project Phase 1 MALE UAV (2012).

2019 –  Anticipated FOC of  first JUSTAS Project Phase 1 MALE UAV (Nov 2011).

2020 –  FOC for JUSTAS Project UAV with domestic maritime capability (2010).

2023 –  Anticipated (tentative) service entry of first JUSTAS Phase 1 MALE UAV (2014).



[1] Some sources erroneously claim that the JUSTAS Project saw its 'formal launch in 1999'.

[2] Other UAV types leased were a Bombardier Guardian VTUAV and a Pointer Mini UAV.

[3] The Canadian Forces UAV Campaign Plan featured three classifications for future UAVs:
  —  Tier 1 for MALE and HALE UAVs with Maximum Take-Off Weights above 5,000 lbs;
  —  Tier 2 for Tactical UAVs (TUAVs) with MTOWs of 186-to-5000 lbs [84-to-2267 kg, and
  —  Tier 3 for Micro-, Mini-, and Small-UAVs with MTOWs of  0-to-185 lbs [0-to-84 kg].


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