Canadian Army plans for expansion of UGV capabilities
The Canadian Army is planning on adding two new UGVs to its family of EOD devices in an effort to continue the re-establishment of its EOD ROV capability.
After 'giving up' on UGVs in 1995, the army has been moving towards re-developing its UGV capability, James Hewitt, director of combat support equipment management for the Canadian Forces, told the Defence IQ Military Robotics conference in London on 28 June.
Working under a $(CAD)700 million equipment budget over eight years, the army plans to purchase two new UGVs to add to the four systems currently in service.
'We're building an inventory. That re-establishment is what's really costing us,' Hewitt told the conference.
'You've got to spend a long time preparing for the introduction of the equipment. Basic UGV platforms do not change much, what does change are sensor packages, tools and accessories.'
The tender for the first - for a dismounted operations UGV system - is expected to be released by the end of 2011, and the requirements will include: a 5kg weight; the system to be throwable; the ability to fit into a soldier's backpack; good camera outfit; and the ability to fire a recoilless disruptor.
The second tender for a chemical, biological, reconnaissance, and nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance UGV is expected at the end of 2012 and will call for a 75-100kg platform, which will therefore require a two or three man operation.
The specifications for this UGV include: a CBRN and explosive sensing payload; a narrow and low profile platform; the ability to climb stairs; 22 systems; the ability to work in conjunction with the forces' Multi Agent Tactical Sentry (MATS) system; and a high-quality manipulator.
Canada introduced the first Pedsco Remote Mechanical Investigator in 1982, which was in service until 2010. After this a new family was introduced as a result of the air force and navy requesting new systems in 2003.
Two contracts were awarded, one to Telerob for 58 tEODor systems, and one to Allen-Vanguard for 51 of its Vanguard Mk2 ROV. The forces also have the MATS system, and the Remotely Operated Mechanical Explosive Clearance System (ROMECS).
Hewitt said that since dissolving its remote EOD capability, the Canadian Army was finding it 'extremely difficult and extremely expensive' to re-establish the capability, and he warned other militaries to not ever give up an EOD programme.
A study conducted by the army into the future of unmanned systems, completed in May, found that the short-term vision was limited because the army was 'not conducive to the large scale use of UGVs at present', Hewitt said.
The medium-term vision was to see the gradual introduction of UGVs in order to 'socialise' troops to them, and the long-term vision was to replace humans in high-risk tasks.
Hewitt told Shephard that in 1995 the army had decided that this capability was a police function, but the air force and navy retained a few capabilities in case they were needed during maritime port missions.
While the army now has to completely rebuild the capability, the air force and navy are also aiming to develop their capabilities, and they all hope to meet at the same level.
'We want it to be more cohesive and not as disjointed as it was before,' Hewitt said.
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