The creation of a NATO-standard training area in the open spaces of Canada, with a direct flight corridor to the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) range, could offer militaries with limited access to available airspace the prospect of an air-land training environment with unmanned aerial vehicles up to Class 2 in size.
In a joint announcement in mid-September, 360iSR and Canadian UAVs agreed to jointly offer a UAS training area with Transport Canada-approved detect and avoid capability, to provide an end-to-end solution to prospective customers, particularly military operators of unmanned platforms.
Canadian UAVs is a Transport Canada-registered advanced small RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) training provider and authorised to instruct beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight at the Foremost UAS Test Range in Foremost, Alberta. Meanwhile, 360iSR trains ISR applications at all levels of the operational chain, in addition to providing advice on unmanned concepts of operation and tactics, techniques and procedures.
Speaking with AIR International recently, Sean Greenwood, president of Canadian UAVs, and Ewen Stockbridge Sime, president and CEO of 360iSR, stated that too often a UAS is procured by an operator without the creation of a pathway to leverage the platform’s capabilities, a shortcoming of not having access to a more comprehensive training package or space in which to test concepts of operation.
Such training should, they said, include being able to fully understand a platform’s data acquisition, dissemination and tactical implementation, as well as other areas such as an understanding of detect and avoid systems and procedures, integration of UAS in non-segregated airspace, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
Stockbridge Sime said that potential customers could include European militaries that don’t have local access to such large areas of airspace as can be provided in Canada, with the corridor to BATUS “opening up the ability” to conduct joint operations.
Greenwood stated that the Foremost site could accommodate up to two clients at a time up to NATO Secret level, although the likelihood would be a single customer undertaking training at any given time. A launch customer is expected to be announced in the coming months.
Services could use their own unmanned systems in the training environment or RPAS on-site could be configured to approximate the functions and roles of a desired platform. The Foremost UAS Test Range is roughly the size of Luxembourg with an elevation limit of 18,000ft above sea level.
For the UK, such a proposition could be attractive given the constraints of military training areas such as Salisbury plains, which sees unmanned platforms often consigned to small fractions of the overall area, limiting the effectiveness of the training.
The British Army’s WK450 Watchkeeper has had a particularly difficult time since being introduced into service and has suffered a number of accidents resulting in platform loss in UK airspace.
By Richard Thomas