Public Services and Procurement Canada has released another “request for information” to the defence industry for the Joint Unmanned Surveillance Targeting and Acquisition System (JUSTAS) project.
Industry has been down this route before, with various Canadian Forces attempts at JUSTAS going on for a decade or so now.
An earlier version of JUSTAS was supposed to have the unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, UAVs, UAS, etc) operating as early as 2010. That was pushed back to early 2012. In 2012 a letter of interest on JUSTAS was released to industry but that went no where.
Over the years the Canadian Forces tried other means to buy a fleet of longer-range UAVs. In 2007 the CF tried to push a sole source purchase of Predators but the Conservative government decided against that proposal.
During the Libyan war in 2011, senior Canadian defence leaders pitched to the government the idea of spending up to $600 million for armed drones to take part in that conflict. That proposal was also declined.
For the Afghan war, the CF had purchased the Sperwer, which had its issues, and later leased the Heron UAV fleet from MDA for missions in Kandahar.
This latest request for information to industry talks about options for the acquisition of an interim JUSTAS capability as well as a full JUSTAS capability. But it also emphasizes this is just a request for information and there is no guarantee of a contract.
A contract would be awarded – if the government decided to proceed on this course – in the 2018/2019 timeframe.
If that comes about – a big if – then that latest schedule is a little bit ahead of past milestones. According to an RCAF spokesman; long range RCAF plans envisioned a JUSTAS contract awarded between 2019 and 2020.