Editor’s Corner article

The future is unmanned
CHRIS MacLEAN  |  Sep 15, 2008

In FrontLine’s continuing focus on the defence procurement system, we bring you the thoughtful response from Janet Thorsteinson to an important question recently posed by Dan Ross, ADM(Mat): “Is too much risk being passed to vendors?”

The future is unmanned. Rapid advances in such technology, combined with the associated ­real-time imaging systems, are allowing us to see the battlefield, crash site or underwater situation from the relative comfort and safety of a ground-based computer station that is often many miles away. As this technology becomes more useful and more necessary, we continue to find new tasks for these systems to perform – such as search and rescue, and border patrols.The possibilities are ­limitless, in every environment, from underwater ­systems to land-based robotics, to aerial vehicles and even space systems.

Anne Healey informs us of some key details and trends gleaned from a recent survey of the Unmanned Systems industry. Sundeep Kharey offers some thoughts and examples on the topic of who is best qualified to fly unmanned aerial vehicles. Watch for unmanned systems to make their way up north, both for surveillance and for search and rescue.

As Canada’s Far North warms up, other countries are tallying possible advantages for themselves. Increasingly important is the need to assert our sovereignty. Major (ret) Rob Day offers insights on the now-urgent need to establish a National Arctic Strategy. Defending our current jurisdiction has legal implications, and K. Joseph Spears looks into how existing laws support our historical claims. He suggests a strong team approach, including a more robust mandate for the Canadian Rangers and increasing Canada’s Arctic air power, can help us assert sovereign control over our northern lands.

Does Canada need amphibious capability? What political, economic, and security interests are Canadian naval forces intended to serve? Retired Colonel Gary H. Rice makes a detailed case for the ‘Big Honking Ship.”
© Frontline Defence 2008