In Canada’s otherwise difficult to reach—and even more difficult to tread through—Arctic territories, new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are opening a door for continuous surveillance.
The UAVs, often referred to as “drones,” are manufactured by arms developers at Northrop Grumman, and Canadian aerospace defense company L-3 MAS. They’re developing a specific type of UAV for Canadian use, the “Polar Hawk,” designed to fly at high altitudes for long periods of time, and under freezing conditions.
“Northrop Grumman and L-3 MAS are combining our formidable strengths to provide a surveillance system to meet requirements defined in the Canada First Defence Strategy,” said Duke Dufresne, vice president and general manager for Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems business, in a press release.
“Polar Hawk’s operational features are uniquely suited to augment Canada’s existing surveillance capabilities and extend its reach to patrol large geographical areas, keeping constant vigil over the nation’s vast Arctic region from coast-to-coast in a single mission,” Dufresne said.The UAV will fly at 60,000 feet—above the harsh weather conditions of the region, and well above the path of commercial air traffic. The Polar Hawks can fly more than 13,000 miles and stay in the air for more than 33 hours—day or night, and under all weather conditions, according to a press release from Northrop Grumman.
The UAVs can also be fitted with systems outside those meant for surveillance, including instruments that can be used for scientific and environmental missions, “It can also be deployed to support humanitarian missions and provide surveillance over Canada’s vast territory stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific territorial waters and coasts,” according to a press release.
The Polar Hawk is intended to maintain Canadian sovereignty over its Arctic regions—an area that Russia has tried laying claim to.
“Together L-3 MAS and Northrop Grumman have assembled a strong Canadian industrial team to develop a very robust, long-term and affordable turnkey solution for Canada’s current and future domestic sovereignty and security concerns over its Arctic territories,” said Jacques Comtois, vice president and general manager of L-3 MAS, in a press release.