Canada spends big on surveillance drones

Better late than never: Canada is starting to pour more cash into its defence strategy.

What happened: Canada will invest nearly $2.5 billion to acquire 11 remotely piloted MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The move will beef up capabilities for domestic military missions, as well as missions with its closest allies, including the U.S. 

  • These drones, all roughly the size of fighter jets, will also be used to both monitor Canada's coastline and territory and support natural disaster response efforts.

  • While they’ll only be armed for specific tasks, their ability to detect, identify, track, and engage targets is particularly valuable in diverse environments like Canada’s North. 

Why it matters: Canada has long faced criticism for doing the least around defence, but recent investments mark the beginning of a turnaround. Last year, Canada committed $4.9 billion over six years to modernizing NORAD, the North American surveillance system.

  • Earlier this year, Canada also agreed to buy 16 P-8A Poseidon aircraft to replace the aging CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft to seamlessly operate with its allies. 

What’s next: The investment also includes the costs to build and operate new ground control stations, aircraft hangars, weapons, and training tech, according to BNN Bloomberg. The first delivery is expected in 2028, with full operational capability projected by 2033.—SB