OTTAWA, May 8 (UPI) -- Is Canada moving toward developing a futuristic arsenal of precision weaponry? That would be both to save costs and to save lives -- its own fighters' lives and possibly civilians in combat zones.
Defense industry analysts seem all agog about the possibility that Canada, wary of becoming snarled up in collateral damage controversies in future combat roles, is actively pursuing military acquisition projects focused on precision weapons on land, at sea and in the air.
The Canadian military has projects under way to acquire precision-guided artillery shells for the army, upgraded torpedoes for the navy and are planning for a family of network-enabled weapons for its future fighter aircraft, Defense News said, quoting military officers and industry representatives.
The Canadian Forces declined comment on future precision strike plans, Defense News said on its website.
Canadian Defense earlier reported the military was "shopping for new 7.62mm precision rifle." That report stemmed from a detailed technical study in Canadian American Strategic Review in February on the kind of precision weapons being sought to replace the AR-10T semi-automatic sniper weapons.
Canadian defense establishment is looking for "high precision weapons to support counter-terrorism in both domestic and deployed roles where [more standard-issue] Canadian Forces weapons are unsuitable," CASR said.
Defense News said industry executives who met Canadian air force officers in Ottawa last month were told of "low collateral damage weapons" and network-enabled weapons as service priorities.
Network-enabled weapons are precision munitions with the ability to have targeting information updated in flight using a common data link, as well as allowing other aircraft to direct the weapon, Defense News said.
"The bottom line is that it comes down to return on investment -- making sure these expensive weapons hit their target -- and return on morality," analyst Randall Wakelam, a professor at the Canadian Forces Royal Military College, said in comments carried by Defense News.
"That return on morality, he noted, is based on the desire to avoid civilian casualties, both for political and public relations purposes and because of moral issues," Wakelam said.
The Canadian army plans to order more Excalibur precision-guided artillery rounds and the navy is upgrading its Mk-48 torpedoes.
The navy will also order, reportedly through U.S. counterparts, 36 Mod 7 advanced technology torpedo conversion kits to upgrade some of its existing Mk-48 torpedoes.
Those torpedoes are used by Canada's Victoria class submarines, although Canada's submarine fleet is going through a difficult phase at present.
Other purchases of precision weapons include Raytheon's advanced medium-range air-to-air missile and air-to-ground Enhanced Paveway II weapons used in the NATO effort that toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
The total costs of new and planned upgrades weren't mentioned. At least $267 million is likely to go toward buying new air force weapons, a parliamentary report cited by Defense News said.
Lessons Canadian forces learned from the Libyan conflict were cited among reasons for boosting Canada's precision weapons arsenals.