Canada mulls new army mobile surveillance

Aug. 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM
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OTTAWA, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The Canadian army is considering acquisition of a new mobile, vehicle-mounted surveillance system amid revelations of shortcomings of its present assets.

Some of the systems in use are so out of date that they cannot safely be deployed in battlefield conditions or Canada's current duties in Afghanistan.

There has been no official explanation of why the army's reconnaissance system was allowed to lapse into near obsolescence. Now officials say they expect moves toward a new vehicle-mounted reconnaissance system later this year.

An initial contract for a system that can feed into the army's command-and-control networks is likely to be awarded this year.

The Coyote reconnaissance vehicle currently in use doesn't have the capability to transmit information to military networks. Instead it collects data on 8-millimeter cassettes that are hand-delivered to senior officers for processing.

The system also takes up to 20 minutes to get going and invariably requires personnel to leave the vehicle.

The shortcomings mean the system isn't just slow but dangerous to operate for soldiers in areas of operations.

Canada began using the Coyote system in 1997. Its likely replacement is the Light Armored Vehicle-Reconnaissance: Surveillance Systems Upgrade Project. When LRSS UP is commissioned it will be using an upgraded LAV-3 vehicle.

Canada hasn't said how much it needs to spend on the upgrade program but published data suggest the government may have to spend about $240 million, reports on and other defense Web sites said.

Current plans call for up to 66 surveillance systems being bought and integrated into the upgraded LAV-3s.

General Dynamics Land Systems Canada of London, Ontario, which built the original Coyote vehicles, is upgrading the LAV-3s as part of a $1 billion army modernization project.

The Coyote has been criticized for its high vulnerability to improvised explosive devices, a risk the Canadian forces have faced in Afghanistan in both peacetime and in battlefront environments.

LRSS UP intends to acquire a system that has improved detection range and identification capabilities and produces digital information that can be fed into Canadian defense networks.

An LRSS UP letter of interest sent to industry says the new surveillance suite will need to consist of day and night surveillance systems, a near-infrared illuminator, a GPS receiver and other range detection equipment.

The definition-phase contract to General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada will be for design and integration work on the armored vehicles. A prime subcontractor to be chosen will provide the surveillance system sensor suite, mast and operator control station.

Raytheon subsidiary Raytheon Technical Services Co. recently unveiled its LRSS prototype to the Canadian army in Ottawa.

Raytheon, which has headquarters in Waltham, Mass., said it designed the LRSS to fit into the Canadian army's LAV-3 to provide improved flexibility allowing on-the-move intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"Raytheon believes that on-the-move reconnaissance and surveillance is a game changer for the Canadian army," said Rudolph Lewis, RTSC Depot Support Systems product line director.

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