Navy enhances aerial capability

Left to right: Leading Seaman Meghan Heal, Master Seaman James Willoughby and Leading Seaman Erik Stirler showcase the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Maritime Miniature Unmanned Aerial System, a CU-175 PUMA. Photo was taken on the fo’c’sle on board HMCS Edmonton Aug. 2. Photo by LS Mike Goluboff, MARPAC Imaging Services

Left to right: Leading Seaman Meghan Heal, Master Seaman James Willoughby and Leading Seaman Erik Stirler showcase the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Maritime Miniature Unmanned Aerial System, a CU-175 PUMA. Photo was taken on the fo’c’sle on board HMCS Edmonton Aug. 2. Photo by LS Mike Goluboff, MARPAC Imaging Services

MS James Willoughby, MMUAS Detachment ~

The Royal Canadian Navy recently acquired a new capability in the form of a Maritime Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System – the CU175 Puma.

The all-environment Puma is intended to provide a beyond-visual-line-of-sight intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability to Kingston-class vessels.

It has a flight endurance of approximately three hours, can operate to an altitude of up to 10,500 feet, and carries a payload of enhanced optical and IR cameras that can capture still and video imagery.

The system and its impressive imagery capability were initially observed onboard HMCS Edmonton during sea acceptance trials in August. The Kingston class do not carry a maritime helicopter, so the addition of the Puma’s capability to search and monitor from the air, providing razor-sharp imagery, is expected to greatly enhance operational effectiveness.

The Puma will be operated by two new Maritime Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System Detachments, one at Maritime Operations Group Five in Maritime Forces Atlantic and one at Coastal Forces in Maritime Forces Pacific.

The newly-minted Detachments, comprised of select personnel from the Naval Combat Information Operator and Weapons Engineering Technician trades, recently completed their initial training with Canadian Special Operations Forces Command personnel at 4th Division Canadian Support Base Petawawa.

The east and west coast Detachment members were put through their paces by their instructors. The three-week course included theory of flight, mission planning, launch and recovery procedures, and basic and advanced flight manoeuvres. Although most of the training was land-based, the theory and principles learned on course will translate over to the Puma’s intended shipborne operations.

“The training and experience gained on the course was unique and specialized,” said LS Meghan Heal, of the west coast Detachment. “I’m enthusiastic about the extent and capability that MMUAS will now bring to Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, and how we can employ these systems for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance locally and abroad. Overall, the PUMA course was exceptional.”

The RCN MMUAS Detachments and the supporting project staff at Director Naval Requirements, New Capability Introduction, and Naval Pacific Training Group are pushing forward to achieve full airworthiness certification, with an eventual goal of deploying embarked teams to Operation Caribbe and other missions.

Filed Under: Top Stories

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