Leading Seaman (LS) Myles Hunter joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as a radar technician because he wanted to work with cutting edge technology. Little did he know that his choice and passion would bring him to the exciting frontier of naval innovation as one of the fleet’s first Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operators.
The navy is currently using Puma-model drones which are 1.5 metres long, ghost grey and model plane-like in appearance. The Puma can be hand-launched by operators off a ship deck and then retrieved by scooping them out of the water.
LS Hunter said that the unmanned aircraft were used to scout and locate potential drug smuggling ships by Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Goose Bay in 2019 and more recently on HMCS Whitehorse on Operation CARIBBE. When out on patrols they used Pumas to sweep an extended area around the ship, helping it stay below the horizon line and out of the line of sight of suspicious ships.
During these ‘creeping line searches’, the Puma’s altitude extends the ship’s field of view, and it can cover a 176 square km area in just two hours, said LS Hunter.
Working with intelligence often gathered from US Coast Guard partners, a ship’s command team can use the unmanned aircraft to observe details of other ships — for example how much fuel or how many…