Currently the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or aerial drones are being used by a large number of military units, including the USAF and the RCAF. Drones are being used extensively by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, as of now, only the Israeli Navy is operating the USVs on a regular basis, although a number of other nations, including Canada are considering its deployment in the not-too-distant future.
MacCay admitted that the development of the USVs by the Canadian Forces is still in its preliminary phase. But he claimed that the research and development of the vessels are progressing nicely and they will become a significant asset to the RCN upon their induction in to the fleet. MacKay had recently approved a $3 million grant to the Rolls Royce Corporation, under the supervision of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) for the development of USVs.
Vice Admiral Paul A. Maddison, the Chief of the Maritime Staff of RCN meanwhile claimed that the Navy is already considering the induction of the USVs once its current fleet of Halifax class frigates retire by the end of this decade. He also said that the RCN is always among the first to absorb the latest developments in defence technology.
The RCN is already using locally developed portable versions of the UAV, known as the Scan Eagles. It has also stepped up the usage of naval robots for various routine training missions and military operations. The navy also seems to be interested in the recently developed remotely operated patrol craft, developed by the American defence contractor Textron Systems.
Reducing the casualty figures is one of the main objectives of the RCN and it hopes that the usage of the USVs will be a step closer to that aim. Recently the RCN vessels have faced a shortage of qualified seamen, which will also increase the significance of the USV program.