Published by the Canadian Press on May 5, 2021
Canada is inching closer to the purchase of armed drones for its military as details around how the controversial weapons will be used are starting to come together after nearly two decades of delays and discussion.
The government and military say the unmanned aircraft will be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as delivering pinpoint strikes from the air on enemy forces in places where the use of force has been approved.
Yet some have criticized the decision to buy armed drones given concerns about their potential use in Canada and numerous reports of air strikes by other nations, particularly the United States and Russia, causing unintended damage and civilian casualties.
The government has also said little around the scenarios in which force might be used, including whether they could be used for assassinations. Officials have suggested they would be used in the same way as conventional weapons such as fighter jets and artillery.
“To date, there has not been much information about how Canada plans to use armed drones beyond broad sketches and assurances from leadership about their responsible use,” said Branka Marijan, a senior researcher at the arms-control group Project Ploughshares.
“This is not sufficient. Clarity on when, where, how and for what purpose the armed drones would be used are needed.”
The Liberal government’s decision to move ahead on buying drones with the ability to attack from the sky was taken without any political debate, which Marijan said stood in contrast to allies such as Germany.