Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Aging Snowbirds Aerobatic Team To Be Replaced With Unmanned Drones

Newly acquired drone aircraft will replace the Snowbirds aerobatic team
in 2015 using a pre-programmed computer flight demonstration.


OTTAWA — The Canadian Forces is planning to purchase a new fleet of unmanned drone aircraft to replace its aging Snowbirds aerobatics team, according to recent DND documents.  The Snowbirds will need new planes by 2015 and it has been decided the unmanned drones are the cheapest and most viable option.
The Snowbirds aerobatic aviation team is seen as a key public relations tool for the military, with thousands of spectators enjoying their display of aerobatic prowess and spine tingling skills. The Snowbirds fleet of CT-114 Tutors will be retired by December 2014, according to the documents. “Based on this planned retirement date, the air force has purchased some unmanned drones for aerobatic testing that would address the continued provision of a Canadian air demonstration capability,” stated an email from the air force.
The current Snowbird CT-114 Tutor jets and their pilots will be obsolete
and retired in 2014 with unmanned drones replacing them.
The unmanned drones would be remotely operated and perform their demonstration based on a pre-programmed flight sequence computed by a central computer system. "We are basically eliminating any human risk or pilot skills, and in turn, excitement." said Deputy Air Minister Moss.
Moss, a former Snowbirds commanding officer and team leader, said the air force’s decision to use the drones is economical and comes at a time when pilots don't need to risk their lives anymore. “We only have about 9 fighter pilots, and we'd be stretching them thin if we had them doing stunts.” said Moss.
The  current Snowbird planes have been in the Canadian Forces inventory since 1963 and have been used by the Snowbirds team since 1971, and will be used as training Cub Scouts for their aeronautical badges and in community parades once retired.
Using drones would increase the ability of the Snowbirds to perform in a variety of airshows and even wow crowds in war-torn foreign countries such as Afghanistan and Syria. "Before the drones attack the enemy with their laser guided ordnance, we'd give them an amazing aerobatic display that will probably be the best show they'll see before being blown to pieces." Moss remarked.

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