UAV MYSTERY ACCIDENT IN KANDAHAR
By Dave Pugliese
03-13-2009 COMMENTS(4) David Pugliese’s Defence Watch
Filed under: Kandahar
, Heron UAV
My colleague Murray Brewster of Canadian Press filed a story late yesterday about a tarmac incident involving a Heron UAV at Kandahar airfield. It seems that Mr. Brewster ran into a wall of flak when he started asking questions about the accident. Here is some of his article:
“No one was injured in the January accident, which involved an Heron unmanned surveillance vehicle, but the air force has nonetheless kept it and the resulting military flight safety investigation under a tight blanket of secrecy.
At first, the military flatly refused to answer questions about the accident, even trying to prevent publication of this story by The Canadian Press on the grounds it would violate operational security.
Publicity surrounding the incident would give the Taliban a "battle damage assessment," they argued, even though the aircraft had not been declared operational at the time of the accident and had not been in contact with the enemy.
The military eventually relented, however, and released a terse statement that confirmed the incident took place, that no one had been injured and that no Canadian military personnel were involved.
"No further details about the incident are available at this time because an investigation is currently underway by the Flight Safety Team at Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing," said the statement.
A spokeswoman for MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates in Ottawa also provided few details in response to questions, citing "confidentiality" with its client, the Department of National Defence.”
Mr. Brewster also noted that the accident was believed to be a tarmac collision with a vehicle from another allied nation.
MDA, the Canadian firm which holds the $95 million contract to provide the UAVs to the CF for Kandahar operations says the accident did not affect service to the military. "We would like to emphasize that this was a ground incident versus a flight accident, and that MDA staff and equipment were not at fault," MDA spokesman Monica Verma told CP in an email.
This incident sparks more questions but it is unlikely there will be any answers out soon.
Some of the questions:
Was the UAV taxing at the time of the incident or was it being hauled by a vehicle on the tarmac?
If MDA personnel were not involved in the incident then who was?
Why the secrecy about this incident? The CF has been forthcoming before on Sperwer accidents so why the attempts to prevent Canadian Press from publishing this article?