Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)

Project summary

This project will acquire a medium altitude and armed Remotely Piloted Aircraft System along with associated equipment, weapons, infrastructure and in-service sustainment capability that will support up to three concurrent lines of operation, domestic or international. This project supports Strong, Secure, Engaged initiatives 50 and 91.

Project phases

Currently in Phase 3: Definition

1. Identification

1. Identification


2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • Business case analysis endorsed by Defence Capability Board: October 27, 2017
  • Independent Review Panel for Defence Acquisition: March 1, 2018
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project approval: April 4, 2019
  • Invitation to qualify: April 5, 2019
  • Request for proposal: 2020-21
  • Bid evaluation complete: 2021-22
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval: 2022-23
  • Contract award: 2022-23
  • First delivery: 2024-25
  • Initial operational capability: 2025-26
  • Full operational capability: 2030
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • 2030-31

Learn more about the Defence procurement process.

Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

May 30, 2019
Qualified Suppliers List posted on

May 2, 2019
Canada published the formal Invitation to Qualify, inviting potential suppliers to submit their proposals. The process has resulted in the following list of qualified suppliers (in alphabetical order):

  1. L3 Technologies MAS Inc.
  2. The United States Government and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

Only the above qualified suppliers will be permitted to participate in the next phases of this procurement and invited to bid on any subsequent solicitation issued as part of this process.

April 5, 2019
The draft invitation to qualify (ITQ) was posted on This ITQ will be used as a pre-qualification process to confirm that a competitive environment exists. Qualified suppliers will then be invited to compete via a request for proposal.

April 4, 2019
Project Approval in the definition phase was received.

June 7 2017
The Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy announced Canada would acquire remotely piloted aircraft systems.



Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) policy will apply to the acquisition and sustainment of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System. This will require that industry make investments in Canada equal to the value of the acquisition and in-service support contracts/agreements. Canada will seek, through negotiations, contractual commitments from industry that align with the value proposition (VP) strategic objectives.

Canada will continue to engage with stakeholders on advancing industrial and technological benefits for companies in Canada, and promoting innovation, ensuring best value and supporting Canada’s defence priorities.

Industry engagement thus far has included:

  • A request for information to industry published in January 2016.
  • An update to outline the procurement process and associated security requirements done in December 2018.
  • Draft invitation to qualify was posted on in April 2019.
  • Invitation to qualify was posted on on May 2, 2019.
  • The qualified suppliers list was posted on on May 30, 2019.
  • First teleconference with each qualified supplier was held in July 2019.
  • Qualified suppliers information sessions were held on airworthiness certification and cyber security in October 2019.

The procurement process will be initiated with a pre-qualification stage early in the definition phase.

Technical information

Technical information

The equipment will have an estimated life expectancy of 25 years.

Project costs

Project costs

The RPAS acquisition cost is estimated between $1 billion and $5 billion. This cost includes project management costs, infrastructure, contracts and contingency.



After entering the definition phase, there is a risk that the project management office will not have adequate expertise and manning levels to deliver on schedule. This risk can be mitigated through the hiring of contractor resources.

There is a limited number of suppliers for armed RPAS.

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