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Canada to send Ukraine more than 800 drones built in Ontario: Blair

Click to play video: 'Canada donating more than 800 drones to Ukraine'
Canada donating more than 800 drones to Ukraine
WATCH: With Ukrainian troops losing ground in its defence against Russia's full-scale invasion, pressure is growing on Western allies to keep financially supporting Ukraine. Mackenzie Gray looks at how Canada's drone donation could help Ukraine's military – Feb 19, 2024

Canada will donate more than 800 drones to Ukraine that will help its military forces detect and identify targets as it continues to fight Russia’s invasion, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Monday.

The Canadian-built drones, valued at over $95 million, will be sourced from Teledyne in Waterloo, Ont. Deliveries to Ukraine’s forces will begin as early as this spring, the federal government said.

“They’re in a hurry, and so are we,” Blair said at the announcement in Etobicoke, Ont.

The spending is part of a previously-announced $500 million in military help for Ukraine.

The government said the drones are important for surveillance and intelligence gathering, and can also be used to move supplies, including munitions, weighing up to 3.5 kilograms. The drones help operators to recognize heat sources, humans and vehicles from far away, even in the dark or in poor weather.

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Blair said Kyiv has “told us very clearly they need many more drones,” which have become a critical capability for the Ukrainian forces.

He said the particular drones being donated to Ukraine, Teledyne’s SkyRanger R70 multi-mission Unmanned Aerial Systems, bring “a utility that I think significantly enhances their capabilities, particularly with its ability at some altitude to detect, and to gather information that can be very useful as they defend their country.”

Click to play video: 'Canada to donate more than 800 drones worth $95M to Ukraine: Blair'
Canada to donate more than 800 drones worth $95M to Ukraine: Blair

Anne Bulik, Teledyne FLIR’s vice-president of unmanned systems North America said at the press conference the company has already started production on the units. “I’m expecting late March, early April would be the timeline that we will be able to deliver on,” she said, with the full order being delivered over the next year.

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Monday’s announcement came days ahead of the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

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Canada previously donated 100 high-resolution drone cameras to Ukraine, and in the past two years has pledged $2.4 billion in military assistance, part of $9.7 billion in total assistance to Kyiv.

Blair announced last week that Canada was contributing an additional $60 million to help Ukraine’s allies supply F-16 fighter jets to its fighting forces and train Ukrainian pilots.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine withdraws troops from Avdiivka as Russian forces advance'
Ukraine withdraws troops from Avdiivka as Russian forces advance

He just returned from several meetings in Europe where Ukraine was a key topic of concern, including the U.S.-led Ukraine Defence Contract Group, NATO defence ministers and the Munich Security Conference.

At Monday’s press conference, Blair also indicated Canada is working on sending more ammunition to Ukraine.

He said Canada has done what it can, even “drawing down upon the stocks of our Canadian Armed Forces.”

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Western countries agree more needs to be done to boost production, he said.

“I’m very hopeful that we’ll have more to say in the not too distant future about how we’re investing in increased Canadian production of munitions that will help both Ukraine and to reconstitute, as required, the Canadian Armed Forces. But those things take time.”

— with files from the Canadian Press

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