A Fighting Chance – Canadian Technology to Save Lives

Canadians can be rightfully proud of Canadian innovations in Search And Rescue (SAR) such as the Survival Kit, Air Droppable (SKAD Pack) and the use of satellites as part of the SAR toolbox. There is room to leverage technology even further though, to use advances to provide aid for Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), or aid to inhospitable regions in the event of natural disasters.

CSAR, when the enemy is more than just the environment

SKAD Packs offer the opportunity for an aircraft to deploy rapidly an aid kit to assist survivors either on land or at sea. There is even an option to utilize the pack as an air-droppable logistics resupply for deployed Special Forces. In the CSAR role, the system is limited though. The first limitation is carriage speed; the system is limited to carriage at only 350 knots. This is far lower than the carriage speed of most tactical weapons that a fighter might carry. A CSAR SKAD pack would require optimisation to better match the flight envelope of the fighters that would carry it.

The second limitation is size; the SKAD pack’s design is to provide aid to groups of victims. In CSAR we are faced with one, or two, crewmembers as a typical situation. Our hypothetical CSAR SKAD pack would be smaller than the original, sized for aid to only a single “victim.” In the event of multiple crewmembers requiring CSAR, we simply drop individual packs.

Precision deployment is our third limitation. In a standard SAR scenario, we want the SKAD pack close, but never “Danger Close.” In CSAR we have to accept that Danger Close may very well be the difference between life or death, that crewmember on the ground may need those supplies now… not after a search that places them in even greater danger.

Our hypothetical CSAR SKAD pack will require the ability to employ standard laser or GPS guidance packages as fitted to bombs. Essentially, we need a Smart-SKAD. Ideally, would not re-invent the guidance package. We would employ a package such as the Guided Bomb Unit or Joint Direct Attack Munition conversion kits. This would limit training required.

Considering the above, what would a CSAR SKAD be like?


• Improved aerodynamics to allow for carriage at tactical speeds by fighters
• Smaller and lighter, sized for aid to a single person
• Guided, so as to deliver stores with a very tight Circular Error of Probability
• Guidance packages familiar to tactical aircrews and already cleared for aircraft operations

CSAR SKAD Equipment:

• Rifle, to provide the downed aircrew with a ranged weapon
• Night Vision Gear for greater security
• Ammunition
• First aid supplies
• Rations
• Load bearing equipment
• Environmental clothing

Essentially, we want to provide downed aircrew with as much of an infantry basic loadout as is practical. There are severe limitations on what aircrew can carry secreted in their flight suits, or contained in the seat-pack of an ejection seat. Our goal is to expand that in order to provide a tool to aid aircrew survivability.

It may seem odd that Canada, which does not frequently conduct airstrikes in places where a robust CSAR capability does not exist, would need to develop such an air droppable package.
For justification we need to look no further afield than Canada’s own Arctic. Any downed aircrew in the Arctic will face multiple enemies simply from the environment. Killing cold, high wind-chill values, darkness are threat enough to any person trapped there unexpectedly. Add in the possibility of a confrontation with a polar bear and the threat to life climbs exponentially.
RCAF interceptors on missions in the Arctic could carry our CSAR SKAD pack. In the event of a mishap to one aircraft, the second plane can drop support immediately.

Canada’s need in the Arctic is real, but a small market. The basic requirement for our North though is so close to CSAR needs that it makes sense to work toward a larger utility from the beginning. When we send aircrews over territory that is hostile, whether from hostile forces or environment, we need to ensure that we properly support them in the event of mishap.

We need to give them a fighting chance.

15 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. I now write to let the thoughts in my head get out where I can see 'em. :)

Posted in Arctic, Canadian Forces, Modest Proposal, RCAF
One comment on “A Fighting Chance – Canadian Technology to Save Lives
  1. Lawrence Alexander says:

    Thank you Steve for continuing to write articles and news on Canadian defence matters. I have missed regular updates since the recent retirement of CASR. Keep up the good work.


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Canadian ~ American Strategic Review

CASR has announced that it will cease operations on 31/December/2016.

I have grateful to have been given the opportunity to write for them, and to repost my material on Defence Muse.

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