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A.F.Theriault & Son Ltd. target drones helping to train against terrorism


By Carla Allen THE VANGUARD NovaNewsNow.com A boatbuilder in Digby County is proud of its role in helping to combat terrorism by building expendable targets.

A.F.Theriault & Son Ltd.’s Hammerhead production stands a good chance of seeing repeat business: the fleet of target drones is being built to be blown up to train artillery.

Project manager David Saulnier says the exercises have become a post USS Cole mandate. “All NATO friendly countries are being encouraged to train against the threat of terrorism,” he said.

The USS Cole event was a suicide bombing attack in October 2000 against the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer while it was harboured in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen sailors were killed.

This Friday, A.F.Theriault is shipping six

units to its partner in the project, Meggitt Training Systems in Medicine Hat, which installs the electronics and runs the boats for the navies that buy them. Canada and Germany have bought the 22 built to date.

Meggitt saw the Mongoose patrol boat, a high-speed attack craft built by the boat shop in 2005/06, and thought it would be a good platform from which to develop the unmanned drone.

The 17-foot boats, which Saulnier refers to as “basically being like a big jet ski”, are constructed of fiberglass with ceramic reinforcements in strategic areas of the hull. “It takes a lot of pounding,” said Saulnier.

Although he won’t supply a unit price, he did say that the drones are probably the lowest cost drone in the world. “It’s very competitive in the market as unmanned drones go, especially for target practice,” he said.

The boats have a beam of four-and-a-half-feet, a 135-hp Mercury inboard engine and are rated at 30 knots in sea state three.

Although the boat is used in military operations, it is not a weapon-carrying vessel and there is no surveillance equipment of any kind on board. It’s strictly a target boat for training.

Saulnier says they expect more orders. “It’s basically just catching on in the global waterfront now,” he said.

A.F.Theriault & Son Ltd.’s Hammerhead production stands a good chance of seeing repeat business: the fleet of target drones is being built to be blown up to train artillery.

Project manager David Saulnier says the exercises have become a post USS Cole mandate. “All NATO friendly countries are being encouraged to train against the threat of terrorism,” he said.

The USS Cole event was a suicide bombing attack in October 2000 against the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer while it was harboured in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen sailors were killed.

This Friday, A.F.Theriault is shipping six

units to its partner in the project, Meggitt Training Systems in Medicine Hat, which installs the electronics and runs the boats for the navies that buy them. Canada and Germany have bought the 22 built to date.

Meggitt saw the Mongoose patrol boat, a high-speed attack craft built by the boat shop in 2005/06, and thought it would be a good platform from which to develop the unmanned drone.

The 17-foot boats, which Saulnier refers to as “basically being like a big jet ski”, are constructed of fiberglass with ceramic reinforcements in strategic areas of the hull. “It takes a lot of pounding,” said Saulnier.

Although he won’t supply a unit price, he did say that the drones are probably the lowest cost drone in the world. “It’s very competitive in the market as unmanned drones go, especially for target practice,” he said.

The boats have a beam of four-and-a-half-feet, a 135-hp Mercury inboard engine and are rated at 30 knots in sea state three.

Although the boat is used in military operations, it is not a weapon-carrying vessel and there is no surveillance equipment of any kind on board. It’s strictly a target boat for training.

Saulnier says they expect more orders. “It’s basically just catching on in the global waterfront now,” he said.

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