Drones, also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are aircraft remotely controlled by an operator who can be thousands of miles away. Drones are primarily used for surveillance, as they can fly for up to 24 hours at a time, soaring undetected at high elevations while zooming in on unsuspecting targets with high-powered cameras. Drones can also be armed with missiles capable of eliminating enemies and preventing terrorist attacks. The ability to arm drones added a highly controversial component to the 2016 debate on drone use by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
This case places students in the role of Canadian Army General Jonathan Vance, and uses the 3P model of sustainability (people, planet, and profits) to analyze the drone debate. The 3P model prompts Vance and his team to consider the CAF Code of Ethics, public perceptions, financial costs, environment impacts, and implications for drone pilots when deciding whether to implement UAVs. After analyzing the drone debate from several perspectives, Vance was positioned to make a recommendation to Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, on whether the CAF should acquire and utilize UAVs, particularly those armed with military weapons.