With the planned Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) programme firmly in its sights, Thales Nederland is looking to bring Canadian suppliers on board for the development of a second-generation version of its APAR X-band multifunction radar.
Known as APAR Block 2, the new baseline would build on the existing APAR reference platform, but further improve performance through selected technology insertions in both the antenna ‘front end’ and system processing.
APAR (an acronym of active phased array radar) is currently in service on the Royal Netherlands Navy’s four De Zeven Provinciën class air defence and command frigates, the German Navy’s three F 124 Sachsen class air defence frigates, and the Royal Danish Navy’s three Iver Huitfeldt class frigates. In all three cases, APAR forms part of a Thales-supplied anti-air warfare system that also comprises the SMART-L D-band volume search radar and a fire control cluster.
Originally developed as part of the Trilateral Frigate Cooperation programme – which included the participation of Canada as a funding partner – APAR performs horizon search and air target tracking as well as back-up volume search. In addition, APAR provides interrupted continuous wave illumination guidance for the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile and SM-2 missile families.
While Canada did not procure the first-generation APAR, Canadian companies have remained a key part of the supply chain, For example, Sanmina has supplied gallium arsenide transmit/receive modules (TRMs) through the life of the programme.
According to Albert Wildenberg, Thales Nederland’s business development manager, APAR Block 2 would build on this successful heritage.
“As new and more demanding threats emerge, we have developed a technology insertion roadmap that upgrades APAR performance and sustainability, and reduces weight and space demands below deck,” he told the CANSEC Show Daily. “In parallel, this insertion will lead to overall costs reduction, which of course is a further benefit for the Canadian customer.
“So that means moving to a fully digital radar architecture, developing a new front end based on high-power gallium nitride TRMs, and substantially rationalising below-decks cabinets by moving to all COTS-based processing.”
With Thales Nederland ramping up its CSC pursuit, the company is looking to extend the participation of Canadian industry into its supply chain. “CSC is a 15-ship programme,” Wildenberg said.
“We want to use the in-country engineering, development and manufacture base, and grow local content and work-share, with the intent to make this a true Canadian system.”
Last year, Thales Nederland and Sanmina signed a memorandum of understanding for the development and manufacturing of subsystems for candidate CSC radar systems. “The participation of Sanmina in APAR Block 2 could be an extension of this agreement,” said Wildenberg.