Canada begins fitting ‘Strongbow' communications intel equipment on frigates

by Richard Scott

The new antenna array associated with Project Strongbow is shown here in testing at SwRI's San Antonio, Texas, facility. (SwRI)

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has begun retrofitting an upgraded communications eavesdropping suite on its 12 Halifax-class frigates under Project Strongbow.

Work has started on the implementation phase, according to Canada's Department of National Defence (DND), with initial operational capability (IOC) planned for 2025. Initial shipboard installations on three frigates are following now-completed environmental qualification and software regression testing.

Project Strongbow is designed to provide the RCN with an enhanced communications direction finding (COMM DF) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability by upgrading the existing AN/SRD-505 communications intelligence system. The new system, designated AN/SRD-506, is to detect and analyse complex radio signals.

The Strongbow project has an approved budget of CAD116 million (USD84.5 million). The main acquisition contract was let in 2020 to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the US-based original equipment manufacturer, reflecting the fact that a significant portion of the legacy COMM DF fit is maintained. For SIGINT technology, the upgrade was acquired non-competitively through a government-to-government contract.

“Work is under way on the first installs to be completed on HMCS Toronto

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Bohemia Interactive Simulations outlines AI road map

by Giles Ebbutt

BISim is working to increase the AI capabilities of its VBS software, which is in widespread use. (Bohemia Interactive Simulations)

Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) is continuing to expand its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and is seeking to develop a more visualisation-agnostic capability, Pete Morrison, BISim's chief commercial officer, told Janes at I/ITSEC 2023 in Orlando.

“We're focusing on AI and in particular how we can enable our customers to train for the next Ukraine,” Morrison said. He observed that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a “big threat or opportunity, depending on your point of view”, and suggested that Virtual Battle Space (VBS), BISim's core product, is the “perfect platform to develop offensive and defensive doctrine [for UAVs]”.

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Vrgineers unveils new mixed reality HMD

by Giles Ebbutt

Vrgineers' new carbon fibre, lightweight XTAL 3 CAVU mixed reality HMD utilises a streamlined architecture to improve performance. ( Vrgineers)

Vrgineers has developed a new version of its mixed reality (MR) XTAL head-mounted display (HMD) and displayed it for the first time at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC 2023) in Orlando.

Marek Polčák, the company's CEO and co-founder, told Janes that while there was little room for improvement in virtual reality (VR) HMD technology, there was still scope for improvement in MR but this required a new architecture because the standard image processing pipeline used in MR HMDs had reached its maximum capability. The new architecture is based on removing parts of the pipeline to lower latency and improve performance.

Polčák explained that currently in a standard MR HMD image, data from the headset image sensor undergoes some initial image processing in the headset, which downgrades the image before it is processed through a central processing unit (CPU) and random-access memory (RAM), and then by an image graphics processing unit (GPU) before finally being combined with VR imagery in another GPU.

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UAE requests AN/TPQ-50 counter-fire radars

by Olivia Savage

The UAE has requested to purchase SRC's tripod-mounted AN/TPQ-50 counter-fire radar, currently operated by the British Army and US Army. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has requested to purchase 18 manportable AN/TPQ-50 Lightweight Counter Mortar Radars (LCMRs) from the United States (US).

The proposed sale is estimated to be valued at USD85 million and will include, in addition to the AN/TPQ-50 radars, 107 mm high-explosive rockets (for contiguous US testing only); computer digital military laptop radar control displays; 5 kW Advanced Medium Mobile Power Source (AMMPS) trailer-mounted, diesel engine-driven power units; spares; mission equipment; communication and navigation equipment; support equipment and repair parts; US government and contractor technical and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistics and programme support, according to a US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement on 4 December.

SRC Inc will be the primary contractor.

Together, the equipment is intended to support the protection of critical infrastructure, military installations, and forces from rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) fire including “unmanned aerial system threats”, the announcement detailed.

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