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Canada upgrades maritime COMINT/SIGINT capability under Project Strongbow

Under Project Strongbow, the Halifax-class frigates will receive a tactical radio direction finding and signals collection, analysis, fusion, and exploitation strategic capability. (Canadian DoD)

Canada is investing in an improved communications intelligence (COMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability, known as Project Strongbow, for the Royal Canadian Navy's (RCN's) 12 Halifax-class frigates.

Under a CAD40.9 million (USD32.5 million) contract, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is to supply a new COMINT/SIGINT solution that will replace the obsolete AN/SRD-504 VHF/UHF equipment suite. The new capability is expected to be delivered from 2023, and is projected to remain in service for at least the next 15 years.

Project Strongbow will provide tactical radio direction finding and signals collection, analysis, fusion and exploitation strategic capability to the Halifax-class frigates. The requirement promulgated by Public Works and Government Services Canada called for a system combining new main mast antennas (with space and weight not to exceed that apportioned to AN/SRD-504) together with below decks processing and a below-decks human machine interface. It also specified a modular design architecture based on commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) components in order to facilitate upgrades and technology insertions through-life.

In its latest annual report, SwRI revealed that the system it will deliver to the RCN will use a new cylindrical, long-slot antenna array. Developed under internal funding, the new design has “demonstrated high-quality, omnidirectional output while also performing well as a [direction finding] array”.

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