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Strengthening Canadian C4ISR superiority through innovation

When Canada embarks on major military procurement, the actual vehicle – truck, tank, airplane, helicopter or ship – while physically and visually having the most impact, is a very small part of delivering capability to the Canadian Armed Forces.

Arguably the most important element is what goes inside the vehicle; avionics, mission systems, intelligence gathering and sharing tools, communications and decision making mechanisms, are what count the most. The military that has the most capable of these advanced technologies for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or C4ISR for short, is the one best equipped to win. They result in a faster battle rhythm, a quicker operational tempo, and more real-time decision-making for either an individual operator or commander of a large, integrated, multinational force. These are critical decisions that are made every day in a combat situation and in peacetime. Militaries train every day using these systems to ensure they are ready to be called on to make split-second, life-or-death decisions.

On February 5, 2014, the Government of Canada signaled loud and clear that it is placing a higher value on these types of important capabilities than ever before. The new Defence Procurement Strategy announced by Public Works Minister Diane Finley has three objectives:

• To deliver the right equipment to the Canadian Armed Forces in a timely manner;
• To leverage purchases of defence equipment
to create jobs and economic growth in Canada; and;
• To streamline defence procurement processes.

The Defence Procurement Strategy also includes a Value Proposition which will be a rating system that looks at what Canada gets back for its military investment. Key Industrial Capabilities (KICs) “will be a significant factor in the weighting of Value Propositions,” the government stated. To rate a Value Proposition, the government’s criteria include:

• Investments that strengthen Canadian KICs;
• Investments that support enhanced productivity in Canadian firms; and
• Broader industrial and technological high-value activities such as “technology
transfer.”

When Thales Canada’s defence business started here in 1981 establishing Halifax Naval Services with two people to support the supply of sensors to the Royal Canadian Navy, “value propositions” and “KICs” weren’t even on the radar screen.

More than 30 years later, Thales Canada embodies the Emerson Aerospace Review and the Tom Jenkins report Canada First: Leveraging Procurement Through Key Industrial Capabilities, both which stand at the heart of Canada’s new Defence Procurement Strategy. Today, Thales Canada employs 1,300 high-skilled workers in five Canadian cities. Thales Canada has played a significant role in growing the capabilities of Canada’s military and Canada’s defense and security industries in the domain of C2 (Command and Control), naval systems, soldier protection, aerospace and innovation, to become the leading C4ISR and defense electronics company in Canada. Put another way, Thales Canada is already delivery substantial KICs in Canada.

Recently, Thales Canada was awarded a five-year technology development contract from Defence Research and Development Canada to lead the development of a next generation Joint Intelligence and Information Science and Technology Capability, referred to as JI2STC. The work on JI2STC will be based at the new Thales Research and Technology Centre (TRT) in Quebec, where Thales Canada will lead 18 technology partners in developing new intelligence gathering concepts, capabilities and systems to support future missions for Canadian and allied forces.

The TRT is part of the global Thales group’s annual CAD$4 billion investment in research and technologies, supported by a tremendous network of talented researchers and engineers, a number of those in Canada at the TRT – one of just five such centres Thales has developed worldwide.

“We are proud of playing a role to help protect our great country and now our role in leading the development of the next generation of Canadian defence and security technology,” said Mark Halinaty, Thales Canada’s CEO and the first Canadian appointed to the role, another sign of the group’s respect for, and commitment to Canada. “Thales Canada was selected as the industry leader because we have the ability to harness knowledge and expertise in a number of scientific and technical domains internally and with partners, but also because we are committed to developing the industrial base with Canadian partners through innovation and R&D investments.”

Thales Canada’s evolution as a KIC leader has come through years of successful delivery of innovative solutions – both military and civilian – and comes in part from leveraging the capacity of the global group’s 65,000 employees in 56 different locations around the world, all dedicated to playing a key role in assuring the security of citizens, infrastructure and nations.

“Our ability to partner with many Canadian companies to leverage technology transfers from the Group and develop our own Intellectual Property has positioned us as one of the Canada’s best system solution providers that meets today Canadian defense industrial policy through equipping the Canadian Armed Forces and then exporting those Canadian products abroad,” said Halinaty. Whether conducting R&D, or delivering on a major procurement, Thales Canada also prides itself on a successful track record of partnering with numerous Canadian companies to deliver these cutting-edge solutions and results.

This innovative process has resulted in Thales Canada’s successful delivery of a number of mission-critical C4ISR capabilities to the Canadian Armed Forces such as:

• Delivering 3-D surveillance radars for the Halifax Class frigate Modernization project. The new NATO-standard radars are best-in-class for medium-to-long-range surveillance and targeting in extremely dense naval and coastal environments in all weather conditions.

• Delivering 70 ship-borne, shore-based and portable C2 systems to the RCN and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) under the Interdepartmental Maritime Integrated Command, Control and Communications (IMIC3) system project. This will let commanders on land and at sea across both fleets gather and share data from coastal surveillance in near-real time;

• Providing the RCAF a Canadian Tactical Control Radar based on the Thales Raytheon Systems GM 403 long-range air defense radar. This cutting-edge system offers detection from very high to very low altitudes, tracking everything from jet fighters to small Unmanned Air Vehicles or cruise missiles;

• Being a premier solution provider for the Communications Management System (CMS) under the CP-140 Aurora Incremental Modernization Program. The CMS integrates all the various communications
sub-systems (radios, intercoms, switches, etc.) aboard the aircraft.

• Providing new optronics capability for the Canadian Army’s LAV III upgrade program to improve operational capabilities at night or in adverse weather and obscured battlefield conditions. Thales Canada developed this technology in Montreal and now exports it to NATO forces around the world.

This work and much more has well-positioned Thales Canada to capitalize on major future procurement, particularly under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), the $35 billion program to reequip the navy and coast guard.

Thales Canada was selected as the Electronic System Integrator (ESI) partner for Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver, which will build the seven non-combat vessels (Joint Supply Ships, Canadian Coast Guard Offshore Science Vessel and the polar icebreaker CCGS John G. Diefenbaker) under the NSPS.

Thales Canada also has its sights set on another major component of the shipbuilding work – as the Combat Systems Integrator (CSI) for the fleet of Canadian Surface Combatant vessels, Canada’s next generation of warships. Thales Canada brings a track record of system integration and C4ISR capability to more than 50 naval fleets around the world. Thales Canada believes its IMAST 500 is the most advanced, scalable and capable, multi-sensor, multi-radar system and that there is currently no system in the world to rival its proven capabilities. Fully NATO interoperable, the IMAST 500 is already deployed on the Royal Netherlands Navy’s new offshore patrol ships, which are in the same class as Canada’s pending new fleet.

And should Canada choose to hold a competition to replace Canada’s CF-18 jet fighters, Thales Canada, as part of RAFALE International, is ready to bring a whole new wave of advanced avionics and mission system know-how to Canada. Thales has no fewer than eight mission-critical systems on board the RAFALE jet fighter, one of the world’s most advanced multi-role combat aircraft. From the advanced cockpit, AESA radar and the SPECTRA 360-degree electronic warfare suite, to the communications, datalinks and long-range surveillance and laser targeting systems, Thales is already pre-cleared to transfer these technologies and intellectual property to Canada and “KIC” it into high gear.

Author: Thales Canada (from Feb/Mar 2014)

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