Canada & Holland Order 17 SIRIUS Shipboard Long-Range IRST Sensors
The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and the Royal Netherlands Navy have ordered 17 SIRIUS Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (LR-IRST) Systems for a total of $142 million. The Canadian Commercial Corporation in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada issued the contract on behalf of both parties, which calls for installation on all 12 of Canada’s FFH Halifax Class multi-role frigates, plus a land based combat trainer; the Netherlands is ordering another four systems for installation on their LCF De Zeven Provincien Class air defence and command frigates, bringing the grand total to 17 systems. The contracts also include logistic services and the supply of spare parts.
SIRIUS was jointly developed by DRS Technologies and Thales Naval Nederland, and was designed to be especially useful in the expeditionary combat domain and littorals, where the risk of asymmetric threats like fast suicide attack boats remains high.
What is SIRIUS?
SIRIUS is a passive LR-IRST system that operates simultaneously and continuously, scanning in two wavelengths (3-5 Âµm and 8-12 Âµm) under all atmospheric conditions and in environments ranging from the Arctic to the Equator. It is touted as a “next-generation system” with unique processing algorithms that ensure a low false alarm rate, and an effective range that extends to the horizon.
SIRIUS also provides high-resolution, panoramic video under day and night conditions that significantly improves situational awareness against multiple threats by automatically detecting and tracking targets which might otherwise go undetected by radar, especially if a ship is operating under low EMCON protocols. These threats include small surface targets, low flying aircraft, and anti-ship missiles. The TV images are especially useful for threat classification.
Unlike a radar, which has sometimes been described as a “flashlight in a dark room,” passive sensors avoid giving off detectable electro-magnetic emissions. This characteristic, plus its long-range capabilities, makes SIRIUS especially useful for covert surveillance.
Canada’s DND notes that:
“SIRIUS will be used for a variety of ship missions, including search and rescue, air operations, navigation and patrol.
…As part of the development a Sirius Pre-Production Model (PPM) was built, to evaluate the system performance. This PPM was tested in a cold water environment at the Land Based Test Site in Den Helder, the Netherlands and in a warm water environment, near the Bahamas, on board the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal. At the RNLN Land-Based Test Site, the outstanding long-range detection capabilities of the Sirius system were proven. The warm water trials demonstrated that the Sirius’ target detection capabilities also excel in littoral environments. The successful trials supported the early decision of the Canadian Navy to order their Sirius systems together with the RNLN.”
Work share and Purchase Costs
Work on this contract will be performed by DRS Technologies Canada Company in Kanata and Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada as the prime contractor; with Thales Nederland B.V. in Hengelo, the Netherlands, as a major subcontractor. System deliveries to both navies are expected to begin in March 2008, and continue through August 2011.
Looking at the news releases, the amounts cited may appear to be in conflict once conversions are made. DID sought the answer, and Canadian Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Pendergast offered an excellent explanation. Here’s what we know from the releases:
- The DND release cites a full contract figure of CDN $168.5 million ($130.7 million at current conversion). Canada’s portion of the CDN $148.5 million contract is CDN $111.5 million ($98.15 million at current US conversion).
- According to DRS, the contract’s full value is USD $142 million.
- According to Thales Nederland, their share of the contract has a value of well over EUR 55 million ($68 million at current conversion).
Lt. Pendergast explains:
“Both news releases are correct. It is just a different interpretation. They used the figure $142 million USD… including a $20 million option for spare parts. We did not include that, because the option has not been exercised. They made the assumption that it will be exercised. $148.5 + 20 = $168.5”
He also notes that DRS did their calculation several months ago assuming an exchange rate of 0.84, and $168.5 x 0.84 = $141.54 or $142 million.
DID would add that the Thales Nederland’s release is also correct, as it refers to expected work share rather than the Dutch pay-in to the contract, which is CDN $57 million ($168.5 – $111.5 million).
Sept 5/08: DND accepts the first SIRIUS Long Range Infrared Search and Tracking (IRST) System from DRS Technologies Canada Ltd., in a formal ceremony at CFB Halifax. The acceptance follows trials involving the Halifax Class frigate HMCS Montreal. Maritime Forces Atlantic’s Trident News.