At Euronaval in Paris on 18 October, radar specialist Kelvin Hughes revealed it has just been awarded a contract to equip the latest Irish Naval Service (INS) Ocean Patrol Vessel, under construction by Babcock, with the latest variant of its renowned SHARPEYE navigation radar.
Operating in the X-band, the SHARPEYE Mk. 11 will provide the INS with the ability to discriminate multiple small surface targets at much longer range than possible to date. The INS was an early adopter of SHARPEYE technology, according to Rohan Dearlove, the company’s Maritime Sales Director UK & France. There is some evidence to suggest that the commissioning of the Mk. 11 may in time persuade the INS of the benefits of upgrading current installations to the new standard.
From a broader perspective, the company’s presence at Euronaval amply demonstrates its continued focus on the naval navigation radar and associated systems market. Without a direct niche competitor in France, Dearlove sees considerable future opportunity, given current circumstances. “The French Navy faces similar challenges to the Royal Navy, with creeping obsolescence and a need to pursue a convergence strategy to assist in commonality, interoperability and reduced logistics burden,” he told Mönch.
Kelvin Hughes has a wealth of experience in integrating bridge systems, including navigation sensors such as the SHARPEYE, and today has systems in service with 28 navies and coast guard services worldwide, compared with just four nations as recently as 2010. Having decided some years ago to focus efforts exclusively on the government sector, the company is enjoying the success of combining innovation in technology implementation with well-resourced commercial strategies. It is notable that there is a highly pragmatic attitude towards the timescale for success, too. “We are having highly encouraging dialogues in this and other national markets – but it will all be a matter of finding the right programme,” Dearlove pointed out.
One of the key advantages recently introduced into SHARPEYE revolves around its ability to discriminate small targets in poor weather conditions. As well as traditional functionality in providing accurate and reliable navigation data, the radar can be successfully used to identify, locate and track multiple small targets in conditions such as heavy rain in which more traditional solutions display indecipherable clutter. “The clarity comes from the use of Doppler-based processing techniques, which minimise [clutter effects] to a large degree,” Dearlove concluded.
As an example of one of those companies that “keeps calm and carries on,” reaping rewards that become all the more meaningful as customers but in to a wide range of services, Kelvin Hughes remains a company that amply repays following its progress.