USCG Extends Radio Upgrade
Partnership with Thales
The Coast Guard awarded a 10-year,
$32 million indefinite-delivery,
indefinite-quantity contract to
Thales Communications Inc.,
Clarksburg, Md., in 2005 to upgrade communications equipment
in all of the service’s 270-foot cutters with the Series 5000 HF (
High-Frequency) system that includes
transceivers, power amplifiers, couplers, Automatic Link Establishment modems and associated
spares. Under a secondary Determination and Finding (D&F) contract signed Nov. 22, Thales will
install medium-powered HF radios
during the next five to seven years
on any cutters not upgraded under
the original contract.
Thales has installed radio equipment
on 28 cutters, including the 378-
foot, 270-foot and 210-foot ships.
The D&F contract covers installation of HF radios on National
Security Cutters, Fast Response Cutters and Ocean Patrol Cutters built
during the duration of that contract.
Under the original contract, Thales
radio systems are being integrated
on 75 cutters. Work under the
D&F contract will be done on a
ship-by-ship basis, beginning with
the Fast Response Cutter, the first
of which is scheduled to be delivered in early 2011.
Aaron Brosnan is director of Naval
and Maritime Programs at Thales
Communications. He has been
with the company since 2004.
These radios give the Coast Guard capabilities that it’s never had
before in terms of the automatic link establishment. That helps from
the point of view of reducing workload aboard the ships.
Without link establishment, you had to have highly trained HF engineers
who knew how HF propagation worked, and they would have to work comprehensive plans to make sure they had the right frequencies, depending on
the time of day. With automatic link establishment, you just needed somebody
who knows how to push some buttons on the front of a radio and it would
automatically find the most effective frequencies. It was a workload reduction.
In addition to that, we gave [the Coast Guard] some capabilities in its
remote controls on the radios. In the past, if you needed to change frequencies, you would have to run down the radio room and tweak knobs
and turn things. Now, because you can remotely control it on a PC on the
network, or via what we call remote-control units, you can put these
things up on the bridge, you can put them in the combat center, you can
put them anywhere around the ship.
The older cutters had a Near Vertical Incident Scattering [NVIS] antenna,
but they never used it because it was so unreliable. It was called a “towel
bar” because that’s what they used it for, to hang cloths on it to dry.
The NVIS solution, through the Series HF 5000 system [with a flexible,
modular design capable of supporting the newest generation waveforms] that
we came up with on the 210-foot cutters, became the Coast Guard’s preferred
medium for HF communications [and] it works for them like a charm.
The Coast Guard partnership to us is huge. It’s a partnership we
have had for 15 years. We enjoy working with them because it is a
partnership we don’t have with anybody else.