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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

15 September 2015

DSEI 2015: Kelvin Hughes – Seeing More and Further

Kelvin Hughes is a world leader in the development, manufacture and supply of maritime navigation, surveillance and security radar systems. The company sets the international standard in solid state radar sensor technology with SharpEye™ and its market leading tactical and situational awareness radar display software’s. A technology innovator and reliable partner to the world’s Navies and other maritime customers, Kelvin Hughes’ expertise is also applied to the land domain where products designed and built by Kelvin Hughes safeguard borders, coastlines, and critical national infrastructure. The company has recently announced it has been contracted to supply two of its SBS-900-2 SharpEye™ radar systems for the Porto de Vitória in Brazil, being provided through Indra. Furthermore, this summer, Kelvin Hughes has been contracted by Ultra Electronics – Security and Surveillance Systems to supply two of its SBS-800-1 SHARPEYE radars for installation on the offshore production platforms of the Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas project.

SharpEye Upmast Transceiver - Radar System

The SBS-900-2 is from the “advanced” radar family of the Kelvin Hughes Shore Based Sensor radar range, consisting of a single X-Band SharpEye™ radar transceiver mounted in an environmentally sealed enclosure on a mast close to the antenna. The antenna itself is also an advanced, high specification design with a span of over 6m and has a switchable polarisation capability between horizontal and circular beamwidth.

The SharpEye™ SBS-800 radar is particularly suited to oil and gas installations. The highest voltage within the system is 32V compared to magnetron devices producing in excess of 30,000 volts. Also, there is no need to cool the system thereby removing the need for air conditioning enclosures upmast. Another advantage of an upmast transceiver is the ability to transfer the radar data downmast via a fibre optic cable rather than a much more difficult to install and maintain waveguide.

X-Band SharpEye Transceiver

Kelvin Hughes has developed SharpEye™ to deliver superior radar performance and reliability. According to the company, SharpEye™ is the world’s first affordable navigation, helicopter control and surface search pulse Doppler radar sensor offering high reliability, low cost of ownership and much improved detection ranges, especially of small targets in clutter (SharpEye™ uses the Doppler effect to determine target radial velocities; achieved by processing received echoes into velocity bands, enabling the separation of genuine targets from clutter; and extracting the relative motion of targets by measuring the phase of the received echo relative to the phase of the transmission enables the radial velocity to be determined). SharpEye™ is defining new standards in surveillance missions at sea, onshore and on land with transmit powers of up to 300W and as low as 50W (SharpEye™ SCV). It is used by Navies, vessel traffic services, border agencies, coastal surveillance, other security agencies, offshore oil and gas majors and critical infrastructure operators.

In terms of markets, Rohan Dearlove, Kelvin Hughes Sales Director - Central Region, in an exclusive interview with MT explained that the company sees Africa as an emerging market: “In recent years, we have experienced growing demand from nations along the Mediterranean Coast and in the Sub-Saharan region for quality radar systems to support a number of important programmes. To the North, the main growth for us has been in navigation and helicopter control radar for new builds as well as retrofits for established naval forces, whilst in Sub-Saharan West Africa we are increasingly active in the offshore sector as well as supplying SharpEye for new patrol vessels. Further south, we have a long standing relationship with the South African Navy with whom we have a number of live programmes and forthcoming opportunities.”

A traditional market for Kelvin Hughes is definitely the Middle East, where the company has encountered long-term campaigns. “We are fortunate in that we have many long standing customers in the region,” Dearlove said. “Previous generations of our radar equipment are in-service with navies across the region including Oman and Qatar. We are offering our latest generation SharpEye radar as a replacement for these legacy systems. There are also a number of important new build programmes across the region. We believe these new platforms would benefit from the enhanced capability and inherent reliability SharpEye delivers.”

Naval Radar Tactical Display

Further north, Kelvin Hughes’ strategy in Turkey is trying to form partnerships with those in-country. “We have seen significant growth in Turkish defence exports in recent times. Turkish primes are making inroads into a number of regions and we are trying to be part of this. For example, we have recently supplied our radars to a Turkish shipyard for integration into special fast patrol boats delivered to a Middle Eastern Navy,” he said. “In terms of the Turkish Government sector, our focus is re-establishing our position within a market now dominated by highly capable indigenous suppliers. This will necessarily involve close partnerships with Turkish industry. Our recent success in Turkey has mostly been via Turkish export initiatives. Another example is the Pakistan Navy’s Fleet Tanker programme. The Pakistan Navy, a loyal customer of Kelvin Hughes for many years, specified SharpEye radar and we have formed a good relationship with Turkish prime contractor, STM, who will deliver this capability.”

Currently, Kelvin Hughes is very interested in their domestic customers, especially the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA): “Most of their current navigation / helicopter control radars, which include the Kelvin Hughes 1007, have been in service for decades and obsolescence is inevitably becoming an issue. Consequently, MOD are looking to invest in replacing these ageing systems with a modern design that will be supportable for many years to come,” the executive said. “The fleet replacement programme is called the Navigation Radar Portfolio (NRP), MOD are looking to leverage the benefits of technological Convergence by having radars based on the same technology across all platforms, ranging from a Type 23 frigate to a small P2000 class boat.”

The company is obviously very interested in that, and that approach, “will become very attractive for larger Navies in time, in order to spend less on new builds and keep their aging fleets going; i.e. more mid-life upgrades, more technology insertion programmes,” Dearlove explained. “SharpEye’s modular and scalable design enables us to configure a radar system suitable for anything from a small boat to a large tanker, aircraft carrier, or destroyer. The beauty of the system is that the software allows for appropriate levels of customization through the implementation of special ‘modes’. These basically optimise the radar’s performance to meet a customer’s platform specific or particular operational requirements, whilst retaining hardware commonality. This approach helps a lot with the logistics burden.”

In terms of future progress, submarine radars are an interesting sector for the company. In more recent times a new design of submarines is a trend towards getting as much kit out of the pressure hull as possible to reduce pressure or penetration points and also to make more space on the submarine. A lot of sensors, a lot of communications devices have already been taken and placed in a payload container up top. "We are looking very closely at this sector. We already have ‘Downmast’ submarine SharpEye in service, but for a number of operational reasons there is strong demand for an ‘Upmast’ version, housed inside the fin. We are doing some work in this area," he concluded.

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