Canada's soldier suite delivery nears completion
Final delivery of equipment sets under Canada’s Integrated Soldier Systems Suite (ISS-S) programme will be completed by the end of the year as the system moves towards achieving a final operating capability.
Canada’s Department for National Defense (DND) confirmed to Shephard that so far it has acquired ‘over four thousand soldier-wearable communications suites, complete with the required accessories, support equipment, contract management, training, logistic and engineering support.’
Deliveries began in March 2018 and the initial systems were used for training. ‘It is expected that the equipment will be fully delivered to, in use, and supported by the Canadian Armed Forces in training and operations by December 2019.’
With one task force issued with kit and fully trained with sufficient stocks of spare parts provided, an initial operating capability (IOC) was declared in June 2018. The first operational equipment was supplied to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, 4th Division in July 2018. DND said that ‘Project [full operational capability] FOC is expected in 2023 with the FOC requirement: six Task Forces operational with project cycle three additions or upgrades.’
The project started in the mid-2000s and an IOC was originally planned for 2014 but there were delays due to equipment obsolescence and delays in qualification.
Of the 4,144 sets ordered 2,888 have been delivered so far by prime contractor Rheinmetall Canada which was awarded an acquisition contract in 2015 to provide a variant of its Argus soldier product. The equipment includes Harris RF-7800S networked radios, navigational aids, a power management and distribution system, interfaces to sensors, a Saab visual display, an in-ear headset and a Battle Management System.
‘The total estimated cost of the acquisition contract, including the options to procure the 4,144 systems, is valued at a maximum of C$94 million ($70 million). C$50 million (taxes included) has been spent so far,’ the DND stated. ‘A support contract has been be awarded to Rheinmetall Canada for five years of support, with options for an additional six years of continued support. The potential value of both contracts is over C$250 million,’ it added.
Because ISS-S has been designed to be scalable the DND said that future cycles adding capability and work further optimising the system are already underway. ‘Integration of additional sensors, autonomous or remotely piloted air and ground vehicles, power harvesting/resupply/sharing, integration with the weapon platform sensors and display are all items under consideration,’ the DND stated.
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