Robust "Beyond Line of Sight" (BLOS) Communications in Satellite-Denied Environments

From Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Provide robust approaches to over-the-horizon/BLOS communications in satellite-denied environments.

Sponsoring Department: Department of National Defence

Funding Mechanism: Contract

Opening date: February 19, 2018
Closing date: April 20, 2018, 14:00, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Phase 1 award recipients

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Problem statement

The Canadian Armed Forces uses both High Frequency (HF) and satellite communications (SATCOM) systems for beyond line of sight (BLOS) communications. While the HF band supports global communications, it is subject to widely varying performance due to interference, atmospheric conditions and, in times of conflict, jamming. Satellite communications can also be subject to denial jamming.

The challenge is to consider new approaches to providing robust, over-the-horizon/BLOS communications in satellite-denied environments, either by enhancing the reliability of HF and/or SATCOM approaches, or by exploring new technologies and techniques. While satellite communications have become (almost) ubiquitous, the satellites themselves are vulnerable to attack and therefore represent a potential point of failure. Canada, therefore, continues to need a robust backup for satellite communications under jamming in order to ensure strategic and operational command and control.

Desired outcomes & considerations

DND needs either more resilient/robust satellite communications or a robust backup for satellite communications (instead of using High Frequency (HF) systems) for beyond line of sight (BLOS) communications under various environmental and geographical conditions including in urban setting and remote locations.

Solutions need to support digital communications for tactical and operational communications including text and computer-computer traffic and, depending on the particular solution, digital voice. Further, in the presence of fading channels or interference, the system must gracefully degrade to supporting more basic text traffic using appropriate quality of service rule sets to prioritize. For system integration, an IP interface to terminal units would be preferred.

Bidders may consider other concepts such as tropospheric scattering, meteor trails and deploying orbiting High Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (HALE UAVs) as communications relays and propose alternative ways for over-the-horizon/BLOS communications to HF. Bidders may also consider concepts for more robust/resilience BLOS satellite communications under jamming conditions. As there are a number of conventional solutions available using very-high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF), proposed solutions should extend well beyond those ranges.

Background & context

Background & Current efforts/technologies being explored:

Communications in satellite-denied environments remains a challenge in various settings; In order to mitigate the risk and challenge, efforts require either enhancing the reliability of HF approaches, or exploring new technologies and techniques to ensure uninterrupted command and control functions.

Solutions to communication systems in satellite denied environments may also find market in non-defence sectors as well as in international markets.

Please refer to the tender notice for this challenge on Buy and Sell.

Maximum value and travel

Maximum contract value:

Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.

The maximum funding available for any Phase 1 Contract resulting from this Challenge is $150,000.00 CAD (plus tax) including shipping, travel and living expenses, as applicable.

The maximum funding available for any Phase 2 Contract resulting from this Challenge is $1,000,000.00 CAD (plus tax) including shipping, travel and living expenses, as applicable. Only eligible businesses that have completed Phase 1 could be considered for Phase 2.

This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to contract for the total approximate funding.

Travel:  No travel anticipated.


Solution proposals can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • for profit
  • incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
  • 499 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employeesFootnote *
  • research and development activities that take place in Canada
  • 50% or more of its annual wages, salaries and fees are currently paid to employees and contractors who spend the majority of their time working in CanadaFootnote *
  • 50% or more of its FTE employees have Canada as their ordinary place of workFootnote *
  • 50% or more of its senior executives (Vice President and above) have Canada as their principal residenceFootnote *

Application guide

All federal departments and agencies that issue ISC challenges, regardless of whether they use a grant or a contract as the financial instrument to support research and development (R&D) in Phases 1 and 2, will assess proposals and bids from small businesses based on standard questions. The online application and bid submission system will contain these standard questions and provide guidance on the length of responses.

Assessment process

Once a complete application or bid is submitted, it will be sent to the department and agency that issued the challenge as well as to the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) for assessment. It is the prerogative of the challenge sponsoring department or agency to decide which businesses will receive funding for Phase 1. All businesses that submit an application or bid will receive feedback.

In advance of accepting applications and bids from eligible businesses, the following is meant to provide guidance to businesses on what could be asked as part of the application and bid submission process. The information below may be used to evaluate proposals and is subject to change.


  • Please be prepared to identify the starting technology readiness level (TRL) of the solution and the anticipated TRL at the completion of Phase 1. Reminder, Phase 1 is meant for solutions in the TRL range from 1 to 4.
  • Be prepared to describe the novelty of your solution and how it advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including competing solutions. Include in your description the scientific and technological basis upon which your solution is proposed.
  • Be prepared to identify what are the key scientific and technical risks facing your solution and how those risks would be addressed in Phase 1.

Benefits to Canada

  • Please be prepared to provide a brief description of your proposed solution and how it addresses the problem identified by the department or agency that issued the challenge statement.
  • Be prepared to describe the benefits to Canada that could result from the successful development of your solution, with a focus on three types of benefits: Economic Benefits, Innovation Benefits, Public Benefits.

Economic Benefits: Consider the proposed solution's potential impact on the growth of your firm but other firms in Canada more broadly. This could include the development of new clusters and supply chains. Consideration should be given to the number of jobs created, number of high-paying jobs, project-related revenue growth, etc.

Innovation Benefits: Consider the proposed solution's expected contribution towards the enhancement or development of new industrial or technological innovation within your firm. For example, potential spillover benefits, creation of intellectual property, impact on productivity of the new technology, etc.

Public Benefits: Consider the proposed solution's expected contribution to the broader Canadian public, including but not limited to inclusive business and hiring practices (e.g., gender balance), investment in skills and training and the environment.

Management and technological capability

  • Please be prepared to identify the work plan for Phase 1 including key milestones and activities anticipated, the total time foreseen to complete Phase 1 (not more than 6 months), resources required to complete the project and the key success criteria.
  • Be prepared to identify the potential project risks (e.g., financial, project management, human resources, etc.) to the successful development of the solution and how those risks would be managed in Phase 1.
  • Be prepared to provide a brief description of the project implementation team including specific members, partners, their roles and responsibilities, and how their expertise is relevant to the project. The team members must include a Project lead.
  • Be prepared to describe what your business is doing to encourage greater inclusivity in its innovation activities. One of the objectives of the program is to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups (e.g., women, Indigenous people, youth, persons with disabilities, visible minorities) in the innovation economy.

Financial capability

  • Please be prepared to provide a financial proposal for R&D in Phase 1. Be sure to check the details of each challenge posting which will indicate the maximum funding available for Phase 1 as well as any eligible or ineligible costs.
  • In addition, please be prepared to provide information on funding received from other orders of government (i.e., federal, provincial and municipal) for the same work being proposed in your application or submission.
  • Please be prepared to describe the financial controls and oversight that your business has in place to manage public funds if selected to proceed into Phase 1.


  • Please be prepared to describe how you envision the commercialization of your solution and how potential risks or barriers to further commercialization would be mitigated.

Application guide

Questions and answers

Please visit Buy and Sell for all Questions and Answers related to this challenge.

Please visit Buy and Sell for all Questions and Answers related to the Call for Proposals.

If you have a question about a challenge, please send it to

You can also consult the Frequently asked questions about the Innovation Solutions Program.

A glossary is also available.

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