From left: MWO R.M. Boucher, Maj R.D. Bailey, LCol E.M. Hatt, WO L.T. Hampden Lt(N) A.S. Vaters, PO1 D.A. Collicutt.

Ex NOBLE SKYWAVE – amplifying the Global Communications Network

By Captain Mark Bailey,
36 Signal Regiment

Pte Elliot adjusts a High Frequency Near Vertical Incident Sky wave Antenna.

Communications and Electronics Branch members from 36 Signal Regiment, 12 Operation Support System Telecommunication Flight, and Joint Deployable Communications Section (JCDS) came together for the annual Exercise NOBLE SKYWAVE competition held October 28-29, 2020. The exercise is a Canadian-led international civilian and military High Frequency (HF) radio skill competition. The first iteration was organized by Capt R.D. Clow of Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) Group in Ottawa and held during Communication and Electronics [Branch] week in October 2013, during Princess Anne’s Visit to Canada. Since then it has become the most prestigious military led HF radio competition in the world with a total of 119 teams who competed this year.

Cpl Caleb Hastey from 36 Signal Regiment, had this to say. “With most radio like Very High Frequency Radio it just goes in a straight line and you can’t make contact over the horizon.  With HF radio, also known as High Frequency Radio, will bounce off the water or ground in the atmosphere allowing us to reach places like Florida, Arizona and the United Kingdom. The Regular Force Navy members, work with HF a lot more than we do.  So, our ability to learn from them, on HF as well as on the actual radios, is great.”

HF radio is a reliable and cost effective means of passing voice communications and limited data around the globe due to the unique way that HF radio signals interact with our ionosphere. It is for this reason that HF is an indispensable capability for the Canadian Armed Forces during military operations and domestic emergencies. HF communication networks can be quickly created between civilian and domestic partners to establish vital command and control, and for coordination with partner agencies.

For this reason 36 Signal Regiment, who is the Signal Support for this year’s Immediate Response Unit in the Atlantic Area, reached out to Maj R.D. Bailey Officer Commanding 12 Operational Support Squadron Telecommunications Flight and PO1 D.A. Collicutt, Senior Naval Communicator for JCDS to establish key partnerships and share HF radio expertise within the Atlantic Area.

Each organization provided key planning staff in the weeks leading up to the event to establish the lines of effort, secure facilities, and test equipment. These are the crucial activities which must be performed during domestic operation, such as Operation LENTUS for Hurricane Dorian, and enhancing these partnerships was the primary goal for the joint team during Ex NOBLE SKYWAVE 2020. While the teams were highly competitive during the event this combined team of Regular Force and Primary Reserve soldiers, sailors, and aviators demonstrated the Atlantic Area commitment to remaining strong, proud and ready.