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SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation C4i-Enabling Tactical Intercom Solutions for Modern Military Platforms The Technical and Operational Effectiveness of Next-Generation Tactical Intercom Communication Systems Tactical Military Communications – an Evolving Landscape Making Tactical Communications Fighting Fit for the 21st Century Developing the Next Generation of C4i Communications Equipment C4i Communications and the Future

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


• • • •


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation C4i-Enabling Tactical Intercom Solutions for Modern Military Platforms The Technical and Operational Effectiveness of Next-Generation Tactical Intercom Communication Systems Tactical Military Communications – an Evolving Landscape

Contents

Making Tactical Communications Fighting Fit for the 21st Century Developing the Next Generation of C4i Communications Equipment C4i Communications and the Future

Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

The Technical and Operational Effectiveness of Next- 3 Generation Tactical Intercom Communication Systems Mikael Westerlund, CTO, Savox Communications

Introduction

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Tom Cropper Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles. Cover image: Finnish Navy’s new U700-class amphibious assault craft, Watercat M18 AMC. Savox received a contract in 2014 to supply and install IMP systems aboard 12 of these vessels, which are being delivered to the Finnish Navy’s Marine Infantry troops by Marine Alutech during the 2014-2016 timeframe. (Photo: Rolls Royce).

© 2016. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Operational Effectiveness Operational Resilience Space Matters Tight Fit Ergonomics The Marine Environment The Savox IMP® and IMP-CH Systems – A Solid Pedigree Innovative Technology Commercial Successes – IMP in Use

Tactical Military Communications – 8 an Evolving Landscape Tom Cropper, Editor

The Key to Success Catching up with Consumers Technology and a Changing Military

Making Tactical Communications Fighting Fit 10 for the 21st Century Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Past Failures Compatibility Issues

Developing the Next Generation of C4i Communications Equipment

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James Butler, Staff Writer

A Revolution in Communication Major Demands

C4i Communications and the Future

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Tom Cropper, Editor

The Technology Gap Creating a Network The Power of SMEs A New Approach

References 16

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NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

Foreword A

S EVERY good business leader knows,

a gap between what we can do in day to day life with

communication is one of their most vital

our smartphones and how the military works. Closing

tools. In the military world it’s increasingly being

this gap is a key focus of the modern military.

seen as a key weapon for the future of modern

Jo Roth will then look into the long, winding and

warfare. Their search for an effective tactical

sometimes tortuous road the military has taken in

communication system has been long and not

upgrading their communications. Past failures lead

without its setbacks. The trouble has not been the

to caution among procurement divisions. However,

available technological innovation, but taking it all

new thinking is helping to produce a new generation

and making it workable for the battlefield.

of intercom systems ideal for the 21st century.

In our opening article, Mikael Westerlund, CTO of

James Butler then looks more closely at the latest

Savox Communications, outlines the key factors which

economic and technological trends informing the

will determine how effective communications can be,

development of the next generation of C4i enabling

including battle resilience, connectivity and size. New

telecom systems, before we take a look into the future.

products such as their IMP tactical communications

The military is pinning its hopes on creative thinking

system are radically changing the way armies operate.

and the delivery of fast smartphone technology to

We then look more closely at just how important this

create an efficient, secure communications network

new technology can be. History is strewn with stories

for the future. This, it hopes, will improve operational

of military disasters caused by poor communications.

efficiency and, more importantly, save lives.

Today, more than ever before, the technology is available to spur dramatic improvements in tactical communications capabilities. Even so, there remains

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.

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NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

The Technical and Operational Effectiveness of Next-Generation Tactical Intercom Communication Systems Mikael Westerlund, CTO, Savox Communications

WATERCAT M18 AMC EQUIPPED WITH IMP Savox received a contract in 2014 to supply and install IMP systems aboard the Finnish Navy’s new U700-class amphibious assault craft, Watercat M18 AMC, 12 of which are being delivered to the Finnish Navy’s Marine Infantry troops by Marine Alutech during the 2014-2016 timeframe. The Savox IMP system will enhance the interoperability of radios, communication amongst the crew and passengers of these assault craft in all operating environments and mission types, providing a versatile, flexible and reliable communications tool for the user. Under the contract Savox has provided the onboard command and control system with intercom capabilities and radio interconnection to a number of commercial as well as Government Furnished Radios and is also providing total life-cycle support and spare parts for these systems.

Introduction In almost every conceivable operational scenario in today’s uncertain world, individual military and security combatants need to be connected. They need to be networked effectively with colleagues, vehicles, supporting units and upper echelons, in order for the two-way exchange of critical tactical and situational information to take place. For this to happen, a versatile next-generation tactical intercom solution is needed, one that is capable of providing C3/C4I capabilities to individual operatives aboard any platform, on land, or at sea.

Operational Effectiveness Intercom systems have been around for a long time, keeping crew and commanders aboard tanks and self-propelled guns, armoured personnel carriers and armoured recon vehicles in

touch with each other at all times. They also have enabled the commander to switch to the tactical combat net beyond the vehicle, too. But it’s not only armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) that need a sophisticated tactical intercom C3 system to deliver an improved level of both intra- and extravehicular command, control and communications. B-vehicles of every description, whether ammunition resupply wagons, towed-artillery limbers, tank transporters, or jeeps, all need a C3/C4I solution. Maritime platforms, too, from the smallest, fastest rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RIBs) right up to littoral patrol craft and larger deep sea vessels have the same requirement – in almost every conceivable scenario, they all need a C3 system that connects the man to the platform and the platform to the battlefield. And with the dynamics in today’s theatres of combat involving more sophisticated weaponry, sensors, WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

One of the most important factors to consider in a new tactical intercom installation is the battle damage resilience of the system

DISMOUNTED TROOPS ABOUT TO RE-MOUNT THEIR IFV Onboard an IMP-installed vehicle, each crew member has their own wearable PCU, rather than a platform-mounted central control unit. Each PCU is a lightweight, ergonomic device and, aided by voice menu prompts, gives each man full connectivity into the onboard IMP network and instant access to communications both inside the vehicle, as well as into the wider external radio network.

electronics and communications systems than ever before, greater demands are placed on every soldier. This makes it imperative for everyone – crew and commander alike – to be able to rely on a C3/C4I-enabling solution that not only keeps them up to date with what’s going on around them, but enables each man to feedback real-time info on the tactical situation through the tactical combat net, if required.

Operational Resilience One of the most important factors to consider in a new tactical intercom installation is the battle damage resilience of the system. This is the ability of the installation and equipment to withstand technical malfunction and battleinflicted damage and remain operational. Its system architecture is one of the key defining factors that will determine the level of battle damage resilience the system displays, something that must be designed into it from the start; it can’t be added as an afterthought. In the past, vehicle intercom systems have typically relied on a master control unit installed somewhere on the platform. Communications and all data functionality is disseminated from this centralised unit to different crew stations installed elsewhere on the vehicle, or boat, each of which has its own user controls to select radio access, VOX and other features. The drawback with such a ‘star’ configuration is that, should the master control unit fail, or suffer combat damage, then the whole C3/C4I installation will fail and be ineffective. To improve the battle damage resilience of an onboard system, getting away from a master control unit makes sense. Providing the crew with a solution that gives each of them their own personal control unit (PCU) with user-selectable 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

functions to control access to the platform’s radios and intercom makes greater sense. It allows each man to plug into a distributed onboard system via universal interface ports mounted at strategic points around the vehicle. Each becomes an independent, fully-functioning intercoms and radio unit in its own right, while at the same time operating co-operatively to form the platform’s overall communications infrastructure. If one module fails for whatever reason, or part of the distributed cable is cut at any point on the platform, the rest of the system will carry on working. This allows the platform to maintain its operational capability for as long as possible – a graceful rather than sudden degradation – and even if all but one operative have been neutralised by enemy fire, the one remaining combatant will still have C3/C4I capabilities via his own remaining personal communications unit.

Space Matters While AFVs will require larger tactical intercom installations, the cabs of B-vehicles such as Pinzgauer, MAN or Oshkosh support vehicles can be crowded places and practical installation and space constraints mean intercom systems need to be compact. That doesn’t mean a compact C3 system need be any less capable, in terms of functionality, than a larger suite installed aboard an AFV. Indeed, new compact systems, which combine the comprehensive capabilities of larger intercom/C3 systems, but housed inside much more compact physical designs, are now available. This is a breakthrough, considering that logistics fleets have long been neglected in this regard; but today as never before they need to be as connected as any other vehicle on the battlefield if they are to operate in an optimum way to support their A-vehicle counterparts.


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

THOR INSIDE PATRIA IFV As with core IMP modules, Universal Interface Ports (UIPs) and Universal Radio Ports (URPs) are both fundamental interfaces holding any IMP/IMP-CH network together and to which individual PCUs connect, so each mounted soldier is connected to the vehicle C3 network.

Tight Fit Ergonomics

The Marine Environment

In the cramped interior of a typical military vehicle, mounting options can often be difficult to find. The smaller a C3 system is and the fewer controls it has, therefore, the better. This can also have the additional benefit of making an installation easier and less costly. But the most important factor is the usability of the system by the crew, bearing in mind that what works on the drawing board may not necessarily work in reality. Not only does it have to be installed in the right place, but using the system must be easy and intuitive; controls must be simple to operate and within easy reach, especially under extreme conditions. Everything from the initial equipment design to mounting options must be aimed at reducing stress and crew fatigue, which, in turn, will improve overall operational and combat efficiency. It makes no sense if a soldier has to operate switches on a C3 box placed under a seat, or has a display that needs to be read but is at the wrong angle to be seen. This is where the PCU comes into its own and forms an integral part of new compact C3 system designs from certain vendors. These units sit on a soldier’s chest with all the controls needed readily accessible for switching between internal intercom and external tactical frequencies and offering at least two-radio access without a user having to switch from one piece of equipment to another. This allows users to monitor a frequency without actually being an active participant in any radio traffic. And while all these attributes have graced the turrets and real estate of AFVs and larger fighting vehicles for many years, the same functionality and sophistication, though in more compact physical and ergonomic form, is now available to equip the oft-neglected, B-vehicle community in the future.

When it comes to maritime vessels, from the smallest Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boats (RIBs) to the largest naval vessels, the scenarios in which these craft operate place exceptional demands on the kind of C3/C4I-capable solution needed aboard. On an RIB, for example, operating in extreme conditions of high speeds, high seas, water everywhere and often under cover of darkness, the commander needs an intercom system that allows him to communicate with all his team and interoperate with all of the tactical radios in use onboard. The system also needs to integrate with the increasing range of navigational and battle management systems often in use on such craft. As a result, the trend is towards adopting modular, advanced digital intercom systems, versatile and adaptable enough for installation and configuration in even the tightest RIB environment where space is always an issue. To some extent, most modern command and control systems on the market are modular, with some relying on a master control station module for system control and power, while user modules provide lesser functionality needed by the crew. Other systems, on the other hand, build full functionality into the individual modules, so that each is a fully capable C3/C4I unit, as long as it has power. The overall system architecture inside a platform can be expanded easily through the simple addition of more independent modules. Being software-defined is also a huge benefit of these new systems, enabling upgrades and modification without the need for expensive hardware changes. One further advantage of such intercom systems is that a greater number of users and tactical radio technologies – analogue, digital, fixed frequency and frequency-hopping – can be supported compared to systems with centralised architectures. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

The most important factor is the usability of the system by the crew, bearing in mind that what works on the drawing board may not necessarily work in reality

IMP UNIVERSAL INTERFACE PORT Aboard larger vessels such as coastguard cutters, IMP can be installed over several decks of the ship, with UIPs to which crew PCUs connect, each of which can perform as an independent sub-system.

The space constraints of an RIB can, however, narrow the choice of tactical intercom system further once the number of crew, their seating positions and their individual communications requirements to support their roles aboard, are considered. Some crew may only need intercom capabilities at their station. Others may need full intercom and C4I-connectivity to integrate with various onboard sensors and systems. Either way, the system installation needs to be physically achievable so that each man has the connectivity they need. Aboard larger naval vessels such as coastguard cutters, destroyers and even up to aircraft carriers, an effective new-generation tactical intercom C3/C4I-enabling system should be capable of delivering a multi-deck, resilient and flexible solution. It should be able to offer advanced digital features and functionality to suit the demanding and high-tech operational needs of even the largest maritime vessel, including interoperability with the multi-radio technologies typically found aboard advanced ships. That said, such a versatile system still needs to be easy to understand and use for all members of a crew.

The Savox IMP® and IMP-CH Systems – A Solid Pedigree Savox Communications has proven capabilities in the design, development, deployment and integration of onboard communication solutions for use in a wide range of land-based and maritime platforms. Its IMP, C4i-capable platform intercom system is a next-generation, lightweight, digital communications solution, which has been designed with many of the attributes described above, delivering the C3/ 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

C4I-enabling needs of AFVs with its intercom, radio and data transmission capabilities in one solution; IMP solutions have been adopted by a number of high-profile defence users around the world.

Innovative Technology At IMP’s core is a digital Ethernet backbone providing high-capacity voice and data throughout an installed platform, whether land vehicle or marine craft. This ensures that the IMP family of products remains fully compliant with the needs of customers for platform digitisation and meets all the concept requirements for effective ‘Network-Centric Warfare’. Onboard an IMP-installed vehicle, each crew member has their own wearable PCU, rather than a platform-mounted central control unit. Each PCU is a lightweight, ergonomic device and, aided by voice menu prompts, gives each man full connectivity into the onboard IMP network and instant access to communications both inside the vehicle, as well as into the wider external radio network. The soldier is effectively the communications interface. The PCU incorporates a headset connector and can be used with a variety of different Savox and 3rd-party headsets. Unlike other systems, the PCU has two external radio PTTs to enable the operation of multiple radios and instant access to two radio networks; it also has a menu switch and an intercom PTT, as well as an optional CNR/ NBC connection facility. For smaller installations such as B-vehicles and RIBs, Savox has developed a compact IMP, or IMP-CH. Both IMP and IMP-CH have been designed to integrate/interoperate with other


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

IMP-CH COMPACT INTERCOM SYSTEM Savox has standardised its IMP-CH compact intercom offering in a way that offers end users up to nine different variants of IMP-CH. As well as being suited to marmite platforms, through its versatile and compact format, IMP-CH has opened up full C3 connectivity on the battlefield to B-vehicle of all kinds, which previously had little or no means of onboard comms, or staying in contact with the AFVs they were meant to support.

onboard systems, such as Battle Management Systems, Navigation Systems, Engine Management and Video Systems. An IMP-CH installation will also use components already found in an IMP installation, including PCUs and speaker control units (SCUs). As with core IMP modules, Universal Interface Ports (UIPs) and Universal Radio Ports (URPs) are both fundamental interfaces holding any IMP/IMP-CH network together. Depending on what configuration of IMP-CH is required by any particular installation, one, two, or three UIPs and URPs can be provided. This highlights the different combinations and capabilities that can be achieved from a single IMP-CH module. The IMP Intercom solution has achieved stringent ISO 9001-2000 standards and meets a number of US DoD standards for use in harsh environmental and EMC-related conditions, as well as other MIL-STDs.

Commercial Successes – IMP in Use IMP has already been installed aboard maritime vessels, including RIBs and offshore multi-role craft with military units around the world. In one of its largest installations to date, aboard a coastguard cutter, IMP has been installed over all decks of the ship, with UIPs to which crew PCUs connect, each of which can perform as an

independent sub-system. The PCUs always stay with the same individuals as they move around the vessel or onto any of its tender boats. The specific configuration of the Savox IMP system on the vessel has a unique system-level design for ultimate battle resilience. It provides intercom voice and radio communications command and control capabilities, as well as a data conduit for high-speed data transfer (100Mbit/s). It can also deliver enhanced C4I capabilities, if needed. The PCUs incorporate a range of controls including radio and intercom PTT buttons, volume control and menu switch. The system also has a particularly small footprint onboard, which has made it easy to integrate into the ship’s design. On this particular vessel, the Savox system interoperates with up to 20 different types of analogue and digital commercial and military radio systems, including: maritime VHF, UHF, HF, TETRA, tactical military radios, SW and satcoms. In its most recent implementation, IMP has been chosen as the command and control system for a Minelayer Upgrade Programme. Factors about IMP, which secured the contract despite major competition, include IMP’s ease of integration and installation, and the ability to update, upgrade and expand the system through its software-defined design. Installation work is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

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NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

Tactical Military Communications – an Evolving Landscape Tom Cropper, Editor

Why improved communications are crucial to the future operational efficiency of the modern military force.

Even in this age of high speed information technology, age old problems such as the shape of the landscape can still hinder communications

D

URING THE First World War, the German General Erich Ludendorff remarked: “The English fight like lions,” to which his staff officer replied: “Yes, but they are led by donkeys1.” It’s an opinion that, to this day, typifies the view of the British force during the Great War. Of all their many faults, though, the biggest affecting poor military leaders tend to be poor communications.

The Key to Success Take the example of the 1915 amphibious invasion of Gallipoli. The British General, Sir Ian Hamilton, believed the best position to oversee the battle was from a command ship based offshore – not the worst choice one might have thought. But he chose a vantage point with little clear overview of the battle and with dreadfully poor communications to the shore. As a result, the soldiers on the beaches were left to face the chaotic situation more or less alone. More recently, a US army patrol in the Hindu Kush mountains found itself 100kms away from base with radio communications blocked by mountainous terrain2. With the mountains looking unclimbable, they had to hike to a location in range of a friendly radio retransmission station, which helped them set up a secure lifeline back to their base. It was only then that the patrol began to feel more comfortable. Both these examples show the crucial role communications can play in war, and that even in this age of high speed information technology, age old problems such as the shape of the landscape can still hinder communications. The goal of communications is also exactly the same as it ever has been – right back to the age of antiquity – to provide direct, clear and secure communication between army commanders and their troops on the ground. What has changed is the nature of warfare; the technical challenges of providing

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secure communication have evolved, and the available technology has improved. The goal of the modern military is to find a way to adapt to changing demands, to improve the efficiency, speed and reliability of communications, and find a way of adapting the latest mobile communications technology that most of us already take for granted.

Catching up with Consumers It is this third point which is perhaps the key to development. We live in a world of high speed communication – a place where a person can speak instantly with a friend living on the other side of the world. They can send text, images, audio and video straight away at the touch of a button. They can draw up instant information about their location and find maps to places they are looking to get to – all by checking their smartphones. Set against this, even the most advanced modern military machines often look as though they are stuck in the stone-age. Radio communications may have evolved considerably, but they are still lacking when it comes to the demands of modern warfare. For example, when speaking to Gizmodo, Doran Michels, Program Manager for DARPA’s Transformative Apps program, complained about the state of maps in the military. “It’s really strange,” he told the publication, “because in 2014, if you were to accompany, let’s say, a Marine patrol on a really scary, highly complex mission, they’re going to have paper maps, pencils, acetate, transparencies with magic markers [for] ‘John Madden drawings.’3 John Madden, for those who don’t know, is the American Sports commentator famed for drawing complex diagrams over TV Football replays. In other words, soldiers are using map reading technology which would not have been entirely unfamiliar to soldiers in the Second World War.


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

A FINNISH COASTAL JAEGER (THE AMPHIBIOUS ARM OF THE FINNISH NAVY) WEARING A SAVOX IMP HEADSET CONNECTED TO HIS IMP PERSONAL CONTROL UNIT (PCU), WHICH IS A LIGHTWEIGHT AND ERGONOMIC VOICEPROMPTED UNIT PROVIDING CONTROL OF INTERCOM FUNCTIONS AND INSTANT ACCESS TO TWO TACTICAL RADIOS.

Technology and a Changing Military Given the changing nature of modern warfare, it’s understandable that the army wants to close the gap between the kind of mobile communications a solder might experience in the civilian world and those that he might use in the battlefields. Today’s military is more mobile, more connected, working across longer distances, operating more remotely and facing a very different enemy. The days of two relatively modern armies facing one another are in the past. Today’s warfare is conducted against small cells of terrorists – groups of people hidden in the shadows. It’s a much more secretive and slippery enemy to handle. Furthermore, the appetite of major powers for boots on the ground is diminishing. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the move is towards interventions based on air power and remote drone attacks such as we’ve seen in Libya and Syria. This more complex type of warfare increases the need for a sophisticated support system. Strategic communications must deliver instant up-to-date information, graphics or video content and if possible, local information. It needs a secure core communications system capable of working on land, sea and air and connecting troops on the ground with leaders at base and in other locations.

This need has driven the emergence – over the past few years – of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology which has become a standard around the world. This enables the move from a system based on command and control (C2) to Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4i). The result is communications which are faster, more secure, standardised and provide commanders with more real-time information from multiple locations. It means a network which can connect troops with a number of locations, enhancing the range of support services which can be delivered to troops on the ground. The arrival of this technology is heralding a significant increase in the capabilities and operational effectiveness of the modern military machine. Even so, there is much work to be done. Existing technology must be adapted from the consumer world for use in the hostile environment of the battlefield. New technology will also have to be adaptable to existing systems. The military has a tendency to veer towards legacy operational systems, which can make integrating new functionalities challenging. Overcoming these barriers will be critical to the success of developers in ensuring new technologies work in the real world.

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NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

Making Tactical Communications Fighting Fit for the 21st Century Jo Roth, Staff Writer

How the military’s long search for a communications system suitable for modern military needs is finally coming to an end.

The Chowkay Valley incident, and others like it, reveals the limitations of many traditional tactical communications tools

I

N 2010, with relatively little fanfare, the US Government quietly dropped the bulk of its much vaunted Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) project. Despite billions having been spent over the years, the results had been bitterly disappointing leading some to ask whether the military would ever manage to develop a tactical communications capability. Now, though, fresh technology is coming to market, which, finally, is starting to realise the revolutionary improvements the army needs.

Past Failures The failure of the JTRS was a major blow. Nicknamed appropriately Jitters, the aim was to replace the army’s existing radio capabilities with software defined radios which could swiftly upload new frequencies instead of requiring multiple radio types embedded within military vehicles. The concept was sound, but the end product was disappointing. Costs overran. The program managed to burn through $6billion4 without producing much in the way of workable hardware. That which it did produce was poor and the army had to spend $11 billion5 on out-of-date radio systems, just to be ready for the Iraq and Afghan wars. It has been far from an isolated incident. Indeed, a look at the history of US development in this area has been one of consistent failure. A study by Harvard Business School found that “major defense programs still require more than 15 years to deliver less capability than planned, often at two to three times the planned cost.”6 A 2010 report noted that the army spends more than a billion dollars annually on projects which are ultimately cancelled . Part of the difficulty has been the immense technical challenges involved. Creating a large and secure data network is a major challenge. Maintaining wireless communication in the many 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

different hostile environments that armed forces may encounter is also a major undertaking. For example, in an urban environment, transmission signals can easily be blocked or interrupted by buildings. Mountainous terrain can also block radio signals.

Compatibility Issues Furthermore, compatibility is a major challenge. Any unit would have to be suitable to a range of different functions. This can be challenging as the size and design of radios often depends on the tasks they will be undertaking. For example, a radio for broadcasting to a distant headquarters will have to be large enough to accommodate a large antenna. This may compromise storage and mobility. The task for finding one system suitable for all eventualities is daunting. It is, though, a goal the military is determined to realise – it has to. The consequences of inadequate equipment can be severe. In 2010, soldiers from US Army Taskforce Rock found themselves ambushed by Taliban fighters as they drove into Afghanistan’s Chowkay Valley. Their mission was to support a reconstruction team as it met with local village leaders, but they were unable to move from their position. The problem was their radios. They had several different units for different tasks; for talking with the reconstruction team they had short range models while for headquarters 25 miles away they had longer range models and a back-up satellite radio in case the mountains blocked their transmissions. Another air force controller, meanwhile, carried his own radio to talk with jet fighters overhead and yet another radio downloaded video from the aircraft overhead. What’s more, some only worked while soldiers were stationary and others were too cumbersome to operate on the move!


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

SAVOX IMP OFFERS A LIGHTWEIGHT ETHERNET BASED DIGITAL SOLUTION WHERE THE MAN IS THE COMMUNICATION INTERFACE. CONFIGURABLE AND SCALABLE THE SYSTEM CAN BE CONFIGURED FOR SMALL CREWS ON RIBS, OR INSTALLED IN A MULTI-DECK ARCHITECTURE ABOARD LARGE VESSELS.

The Chowkay Valley incident, and others like it, reveals the limitations of many traditional tactical communications tools. Increasingly the equipment at forces’ disposal appears inadequate for the demands of modern warfare. These demands are evolving rapidly. The enemy is changing – more often than not it is no longer a case of state versus state. Instead the enemy is likely to be a small terrorist cell, dangerous and elusive. The nature of warfare is changing – units are likely to travel further and over larger distances. The move towards air warfare as opposed to boots on the ground intervention also increases the need for multiple fighting forces including air crew, navy, command centres and any ground personnel to have access to the same information at the touch of a button. The military is having some success in delivering. Recent years have seen VoIP based technologies help armies move towards integrated, secure and resilient communications systems capable of delivering C4i capabilities. Different vehicles and units can be connected seamlessly by the same single communications. Commanders receive better information faster,

which also allows them to issue more effective orders more quickly. Much of this has been made possible by adopting the characteristics of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). By doing so, the military can leverage the huge reserve of technological innovation and talent which exists within the wider commercial marketplace and transform that for use on the battlefield. Doing so is no mean feat. Units will need to be packaged within rugged casings capable of withstanding the worst that the hostile combat environment can throw at it. Systems’ architecture needs to be more resilient to battle damage and be capable of continuing to function even when equipment has been compromised. Data networks will be crucial in facilitating a more connected and mobile communications architecture, but all these will be vulnerable to hacking attacks. Creating networks which are entirely secure is crucial to the success of the entire system. The challenges are severe, and they have not been fully overcome by any means. However, technology is coming to market which is turning the dream of a modern communications network into a reality.

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Developing the Next Generation of C4i Communications Equipment James Butler, Staff Writer

Why the next generation of C4i enabled communications systems are becoming so important to militaries around the world.

The 2015 budget announced cuts of 1.5% to overall military spending, much of which could be borne by equipment manufacturers

T

OUGH ECONOMIC times force companies and organisations of all sizes to make important decisions and focus on what is truly important to their strategy. This is the challenge facing most of the world’s largest military powers. Since the economic crisis of 2008, money has been tight – in Europe and the US, budgets have been in decline forcing the military to be more sparing in what it buys. At the same time, it still needs to invest in creating a modern, effective military machine capable of coping with the new demands of global security. C4i has become one of the core focuses of military leaders. Recent figures from Forecast International suggest the C4i market could grow from $8.186bn in 2016 to $8.678bn in 20178. Afterwards, the market is likely to undergo a slight decline up to 2025, attributable in part, to a number of large scale projects being completed. Any growth the market does experience in coming years will be all the more notable given the wider backdrop of austerity in which it is working. For the most part, countries in the Western NATO alliance are cutting back on military spending. The UK is one of the few still publically committed to the goal of spending 2% of GDP on the military. Even so, its armed forces have been undergoing a prolonged period of contraction. The 2015 budget announced cuts of 1.5% to overall military spending, much of which could be borne by equipment manufacturers9. Although the UK has now promised to maintain its NATO commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defence, uncertainty remains over what form funding will take. Procurement divisions remain highly cautious. In the US the situation is, if anything, even tighter. In 2015, Congress reached a deal to strike $5billion10 from the defence budget.

12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

A Revolution in Communication Despite all this, investment in C4i continues. In 2012, the Royal Thai Airforce became the largest operational IP network communication system in the world. It consists of 20 operational sites scattered across the country, all of which are linked via an IP network to provide a system of systems solution. It allows every site in the country to work together in a single, large system. In the UK, the Bowman Communications system provides integrated digital voice and data technology to give secure communications over radio, telecom and tactical internet systems. This represents a step change over the previous Clansman family of radios in terms of security, reliability and resilience against electronic attack. However, the market is moving rapidly. No sooner do IP solutions appear on the scene than they are being upgraded and replaced. In 2015, for example, the MOD invited academics and businesses to help them find an upgrade for the Bowman. Increasing numbers of armies are moving from IP version 4 to IP version 611 to bring the latest technology to bear on their systems. The first wave of IP communications systems may have represented a step up from previous offerings, but they do have significant shortcomings. New technology is also coming online which offers superior performance. The most notable is the challenge of adapting new technology to the needs of the modern army. The military holds onto legacy equipment, which means new products require further interfacing to ensure compatibility with existing equipment and wavelengths as well as other technologies. Current products coming to market, therefore, are moving towards open standards which can connect with a range of equipment.


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

An example of what the future holds can be seen with the IMP intercom system recently supplied by Savox to a customer in the Middle East. It is a lightweight, compact, digital communications platform which can support radio and data transmissions within one system across a range of land based vehicles and some maritime vessels. Each individual soldier wears a personal communications unit providing full connectivity into the IMP network. This allows instant communications both inside and outside the vehicle.

Major Demands The solution epitomises the major demands of any current system offering: •R  esilience: All systems must be resilient to battle damage. A traditional package reliant on a master control system will be vulnerable if that control system is damaged or destroyed. Giving soldiers their own personalised control unit means they continue to have access to the network even if others are taken out. •S  mall Footprint: As units become more mobile, the same technological capabilities (or

better) within a smaller package are increasingly being looked for. New products are now coming to market which offer this function. •S  nug fit: The ability to fit tightly into different vehicles will be important in maintaining effectiveness across a range of systems. •F  lexibility: The system has been designed to interlink with a range of wavelength types and different communications technologies, allowing it to be incorporated into existing systems. The success of systems such as this has opened up a range of new options for militaries. It has allowed faster communications between command and soldiers on the ground providing quicker, better decisions. It offers connectivity across the full range of vehicles, and helps a unit as a whole become more flexible and mobile. It is a technology borne out of the ingenuity of smaller companies who offer the adaptability and nimbleness to react to the demands of their clients on a timelier basis. It is this approach which could help the military finally solve the problem of securing the perfect radio system.

WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

C4i Communications and the Future Tom Cropper, Editor

How militaries around the world are having to update their thinking to adapt the best consumer technology for the battlefield.

A key challenge will be to close the gap between the technology consumers take for granted in everyday life and what’s available on the battlefield

THE SAVOX IMP HAS ALREADY BEEN INSTALLED ABOARD MARITIME VESSELS WITH MILITARY UNITS AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING ABOARD RIBS, OFFSHORE MULTI-ROLE CRAFT AND A COASTGUARD CUTTER. PICTURED: A FINNISH MARINE COASTAL JAEGER WEARING A SAVOX HEADSET CONNECTED TO HIS IMP PCU.

C

4I COMMUNICATION technology is evolving quickly and, if a glance at the pace of technology elsewhere is anything to go by, the coming years and decades will see that pace pick up very rapidly. Current products have precious little time before they go from being cutting edge to obsolete. Military requirements are also changing as we adapt to a new type of warfare. For those companies developing the next generation of equipment, therefore, the challenge is to provide a definite upgrade on existing equipment, while also second guessing what the future might bring.

The Technology Gap A key challenge will be to close the gap between the technology consumers take for granted in everyday life and what’s available on the battlefield. That gap is currently considerable. While a soldier might be used to using his iPhone or Android device at home, when it comes to the theatre of war he or she will still be working with bulky radios and paper maps. If the army can take smartphone technology and use it to connect 14 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

military units, the results could be transformative. This is the idea behind DARPA’s Transformative Apps program12. The aim is to bring together a small but nimble team of technical developers to create a military apps store similar to the kind we might be used to on our smartphones. These can be used with the growing range of rugged smartphones, such as the Samsung S6 Active, which has been specifically designed to pass military specification testing. Devices such as this can perform a range of functions including command and control, disaster recovery, reporting, mission planning and intelligence. Features can include map viewing, time services, data synch, speech recognition, information assurance and peer to peer services. The rugged devices market is growing13, with developers working hard to remodel some of their most famous brands for use in hostile environments including the military. In addition, the army is turning to other exciting projects such as Google’s Modular Smartphone. Developed with Motorola via Project Ara, the idea is to create a puzzle piece phone for less


NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

than $50. In the same way as tech companies have moved towards open sourced software, this aims to do the same thing for hardware. It allows developers to play to their strengths. They could produce a camera here, or a GPS module there. Users will be able to build their own entirely personalised phone – one which has as much or as little functionality as they want, and for a more reasonable price. This modular functionality and the ability to change specifications on the move could prove crucial for military personnel. Compared to a Samsung Note, for example, this is much easier to connect with external hardware, and could provide the flexible option the army is looking for.

Creating a Network However, in many ways the biggest obstacle lies not with the devices themselves, but with the network they connect to. It’s all very well providing the army with Samsung’s latest top of the range smartphone, but if it can’t connect to the network, then all you have is an extremely expensive calculator. The solution is for the army to create their own network and carry it with them – which is precisely what the Warfighter Information Network aims to do. WIN-T, as it is called, will enable commanders to keep in touch via voice video and data and communicate with mobile strike-forces wherever in the battlefield they might be – as long as they are tapped into the army’s network. It consists of infrastructure and network components which relay satellite and terrestrial signals between command and the soldiers on the ground.

The Power of SMEs This technology has undoubted promise, but there are problems. Projects such as these have been around for years, but all too often they fail to come to fruition. The military’s track record – especially in the US – of taking innovative technology from concept to application is patchy at best. To improve their record, they are starting to open up their tender process beyond the usual defence contractors. DARPA’s Transformative Apps program, for example, takes a leaf out of the books of small and medium enterprises. Instead of a slow, bulky and bureaucratic system, they opt for the light, nimble and innovative approach of a small tech start-up. The result is a faster turnaround in getting ideas from the drawing board to reality.

In the UK, the MOD is also turning to SMEs to drive forward new communications technologies as it seeks to replace its Bowman Tactical Communications System. Dubbed Morpheus14, this project aims to consider and develop options to replace the aging Bowman system with something which can address the future requirements of the army, navy and air-force. By doing so they are looking to tap into existing research and development taking place in the commercial world. In opening up this process to academics and businesses (especially SMEs) the MOD hopes to better tap the available technology. “The key here is to examine all the potential options out there to identify the most operationally effective and cost-effective solutions,” said QinetiQ Morpheus project lead Rick Mather “We know there are lots of really exciting technology and security SMEs, as well as academics, doing exactly the kind of research and innovation this project needs. We also know a lot of them think that these kinds of contracts always go to the same old defence companies. “That’s not the case here, we’re really open to innovative, and even unusual solutions to ensure that the final options are the best possible.”

A New Approach This more dynamic approach will go a long way towards delivering the technology of the future that the armed forces demand. By drawing on the technological developments happening elsewhere in business – especially in the mobile SME space – the army can tap into a huge amount of innovation and talent. It can take existing technology and repurpose it for military use. As this article and others in this report have already demonstrated, doing so successfully will be challenging and there is much which still needs to be done including designing technology for use in hostile environments, addressing network security issues, and ensuring compatibility with existing infrastructure. The economic situation will also be an issue. More than most, the military will continue to be influenced by the fortunes of the wider global economy. The more that situation remains uncertain, the more militaries will be forced to focus on short term thinking. Even so, communications remains a priority and investment in the next generation of communication systems will remain strong for the foreseeable future.

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NEXT GENERATION C4I-ENABLING TACTICAL INTERCOM SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY PLATFORMS

References:

Lions Led by Donkeys: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lions_led_by_donkeys

1

2

A Big Mesh: Military Tactics and the Future of Mobile Communications:

http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/news/military-tactics-and-the-future-of-mobile-communications/

3

Soldiers Describe how DARPA Smartphones Save Lives:

http://gizmodo.com/soldiers-describe-how-darpa-smartphones-save-lives-in-b-1626669065 4

How to Blow $6bn: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/06/how-to-blow-6-billion-on-a-tech-project/

5

Failure to Communicate: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2012/01/10/7816/failure-communicate-inside-armys-doomed-quest-perfect-radio

6

Can Decades of Overspending be Fixed? http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/can-decades-of-military-overspending-be-fixed

Reform of the Defense Acquisition Programme: http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Schwartz_04-30-14.pdf

8

C4i: A 68 Billion Ten Year Market: http://blog.forecastinternational.com/wordpress/c4i-a-68-billion-10-year-market/

9

UK Cuts Defence Spending by 1.5%:

7

10

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/budget/2015/06/04/uk-defense-spending-cuts-2015-budget-equipment-exchequer-debt-retreat-world-affairs/28479473/

Congress Reaches Deal to Cut $5bn from Defense Budget:

http://www.stripes.com/news/congress-reaches-deal-to-cut-5-billion-from-defense-budget-1.376792 11

The Rise of IP V 6: http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/digital/pdf/articles/2015-Mar-Apr/F-Pano.pdf

12

DARPA to Create App Store of Mobile Military Apps: http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2013/04/DARPA-Transformative-Apps.html

13

The Rise of Rugged Enterprise Smartphone:

http://blog.vdcresearch.com/mobile_and_wireless/2015/09/the-rise-of-the-rugged-enterprise-smartphone.html 14

Morpheus MOD Briefing: https://www.contracts.mod.uk/announcements/morpheus-sme-industry-briefing/

16 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


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Defence Industry Report – Next Generation C4i-Enabling Tactical Intercom Solutions - Modern Military  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation C4i-Enabling Tactical Intercom Solutions for Modern Military Platforms - Savox Corporat...

Defence Industry Report – Next Generation C4i-Enabling Tactical Intercom Solutions - Modern Military  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation C4i-Enabling Tactical Intercom Solutions for Modern Military Platforms - Savox Corporat...