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TACTICAL C4I IN THE ASIA PACIFIC

Posted on 01 October 2012

GIS Special

Pushing secure voice and data communications down to situational awareness and command and control (C2) applications in a tactical environment poses particular problems for C4I systems. The benefits that accrue for these systems are undeniable; enhanced awareness of the battlespace both of friendly ‘blue forces’ and an up to date picture of enemy ‘red’ activity continues to be considered the most effective force multiplier on the battlefield today.

by Adam Baddeley

However, the complex terrain in which the platforms they equip fight, the necessity of tight integration of equipment on legacy platforms previously designed only for basic intercom and Combat Net Radio (CNR) based analogue voice as well training troops with the new equipment continue to challenge even the most advanced militaries. Combined with the more mundane but equally important issue of funding, the acquisition of large numbers of systems necessary to populate the high numbers of nodes on the tactical edge and it quickly becomes apparent that Tactical C4I is one of the biggest challenges facing militaries today.

Despite the issues, militaries in the Asia-Pacific are rising to the challenge, seeking both domestic and overseas solutions to the problems.

 

India

With India’s Tactical Communications Systems (TCS) moving on to its next phase of activity, the next big program will be the Army’s Battle Management System (BMS) program. The next phase is an EoI (Expressions of Interest) due to be issued in 2012 which at the time of DEFEXPO was not expected to be issued before October.

India's TCS, still in competition will be a key bearer for the Army's BMS programme © AJB

Final industry partnerships will be arranged after any award however a number of firms have developed contacts in the meantime. Punj Lloyd for example had relationship with Northrop Grumman, showing its iBMS family, BEL and others each have their own “Indigenous BMS”. Tata for example has links with Raytheon and Harris for radios but seem to have developed their own BMS software solution. Rolta has worked in the BMS field with Cobham’s BattleHawk Vehicle System and Rheinmetall’s Iniochos BMS.

Under previous plans, BMS was to have delivered a Combat Group and three battalion’s worth of equipment in a test bed by 2012. This is now expected by 2015 at the earliest. In late 2011 the Defence Acquisition Council approved BMS as a Make India program. This prompted an integrated project management study which is due for completion by late 2012/early 2013. It is said that the program cannot go ahead without this being completed.

The expected strategy is for the Ministry of Defence to down select to one DPSU and one private company for the Request for Proposals. A response to the BMS EOI would be expected, four months from that point.

If an EOI is issued in 2013 then an award of Phase 1 and delivery of a test bed might be expected by about 2016. Phase 1 is valued at Rs.35,000,000. At DEFEXPO industry comments suggested that the pilot program would cover between 500-1200 ‘nodes’. This would be followed by the wider fielding of BMS from 2017-21 and then an upgrade taking place under Phase 3 in 2022-2026. Total costs for BMS begins at Rs.2,300,000,000 and could rise to up to four times that.

Elements of BEL's BMS capability shown at DEFEXPO this year © AJB

At higher levels is India’s higher level CIDSS (Combined Information & Decision Support System) program, sometimes known as Project Samvahak. Phase I Stage 1 was to have equipped a Corps HQ, one division HQ, three brigade HQs and nine battalion HQs. However the failure of TCS to appear which is its key bearer, has lead to a limited set of tests which is where it has largely stuck. Under plans for Stage 2 a full Strike Corps was to have been equipped. Phase II would have extended fielding to non teeth arms in that Corps, integration with other Tactical C4I elements. This work is understood to be still being undertaken by BEL but at a slow pace. When this is complete and TCS is fielded and if existing plans are anything to go by, the Army plans to equip another 13 Corps with CIDDS over a period of seven years. This is referred to as Phase III.

The Army level TAC C3I also has strong inter-service links. The system comprises the CIDSS, Battlefield Surveillance system (BSS), Artillery Command, Control Communications System (ACCS), Air Defence Command and Reporting System (ADC&RS) and BMS program. Other programs covered include EW and ELINT. There is a further high level system the Army Strategic Operational Information Dissemination System (ASTEROIDS) which links Corps to Army HQ.

 

Singapore

ST Electronics Info-Software Systems had a number of their future C2 capabilities on show at Singapore Air show. The capabilities were based around three key capabilities; Smart Data Management, SAINT or Smart Analytics with Insights for Tomorrow which collectively seek to pre-empt problems before they arise. ST Electronics has also shown a complete vehicle architecture and BMS built around the Info-Comm Systems Supernet ST6800 intercomms, the Ceteon Vehicular computer 520 and 920 as well as an in-house BMS solution. The latest BMS deployment for Singapore is on its Singapore Technologies Kinetics Terrex 8×8 infantry carrier vehicle (ICV). The on-board BMS is synchronized with the dismounted systems on the Advanced Combat Man System (ACMS) soldier system.

 

Malaysia

Malaysia’s Sapura has just begun Phase 1A of the country’s Network Centric Operations (NCO) contract which will look at integrating existing C4I systems. Phase 1A will complete in early 2014 with Phase 1B envisaged as being a more

Thales is a key BMS suppliers for Malaysia's next generation AFV fleet © AJB

comprehensive program in which new capabilities will be added such as a new BMS.

Sapura have recently been awarded a Ringitt 130-150m (£25-30m) contract for Phase 1 A of the Network Centric Operations program with the Letter of Acceptance has been signed by the time of DSA. Modest funds allocated to buy hardware in this phase with the main task in this phase being to establishing a plan to develop future capabilities. It is a two year contract combining a study and limited implementation of how to integrate existing C4I program together. Sapura will primarily work with the Malaysian Army’s Mechanized Brigade.

There may be a role for a foreign partner but it is assumed that Thales will be a leading contender based upon its Sapura Thales joint venture. The follow on Phase 1B is of an indeterminate length but three to five years is seen as likely. No capabilities have been set for this but is implied that a BMS and maybe Sakti, its future soldier program will be included. Sapura Thales electronics have prepared versions of the PR4G F@stnet and TRC-4000 with local crypto and other undisclosed changes but this is also seen as likely to be part of 1B. The Sagem BMS in the PT91 is not expected to be included with some in industry seeing this has linked to EMC issues.

There is also a similar ‘Police C4I’ program but this is unfunded until after the election although others suggest that some funding could be brought forward for an early implementation in Malaysia’s highly industrialized Klang Valley.

At a high level, Systems Consultancy Services (SCS) provide the joint C2 picture via its PX2000 system with the company developing enhancements for integration with tactical systems although these have yet to be funded. Sapura have previously offered the MAF an unsolicited alternative to the PX2000.

Thales is providing its Open Information Communication System (OICS) vehicle electronic architecture on Malaysia future  AV8 8×8 AFV project covering  257 vehicles in 12 different variants and is due to enter service in 2013. OICS is tasked with information exchange within and without the vehicle, providing a platform for BMS and other applications.

 

Brunei

Northrop Grumman, won the contract to provide provided Phase I Joint Operations Centre (JOC) command and control capability for the Royal Brunei Armed Forces via a contract awarded in 2010.  At the heart of this is Northrop Grumman’s International-Joint Operational Command and Control System (I-JOCCS) which is in turn based on the widely used C2PC (Command and Control for the PC) and Interoperable C4I Services (ICS) applications. In addition to a static headquarters system, the current contract covers the supply of a deployable JOC. Not designed to be a BMS, the system’s use of common core software which is also widely used in the region and further afield, allows interoperability with a number of key partners. Phase 2 of the program is understood to be progressing. At DSA, those familiar with the program expected a tactical implementation of the company’s C2PC software to comprise the BMS component. Brunei has having previously acquired Harris Falcon II VHF and HF tactical radios, which will inevitably form the basis of a network although an indoctrinator of  a further extension of BMS would be an acquisition of wideband networking radio as well as higher level HCLOS communications.

BMS must have bearer systems to be effective such as this Northrop Grumman solution which brings together several different manufacturers and designed as a low cost, palletised solution that can be moved between tactical vehicles as required © AJB

 

Korea

Work on extending Tactical C4I for the Republic of Korea will depend very much on the roll out of the $3.8 billion Tactical Information Communication Network (TICN)  shared by Samsung-Thales, Huneed and LIG Nex1 due to begin next year. With the advent of long range high capability links across the Army and Marines with links to air and naval assets, more complex and capable C2 applications will be built and rolled out beginning with a number of new armored fighting vehicle programs.

A number of companies have developed their own solution in anticipation of a decision. Rotem has also developed an upgrade package for the currently deployed K1A1 MBT that includes a networked battle management system (BMS). In support of Situational awareness today in the Korean military, 10,000 examples of Hyundai J.Comm’s Precision Reporting Equipment are in service with the South Korean military.

 

Pakistan

Pakistan’s Global Industrial and Defence Solutions new BMS, the Pak-IBMS or Rehbar, shown at DSA and has been  described by the company as optimized for armored platforms combining a C2 systems with vehicles architecture that also enables the control of a remote weapon station, auto-tracking, drivers aids and laser based target indication.

 

Australia and New Zealand

Elbit Systems won the competition for the Australian Army’s Land 75/125 program in 2010. This   contract represents the future Battle Group and Below Command, Control and Communications (BGC3) system and is being delivered under a $300 million award. A Full Operating Capability is planned for April 2013.

Described as based on the IDF’s Digital Army Program (DAP) and uses two core software elements; the TORC2H and Tactical Intranet Graphic dissEmination in Real-time or TIGER network software. However it uses a very different transport layer relying largely on Harris radios instead of those of Elbit Systems C4I Tadiran. The BGC3 will be installed on the Bushmaster Protected Mobility vehicle, the M113AS4 armored personnel carrier, G-Wagon, Unimog and Mack logistic vehicles.

The software has to work with a number of non-Elbit battlefield applications used by Australia notably Raytheon’s Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) and the Northrop Grumman Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system on board the Army’s 59 Abrams MBTs.

As part of its Defence Capability Plan issued in September 2011, New Zealand is acquiring the Defence Command and Control System (DC2s) system, a high level decision support and intelligence system for joint operations with delivery expected in 2015-16. The bulk of its Tactical C4I capability will be delivered under Network Enabled Army which will be first delivered and then regularly upgraded from 2013-2033. This capability will also require a new communications network with additional strategic links provided by the Strategic Bearer Network project (SBNP) which will offer global reach. In the meantime other systems have been acquired; one example is Norwegian firm Teleplan’s FACNAV BMS, with licenses for the software having been acquired by New Zealand.

 

BMS deliver clear information and functionality at soldier' fingertips © AJB

Taiwan

As Taiwan’s high level, Po Sheng C4ISR system ‘lumbers’ into initial service, the next stage of development, implementing a tactical extension continues to be an option but one that has yet to be funded. Po Sheng is still based largely on a network of fiber optic cable backbones connecting bases and headquarters rather than an agile battlefield system. The program is still focused on the information exchange at higher level with a strong focus of air and missile defence with information also flowing to US Pacific Command. Last year a senior Taiwanese general was arrested for spying with the material involved including Po Sheng, casting a shadow over the system’s integrity.

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