Land 125/75 BMS combo upsets some
The decision to combine the Battle Management System requirements of Land 125 and Land 75 in the one tender may have caught some potential bidders by surprise, but others had already anticipated this move.
In the initial ITR for Project Land 75 phase 3.4 Defence made quite clear what it wanted. The BMS was to comprise software that was simple and intuitive to use, as well as hardware that could survive in the combat environment. It would have to operate over a mobile, data-capable, communications system and be able to exchange combat information with other C2 systems. The BMS would need to form the basis of a land combat identification (Blue Force Tracking) system by providing commanders with a 'real-time' Situational Awareness (SA) display of friendly force locations.
The selected BMS supplier would have to demonstrate that their product was off-the-shelf, in-service, had been fully developed and integrated into ADF equivalent operational vehicles, and would meet military EMI/EMC/tempest standards. Interoperability with other C2 systems had to be through the use of the Variable Message Format (VMF) communications standard.
Defence's preference was to acquire a full BMS solution, including its integrated logistic support and training solutions. Additionally, the BMS supplier would be expected to become the Prime System Integrator and be contractually responsible, as the BMS design authority, for the system performance and vehicle integration.
And finally Defence said that it proposed to explore Foreign Military Sales (FMS) options and seek Price and Availability from the:
* US Army for the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade & Below (FBCB2) and the
* US Marine Corps for Command and Control Personal Computer (C2PC).
Land 125 (Soldier Combat System) and Land 75 (Battle Management Systems) are both scoped under the Defence Capability Plan to provide Battle Management Systems (BMS) to their respective users. Land 125 to the dismounted close combatant and Land 75 to the armoured vehicle fleet of the Army.
It seems that responses to the Land 75 RFI, that was released earlier this year, included suggestions that the requirements for both Land 125 and Land 75 BMS capabilities be combined in the one tender. Certainly one of these would have been Saab Systems which had already developed both mounted and dismounted BMS capabilities and had demonstrated to Army BMS-D for Land 125 's proposed C4 capabilities.
Approval to combine the two requirements was received in June and aside from the obvious economic benefits Defence sees increased interoperability between mounted and dismounted systems and reduced technical risk as good reasons the new arrangements with one RFT expected to be released this year.
The combined requirement will be seeking fully interoperable Dismounted and Mounted Battle Management Systems however if a combined BMS is not achievable, Land 125 will continue with a standalone BMS/Communications package while Land 75 will compare commercial solutions versus an FMS solution under development.
Essential requirements for both mounted and dismounted systems include Variable Message Format (VMF) as the external system message exchange format; and
Software which enables near-real time tracking and display of own and Friendly Force location status, which can also create, send, receive, modify, and store tactical overlays, orders, & unit level reports, returns, and requests; and GPS-based navigation on the move.
Land 125's proposed C4 system will provide enhanced situational awareness, pre-formatted data messages and navigational assistance to a network incorporating fire team commanders through to the infantry battalion commander. The system, which will be required to operate worldwide in day and night conditions, comprises a Dismounted Battle Management System (BMS-D) and data combat net radio (DCNR).
The last will be a small lightweight modern digital radio, capable of providing digital voice and data communications simultaneously as the communications bearer for the BMS-D. Voice will have primacy over data communications. This will replace the in-service Combat Net Radio.
There will be two types of nodes in the C4 System, a portable node for dismounted tactical commanders and a Command Post (CP) node for static headquarters elements. Dismounted tactical commanders will operate the 'portable' system, which will be worn on the webbing. It will be used when conducting normal tactical tasks like patrolling.
The CP node will be located at Company and Battalion command posts and operated out of vehicles, command tents and possibly in a man-pack role. It is designed to aid in a range of command post functions.
Every C4 node will consist of a radio to provide access to the network and BMS-D software with an associated hardware platform. To suit the two different types of nodes, there will be two radio variants, a Portable (DCNR-P) and a vehicle mounted Command Post (DCNR-CP).
The BMS-D capability is to provide the Infantry Battalion, and specifically each commander in it with:
* existing voice capability equivalent to in-service VHF CNR voice radio nets
* enhanced situational awareness via a common operating
* an ability to create, send and receive pre-formatted messages, including orders and overlays.
The network bearer comprises radios that, individually, are similar in range performance to in-service VHF CNR. In addition to providing high reliability voice communications networks equivalent to the in-service VHF CNR, it will also provide the network with data messages, including the dissemination of the common operational
The communications system will provide voice nets based on the existing combat net radios used by infantry battalions. While there are many radio nets in an infantry battalion, the voice radio net will still be required to operate on an all-informed basis in accordance with doctrine.
Defence wants the Land 125 C4 System based upon proven MOTS products, with the primary aim of improving the performance of the dismounted tactical infantry commanders (fire-team, section and platoon commanders). The secondary aim is to improve command post performance through digitisation. Because cognitive load is significant in the close combat environment, the system must not inhibit the ability of the commander to 'fight the battle' in voice should data not be the most expedient method.
The Mounted BMS will provide a common battlefield-operating
The selection of communications bearers for both projects will be informed by Joint Project 2072-Battlespace Architecture Project. The combined requirement will however only be scoped to provide the communications bearer for the Dismounted Battle Management System. The communications bearer for the Mounted Battle Management System is scoped under JP 2072.
It is expected that tenderers will also need to provide a budget for, and be able to develop prototype BMS vehicle installation kits and/or BCSS vehicle hardware suites. BMS-M will be primarily deployed up to Battalion/Regimental HQs, and down to troop/platoon/individual vehicle. Tenderers will be required to establish a supply support facility that can be scaled up for future BMS phases.
Approximately 210 vehicles will be equipped with a BMS-M and a further 20 vehicles with a BMS-M/CP by the end of 2008, as follows:
* BMS-M for ASLAV and M113 all variants
* BMS-CP for ASLAV-25; M113 AS4 (if available); Land Rover 'Perentie' FFR; Bushmaster-C; ASLAV-C; and M577A1 (M113 Command Variant).
Obviously, installation of the Mounted BMS into the selected vehicles will require interaction with the respective vehicle's design authority (DA). The DA for the ASLAV and its variants is GD Land Systems, while the DA for the M113 and its variants is Tenix Defence. ADI is DA for the Bushmaster.
The radios sought under the BMS requirement must be able to form a reliable data network of sufficient capacity to ensure the best possibility of a sent message reaching its intended recipients. Due to the dismounted nature of the commanders, a solution requiring the use of more than one radio to provide voice and data would be unfavourable.
They must also be interoperable with US and other coalition forces. As we know the US DoD, through the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program, has moved to adopt the Software Communications Architecture (SCA)-enabling radios developed under the program to support various communications waveforms-as the key to improved interoperability among services and coalition partners.
To encourage adoption of the SCA standard, US DoD policy originally stated that US military services may purchase only JTRS SCA-compliant radios unless granted a waiver on a case-by-case basis. Waivers were subsequently granted en masse. However the converse appears to be that if you haven't adopted the SCA standard you don't get JTRS waveforms and therefore you are not interoperable with US forces. We assume that this would only apply when the US Armed Forces were 100 per cent JTRS compliant which may never be the case and at best, on current evidence, is a very long way off.
Radios that presumably would qualify for this requirement (they are both said to be in production) would include Harris' PRC-152 Falcon(R) III Handheld tactical radio which is SCA compliant and is certified for secure voice and data. Another is Thales Communications' JEM, which, developed under JTRS Cluster 2, has received SCA compliance certification (with waivers) and has also been approved for Type 1 encryption. JEM was built off Thales' MBITR AN/PRC-148, a radio in service with the ADF.
The way-over-budget and way-behind-schedule JTRS program has been restructured with the hope of speeding up the development of multi-waveform radios and slashing costs estimated at between US$4m and US$6m. Instead of the five former service-led clusters, there are now four centrally managed domains: ground, airborne and maritime, network enterprise, and special radio systems. Ground domain encompasses ground mobile radios for vehicles, formerly in Cluster 1, and Handheld, Manpack and Small form-fit (HMS) radios, formerly in Cluster 5. HMS is targeted primarily at the Army's Future Combat Systems program. General Dynamics is leading development of the hand-held, manpack and small radios formerly in Cluster 5.
A new development is Raytheon's Microlight-3G, a wearable, software-defined radio that will improve military communication by linking individual warfighters to a tactical Internet. ITT brings its Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) to Microlight-3G. The SRW upgrade complements the wearable radio's already available Enhanced Position Locating and Reporting System (EPLRS) waveform.
Microlight-3G is a derivative of the 2G model, now fielded as part of the US Army's LandWarrior program. The Microlight-3G will be capable of interoperating with future JTRS platforms and is designed to embrace new technology as it comes on line.
The Rohde & Schwartz M3TR is in service with a number of military forces and Australia is using the maritime version in the Armidale class patrol boats while Germany is using the airborne version. Presumbly R&S (and others) are waiting to see how the JTRS program fares under its new structure before rushing in to achieve SCA compliance and bargaining for those waveforms that bring the Holy Grail of interoperability with US forces. One radio waveform of particular interest would be that developed for Link 16.
At last count there appeared to be five PSI contenders for the combined BMS requirement. In alphabetical order we believe these to be ADI Ltd with Thales, Boeing with Elbit, GD Systems Australia, Raytheon Australia, and Saab Systems Australia with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.
ADI Ltd has been working on utilising tactical data links to transfer information between near real-time systems in the battlespace. Using VMF, ADI has successfully demonstrated the sharing of tactical data between its enhanced blue force tracker prototype, the operational
A current CTD proposal by ADI aims to deliver a common tactical data link to network ADF units. The Variable Message Format (VMF) data link would offer greater reliability, more capacity and a lower through-life cost than older tactical data links. VMF, which has been mandated for Land 125/Land 75, will be an important element in improving the ADF network centric warfare capability.
We assume ADI will be proposing components of the UK FIST soldier's communications system, which provides communication up to company level. Above company level, communication is via the Bowman integrated combat radio system (which the the MOD has ensured will be interoperable with JTRS waveforms).
Under the FIST program the soldier will have a small encrypted radio that operates over a line-of-sight, short range link to other members of his unit. The patrol leader's radio will communicate with the forward operating base. The network system will reroute automatically to allow continuity of operation when a communications link is broken, for example when a soldier moves over a hill or ridge.
Voice and data communications can be relayed to the soldier directly or via drone relay links from headquarters, which have downloaded battlefield commands, information and images from forward observers, unmanned air vehicles, remote sensors and other airborne or satellite surveillance assets.
Boeing Australia has teamed with Elbit Systems, offering the latter's battle management system, which is in service with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). The integrated system comprises command and control software, advanced electro-optical sensors, multi-functional displays, information and communications systems, and advanced mission systems.
Elbit says that its BMS supports every requirement of battalion-and-below tactical units, meeting all their operational needs, including direct fire engagement & manoeuvre, indirect fire support, intelligence and logistics. In addition to its combat networking capabilities, this system of systems provides commanders and crewmen with simplified operational interfaces, enhanced situational awareness and data communication capabilities. Elbit Systems was chosen by the IMOD to serve as prime contractor for the IDF program of Battle Management Systems for Battalion Combat Teams. And as Boeing may well point out-you don't have to buy US gear to ensure interoperability with the US forces.
General Dynamics Systems Australia, the PSI for JP2072, has to be an important contender for the combined requirement. We previously mooted that it would offer an adaptation of the Battlefield Situational Awareness Module (BSAM) developed for its UK Bowman contract, which provides the common relevant operating
General Dynamics C4 Systems is responsible for the US Army's Land Warrior and Mounted Warrior programs and is also PSI for Air Warrior III. The systems are being designed to provide significant improvements for the mounted and dismounted soldier, in the air and on the ground. And as we noted earlier GD is also leading the restructured JTRS domains for hand-held, manpack and small radios.
Under its JP2072 PSI role GDSA has Tenix and ADI as subcontractors and we would not be surprised to see these links maintained in the event that GDSA was selected for the Land 125 Land 75 BMS task.
Saab Systems Australia invested considerable R&D of its own in the development of both a BMS compatible with current Army Command Support Systems and more latterly a dismounted version. Saab also developed interfaces for Northrop Grumman's FBCB2-BFT C4I system and presumably its later evolution Coalition Force Tracker (CFT). And while Saab does not have an exclusive over Northrop Grumman's products it does have an exclusive with NG Mission Systems' expertise in the development and integration of tactical C4I systems.
Saab says its BMS is optimised to accommodate low bandwidth communications such as Raven CNR but can also take advantage of high bandwidth rates with other communications bearers. Its current implementation provides communication interfaces to CNR, Serial, WAN, GPS and LAN channels.
The architecture also allows other external sensors such as Laser Range Finders to be easily integrated into the system. It is built on Windows XP technology, using the existing Saab architecture, to provide battlefield situational awareness and messaging functionality.
Saab and NG Mission Systems have worked together to modify BCSS to allow users to send and receive VMF and Message Text Format (MTF) messages using US and Australian standards. Australian BCSS users were able to interact with US counterparts using the existing BCSS system with its familiar interfaces.
Our view is that the work done by Saab with the BCSS system in Australia has been exceptional. It was the first example of a tactical command support system able to share situational awareness information with a higher-level system.
Raytheon Australia has excellent systems integration credentials. The company is mission systems integrator for the Air Warfare Destroyer and is part of the Australian/US systems integration team for the Collins replacement combat system.
In the US Raytheon was an early Land Warrior prime contractor, and is currently supplying GD C4 systems with its new MicroLight radio and ancillary equipment developed for Land Warrior.
Previously, as a contender for JP 2072, Raytheon Australia promoted its own experience supporting the US Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below effort (Blue Force Tracker). As we know, that system displays the position of all allied units in real time. The US program's prime contractor Northrop Grumman, was included on the Raytheon team for JP 2072. We understand Raytheon may yet be scouting for a teaming partner.
By Tom Muir, Canberra