Defence Business: Project Review 2007 | ADM Dec 07/Jan 08

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By Tom Muir

Amid the projects that ADM covered in 2007, several deserve particular notice because of their importance to the ADF's capabilities and their implications for Australia's defence industry. ADM turns the spotlight on some of these projects.

Land 400 - Future Combat Vehicle System
The aim of the Land 400 capability is to enhance the survivability and combat effectiveness of ground forces in close combat through the provision of a cost effective, integrated Future Combat Vehicle System (FCVS).

Indications are that urban and associated complex terrain will be the most likely conflict environment due to a number of demographic and technological influences.

In particular, low to mid level technology adversaries will seek to use complex urban terrain to reduce the effectiveness of long-range sensors and weapons.

Aside from national armed forces, these adversaries may include a mixture of irregular and third party forces, local and international criminal elements.

In this environment, land forces will be required to undertake a wide range of tasks, simultaneously, and at short notice.

It is against this backdrop that L400 is expected to deliver a system which incorporates platforms capable of being employed in a variety of roles including infantry fighting vehicle; armoured personnel carrier, command and control post, reconnaissance and surveillance, and so on.

Late last year a request for information (RFI) was released to industry as part of the capability definition process, with specific information used to further refine the capability concept and cost estimation.

The RFI would also inform the development of a Land Combat Vehicle System capability roadmap.

While the primary objective of the RFI had been to gain industry feedback on the capability concept and to test initial cost estimations with live industry data (and no doubt there may have been some surprises there for the IPT) the secondary purpose was to provide early advice to industry on the nature, scope and complexity of the LAND 400 capability requirement.

This would allow industry to propose solutions and options that could satisfy the full range of L400 capability requirements and encourage industry to propose teaming arrangements which could reduce risk to the delivery of the L400 capability.

JP 2008 Ph.4 - Military Satellite Capability
The ADF's SATCOM environment has evolved through a range of minor and major projects and now incorporates both commercial and allied military satellite constellations and fixed, deployable and mobile terrestrial access terminals.

Joint Project (JP) 2008 - Military Satellite Capability is a multi-phased project to develop a comprehensive Defence satellite communications capability for long distance strategic and tactical communications in support of ADF assets throughout Australia's regions of interest.

Initial phases of the project delivered an interim SATCOM capability, including an ADF-owned communications payload on the Singtel/OptusC1 satellite under Phase 3D, and provided high priority maritime and land assets with terrestrial equipment to utilise the payload.

The Singtel/Optus C1 satellite was launched in 2003, with a life expectancy of 15 years (and possibly less) and a limited footprint, but Defence's current and forthcoming wideband communications needs are fast outgrowing C1's capabilities.

Due to the long lead times involved, and perhaps the need for satcom redundancy well before C1 is decommissioned, Defence has had to decide whether this culmination of the ADF's satellite communications project, the move to a 'mature' satellite communications capability, should entail the acquisition of a dedicated Defence-owned space segment, or whether sovereignty should be eschewed in favour of joining the US Wideband Global Satcom program which providentially harmonises with Australian planning.

In the event the Australian Government has decided to join the US wideband system, through acquisition of one of its satellites.

The Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) program is being introduced by the Pentagon as a hedge between the ageing Defense Satellite Communications System and the advanced Transformational Satellite (TSAT) program that will provide internet-like capability that extends high-bandwidth satellite capabilities to deployed troops worldwide, and delivers an order of magnitude increase in available military bandwidth.

The WGS program will comprise a constellation of six Boeing 702 13-kilowatt spacecraft to support of US warfighting information exchange requirements, enabling execution of tactical C4ISR, battle management and combat support information.

Last year then Defence Minister Brendan Nelson confirmed that Australia would enter into a $927 million partnership with the US which will see this country funding one satellite plus ground infrastructure to extend the WGS constellation to six satellites with the US funding the remaining five.

Def 224 - EW capabilities
Under the first major acquisition phase of DEF 224 - Force Level Electronic Warfare, the Army is being equipped with the latest in signals interception technology that can be carried in Unimogs and similar vehicles and supported with an improved communications network.

Dismounted troops will also receive new electronic jamming systems able to jam, neutralise or deceive enemy radio communications and radar systems, while the Air Force and Navy will receive equipment for their major aircraft and ships that is capable of intercepting signals from a range of emitters.

These new systems will enhance or replace existing capabilities and will extend the reach of the ADF's electronic warfare capabilities.

But while the project is all-embracing in its requirements for EW across land, maritime and airborne environments most of this project's systems will be leveraged off overseas developments with Australian industry undertaking platform integration and interfacing with extant systems rather than any development activities.

Under Phase 2B, UK-based QinetiQ has been contracted to supply an EW system based on the company's range of EW sensor technology and hardware including SHARK(r) (wideband comms EW sensor) and ANALYST(r) (EW command and control software).

With increasingly dense signals environments being caused by the proliferation of communications and radar technologies, EW sensors of even modest bandwidth, often suffer from data overload.

The QinetiQ system, incorporating these sensor and comms management technologies, is designed to analyse emitters and networks in an automated manner.

The signals of interest can then be identified so that key intelligence can be presented to users in an accurate, concise and timely fashion.

Land 17 - Artillery Replacement
Land 17 - Artillery Replacement aims to maximise the ADF's fighting power through the delivery of a networked, all-weather, indirect fire capability that provides scaleable and precise lethal and non-lethal effects.

Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted the versatility and dependability of indirect fire and its success in these operations is said to be directly attributable to the range of new generation munitions, networked command and control technology and the increased autonomy and enhanced mobility of platforms within the system.

The ADF's current fleet of field artillery will be replaced with a modern indirect fire support system (IFSS) comprising 155mm howitzers, both lightweight towed and heavier self-propelled systems, with integral fire control systems, together with a battle management system - fires (BMS-F).

This last comprises the advanced artillery tactical data system (AFATDS) and a forward observer (F/O) system.

Solicitation documents for the Land 17 project have been released and their responses are now under consideration.

Land 40 Ph.2 - LWAGL
The Australian Army's ongoing quest for more firepower will see the introduction of more effective indirect fire capabilities under current plans to acquire new long range artillery systems.

But direct fire capabilities are also under the spotlight, encouraged by operational lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to equip combat manoeuvre support companies within infantry battalions, under the Infantry 2012 concept.

The earlier acquisition of the Javelin direct fire guided missile (DFGM) and the current introduction into service of the lighter, harder-hitting M3 version of the 84mm Carl Gustav anti-armour weapon, is soon to be followed by the planned acquisition of modern automatic grenade launchers to equip infantry battalions and some vehicles.

Land 40 Phase 2 seeks the provision of 60 Lightweight Automatic Grenade Launchers (LWAGL) with an option to subsequently purchase up to 90 additional units.

The automatic grenade launcher, which has not been widely employed in the ADF, is now likely to be adopted as the next, lower Direct Fire Support Weapon (DFSW) layer and issued to DFSW Platoons in manoeuvre support companies in all Regular Army infantry battalions.

There are a number of 40mm AGL systems of various weights on the market.

One of the principle contenders for the Land 40 Ph.2 requirement will be the Mk-47 lightweight successor to the in-service Mk-19, produced by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products.

Other contenders include the Heckler & Koch 40mm GMG, the Denel Vektor Y3 AGL and Singapore Technologies LWAGL.

Land 200 BGC3 system
The coupling of the Battle Management System (BMS) requirements for Land 75 and Land 125 finally gave birth to the long awaited RFT for the conjoined Land 200.

Under the RFT, the requirement for what is now termed a Battle Group and Below, Command Control and Communications (BGC3) system, comprises mounted, dismounted and command post Battle Management System (BMS) variants.

The system also includes a terrestrial based Type 1 encrypted Combat Radio System (CRS) to support BMS generated data, and existing voice services within the Battle Group together with a network management system.

As originally conceived a Tactical Data Voice and Services Network was to be acquired through JP 2072 (Battlespace Communications System-Land - see below) comprising the hardware and software required to manage the network of BMS nodes, with the BMS variants using its digital voice and data bearer to exchange information on the network.

While the scope of Land 125 had required man-wearable data radios, capable of integration with the voice-only Selex Marconi PRR, this was not the case with the Land 75 component, for which JP 2072 was scoped to specify and provide the radios as GFE for integration into various vehicle and command post variants.

Under the new arrangements contenders for the L200 PSI role must specify the combat radio system, as part of their proposal for the BGC3 system.

To conduct the very extensive equipment trials that are planned, tenderers will need to provide versions of the radios for evaluation with their software.

And a 2008 parallel offer definition activity (PODA) phase is likely to require some 90 dismounted and vehicle integrated CR systems to be supplied by the shortlisted tenderers at very considerable cost.

There are only two Type 1 encryption JTRS-capable radios available-the Harris AN/PRC-152(C) and the Thales AN/PRC-148 (JEM).

What is unclear is whether the intention was to acquire a particular radio to meet the requirements for a Battle Group and Below combat radio system or, as would seem more logical, a radio such as the JEM or the PRC-152 to handle Company/Squadron and Below communications, with EPLRS or other higher bandwidth networking radio, for Battle Group HQ (eg Joint Task Force HQ) down to Squadron/Company.

We understand that some of the contenders for L200 will be proposing CRS combinations such as MBITR/JEM and EPLRS which would mirror the US Army's use of EPLRS as the backbone of its tactical Internet.

JP 2072: picking up the pieces
General Dynamics Canada, the prime systems integrator for JP 2072 - Battlespace Communications Land, had their contract terminated in September by the Defence Materiel Organisation.

It is no secret that this project had experienced significant delays due in part to unanticipated complexities of the Phase 1 task and possibly to an imperfect 'define and design' contracting model.

The selection of GDC as preferred tenderer involved considerable, if not exhaustive, questioning of its proposals, so with this careful evaluation of GDC's winning solution, how come things went so wrong?

Did GDC rely too heavily on its Canadian resources, human and otherwise, to manage the initial stages of this Australian project, thus missing out on close interaction with the JP2072 IPT?

Whatever the cause, time was lost and the program slipped badly, to the extent that some of its responsibilities were hived off to other projects, Land 200's BGC3 communications requirement an example.

Our understanding is that by mid-last year, GDC was aware of problems in the program and sought an independent review.

This was agreed and a Systems Engineering Independent Review Team (SEIRT) was established.

DMO appointed the chair and two members, GDC appointed one member and there was an independent agreed to by both DMO and GDC.

We believe both parties agreed to abide by the findings and recommendations.

After intensive study over a number of months the report was delivered to both sides.

It seems that GDC, which accepted the findings (some quite adverse) and the recommendations went to work taking corrective action.

But it appears that the DMO refused to accept any of the SEIRT report's findings or recommendations and GDC was directed to disregard the SEIRT report.

It would seem that the project was doomed from that point.

The goal of JP 2072 was (and presumably still is) to provide the Land Force with a deployable and integrated Battlespace Communications System with connectivity across all component systems such as C2, intelligence, offensive fire, logistics, ground based air defence and sensor-linked weapon systems and thus a major component of the Hardened and Networked Army (HNA).

We understand that the Operational Concepts Document (OCD) has been updated and that the program office is preparing the Functional and Performance Specifications (FPS) and has assumed the System Integrator role.

We understand that an industry briefing for JP2072 was held in December.

ADF eyes 3G cellular comms
The Australian Government's recent agreement to host a ground station for the new US satellite communications system, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), may lead to dramatic changes in Defence communications, with the ADF able to utilise satellite-based 3G cellular communications technologies, at the heart of the MUOS system.

Effectively MUOS is a satellite-based mobile phone network.

The new ground station will be sited within the grounds of the Australian Defence Satellite Communication Station (ADSCS) at Geraldton WA, but will be unrelated to the existing activities of ADSCS which will remain under separate Australian control.

The ground station will form part of the MUOS system which, later this decade, will support US and Australian users, including deployed forces.

MUOS is one of the key military satellite programs being pursued by the United States, and at its heart is a 3G cellular waveform.

The others are the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system in the secure protected EHF domain, and the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) program, delivering X- and Ka-band communications.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the MUOS program.

In late 2004, the company was awarded a $2.1 billion contract to build the first two satellites and associated ground control elements for the MUOS system.

General Dynamics C4 Systems is the lead for the entire ground infrastructure involving numerous sites that will talk to the satellite, collect the signals coming down and then tie them into the various DoD networks.

General Dynamics and Ericsson are also providing the waveform technology driving MUOS capabilities which includes the development of JTRS-compatible waveform that will be put into the JTRS library.

They will also develop the core set of software that can be put in a JTRS-compliant terminal that would allow them to talk through the JTRS network.

Ericsson is supplying GD with core WCDMA software, which GD will then modify to operate over the satellite.

In the US, user terminals will be provided by the separate services through their JTRS radio acquisitions, with an emphasis on handheld, soldier-worn units.

The same will apply to future ADF users already familiar with JTRS capable radios such as Thales' JTRS enhanced MBITR (JEM) which will now sport a 3G waveform.

In this way the MUOS system will provide familiar cell phone-like services, with the satellites acting as very tall cellular towers, enabling warfighters on the ground to communicate directly with each other and their commanders virtually anywhere in the world.

Interestingly Ericsson offered their QuicLINK portable cellular network system, based on Wideband CDMA technology for JP2072.

Copyright - Australian Defence Magazine, December 2007/January 2008

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