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DSEi 2011: Astute launches comms upgrade

12th September 2011 - 09:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The first of the UK Royal Navy’s (RN's) Astute class submarines has begun to have its communications systems upgraded with SEA’s Network Interface Unit (NIU), company bosses have revealed.

Speaking to Shephard, officials said work had started on 9 September with the ‘integration of radios and fit’. They added that work would continue for the next year or so.

The upgrade will see the replacement of the telephone patch panel with a flexible and reconfigurable architecture, which SEA said, would provide size, weight and power benefits for the submarine. It will also allow communications operators to manage and control information from any part of the submarine. The project will incorporate Aurora, Astute’s External Communications System.

More specifically, the upgrade will see the interconnection of analogue and digital information, transfer to a LAN/WAN system as well as connectivity to legacy equipment.

The integration comes on the back of a £10m contract awarded to SEA by the UK’s MoD in 2003. SEA is understood to have beaten Babcock and Lockheed Martin to a £13m integration contract some 18 months ago.

SEA executives told Shephard that Astute boats 5, 6 and 7 could also be retro-fitted with the upgrad although they were unable to comment on when this may happen.

SEA communications systems director Seamus Brogan, said: ‘Communications systems have traditionally evolved by adding or replacing independently developed stove-piped sub-systems, resulting in an incoherent overall system architecture which consists of a muddle of incompatible systems.

‘NIU is designed to overcome this problem. Openness and standardisation are key features and the use of networks at the heart of the infrastructure enables centralised control and management and allows a flexible office layout,’ he said.

Looking abroad, SEA added that it had entered a bid for an Australian upgrade programme for surface warships, adding that they had also received interest in upgrading ‘other C2 systems’.

‘But for submarines, this programme is more pressing due to SWAP issues,’ Brogan said. NIU is already operated on RN Swiftsure and Trafalgar-class submarines.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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