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NZ issues RfI to advance its networked army

12th September 2019 - 02:17 GMT | by Tim Fish in Auckland

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New Zealand has initiated Tranche 2 of its Network Enabled Army (NEA) programme following governmental approval in July. The project is digitising the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) command-and-communications technology, BMS and secure satellite communications.

Investment in Tranche 2 totals NZ$106 million ($68.2 million) till 2022. Defence Minister Ron Mark told Shephard the funding enables the C4 project, which was established under the first tranche of the NEA in 2015, to continue building capability.

‘Tranche 1 has laid the foundations and delivered capability to the highest-priority personnel initially. Trialling and evaluation has taken place ahead of expanding the reach of the capability. The focus of Tranche 2 is the digital communications and other systems for equipping dispersed command elements, such as medial and logistics headquarters,’ Mark said.

It will extend the capabilities across a 250-man light task group.

Tranche 2 funding also initiates an ISR project to deliver improved situation awareness to support deployed commanders with new sensors and intelligence gathering and processing.

‘As this project is in its definition phase, confirming requirements and engaging with industry will be a focus of its work. Future delivery will involve a progressive rollout of capabilities,’ Mark said. ‘This project’s priorities have included establishing the network – a combination of hardware and software to enable the functionality required – and setting up the facilities and systems for testing, research and evaluation of hardware and software. This will ensure that any future introduction of capability is compatible and can be integrated with existing systems.’

An RfI for the NEA’s ISR and EW capabilities was released in August to gather details about possible solutions. The intention is to fill the capability gap in ISR, EW and processing, exploitation and dissemination with new systems for a combined-arms battalion group. The RfI said it wants to ensure land and special operations forces can collect information and intelligence (I2) using ISR/EW sensors, and that a deployable sensitive compartmented information facility can allow them to access and process the intelligence.

It also wants to upgrade existing EW capabilities and integrate collection sensors into the Land Tactical Information Network and BMS, and integrate with multinational partners.

The new ISR/EW systems must be compatible with the existing Sitaware BMS from Systematic, and Harris radios for the Mobile Tactical Command System, already selected under Tranche 1.

ISR/EW is divided into three work streams: I2, reconnaissance and surveillance, and EW.

The I2 capability will be delivered though a deployable all-source cell (ASC) to support the land commander. The ASC must be able to analyse information from organic assets. To do this, the ASC needs to access large databases, software that allows personnel to conduct analysis, fusion software to process information from multiple single sources into fused intelligence products, a collection and management system, and software to support mission planning and tasking.

Reconnaissance/surveillance systems include new sensors for a variety of platforms eg soldier-, UAS- and vehicle-mounted systems. These include night vision systems, acoustic sensors, ground surveillance radar, unattended ground sensors, laser surveillance and warning systems.

The RfI said the EW work-stream will deliver ‘tactical modular and scalable EW capability, for the interception, geolocation and disruption of an adversary communications network’. It will allow the formation of light EW teams with a command post to manage collection elements such as electronic support/attack and processing.

Open-architecture collection elements need an ‘on-the-march man-pack solution, semi-static dismounted man-portable solution, and mobile mounted solution, possibly supported by aerial sensors’.

Tranche 3, expanding capabilities across a larger deployable force and refreshing earlier systems, should begin in 2021.

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