Brazil is looking skyward to provide secure communications necessary for its military forces. Using SISCOMIS, the country’s national System for Military Satellite Communications network, Brazil is turning to satellite communications to play a progressively larger role in its joint military structure. Recent initiatives are seeing new terminal procurement, further hubs and two additional satellites that would join recently launched orbiters beginning in 2014. Brazil also is employing international government-to-government cooperation with France to access advanced military satellite communications technology and capabilities.
China’s navy has begun using unmanned aerial vehicles as part of its blue-water operations. At least one type has been photographed by foreign reconnaissance aircraft, and other variants have been reported. Not only has China been displaying an assortment of models at air shows, it also is incorporating advanced U.S. unmanned vehicle technology into current and future systems.
The People's Liberation Army Navy has at its disposal a variety of boats and ships for use in littoral waters. They are organized under separate maritime agencies that carry out specific missions officially similar to their counterparts in other countries. Yet, despite their diverse nature, these vessels together constitute an unofficial fourth fleet for the Middle Kingdom's navy.
The People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army Navy has three well-known fleets—the North Sea, East Sea and South Sea fleets. Yet, China boasts another large group of ships that serves the country’s naval objectives but is relatively unknown.
The export laws imposed by the U.S. government on defense-related goods and information have been a source of aggravation for U.S. companies and foreign customers for years. Private-sector firms continue to push for changes, and both the enforcement agencies and the current presidential administration are responding. However, interested parties sitting outside the border see several issues that might not be at the forefront for those making the adjustments.
China has departed from tradition with a new naval ship design that may be the vanguard of an entirely new class of littoral warships. These corvette-type vessels feature modernized systems that offer China unprecedented flexibility in a range of sea missions.
The French army soon will deploy a tactical battlefield communications and data network that aims to provide battalion command posts with on-the-halt satellite and line-of-sight connectivity. The system is part of France’s ongoing efforts to convert its military into a fully network-centric force. In addition to extending high-bandwidth networking down to mobile command posts, the program also lays the foundations for a future fully mobile communications capability.
China’s growing blue-water naval strength soon may be augmented by the country’s first aircraft carrier. A series of seemingly unconnected steps over the past two decades have positioned the People’s Republic to begin construction and incorporation of a modern carrier into its fleet.
NATO is transitioning its satellite communications infrastructure from an ownership- and capability-based “bent pipe” arrangement to a more fluid, service-led approach. The challenge for the alliance now is in making plans and provisions for that new capability, which aims at providing a guaranteed ability to obtain the required services to meet collaborative communications needs in space and on the ground.
The U.S. Army recently finished construction of an optical network that offers troops in certain foreign locations all the data transmission speed and availability they need for the foreseeable future. After Defense Communications Systems–Europe completed the development process earlier this year, the 5th Signal Command took over control of the network and is studying how best to migrate from asynchronous transfer mode legacy systems to the new one.
Coalition forces in Afghanistan are using a situational awareness system that alerts military patrols about mined roads and warns civilian relief convoys about traffic jams and possible insurgent activity. The capability fuses intelligence alerts and real-time tracking information to provide users with the location of civilian and NATO forces.
From humble, almost inconsequential, origins, China’s South Sea Fleet has grown to become a major maritime military force. The country is basing many of its newest naval assets in that fleet’s region of responsibility, and they are taking on more diverse and far-reaching missions. China also is acting more aggressively in these waters, particularly in recent confrontations with U.S. ships conducting peaceful operations.
The French navy and air force are adding new encryption technology to their identification friend-or-foe (IFF) systems to reduce the chance of enemy interception and analysis. The new encryption is being applied to more than 1,000 IFF systems equipping the two services. The equipment will help ensure that links between aircraft transponders and ground-based interrogators are not read or corrupted by new interception technologies now appearing in the battlespace.
NATO is exploring the benefits that telepresence capabilities offer military commanders and military families. The organization established a high-capacity communications link between several sites in Europe and Kabul to provide an immersive, face-to-face virtual meeting capability, far beyond that provided by today’s videoconferencing capabilities.
International defense acquisition reform finally may come from a NATO industrial group traditionally known for generating studies rather than initiating innovative reorganization. The NATO Industrial Advisory Group, known as NIAG, is striving to redefine the relationship between industry and the 26 nations that constitute its parent alliance.
A new virtual training facility is helping British troops hone their command and control skills before they deploy to Afghanistan. The center creates geographically accurate simulations that allow headquarters personnel to become familiar with managing intelligence data from manned and unmanned platforms during a series of operational scenarios. The networked battlefield simulator can be rapidly modified to include new lessons learned from units returning from overseas missions.
China may be building a navy that features some world-class technologies aboard new ships, but its large numbers and variety of naval and air weapons still are operated in isolated methods because of the lack of effective command, control and communications and datalinks. Of 494 Chinese navy ships, the only combatant warships with credible Level III command, control and communications are four imported Russian Sovremennyi guided missile destroyers, 11 new construction guided missile destroyers, four 054A guided missile frigates, two upgraded Luda-class destroyers and 12 submarines, including nuclear strategic ballistic missile submarines.
Network-centric data transfer capabilities are swiftly moving from the battlefield into areas such as national emergency response and homeland security. A recent joint exercise between NATO and Sweden demonstrated how coalition nations and local civilian authorities can link their networks together to share information in real time.
The United Kingdom’s advanced tactical radio is finally on track. A new software upgrade has activated most of the system’s anticipated operational capabilities, providing commanders with enhanced situational awareness, and battlefield networking and information sharing. The enhancement comes as the digital radios replace legacy radios across the British military.
The United Kingdom is securing its border by throwing an electronic net around the entire nation. The U.K. Electronic Borders program, known as e-Borders, aims at keeping track digitally of every individual who enters or exits the country.