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Australia Extends Maritime Surveillance Contract with Cobham

October 31, 2012
George I. Seffers

Cobham has reached agreement with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to extend the existing Sentinel aerial maritime surveillance contract by 2 years, the company recently announced. This £105 million ($22,580,000) contract extension secures the contract until the end of 2021. Cobham Aviation Services has been protecting Australia’s borders since 1995 under a performance based service contract involving the full turnkey operation of 10 highly modified Bombardier Dash 8 maritime patrol aircraft that fly 2,500 missions and 15,000 hours each year.

DRS and SELEX to Provide Internal Communications System for Canadian Navy

October 16, 2012
George I. Seffers

DRS Technologies Canada and SELEX Elsag, both of which are Finmeccanica companies, were recently awarded a contract worth approximately $11 million Canadian dollars ($11.2 million, U.S.) by the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada for the upgrading of the Canadian Navy’s HALIFAX Class Frigate Internal Communications System (ICS). The System will be based on Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) technology. Delivery of the equipment is expected to begin in 2013 and to be completed by the middle of 2015. All communications within the ship and external voice communications are controlled through a SHipboard INtegrated COMmunications System (SHINCOM); as part of SHINCOM, ICS includes internal wireless communications technology that facilitates non-wired communications between damage control teams, flight deck crews and 50-caliber gun teams during mission-critical operations. Additional applications include supporting non-mission critical operations and conducting maintenance activities where wireless communications among maintainers are required.

China Ship Upgrades Enable Underwater Surveillance

October 1, 2012
By James C. Bussert

Recent improvements in Chinese destroyer technology have opened the door for greatly expanded surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, particularly for undersea operations. Advances range from new power plants and weapons to radars and sonars that provide versatility known to other modern navies. Many of these upgrades involve long-overdue improvements in warship operations. Electronics and missile advances acting synergistically are enabling new shipboard defense systems. But new sensor suites, particularly in sonars, are changing the nature of Chinese naval missions.

Technology and the Warfighter Come
 Together in NATO

September 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
  A Polish soldier serving with the International Security Assistance Force maintains radio contact while on patrol in Afghanistan. The creation of the new NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency consolidates several legacy agencies into a single organization with the goal of speeding new technologies to the warfighter faster.

The absorption of several NATO agencies into a single entity, coupled with the need to reform the acquisition of information systems, is clearing the way for the Atlantic alliance to speed the newest information technologies to warfighters far more quickly than previously attainable. The new entity will serve all aspects of communications and information technology development and acquisition under a single umbrella organization.

With all these eggs in one basket, NATO aims to eliminate redundancy and bottlenecks. The goal is to ensure that NATO forces receive the newest technologies without seeing their systems approach obsolescence before fielding is completed. Efficiencies inherent in the new construct also would save valuable funds as defense budgets worldwide face significant cuts from financial pressures.

La Collaborazione con l’Industria, una Spinta Importante per la NATO

September 1, 2012
Di Robert K. Ackerman

Stabilire una collaborazione maggiore con il settore privato è uno degli obiettivi primari della NATO nel momento in cui è necessario adattarsi al mutare delle tendenze politiche, finanziarie e militari. Una partnership forte con l’industria è considerata dai membri dell’alleanza la chiave per aprire la porta a idee e soluzioni innovative in un momento di limitazioni finanziarie. Tuttavia, l’impiego di tale fucina di idee pone alcune difficoltà per l’organizzazione multinazionale.

La NATO pone la sua partnership con l’industria su un piano di alta priorità, in quanto mira a migliorare la collaborazione in un momento di ristrettezze finanziarie e di trasformazione profonda delle esigenze operative. Il beneficio primario che l’Alleanza Atlantica cerca è l’ottimizzazione dei processi industriali che consentano soprattutto l’impiego delle tecnologie più innovative.

Raggiungere tali obiettivi, in particolare nel campo delle comunicazioni e dei sistemi elettronici, richiede un processo di acquisizione delle capacità operative più agile. Tuttavia, la NATO è ostacolata in questo sforzo dalla sua natura d’organizzazione multinazionale che deve tenere in giusta considerazione le esigenze degli Stati membri.

“Stiamo utilizzando i fondi di 28 nazioni che sono tutte sotto pressione finanziaria e pertanto esse esamineranno in modo molto critico tutto il lavoro che facciamo con l’industria,” riferisce il Magg. Gen. Koen Gijsbers, RNLA (in pensione), direttore generale della NCI, Agenzia NATO per le Comunicazioni e le Informazioni di recente formazione. “In questo contesto, è necessario stabilire una modalità di collaborazione più efficace ed efficiente.”

Teaming With Industry a 
Major Thrust for NATO

September 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

Establishing a greater partnership with the private sector is one of NATO’s primary goals as it adjusts to changing political, financial and military trends. A strong partnership with industry is viewed by alliance members as the key to opening the door to innovative solutions in a time of fiscal limitations. However, tapping that wellspring of imagination poses some difficulties for the multinational organization.

NATO places its partnership with industry on a high plane, and it aims to improve that partnership in a time of severe financial constraints and transforming combat needs. Foremost among the benefits that the Atlantic alliance seeks is best industry practices, especially for delivering the latest technologies.

Achieving its goals, particularly in the arena of communications and electronics systems, will require a more agile process. However, NATO is handicapped in this effort by its nature as a multinational organization that must take its members’ needs into account.

“We are spending the money of 38 nations that basically are all under financial pressure, so they will scrutinize all the work that we do with industry,” relates Maj. Gen. Koen Gijsbers, RNLA (Ret.), the general manager of the newly formed NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency. “In that environment, we need to find a relationship to make this [partnership] most effective and efficient.”

This is one opportunity that is being driven by necessity. Because of the global financial crisis—which has hit Europe and the United States particularly hard—all military and government planners must do more with less. So, tapping the font of innovation that emerges from commercial technologies and capabilities offers a way for NATO to achieve its modernization goals without exceeding its shrinking budget.


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