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JP 2072 PH2B
new digital radios and communications network is
Joint Project 2072.
JP 2072 Phase 1 saw Harris Corporation
and Raytheon Australia deliver ‘communications
systems for integration into the Battle Group and
Below Command, Control and Communications’,
as APDR’s Geoff Slocombe has reported in our
April edition. This was followed by Phase 2A, where
Harris continued the rollout of the digital radios
selected in Phase 1, to dismounted forces. These
radios numbered approximately 15,000 units, and
replaced the older Wagtail, Pintail and Raven radios
then in service.
Phase 2B of the Project is for the provision of
secure wideband voice, data and video services
over wireless and wired infrastructure between
deployed forces and headquarters. It will also
extend the communications range of the Tactical
Communications Network (TCN) – a unit level
mobile communications network and aims to
enhance Command and Control on land using
wide-band digital radio capable of carrying voice,
data and video communications on wireless and
In June 2015 a team consisting of Boeing
Defence Australia, Varley Group and Harris was
named preferred bidder for the project when
Second Pass approval was secured, with signature
of the $665.7 million contract taking place in
September that year.
Known as Project Currawong, the program
has created 250 jobs in the Brisbane area for
Boeing, who hosted APDR in late May as part of
a live demonstration for the various stakeholders
to provide an update to the program. The
demonstration was part of a series of Missions
Systems Integration Test Events or MSITE leading
up to a formal field test out in the field that is
scheduled to be carried out later in 2017.
Lee Davis, Boeing’s Program Director for
Phase 2B, described the system as a “deployable
NBN” for the Army and Air Force. The main aim
of the project is to develop a core networking
infrastructure to connect bearers into the nodes and
management system. These bearers include Satellite
Communications or SATCOM, troposcatter, High
Capacity Line-of-Sight and wired fibre which will
deliver data to various nodes of the network.
The beauty of the system is its scalability and
flexibility to used with the various nodes it is meant
to connect, which can range from a Force node
that supports up to 500 users to a single HQ on
the Move node based around a single Bushmaster
Davis told APDR that the solution developed
by Boeing is in accordance with what it calls
agile development methodology, where the key
design philosophies were to make the most flexible
system possible to meet the needs of Army and Air
Force and also to try and build it into the smallest
deployment footprint possible.
Working very closely with the program office to
include user feedback into the development life
cycle, it was decided that a two-release system,
to get initial capability out and field it, and then
enhance that with further requirements to be
implemented based on that feedback to enhance
the system further, would be used.
Myra Sefton, Director-General of Communications
at CASG, described it as “design a bit, build a bit,
test a bit, and cycle back to improve that design”.
Davis explained that the ultimate goal is to deliver
on the shortest possible timeframe to get the
system out as quickly as possible, while building
in a mechanism to deliver longer term capability
incorporating user feedback.
The end result has been that development of
Release 1 of the system is now complete, with
the baseline hardware in low rate initial production
to support formal acceptance testing. Things
on the software side are also on track to meet
schedules, with these currently in formal qualification
testing. The process for transition into service
introduction has also begun, with Boeing carrying
out engagement with the first units to receive the
system later this year, which include the Army’s 7th
Combat Signal Regiment and 1st Signal Regiment.
The engagement between Boeing, CASG and
Army has been described as excellent during the
design phase, and is credited with being part of the
reason why the company has met what it has called
a “challenging” schedule and expects to deliver
Release 1 of the system ahead of the Initial Material
Release date, originally scheduled for the first
quarter of 2018, when Army then plans to deploy for
Exercise Hamel which is scheduled to be held in the
first half of 2018.
The core of the system capability is the Network
Access Module or NAM, which Davis has called
the “Swiss Army knife of networking and computing
infrastructure for the system”. With the NAM at the
centre, all the other capability bricks or functions to
be added to the system with its key capability is that
it can be scaled depending on the number of users.
Boeing had initially conducted an extensive trade
study for off-the-shelf hardware that could meet
its custom network management requirements.
However it quickly found that most available systems
were designed for large enterprises operating from
fixed sites and unsuited for a highly manoeuvrable,
dynamic network with users jumping in and out.
It then decided to design and manufacture its
An Australian Army soldier from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment radios in a report during the tactical phase of
Exercise Croix du Sud 2016 in New Caledonia. Credit: CoA / David Said
29/05/2017 3:18 PM
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