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LHD COMMUNICATIONS SUITE
New Zealand. In 2005 the company was awarded the contract to provide
the communications switching for HMAS Sirius, the RAN’s converted
commercial tanker replenishment ship. The ship was delivered by prime
contractor Tenix ahead of schedule. The communications work involved
not only installing new equipment but also integrating some legacy systems
taken from the de-commissioned HMAS Westralia and this mix has worked
without problems ever since.
Across the Tasman, L-3 have upgraded the external communications
systems of the RNZN’s two ANZAC frigates, giving New Zealand – not for
the first time – a level of capability in this area better than Australia’s. The
project also freed up considerable space and weight in the communications
room with the replacement of a number of items. In turn, this means that
the frigates now have 30% of growth potential as new communications
technologies emerge. The contract was signed in March 2008 with the first
ship delivered a year later.
L-3 say that for the ‘Canberra’ Class LHDs they are providing the largest
integrated Communication and IT system ever deployed by the RAN, with
more than 70 cabinets of equipment. The solution uses a highly flexible
open-architecture approach based on a core of purpose-built digital
products. The principal elements are:
External voice and data (including radios, SATCOM, antennas, cryptos,
Internal voice communications (Ship-wide, Tactical, Wireless and Sound
power systems; VoIP Admin network)
Ship-wide data networks; Maritime Tactical Wide Area Network
Combat System Interface
Entertainment & Training; CCTV (with audio and video on demand)
Broadcast and alarm system
In turn, all internal and external communications are integrated into a
single operator panel using an L-3 product known as MarCom® – meaning
that it replaces previously separate telephone, intercom and radio systems.
MarCom® is common to a number of ship solutions, including Arleigh
Burke Destroyers and the LPD-17s. It is described as the USN’s latest low
cost fully integrated voice switching system. The use of this product has
greatly reduced the amount of hardware required and it is estimated that
the ‘Canberra’ Class communications solution will occupy 30% less space
than the baseline Spanish BPE design.
Another element of the solution is the Keyswitch Integrated Terminal
Equipment (KITE) – a small press button screen voice terminal which
allows an operator to listen in to multiple conversations. According to
L-3’s AJ Whittle, Vice President Integrated Communications, this “has had
a dramatic impact on situational awareness since operators are able to
monitor far more nets than they could previously and are aware of what is
happening throughout their sphere of interest”. Mr. Whittle explained to
APDR that while at first this might seem like a jumble of noise, with a small
amount of training operators are improving their efficiency by up to 400%.
This system also allows progressive radio conferencing over all bands:
VHF, UHF, SATCOM, VHF-HI etc – all of which can be done by an operator
with a few button presses - for example, the Commanding Officer could
progressively listen to conversations between helicopter pilots, then add in
shore-based troops, other ships, and so on.
These types of capabilities will be vital as the ADF moves down the
network-centric path, giving decision makers a great deal of information
over and above what could be acquired using older technology. The suite
of equipment will be of enormous benefit for combined operations, be they
with other ADF assets, allied forces, or both.
For functions such as communications planning, L-3 has developed a
product known as SymphonyTM which, according to Mr. Whittle “provides
Asia Pacific Defence Reporter | 25
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