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Naval C4I systems: naval command and control stays out of the limelight. The thousands of miles of wires and the hundreds of computer screens are rarely seen on news footage from the global war on terror, or during humanitarian intervention and stability operations. For the media, it lacks the 'sex appeal' of troops in combat, or helicopters lowering aid packages to stricken villagers.


However, naval Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Intelligence (C4I) systems are the knitting that holds a ship's security and its capabilities together. A warship's C4I system is the central point at which information from the ship's sensors and communications systems arrives. It is the point from which the vessel's weapons are controlled and from where the ship's own data, tactical situation and intelligence can be shared with other vessels, or with other assets on land or in the air. As such, today's systems place a high emphasis on 'plug and play' designs, using open architecture via which new weapons systems, sensors and communications can be slotted into the C4I system with minimal fuss. At the same time, C4I system designers and integrators are increasingly looking to integrate commercial off-the-shelf (cots) components in their designs that can be used to reduce costs; one notable example of this is the use of the Windows or Linux computer operating systems. As many people use such technology in their everyday lives, the use of cots elements can bring with it a high degree of intuitive learning.

The design and production of naval C4I systems are chiefly centred in Europe and North America, although Israeli and South African companies are also producing naval C4I equipment. In Europe, the naval C4I systems industry is dominated by Thales, which builds a number of systems including Senit, Sewaco, Sic-21, Stacos, Tacticos and Tavitac. BAE Systems meanwhile produces a range of products including Acmis, Adaws-2000, Adimp, Nautis, SSCS and the SMCS-NG. Selex Sistemi Integrati of Italy produces the IPN-5, -10 and -20 systems, along with the Numc/Nupa Combat Management System (CMS). Saab Systems has enjoyed considerable success with its 9LV CMS series, while Atlas Elektronik has produced the Isus 90-1 system. Joint ventures between BAE Systems and Alenia Marconi have yielded the command and control systems for the Royal Navy's Type-45 class destroyers while collaborations between Thales and DCNS have resulted in the Subtics and Sycobs submarine command and control system, and the Setis-Fremm CMS. Finally, Terma has designed and produced the C-Flex system for the Kongelige Danske Marine (Royal Danish Navy) Absalon class command and support vessels.

Looking towards North America, one of the continent's biggest producer of naval C4I systems is Lockheed Martin which builds a range of systems including Aegis, AN/UYK-43, BSY-2, CCSM, Scomba and Shinpads. Raytheon meanwhile produces the ACDS, AN/BYG-1, AN/SYQ-20, SSDS and the TSCE systems. Northrop Grumman has developed the Mains system for the Landsort class mine countermeasures vessels operated by Sweden and Singapore. Looking further afield, African Defence Systems in South Africa and a joint venture between IAI/Elbit and Tadiran in Israel has resulted in the Combat Management System and Navigation Subsystem and the Unified Combat System command and control systems.

Thales has enjoyed international success with its naval C4I systems. The company produced the Senit series of CMS which is deployed on the Marine Nationale (French Navy) Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. Senit displays information from the ship's sensors and its communication systems and has been a popular choice for a number of navies. To this end, it equips the French Navy's Cassard class destroyers and the force's Foudre and Mistral class Landing Platform Dock and Horizon class frigates. Senit also equips the Royal Norwegian Navy's Skjold class fast attack craft and the Royal Saudi Navy's Al-Riyadh class frigates. The company has enjoyed similar widespread success with the Sewaco combat data system, which, like the Senit system, acquires information from the ship's sensors and communication systems. Sewaco can be teamed with the company's Tacticos CMS (see below). Sewaco is one of the most ubiquitous naval C4I systems, equipping ships in the German, Dutch, Hellenic, Qatari, Argentine and Belgian navies.


The French Navy is in the process of gradually replacing the Senit system with the Thales Sic-21 command and control system which has a modular design enabling it to be tailored to the needs of the ship. Sic-21 is the focal point for communication and mission planning while providing a detailed picture of the theatre. In February 2004 Thales won a $141 million contract from France's DGA (Delegation generale pour l'armement) to roll the system out across the French Navy's surface fleet, its E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning Aircraft and associated ground stations. Work began in 2006 to retrofit the Sic-21 onto the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

The company's Tacticos system consolidates the control of a ship's weapons, its sensors such as the air-search radar, and electro-optical systems and can be scaled according to the size of the vessel on which it will be deployed. Tacticos has been installed on a range of ships from patrol boats to destroyers. The Royal Navy of Oman has the system fitted on its al-Qahir class corvettes while the Hellenic Navy uses Tacticos on its Roussen class fast attack craft and the Republic of Korea Navy has Tacticos on its Kang-Ding class frigates. Thales also builds the Tavitac system which is able to perform automatic threat assessment by collating information from the vessel's sensors. It can also be linked to the vessel's fire control and countermeasures systems helping to coordinate self-protection.


BAE Systems has enjoyed success in the naval C4I market. The company builds a range of systems including the Adaws-2000 CMS, which is fitted to the Royal Navy's Albion class LPDs. In April 2005 the company won a contract to upgrade the systems on the Albion class vessels to make them Link-16 compatible so as to provide an enhanced level of air-defence protection. The Royal Navy's Invincible class aircraft carriers are fitted with the company's Adimp command and control system which is fully compatible with Link-11 and Link-14 naval tactical datalinks and the ships' Eads Astrium Scot Satellite Communication system.

The company's Nautis series of C2 systems has been particularly successful, equipping mine-hunting and mine-countermeasure vessels, and furnishing over 60 vessels worldwide including those operated by the Royal Navy, the Royal Saudi Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, the Turkish Navy, Spanish Navy, Japan Maritime and Self-Defence Force, the Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Brunei Navy and the US Navy. The Nantis can be designed to support operations against air and subsurface threats while supporting mine clearance missions. For submarines, BAE Systems has developed the Submarine Command System-Next Generation (SMCS-NG) CMS which equips the Royal Navy's Trafalgar class nuclear attack submarines (SSN). For surface combatants, the company's Surface Ship Command System (SSCS) equips the Royal Navy's Type-23 frigates and the Republic of Korea Navy's Chungmugong Yi Sunshin and King Sejang the Great class destroyers. The SSCS use of cots is typified by its utilisation of Pentium processor cards. BAE Systems has teamed with Alenia Marconi to provide the CMS for the Royal Navy's Type-45 destroyers which makes significant use of both cots and open architecture, and also includes a datalink processing system to hand the information off to other allied warships.


Equipping several frigate, destroyer, corvette, LPD and aircraft carrier classes in the Italian Navy is Selex's IPN series of naval C4I equipment. The system acts as the junction between a ship's fire control system, its sensors and communications. The Italian Navy is a major user of the IPN series with the system deployed on the navy's Giuseppe Garibaldi and Cavour aircraft carriers, along with its Horizon, Rinascimento/Fremm (Fregate multi-mission/Fregata Europea Multi-Missione), Artigliere and Maestrale class frigates, plus its Durand de la Penne class destroyers. Selex's Numc/Nupa CMS, which controls the vessels' internal and external communication, ship navigation and fire control systems, is used on the Italian Comandanti class of patrol vessels. The IPN system, which has been upgraded from IPN-10 to IPN-8 status, is also used on the Royal Malaysian Navy's Laksamana class corvettes.

Another European naval command and control system which has enjoyed good international sales is the Saab Systems 9LV CMS series. Versions of the system, such as the 9LV Mk 3, are in service on the Anzac class frigates of the Royal Australian and the Royal New Zealand navies, along with the Royal Danish, Royal Swedish and Lithuanian navies. The 9LV uses open architecture to interface with the ship's sensors and weapons systems which allows new capabilities to be added to the vessel during upgrades, moreover, the 9LV series uses a Windows-NT operating system. Saab has also developed a version of the 9LV system called SESUB940A which is used on the Gotland class diesel electric submarines (SSK) used by the Royal Swedish Navy.


French shipbuilder DCNS has been involved in a number of ship command and control projects as a result of joint ventures with Thales. To this end the company is involved in the Subtics system which is produced by UDS International, a subsidiary of Aramis which is owned by DCNS and Thales. Subtics is used on the Agosta-90B class SSK and also the Scorpene class boats used by the French Navy. The system is designed to enable the crew to make an instant assessment of their vessel's tactical situation by fusing data derived from the boat's sensors, navigation equipment and fire control systems.

The other submarine product built by a Thales-DCNS joint venture is Sycobs (Systeme de Combat pour Barracuda et SSBN--Barracuda and SSBN combat system). Equipping the French Navy's Le Triomphant class nuclear missile boats and the force's Barracuda SSNs, the sys tern can control the vessel's external communication, including its satcom, and the submarine's torpedoes while also displaying information derived from the boat's active and passive sensor systems such as its Thales Dmux-5, -80 and Dsuv 6-1B sonar systems.


Atlas Elektronik of Germany has produced the Isus 90-1 command and control system which is deployed on the Dolphin class SSKs of the Israeli Sea Corps and the Manthatisi class SSKs of the South African Navy, providing a central point for sensor management of the vessel's Atlas Elektronik CSU-90 sonar, along with management of the boat's communication and navigation systems. Terma meanwhile builds the C-Flex command and control system in use on the Royal Danish Navy's Absalon class command and support vessels. C-Flex controls the vessel's communication suite which includes the vessel's satcom and also its Link-11 and -16 tactical datalinks.

Looking to North America, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman dominate the naval command and control systems market. Lockheed Martin produces the Aegis, which provides the user with a central control point for data derived from the AN/SPY-1 multifunction radar, along with external communication data which can then be fused to provide a picture of the tactical environment. This information, which is gathered by the command decision system, is then transmitted to the weapons control system which provides fire control for the ship's missiles. In September 2005 the US Navy gave the go-ahead for the Aegis systems onboard the Arleigh Burke and Ticonderga class destroyers and cruisers to be upgraded to 'Baseline 7.1' status to improve the performance of the AN/SPY-1 radar in the littoral environment; a process which has made significant use of cots technology.

Lockheed Martin also produces the AN/UYK-43 computer system which uses OA and provides tactical ship system control. The AN/UYK-43 has sold over 1250 units around the world. The company also constructed the AN/BSY-2 submarine CMS which equipped the US Navy's Seawolf class SSNs until it was replaced by Raytheon's AN/BYG-1 system (see below). Moreover, the company is developing the Command and Control Systems Module that will furnish the Virginia class SSNs and will use open architecture to integrate the ship's weapons systems, sensors, countermeasures and navigation systems. Lockheed Martin supplied Canada's Halifax class frigates with the Shinpads (Shipboard INtegrated Processing and Display System) command and control equipment while the Scomba (Sistemas de Combate de Buques de la Armada) CMS system is being installed on the Spanish Navy's Principe de Asturias aircraft carrier and will be progressively rolled-out across the Spanish Navy fleet on all new warships.


Raytheon is building the AN/BYG-1 command and control system, which will equip the Royal Australian Navy's Collins class SSKs and also the Los Angeles and Seawolf class SSNs.

Furthermore, the company builds the AN/SYQ-20 Advanced Combat Direction System which has been rolled out across the non-Aegis equipped vessels of the US Navy. A series of modifications has made the system compatible with the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System L-band radio network to enable data communications with other branches of the United States and allied armed forces. Raytheon also produces the Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) which controls a vessel's weapons systems using cots to integrate the ship's sensors with its fire control. This system has been fitted to the USS Nimitz, Ronald Reagan and John C. Stennis aircraft carriers and uses both the Raytheon Phalanx close-in weapons system and the ships electronic countermeasures to provide enhanced self-defence against anti-ship cruise missiles. In 2007 Raytheon was awarded a contract to provide the C2 system for the US Navy's forthcoming Zumwalt class destroyers which will use the company's Total Ship Computing Environment as its core and which, like the company's SSDS, will make heavy use of integrated cots equipment.


Other players in the US naval C4I world include Northrop Grumman which has built the Mains command and control system for the Landsort class mine-countermeasures ships of the Swedish and Singaporean navies. The Mains provides a central point for display of the ship's tactical situation and also its navigation systems. The C2 system is also linked to Saab Systems' 9MJ-400 mine-hunting equipment.


Africa Defence Systems builds the CMSNS for that country's Meko class frigates, which is fused with the vessel's Grintek Seacom communication system. A joint venture between IAI MBT, Elbit and Tadiran is responsible for the UCS, which provides the crews of the Israeli Sea Corps Sa'ar-5 class corvettes with information on the ship's weapons status, local threat evaluation and fire control and co-ordination of the vessel's countermeasures.

As this article is being written; naval vessels of six different countries police the North Arabian seas and Indian Ocean as part of Combined Task Force-150 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Meanwhile, off the coast of Burma, naval vessels belonging to India and the United Kingdom are assisting the relief effort following Cyclone Nargis in May.

These two operations indicate that naval C4I systems must not only provide a seamless link between a vessel's fire control, communication and sensor systems, but they must also ensure that the vessel can be interoperable with the other ships and submarines of its own navy and also those of other countries. Moreover, given the emphasis on coordination seen during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, naval vessels must also work smoothly with air and ground forces. Fortunately help is at hand from both cots and open architecture. The first reduces the cost of developing new technical solutions for naval C4I systems and makes it easier to slot in new weapons, sensors and capabilities as they are added to ships and submarines. Certainly, naval command and control systems are becoming more advanced, intricate and versatile, while cots and open architecture are helping to make this advancement a little more painless. George Washington once said, <<without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it everything honourable and glorious,>>, sophisticated naval C4I systems have an important role to play in this regard.
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Title Annotation:Naval C4I
Author:Withington, Thomas
Publication:Armada International
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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