Qioptiq logo Raytheon

Information Superiority in a Network Enabled World By Julian Nettlefold

 

BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold travelled down to Basingstoke to meet Tim Gibson, Vice President, Head of Defence and National Security Fujitsu UK and Ireland

“At our last meeting you said that the future wars would be waged from dedicated large communications systems to ones where each warfighter has a £300 disposable phone connected to a Cloud-based secure network over which targets can be engaged and destroyed using disposable UAVS armed with a variety of munitions and missiles. These forces will be smaller and more nimble using lighter and more agile vehicles. Do you see that the UK in particular has grasped this nettle in developing and enhancing its networks to meet this challenge?”  The Editor said.

The UK MoD is certainly meeting the networks challenge head on and a new doctrine is being formulated to allow for flexibility of the armed forces when conducting operations. The Authority is making significant investments in both the Global Connectivity Contract and the new” Morpheus at Pace” contract. For instance, fighting ISIS requires a totally different doctrine to fighting the Russians. The ISIS fight allows more use of UAVs and light forces given the fact that ISIS do not possess (yet!) combat aircraft and anti-aircraft systems capable of shooting down slow flying UAVs. The Russians, on the other hand, have sophisticated fighter jets armed with powerful air-to-air missiles and sophisticated radars as well as missiles and gun systems capable of shooting down UAVs. However, having said that, in both scenarios there has been a huge rise in the ability of electronics and EW in particular in today’s war. The use of Twitter and mobile chat in the defeat of the Iraq army at Mosul in 2014 is a case in point. It will soon be possible to bring down aircraft and UAVs by tampering with the software using advanced cyber techniques, the challenge is huge!” Tim Gibson said.

“Has today’s soldier got the wherewithal and training to fight on such terms?

“That is a very good question! The average 18-year-old today has the ability to connect to the web to find information 24/7and to speak to his or her friends at all times, so anyone choosing the military as a career requires such an ability on or off the battlefield. Hence the UK MoD is taking an approach that modernises the whole system from factory to foxhole. The first task is to expand the bandwidth available to meet the challenges of today’s Armed Forces. The new network will provide much greater network capacity with multiple 10 gigabytes links and excellent network resilience” said Tim Gibson.

On August 5th 2016 Fujitsu signed two new contracts with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) which will bring in excess of £1bn worth of savings to the Government organisation over 10 years. The two agreements will see Fujitsu play a key role in helping to transform the delivery of information and communication technology across Defence and securely delivering greater agility and mobility to service personnel.

One of the contracts, worth over £550m, will see Fujitsu provide core Global Connectivity services for the next five years. The new network will underpin the delivery of current and emerging MoD services both in the UK and overseas.  The Fujitsu solution replaces Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service (DFTS) and the LAN services provided by the ATLAS Consortium, with a modern, agile and robust set of network (LAN/WLAN and WAN) services designed to improve service levels and align to the new ways of working demanded by the modern users wherever they operate.

The award coincides with the signing of a contract with the ATLAS Consortium, that includes Fujitsu HP, Airbus Defence and Space and CGI which will provide a secure New Style of IT (NSoIT) to the majority of Defence users in offices, headquarters and deployed bases. This contract is worth £933m and is a renegotiation of the original extension of the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) contract. The contract replaces the DFTS contract for which BT was the incumbent whilst Vodafone supplied the mobile requirement which will now be provided by EE. (See: BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.17 ISSUE 25, 04 August 2015, UK MoD SIGNS TWO NEW IT CONTRACTS)

“This award is the first for Fujitsu as a Prime and propels the Company into the senior league of international Primes in the UK and reinforces our position as the prime provider of network services in the UK for civil and military customers. We are delighted to be playing a part in developing and improving the MoD’s IT infrastructure and, ultimately, helping the organisation defend the UK’s national interests.  The vital role Fujitsu plays in both these contracts puts us at the heart of future UK Defence Strategy. The contract requires installation at over 1000 sites in the UK, we have finished 270 sites and are looking to roll out 20-25 sites a month with fibre and where required using copper from BT or TalkTalk for the last mile. The next stage is to roll out WiFi across the system particularly at MoD Abbey Wood. Voice and data will no longer be provided as separate entities but will be delivered together using VoiP technology including Skype” 

“We are experts in providing secure networks and all our new systems have end-to-end encryption. We also have a Global Network built in association with AT&T and Verizon which we will provide as part of FBLOS to enable the MoD to provide the huge bandwidth required for overseas deployments, giving a ix of terrestrial and satellite systems.”

“Do you see more business in this segment?”

 “Yes, we plan to become the ‘contractor of choice’ for the MoD to manage all their requirements on a one stop shop basis given our huge capabilities in international civil and defence networks. All our research shows a gradual move from equipment purchases to knowledge based solutions and IT. To that end our defence business has grown by 30% to a turnover of £260 million in 2016 with 1400 people at sites including Basingstoke, Bracknell, Stevenage and Warrington. Equipment will play a major prole but it will become commoditised with such items as iPhones and radios being cheaper COTS-based solutions with intelligent Cloud-based solutions providing the key intelligence and ISR. The MoD has a huge multi-billion project to deliver networking and we are well placed to be a major contributor We see the arrival of 5G as a huge gamechanger which may result in every soldier having a 5G phone connected to the network; currently 275 key Apps are being developed for the MoD by a number of contractors.”

“Can you give us an idea of the tasks the MoD is facing?”

“In short huge! The MoD has decided that rather than place the management of the tasks with industry that it will be the Prime Contractor on such contracts as the Atlas run MoDNet, the next iteration of DII using Microsoft 360 in the Cloud, Morpheus, FBLOS, the Skynet 5 successor programme, Morpheus, BT’s voice and EE’s mobile programme. To that end the MoD has formed a huge team at Corsham to manage these systems. All major partners are called to a two hour teleconference meeting every Friday from 9-11 am to discuss developments and to iron out any problems.”

“Can you give us some detail of the projects being managed by the MoD?”

“Yes, these range from enhancing networks at barracks to allow soldiers to watch Sky TV and use 4G mobile phones to the multi-million development at RAF Marham recently placed with BAE System to develop the facility to accommodate the F-35 Lightning II fleet. The F-35 requires huge bandwidth not only to enable it to fight and relay images and data but also to manage the fleet and the logistic supply chain.”

On April 7th 2016 the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced contracts worth £167 million to upgrade and build new facilities at RAF Marham, the future home of the UK’s F-35B Lightning II squadrons. The contracts, which will create 300 new jobs, will allow for the addition of maintenance, training and logistics facilities to the station in East Anglia, all of which will be dedicated to the next-generation fighter aircraft.

Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon said, “The F-35 is the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. Whether operating from land or our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force. They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will this week rise for the first time in six years, and keep rising until the end of the decade.” 

 The works at RAF Marham have been made possible through three contracts, placed initially by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and totalling £25 million, for demolition and cabling works at the Norfolk site, readying RAF Marham for new construction works.

A £142 million contract between Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Lockheed Martin UK will then allow the construction of three new buildings which together will keep the new aircraft ready for service, provide training facilities for pilots and ground crew, and enable centralised management of the UK’s whole F-35B fleet.

Approximately 300 people will be employed on the construction works, which will be managed by sub-contractors BAE Systems. The buildings will become a place of work for around 250 military and civilian staff when they open in 2018.

DE&S Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas said, “These facilities are critical to the F-35B Lightning II programme, which is in turn vital to the future capability of the UK’s Armed Forces. The cutting edge technology of these aircraft, supported by world-class facilities at RAF Marham, will ensure we have a battle-winning fleet of jets deployable anywhere in the world.”

 “Are you involved in Morpheus and the task deliver the amount of data across the battlefield. Ajax being a prime example which has the requirement to distribute 2 gigabytes of data?”

“We are on the periphery of Morpheus as GDUK is the appointed Prime on the Programme. One of the key priorities we see here is the prioritising of data across the battlefield to allow the most up to date targets and movements reaching the troops seamlessly to all allies. The provision of data to allies and other agencies is a major challenge given the differing crypto and software systems in service. Once again, as with Bowman, software is king!”

The MORPHEUS Programme will deliver the next iteration of the LE TacCIS capability, addressing critical system obsolescence and introducing capability improvements to enable better Command and Control. Its intent is to explore the scope for delivering efficiency and effectiveness benefits through improved programme coherence, systems engineering, exploitation of impending technology ‘shifts’ and optimisation of the supplier base, for example through taking an open systems approach. MORPHEUS will seek to harness civil commercial developments in mobile communication and computing and apply these to the military tactical space.

“What is your view of the future battlefield?”

“I see a huge escalation in the electronics arms race which includes Cyber and Electronic Warfare (EW). It will become increasingly difficult to protect such large assets as aircraft carriers and aircraft. That Black blob in the sky which is not emitting signal can now be identified as an F-35! There will be an increase in GPS jamming such as occurred to the Stryker Brigade in Lithuania last year and more covert cyber attacks on crucial software systems. In addition, the huge amount of data used from factory to foxhole will have to be protected from cyber attacks to enable logistic supply to the front line. To manage this data drones such as the Airbus Zephyr will be required to fly over the battlefield on a 24/7 basis to manage and distribute the data. At the same time these will all have to be protected from attack. The MoD has a huge task in a rapidly changing world!”

Back to article list