EUROPEAN C4I UPDATE
By Stefan Nitschke, M.Sc.
International Defence Analyst and Consultant
17 Aug 09. The militaries are continually improving their military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Besides the US, Canada, Israel, Japan, and a few other nations in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region, major European forces were also expending substantial efforts during the last two years in advanced ISR technology to provide for new sensors, manned/unmanned platforms, and real-time communications links. They may result in a quantum leap in the speed and accuracy of joint operations and to achieve connectivity and interoperability across the traditional boundaries of land, air, and sea mission spaces.
Among the number of European nations, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK are continuing to invest in theatre intelligence capabilities. France is seeing its principal net-centric capabilities in the SITEL, BOA 2 (Bulle Opérationnelle Aéroterrestre), and FÉLIN (»Fantassin à Equipements et Liasions Integrées«) programmes. SITEL, an acronym for Système d’Information Terminal Elémentaire, is being fitted to a first batch of 30 combat vehicles of the French Army for deployment in Afghanistan. The platform-level battle management system (BMS) will be adapted to different land vehicles, including VBL reconnaissance vehicles and the AMX10P tracked carrier. The SITEL BMS, a development of SAGEM Défense Sécurité, comprises a clip-in Toughbook which can be connected to PR4G VHF radio equipment. A GSM telephone network and a GPS receiver also found in this systems architecture will be for conferencing, blue force tracking, position determination, navigational purposes, and after action reporting. Some 4,500 systems will be procured to be fitted to armoured and utility vehicles of at least five Army brigades. French elements of the Franco-German Brigade (including the 110th Mechanised Infantry Regiment/RI and the 3rd Armoured Reconnaissance Régiment/Regiment de Hussards) will be also equipped with the SITEL BMS.
Utility vehicles and some examples of the WIESEL 20mm and TOW weapon carriers operated by the German units of the brigade, including the Light Infantry Battalion 292 and the Armoured Artillery Battalion 295, are receiving the German Army’s FüInfoSys H/FIS-H C4 system to also include INMARSAT C satellite communications and GPS. An initial batch of hardware and software components has been handed over to the HQ Company in January 2008. FIS-H will be comprised of the range of C2 applications, communications, and computing services which will be linked with all combat, combat support, and service support elements of the German land forces from division HQ down to the individual soldier. Also utilising the mission-proven FAUST E1 battalion-level BMS which evolved from the GeFüSys battalion-level and FüWES platform-level BMS, the overall system is designed to support a wider, more diversified communications network with common modular elements to be utilised in other specific applications. A total of 1,500 systems are on order worth EUR380million which will significantly improve interoperability with other NATO partners. Two Army divisions, the DSO Special Operations Division (involving 26nd Airborne Brigade and 31st Airborne Brigade) and the DLO Air Mobile Division (comprising 1st Air Mechanised Brigade and 3rd Army Aviation Brigade) have already been equipped with FAUST E1, providing geographic information system (GIS) mapping and Blue-Force tracking functions. Because of budgetary reasons, two further Army divisions (these will be reportedly the 1st and 10th Armoured Divisions) will be covered later under FIS-H Phase 2 deliveries.
The Hellenic Army purchased the INIOCHOS system, supplied by Rheinmetall Defence Electronics, which, as a service-oriented C2 system, fulfils the latest interoperability requirements for joint and combined operations. User- and role-based scalability, configurab