EUROPEAN C4ISTAR UPDATE
By Stefan Nitschke, Defence Analyst
Network-Centric Warfare (NCW), network-centric capabilities, and network-centric operations (NCOs) are becoming an integral part of the today’s land/air/sea warfare environment. Within this concept, the principal determinants are information superiority and suitable, dedicated decision-making which in the sense of strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence heavily depend on C4ISR technologies. These include new Information Communications Technology (ICT)-led developments (e.g., broadband communications, satellite data transmission), UAV and UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) technology, and sensors. Any of these means are to also maintain operational cohesion and coherency in future multinational and coalition-based operations. But there is also a tendency of increasingly deploying lighter and smarter weapons having GPS-type satellite-assisted navigation systems and an improved data link capability allowing real-time target updates and targeting from existing tactical networks across the spectrum of forces of different nationalities. This is well demonstrated by the digitisation of the artillery of a number of European NATO members with the implementation of new computers at the battery command post, new fusion algorithms, secure data links, and the employment of intelligent artillery projectiles capable of detecting their targets. The British Army’s digitisation project in this field is the Command Battlespace Management (Land) or CBM(L) capability which is being implemented with BOWMAN to provide a core BMS to enable the artillery to obtain a coherent ISTAR capability at the tactical level. Similarly, Denmark, France, and Germany are also following this path by implementing their respective SIFCOM, ATLAS (Automatisation du Tir et des Liaisons de l’Artillerie Sol-Sol), and FueWES ADLER II C2 systems. The latter distributes near real-time BMC4I and targeting information from the trinational Cobra counter-battery radar or video inputs from electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor-equipped battlefield UAVs like the in-service KZO (Kleinfluggeraet Zielortung). At least elements of the envisioned concept of Effects Based Operations (EBO) are now being established.
While four European nations – France, Germany, Sweden, and the UK – are transforming their military forces in an attempt to cover virtually all of the required capabilities, others like Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain, are developing and deploying more targeted net-centric capabilities. Although the latter nations are likely representing the “second tier” of conflict spectrum capabilities able of projecting some warfighting elements while providing lower numbers of C4ISR forces and functions, they are now also about to benefit from the extent of advanced C4ISR and network doctrines which are expected to result in an improved interoperability within and between the military forces of these nations and, indeed, those of the US. Even though, the European C4ISR/C4ISTAR market as a whole has significantly grown in 2006 which was due to stabilising defence budgets as well as the tendency toward incremental procurement. More recent programmes established in this course and at a national scale have been the Danish Army’s Command and Control Information System (DACCIS), the French Système d’Information Terminal (SIT) V1 integrated into VB2L (Véhicule Blindé Léger) command post vehicles, the German Army’s FAUST C3I system, or the Norwegian NORTaC C2IS system. As the latter was also successfully fielded in Afghanistan, a major upgrade of the system could provide for interfaces with other systems and sensors as found in the Norwegian Army’s ISTAR battalion. Meanwhile, the Swedish Armed Forces are continually being transformed, under the auspices of the Network Based Defence (NBD) system, into a highly operational defence force possessing networked-based C2 systems, unjammable communications