NATO DEPLOYS DCIS IN POLISH TRIALS
By Julian Nettlefold
25 Nov 14. The Editor attended an Airbus Defence and Space briefing with NATO Project Manager Steve Whitby on the NATO DCIS project that is providing the Rapid Reaction Force with mobile ‘hot desking’ on the frontline. NATO wanted to test how quickly the mobile headquarters and network could be established from scratch and aimed for 72 hours. They conducted trials in Poland and managed to get it up and running within a third of the time.
DCIS is used by peacekeeping forces across the world to ensure effective communication between the frontline and headquarters. It represents a major upgrade to the technology previously being used by NATO
In April 2013 NATO announced that after many months of careful planning, the first of the new DCIS systems has been installed by Cassidian, now Airbus Industries, at NCISS. Codenamed ‘Dragonfly’, the system is the central component of the NATO Response Force DCIS Capability Package CP149.
Dragonfly combines state-of-the-art security with IP-converged applications to provide NATO with a powerful deployable Headquarters system based on the latest technologies.
The system, which took a week to install, arrived in an 11-tonne container at NCISS on Monday 5th of September. Specialists configured the system ready for surge training to begin at the School early next year. NATO will carry out acceptance testing in the first quarter of 2014 in preparation for an operational live test (OLT) in late March.
Background to Contract Award
In 2009 NATO awarded to EADS Defence & Security (DS) now Airbus Industries, the contract for the supply of the new NATO Deployable Communication and Information System according to the operational requirements of the NATO Response Force (NRF).
The contract’s value is around £40m with an optional Customer Logistic Support contract valued around £14m.
Airbus will deliver to NRF Commanders the communications facilities to support their headquarters in the field anywhere that the NRF is required to operate. The project represents a major upgrade in the capability of NATO forces. It will become the standard for NATO deployable communications and will be the cornerstone for the NATO Signals Battalion capability to support deployment in operational theatres.
The system allows NATO forces to deploy small (up to 20 users) or large (up to 150 users) communications headquarters on the field with both voice and data connections to other NATO forces.
Voice interoperability is provided by the DS developed Tactical Voice Gateway (TVG); a product based on commercial of the shelf products (COTS) that has been made bespoke for military purposes. All features of the solution have been designed with future proofing in mind to align with NATO’s short and long term requirements and objectives. The common components used will facilitate a seamless transition between existing services.
The project is managed and delivered from Newport, South Wales, by the Airbus Defence and Space integrated team which is a joint group of French, German and British employees. Other members of the team include US based partners such as Booz Allen Hamilton, HP and Cisco.
“This contract showed the confidence NATO has in our capability to provide flexible, inter-operable and future proof communications and information solutions that really work in theatre. This is a genuinely international solution leveraging the best skills and technical competences from our French, UK and German DCS organisation,” Steve Whitby said.
Airbus Defence and Space conducted trials with a NATO Signal Battalion to test whether it could set up and operate a mobile communications system from scratch within 72 hours.
DCIS allows the Rapid Reaction Force to communicate on the frontline in often challenging weather and environmental conditions.
Described as ‘extreme hot desking’, troops can use voice and data to communicate securely in