Partnering for success in the Pacific
The New Zealand Army as part of an integrated New Zealand Defence Force is undertaking a bold transition to an advanced networked communications infrastructure and Systematic is playing an important role.
An enduring and close relationship between the New Zealand Defence Force and Systematic has resulted in a fruitful working collaboration as part of the New Zealand Army’s Network Enabled Army (NEA) programme. The relationship is aiding the NZDF in its development of an advanced integrated and networked military towards 2025.
NEA is a 12-year programme spread over four incremental tranches that will equip Land and Special Operations Forces with a range of systems, from satellite bearer communications and command posts through to individual soldier radios and sensor systems. Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck, Capability Integration Lead for the NEA programme, stresses the importance of the SitaWare Battle Management System (BMS) utilising SitaWare Headquarters, Frontline, and Edge as the key to enable, integrate and interoperate across C4ISR functions. “It’s the glue that enables us to ‘fight’ the command post and operate with the partners that we routinely work with.”
“We started using SitaWare Headquarters in our Army command-and-control battle-lab in the early 2000s, we were really only dipping our toe in the water at that time, but we learnt a lot and established a really good relationship with Systematic and its NZ partner Eagle Technologies. This endures today with Systematic supporting our system design process.”
The New Zealand Army adopted SitaWare as its Battle Management System (BMS) for its Tactical Area Network Environment (TANE). In time it will operate the full suite of SitaWare products as a common platform to link soldiers, sensors, and other related systems. The software and related applications are a key component to better enable integration and interoperability to support C2 and information management as the basis of the networked force.
“NEA is designed to improve the operational effectiveness of the NZDF’s Land and Special Forces, as well as reducing operational risk”, Lt Col Beck noted. It is focused on enhancing interoperability, command-and-control, and situational awareness capabilities, as well as enabling an increased operational tempo.
Through NEA, both Land and Special Operations Forces are integrating a new Mobile Tactical Communications Systems (MTCS) that will enhance its Mission Command philosophy. SitaWare Tactical Communications (STC) is an important component in this effort, as its radio-agnostic technology can bring together extant and future systems with bandwidth efficiency, friendly force tracks, situational awareness information, chat, and messaging to be shared across the operating environment. The SitaWare suite will function throughout this operational environment, from the tactical edge through combat, combat support, and combat service support elements and across a range of information environments and user domains.
New Zealand’s military has a diverse and challenging mission set, with regional responsibilities as varied as Security and Stability Operations (SASO) tasks, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), in addition to policing the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world. On the wider international stage, the NZ Army is often called upon as a trusted partner in combat operations and peacekeeping missions, most recently including in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the South Pacific, among others.
Given that the Defence Force typically operates in collaboration with partners – including domestic agencies and non-governmental organisations – the ability to work with a variety of communications systems and at varying levels of security is of paramount importance and has been tested in a range of environments from the South Pacific to Antarctica.
In early 2018 a HADR Cloud solution developed by Systematic in conjunction with Microsoft was employed in support of relief efforts following Cyclone Gita, which devastated parts of the South Pacific. A multi-agency team that included representatives of the Defence Force, fire and emergency service, and Ministry of Health, among others, deployed to Tonga and utilised elements of the Cloud service to assist with their work in assessing damage to the airport, seaports, critical infrastructure, and major transit routes, all of which were crucial to re-establishing essential services and delivering aid to the island.
The SitaWare Headquarters-based solution – designated Wave Alpha – is tailored for use in HADR missions and can be accessed via COTS laptops or a web browser. As it is configured as an unclassified information environment, it gives non-military personnel the ability to access the advanced command-and-control tools employed by the military and share information across a broad team. The use of a common tool that allowed collaborative planning was an advantage.
Systematic has a large footprint in New Zealand and is a part of the NEA programme’s Test, Reference and Evaluation Capability (TREC) which is at the forefront of the delivery of the NEA capability. “We are delivering the programme as an incremental process to enable us to equip the Army at a pace that they can absorb and at a pace where we can incorporate new technologies,” Lt Col Beck noted, “The relationship we have with Systematic as a system design partner – which is quite unique – recognises that they have a lot of experience not only in the product, but how to integrate it across mounted and dismounted platforms. We want to utilise the experience that Systematic has, through this close partnership.”