Think Joint - When Defining Your Next Maritime C4I Project
The roles of naval forces have never been more integrated than they are today. Almost all recent operations are dependent on a complex mix of joint and combined forces. This creates new requirements for Maritime C4I solutions and there are clear benefits for a naval force that chooses solutions with intrinsic cross-domain interoperability.
During the past decades, war-fighting operations have become increasingly complex. Joint warfare requires elaborate planning and the ability to establish and understand a Common Operational Picture (COP). While most naval forces are tightly integrated with the air environment, through Tactical Data Links, the same cannot be said for the land environment.
A properly employed naval force is an invaluable asset in support of the land operations, with missions ranging from sea denial and sea basing through to maintaining the sea lines of communications, carrying out Special Operations, supporting heavy lift, providing naval fires, acting as a platform for amphibious operations, and delivering air power without the need for host nation support.
Maritime systems, particularly in legacy platforms, have not kept pace with the recent technological advancements in land warfare systems, and many are not capable of displaying the COP at all.
In this complex environment, naval vessels require compatibility and interoperability with other domestic and coalition forces. To be successful in this role, all maritime units must be able to understand and contribute to the COP, regardless of the aspects of the joint operation.
However, the challenge to achieving compatibility and interoperability is rooted in the differing C4I solutions using different interoperability standards employed across the services. This inherently causes collaboration issues that are all preventable by simply choosing a C4I solution designed from the outset for cross-domain use.
Maritime C4I’s importance to joint operations
Historically, each branch of the military has had different C2 and information needs that have been satisfied by a myriad of stovepipe solutions.
The overarching requirement of a truly joint C4I solution is to be able to create, disseminate, and display the COP in any of the units assigned to the mission. A well-organised and understood COP then forms the framework for the development of courses of action, plans and orders both in the Joint or Coalition HQ and Component Commander. Depending on the mission, the COP may consist of the Recognised Air, Land and Maritime Pictures as well as an Environmental Picture, all comprised in the C4I solution.
The successful integration of the naval force is dependent on the command team in each ship having the essential information from all the pictures that are relevant to their mission, without overloading the limited bandwidth.
However, many navies lack fleet-wide C4I integration, limiting the capability to perform support to joint operation and to contribute fully to the mission.
In the joint space, technological disparity presents a considerable challenge. Aside from the obvious technological discrepancy between the leaders and laggers in a coalition task group, invariably each service has evolved asynchronously – and the same is true for C4I solutions and their level of sophistication.
Bridging the gap between services
Traditionally, bespoke development of C4I systems have been limited to major units and have been a low priority on the remainder of the fleet. Many systems that are now nearing obsolescence were built in an era when land forces had little to offer digitally. Today, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) C4I solutions like the SitaWare C4I Suite are designed with joint warfare in at their core while providing the specific functionality for single service use.
SitaWare’s integral joint compatibility and interoperability ensures seamless interaction between maritime, land forces and air units. SitaWare C4I is based on open API’s to allow for easy integration and sensors and tailored integration with existing equipment.
The native joint design of SitaWare dramatically reduces the cost and risk of integration typically associated with bespoke, stovepipe systems. Guide by customers and the need to remain competitive, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products are under continual development using agile software development to incorporate the latest tactics, techniques and procedures as well as new interoperability standards.
For more information
Explore Systematic’s off-the-shelf Maritime C4I solution to learn more about how your navy can benefit from a C4I solution built on the needs and tasks of modern day navies.