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Air traffic is steadily increasing and new voice communications systems (VCS) are needed to replace existing legacy platforms for air traffic control (ATC) organisations. Key requirements include fully IP-based voice communications in line with current standards, flexible role handling/selection mechanisms and improved re-sectorisation mechanisms. Additionally, cyber security is fundamental to ensuring the continued safety of airspace.

The VCS-4G is a VCS that provides a secure and consistent connection between controller and the radio. It consists of multiple components which can be combined into one individual customer solution, a VCMS management system, CWP end devices and gateways, designed to allow two independent VCS systems (main and backup) to connect to analogue radios via an E1 interface. The radio gateway also supports two redundant E1 connections, 60 simultaneous RTP streams and 120 SIP radio sessions.

New features include compatibility with the ED-137 Volume 1C standard and main/standby based on RRC. In order to protect the integrity of networks, programmes and data from attack, damage or unauthorised access, new cyber security measures have been taken. These include file integrity monitoring, VCMS password management improvements, VCMS HTTPS/TLS encrypted communication and VCMS Database TLS encrypted communication, as well as VCS Audit Logging.

Additional security features include the migration to CentOS 7, to which systems already delivered with CentOS 6 can be migrated. Furthermore, additional Linux OS-hardening measures have been taken. Implementation of crypto-pooling for secure ground-air-ground voice communications to support flexible air defence operational scenarios will be available.

Monitoring and control of the Time of Day, Word of Day and NET entry parameters on an R&S M3SR Series 4400 radio in SATURN and HAVE QUICK mode will also be available. Switching the communication mode of the radios can also be performed via the CWP HMI.

With release 10.0, Rohde & Schwarz proves yet again that the company’s fully integrated digital solution is an innovative and future-proof IP-based system,” explains Constantin von Reden, Vice President Market Segment ATC. “While physical security at airports has been tightened significantly, it seems cybersecurity of this important infrastructure still needs a lot of work. Implementing security at the earliest stage of R&S VCS-4G’s lifecycle, Rohde & Schwarz ensures that nothing interferes with air traffic control operations.”

R&S VCS-4G is based on VoIP technology and is, due to its unique architecture, highly scalable and easily expanded without replacing existing equipment. It has been designed to meet next-generation ATC requirements such as asset sharing, facility consolidation, geographical distribution and remote tower technology, providing air navigation service providers (ANSP) with an effective solution for present and future safety and efficiency objectives in global aviation.

VCS-4G places a strong emphasis on security and cyber hardening measures. (Image: Shutterstock via Rohde & Schwarz)

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