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More than sixty vessels in the French Navy are now equipped with the Réseau Intranet de la Force Aéronavale étape 2 (RIFAN 2) system, a secure intranet system onboard vessels ranging from aircraft carriers and front-line frigates to support ships, patrol craft and submarines. With it, all ships at sea can now establish secure broadband links with each other and with onshore command centres.

The RIFAN 2 contract, worth around € 160 million, was awarded to an industrial group headed by Airbus as the prime contractor and comprising Naval Group and Rohde & Schwarz as co-contractors. The purpose of the programme is to equip the French Navy’s surface ships and submarines with a truly secure intranet system, designed to transmit data with varying classification levels, ranging from ‘unprotected’ to ‘secret’ and ‘NATO secret.’ This network transmits data produced by multiple applications, both to coordinate operations and for daily logistics management of life afloat, as well as to exchange data between information systems of theatre commanders and staffs on board a vessel for the duration of an operation.

Whether it’s a ship sailing alone, a carrier group, or an amphibious group on operations, the various vessels are equipped to meet their respective connectivity requirements. The system is capable of combining several communication streams in order to optimise use of the transmission capacity available at sea, which is, by nature, limited. It therefore utilises satellite connections, such as COMCEPT or SYRACUSE, as well as radio communication resources. Existing radio systems have been refurbished, and a new UHF network has been deployed, which now allows all-IP voice and data exchanges between ships, with a range of several tens of kilometres.

RIFAN 2 also provides an overall network management and cybersecurity incident monitoring capability. This monitoring can take place either from an onshore management and control centre, or locally on board the ships, thus providing crews with a degree of independence, so that they can make the best use of the network in light of operational circumstances.

The network will become increasingly dense, with installation planned for the BARRACUDA-class submarines now under construction, for medium-size frigates (FTI programme), which are to be the French Navy’s future front-line vessels, and for the future replenishment tankers (FLOTLOG programme).

The RIFAN 2 system is regularly modified and upgraded, both in terms of its central architecture and the integration of new of satellite broadband communications protocols. Similarly, the cybersecurity incident monitoring and detection system will also be upgraded.

RIFAN 2 now equips over 60 vessels of the French Marine Nationale. (Photo: Airbus)

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