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The Direction Générale de l’armement (DGA – France’s defence procurement agency) has awarded a contract with a maximum duration of eight years and valued at up to €150 million to an industrial consortium of Airbus, Naval Group and Rohde & Schwarz to update the French Navy’s secure network.

The contract covers work to maintain and adapt the existing IP network for French naval forces, the Réseau IP de la Force Aéronavale étape 2 (RIFAN 2), to the RIFAN 2.1 standard, to meet the navy’s future needs, to integrate new ships and deal with hardware and software obsolescence. It will also enable the frégates de défense et d’intervention (FDI) future front-line frigates programme and the bâtiment ravitailleur de forces (BRF) future replenishment vessels programme to be integrated into the RIFAN 2 network. The network adaptations will involve both its central architecture and an update of the cybersecurity incident monitoring and detection system.

A total of 63 vessels are equipped with RIFAN 2, ranging from aircraft carriers and frigates to support ships, patrol craft based overseas and submarines. The purpose of the programme is to equip French naval forces with a truly secure broadband network. It is designed for exchanges of data of various classification levels, ranging from unclassified to secret, between ships at sea and on-shore command centres.

The network transmits data from applications specific to the coordination of carrier group operations and those dedicated to logistical management of daily life on board, such as those between information systems of embarked theatre chiefs of staff, for example. The system is capable of combining several communication streams in order to optimise the use of the transmission capacity available at sea, which is, by nature, limited. It uses satellite connections, such as COMCEPT or SYRACUSE, as well as radio systems allowing all-IP (Internet Protocol) exchanges between ships, with a range of several dozen nautical miles.

RIFAN 2 also provides overall network management and cybersecurity incident monitoring capability. This monitoring can take place both from an on-shore management and control

centre and also locally on board the ships, thus providing the crews with a degree of independence so that they can make best use of the network according to the operational situation.

The consortium will upgrade, enhance and update the RIFAN 2 secure network to a new RIFAN 2.1 standard. (Photo: Airbus)

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