New-build Cape Class Patrol Boats (CCPBs) on delivery to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) are about to be fitted with an internal and external naval communications system from Rohde & Schwarz. The global leader for integrated communications and network systems announced that the delivery is a clear commitment by Austal and the Australian Government to strengthen the CCPBs with an integrated communications system. The RAN will receive six CCPB platforms that are currently in production at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia. Delivery is scheduled from September 2021.
Rohde & Schwarz communications equipment selected for the CCPBs will include the company’s Naval Integrated Communications System (NAVICS) with multi-layer security and secure external line-of-sight (V/UHF) and beyond-line-of-sight communications (HF). NAVICS reduces the integration effort and risk associated with incorporating third-party components using its versatile IP gateways. “As a communications systems integrator, we have unique perspective and capability along with clear technical superiority of our solutions, particularly NAVICS,” said Gareth Evans, Managing Director of Rohde & Schwarz Australia. He added, “One of the exciting aspects of this system is its true VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] switching, it’s not a hybrid TDM [Time-Division Multiplexing] solution. This makes it both future-proof and scalable.”
In the traditional TDM world, where TDM is a type of digital or rarely analogue multiplexing in which two or more signals or bit streams are transferred apparently simultaneously as sub-channels in one communication channel, the intelligence in any given network is located in the core of the network rather than the edges. In the IP world, however, the intelligence has shifted to the end terminals, whereby redundant intelligent codes are being implemented to minimise the bandwidth that is required to transmit voice data or imagery more effectively.
Ben Wardle, General Manager Australian Shipbuilding at Austal, delivered a positive assessment. He explained that for the new CCPB contract with the Department of Defence, Austal conducted extensive market testing for a new, proven partner that would be able to meet or exceed the technical scope of the project, whilst maintaining Australian Industry engagement. “We were very pleased to find Rohde & Schwarz could fulfil this scope and we look forward to working with both the Australian and German-based teams to deliver the very best integrated communications system for RAN’s new Capes,” he said.
Hansjörg Herrbold, Vice President, Market Segment Navy at Rohde & Schwarz, noted that this contract represents a clear commitment by Austal and the Australian Government to strengthen the Cape class with “top-of-class” communication solutions by Rohde & Schwarz. “NAVICS is being deployed on numerous naval vessels, including the Royal Navy’s Type 26 [T26] frigates and was on display at the recent Pacific 2019 exhibition in Sydney,” he explained.
Rohde & Schwarz underlines that NAVICS uses state-of-the-art VoIP and Ethernet standards. Following market tendencies, the manufacturer decided to abandon outdated TDM technology, which required heavy proprietary hardware. Instead, NAVICS relays on widely spread industry standards and commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware, thus eliminating the risk of expensive obsolete equipment. A multilevel security architecture allows secure, trusted and tamper-proof communications between multiple domains with different security classifications.
Rohde & Schwarz has provided more than 40 navies with state-of-the-art communications technology, offering extensive experience and knowledge in supplying integrated communications and network systems to naval platforms and naval, joint or allied communications networks. The most effective support, solutions are delivered through partnerships with customers. Thus, Rohde & Schwarz Australia established a very competent integration capability for Australian industry in Sydney to complement our existing maintenance and world-class calibration facilities. This opportunity ensures Australian jobs are created and supply chain opportunities continue for Australia’s shipbuilding industry, according to the company.