France contracts Airbus-led group for work on fleet-wide data network

Photo: Airbus

The French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) has awarded an Airbus-led group a contract for work on the French Navy’s fleet wide data network.

In cooperation with Naval Group and Rohde & Schwarz, Airbus will maintain and adapt the existing IP network for the French naval forces.

The intranet system is dubbed RIFAN 2 (Réseau IP de la Force Aéronavale étape 2).

As disclosed by Airbus, the contract has a maximum duration of eight years and a maximum value of € 150 million.

In addition to maintaining the current fleet, the contract envisions the integration of software on new ships such as the future front-line frigates of the FDI (‘frégates de défense et d’intervention’) program and the future replenishment tankers of the BRF (‘bâtiment ravitailleur de forces’) program. Network adaptations will involve both its central architecture and an update of the cybersecurity incident monitoring and detection system.

A total of 63 ships are equipped with the RIFAN 2 network, ranging from aircraft carriers and frigates to support ships, patrol craft based overseas and submarines. It is designed for exchanges of data of various classification levels, ranging from ‘Unclassified’ to ‘Secret’, between ships at sea and on-shore command centers.

The network transmits data from applications specific to the coordination of carrier group operations and those dedicated to the daily and logistical management of life on board, such as those between information systems of theatre chiefs of staff on board a vessel for the duration of an operation.

Whether it’s a ship sailing alone or a carrier group, the various vessels are equipped to meet their respective connectivity requirements. The system is capable of combining several communication streams in order to optimize the use of the transmission capacity available at sea, which is, by nature, limited. It utilizes satellite connections, such as Comcept or Syracuse, and also radio communication 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 center 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.

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