Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2016-07-10

Rockwell Collins: At the Forefront of C4ISR Capabilities

Rockwell Collins’ Bernard Bouillaud, META strategy director, and Fabrice Fontanier, military systems marketing director shed light on the company’s diverse range of products and solutions and share their vision for the future. Nation Shield reports...
 
By Sakha Pramod
 
Rockwell Collins, which recently participated in the C4ISR Summit 2016 in Abu Dhabi, has been operating in the region for over 20 years. 
“Most of the Armed Forces today are typically employing our solutions in avionics for fighter aircraft, helicopters, data links and high precision targeting systems that  can connect to any of the coalition fighters,” says Bouillaud.
 
The company has invested significantly in the region for the last five years, especially in the UAE.
“It is investment in terms of direct investment, partnerships, and building relationship with our customers,” Bouillaud adds. “As a result of that we have set up three new offices since 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh. And through the acquisition of ARINC, two offices in Doha and Cairo were added.”
 
Rockwell Collins’ long-term plan, according to Bouillaud, is to set up alliances with key local partners to customize  solutions and co-develop products and services to serve regional needs. 
 
“For example, we announced a cooperation agreement with AMMROC in the UAE, in order to strengthen local capabilities, and   facilitate the provision of MRO and upgrade services across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa”.
 
“We recognize that the Middle East is a fast growing market and we are committed to further our  investment in the region because of the opportunities we have been able to gain here to date.”
 
Stepping stone
Rockwell Collins is well known for its avionics, communication systems, data links and services, but there is now a real focus on promoting the C4ISR solutions on offer. 
Fontanier explains: “One of the key objectives for the company at the C4ISR Summit 2016 in Abu Dhabi was to get an opportunity to enhance our brand awareness, and explain to our customers what our strategies for C4ISR are. We provide major components supporting the customers’ vision and help them to implement their C4ISR  roadmap.”
 
According to Fontanier, C4ISR integration is not something that can be done overnight and requires key components such as software-defined radios, waveforms, data links, sensors, security, gateways, and cloud infrastructure. 
 
“We have identified these key elements as being the foundation for C4ISR and we wanted to explain to our customers what the C4ISR enablers are,” he adds. “We have a very pragmatic approach to help our customers accomplish their vision and it can be done through co-development, transfer of know-how, and similar.”
 
Fontanier stresses that in terms of capabilities that can be a part of the global C4ISR, Rockwell Collins has products that cater to some specific functionality. For example, Firestorm™ offers Digitally Aided Close Air Support, allowing JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers), who are the people on the ground  targeting  to the profit of the fighter aircraft delivering the weapon, a complete set of tools allowing a high level of accuracy for the targeting. 
 
“A JTAC from one nation can interact with an aircraft from another nation through digital messages, which is always better than communicating through voice only,” says Bouillaud. “We have delivered a number of these products around the region and worldwide. 
 
“Today, we are marketing a new version of Firestorm, which is much lighter and smaller, as JTAC operators already carry a lot of equipment.” 
Another aspect of this is Joint Fires, which allows the JTAC to work with artillery observers and combine effects coming from both army and navy artillery.
 
Focus on LVC Technologies
Live Virtual Constructive Technologies (LVC) enable the training of forces across networks. 
“It’s a bit like training while you are fighting and training where you fight,”   says Fontanier .
 
“You don’t need to bring everyone together in the same location, and you can use the network to allow people to train together – not only using live elements, which involves people training in the real terrain, but also virtual simulated elements.”
 
“Virtual training is about using simulators and some constructive elements, which means the computer can play the role of an odd-number of either red or blue forces and can train all these people in a collective training, in a distributed way across the network. 
 
Fontanier adds: “It is very efficient in terms of training as you don’t need to move people around. It is much more cost-effective and makes use of simulation technology, which can be much cheaper when compared to real equipment. It sometimes still uses the real terrain, which is very much needed for a certain level of training. So you can have this combination of Live, Virtual and Constructive allowing you to tailor the training to what you really want to achieve.”
 
In the US, Rockwell Collins is currently working on a new program called Command Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS) that works together with the Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS). 
 
This means that you can train on both new generation fighters such as the F-35  and older generation fighters, while exchanging data at different levels of security.
 Similarly, it is also possible, in a coalition format, to train people of different nations together, as you will be able to exchange information, which is not at the same level of security automatically between the elements of different nations. 
 
Fontanier explains: “We try to be very pragmatic meaning that we are looking at the future technology, but at the same time most of the customers are not willing to replace everything they have. 
 
“We have proven solutions like Firestorm for instance, but we can also propose to the customer the roadmap for the future. Without discarding whatever they already have they can still progress by adding new technologies. I think this is what differentiates us from the competition.”
 
Some of Rockwell Collins’ bestsellers in the region include the Firestorm solutions; the company is also heavily involved in avionics and aircraft communication solutions and navigation.
 
“The idea is never to provide a solution that can fit everybody,” says Fontanier. “We need to be attentive to the unique local needs as each country has specific requirements and we need to understand their vision. Some of the technologies coming from the commercial world are quite advanced but you need to keep in mind that the goals of your customer are still very much military ones.
 
“We need to balance all the customers’ objectives and propose an appropriate way forward”.

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