June 3, 2003|
For Immediate Release
CEC Prototypes Delivered to U.K.
APL Supports Field Tests as U.K. Considers Purchase of System
The APL-conceived Cooperative Engagement Capability system may one day enable U.S. and British allied naval forces to increase their interoperability on the battlefield if the United Kingdom joins the CEC network. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., is playing a leading role in the U.K.'s risk assessment and analysis efforts currently underway — a process to help the Royal Navy determine whether or not they want to purchase the system. CEC became available to them through a foreign military sales agreement with the U.S. in 2000.
A team from APL is developing prototype hardware and software for a series of land-based tests, scheduled to begin as early as June 5, 2003, at the Portsdown Technology Park in Fareham, U.K., and later at the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood in Hants, U.K.
"The objective of these tests is to demonstrate that CEC improves the Royal Navy's situational awareness and current weapons capability performance," says John Barnes, APL's U.K. CEC project manager.
APL's efforts are part of a cost-plus-fixed-fee task order agreement under the Lab's current Navy contract signed in October 2002. In this foreign military sales case, APL reports directly to NAVSEA, which is handling all aspects of export control.
Supporting Land-based TestsIn order for CEC to be integrated with a U.K. weapon system, Barnes and his team are developing a new adaptive layer, containing sensor and command system interface functions, to enable communication between CEC and the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigate weapon system. Simultaneously, Lockheed Martin United Kingdom Information Systems is managing the upgrades to the Type 23 frigate combat system and radars to accept information from CEC.
During the land-based tests, APL is providing hardware to support testing of the prototype adaptive layer, which is part of the Cooperative Engagement Processor (CEP) — CEC's core element that collects and fuses sensor data from all battle group units. In addition, data reduction equipment and analysis capabilities will be provided.
"We're also developing a U.K. CEP Wrap-Around Simulation Program (WASP) that will allow us to network the CEPs, operating with live U.K. radars, from the two land-based test sites," says Barnes. "For this series of tests, the WASP will emulate the Data Distribution System interface typically used to relay information between CEC equipped ships. Also, with its ability to model the radars, combat systems and communication mechanisms between CEPs, the WASP is used by software developers to generate a full spectrum of test inputs, and provides an effective method for monitoring results."
An APL team will support tests from the field and assist the U.K. with their data analysis efforts. "Prior to shipping equipment to the U.K., we use simulations and models, such as the WASP, to help us develop and test the prototype hardware and software here at APL," says Barnes. "In the field, we'll test the functionality of our developments with actual U.K. systems, and make any necessary revisions to the system from APL."
The series of land-based tests represent an important step on the U.K.'s road to potentially acquiring a network-centric capability. "These tests are the first step in building a complete CEC system that the U.K. would need to put on their ships," Barnes adds.
The first round of tests will focus on how CEC performs with the Type 23 frigate, considered the mainstay of the Royal Navy's modern surface fleet. Later this year, APL hopes to support tests associated with the Type 45 destroyer currently under development — considered the largest and most powerful air defense destroyer ever operated by the Royal Navy.
CEC-related testing for both platforms is scheduled to be completed in the spring 2005 timeframe, just before the U.K.'s expected procurement decision in mid-2005. Should the U.K. decide to purchase the system, the first CEC-enabled Type 23-class frigate is forecast to enter service in 2008, with the first of the Type 45-class destroyers scheduled to follow in 2010.
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.