A group of 31 Australian SMEs has successfully demonstrated a prototype mobile tactical communications system for the Australian Army. The Army-sponsored sovereign industry initiative Command, Control, Communications and Computers – Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment (C4 EDGE), achieved a Battlegroup and Below prototype demonstration milestone at Majura Field Firing Training Range, ACT.
The sovereign Battlegroup and Below Battlefield Command System (B3CS) prototype was demonstrated in a combat team environment, integrating mounted/dismounted and uninhabited platforms in a single network.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the $35 million C4 EDGE initiative had demonstrated Australian industry’s ability to design, develop and manufacture Army’s radio equipment in Australia.
“Critical defence capabilities, such as mobile tactical radio communication systems, will be designed and manufactured locally,” Minister Price said. “This will greatly improve supply chain resilience.”
The initiative is aligned with the Advanced Signal Processing and Information Warfare Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities and supports the growth of the sovereign tactical communications industry.
C4 EDGE met all contracted milestones, despite the significant constraints imposed by COVID-19, she added. Outcomes from the C4 EDGE demonstration are expected to further Army’s understanding of the requirements for future communications projects.
Matthew Jones CEO of EOS Defence Systems Australia which is leading the C4 EDGE consortium said “C4 EDGE, as an Australian first, leverages the expertise and cutting-edge technologies across Industry Team participants who represent every State and Territory across Australia except the Northern Territory.
“It incorporates locally sourced combat radios, satellite terminals, cryptography, networking middleware, command applications, user interfaces, batteries, and power management into a coherent and fully Australian-controlled system.”
C4 EDGE has surpassed expectations in its demonstration of Australian Industry capability, he said, proving Australian Industry has capacity, capability and will to deliver a C4 system that can meet the future needs of the Australian Army: “C4 EDGE has delivered a roadmap for the development of the sovereign C4 eco-system including options to take the demonstration proof of concept through to commercial production.”
The initial success of C4 EDGE would not have happened without the sponsorship and extensive support from the Australian Army, added Jones.
Army Head of Land Capability MAJGEN Simon Stuart said C4 EDGE is an example of strategic partnership between Army and industry characterised by engagement earlier in the Capability Life Cycle.
“The initiative is a $35 million mobile tactical communications capability proof-of-concept involving a consortium of eighteen Australian companies, led by Electro Optic Systems,” MAJGEN Stuart said.
“The aim of C4 EDGE is to provide Army an understanding of Australian Industry’s readiness to contribute to future major acquisition programs by seeking to deliver world class, technologically competitive sovereign C4 capabilities.”
Major-General Stuart added that C4 EDGE is a key example of Army maintaining a capability development edge by engaging directly with Australian industry and demonstrated industry’s ability to collaborate to achieve an integrated system outcome.
“These partnerships are vital if we are to deliver the Government’s modernisation program and build a joint force that can meet the threats of today and adapt quickly to the threats of tomorrow.”
The C4 EDGE program showcases the potential for Australian Industry to deliver key elements of Defence capability – keeping Defence investment local, growing advanced manufacturing jobs, and strengthening Australia’s existing C4 Industrial base and to grow export markets.