C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

French Navy awards Airbus-led consortium RIFAN 2.1 contract

11 March 2019

The French Navy has awarded the Airbus-led consortium the RIFAN 2.1 contract Source: Airbus

The French Navy is acquiring a secure data network for its vessels from a consortium comprising Naval Group, Rohde & Schwarz, and headed by Airbus.

The eight-year contract, awarded on 4 March by France's Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), is worth up to USD168 million (EUR150 million).

The consortium will be responsible for maintaining and adapting the existing internet protocol (IP) network for the navy, known as the RIFAN 2 (Réseau IP de la Force Aéronavale étape) programme, to integrate new ships and address hardware and software obsolescence. Currently, a total of 63 ships, ranging from aircraft carriers and frigates to submarines, are equipped with the RIFAN 2 network.

The work is also intended to enable future front-line frigates and replenishment tankers to be integrated into the RIFAN 2 network. According to Airbus, the network adaptations involve both its central architecture and an update of the cyber-security incident monitoring and detection system.

The RIFAN 2.1 programme is designed to equip French vessels with a secure broadband network to facilitate data exchanges at various classification levels, including 'Secret', between ships at sea and on-shore command-and-control stations.

The network transmits data from applications specific to the co-ordination of carrier group operations and those dedicated to the daily and logistical management for life on board. For example, the RIFAN 2 network transmits data for co-ordinating carrier group and logistical management for the duration of an operation.

The system combines satellite connections, such as Syracuse or Comcept, and radio communication systems to optimise all-IP exchanges between ships, with a range of several dozen nautical miles. The various IP flows are encrypted at different levels and X-band satellite links are protected against jamming, an Airbus spokesperson told Jane's .

The main challenges Airbus encountered in managing the RIFAN 2 programme were the multibearer management of different network path possibilities, and the flow prioritisation of operational and logistics applications depending on operational constraints, the Airbus spokesperson said.

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