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Rohde & Schwarz to provide naval comms for Cape Class patrol boats

Rohde & Schwarz Australia has signed a contract with Austal to provide integrated communications systems for six Cape Class patrol boats (CCPB) contracted by the Department of Defence for use by the Royal Australian Navy.

Rohde & Schwarz Australia has signed a contract with Austal to provide integrated communications systems for six Cape Class patrol boats (CCPB) contracted by the Department of Defence for use by the Royal Australian Navy.

The new RAN CCPBs will include a number of enhancements that include Rohde & Schwarz communications equipment, including the company’s Naval Integrated Communications System (NAVICS) with multi-layer security and secure external line of sight (V/UHF) and beyond line of sight communications (HF).

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NAVICS uses state-of-the-art VoIP and ethernet standards. Following market tendencies, Rohde & Schwarz has decided to abandon outdated TDM technology, which required heavy proprietary hardware.

Instead, NAVICS relays on widely spread industry standards and commercial-of-the-shelf hardware, thus eliminating the risk of expensive obsolete equipment. A multilevel security architecture allows secure, trusted and tamper-proof communications between multiple domains with different security classifications.

Managing director of Rohde & Schwarz Australia, Gareth Evans, said, “As a communications systems integrator, we have unique perspective and capability along with clear technical superiority of our solutions, particularly NAVICS.

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The fleet of CCPBs are currently under construction at Austal's Henderson shipyard and are scheduled to be delivered from September 2021.  

"One of the exciting aspects of this system is its true VoIP switching, it’s not a hybrid TDM solution. This makes it both future-proof and scalable. NAVICS also reduces the integration effort and risk associated with incorporating third-party components using its versatile IP gateways," Evans added. 

Based on Austal’s proven 58-metre aluminium monohull design, the new RAN evolved Capes will include a number of enhancements that further extend the capability of the vessel and the fleet.

These evolved CCPBs include modifications determined through the extensive in-service experience of the RAN and ABF Capes currently operating throughout northern Australia.

Ben Wardle, general manager Australian shipbuilding at Austal, said the company was looking forward to working with Rohde & Schwarz (Australia) to deliver an effective integrated communications system for the CCPBs.

"We were very pleased to find Rohde & Schwarz could fulfil this scope and we look forward to working with both the Australian and German based teams to deliver the very best integrated communications system for RAN’s new Capes," Wardle said. 

"For the new Cape Class patrol boat contract with the Department of Defence, Austal conducted extensive market testing for a new, proven partner that would be able to meet or exceed the technical scope of the project, whilst maintaining Australian Industry engagement."

Crew capacity has been increased by 10 people, to now total 32, and quality-of-life provisions have been enhanced, ensuring those who operate the new Capes have connectivity to the outside world regardless of the operating environment.

Further improvements have been incorporated into the new RAN Cape design, developed during the design and construction of two CCPBs for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard; an export contract awarded on 16 August 2019 and won with the strong support of the Australian government and Export Finance Australia.

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard Capes (Hulls 398 and 399) are currently in an advanced state of construction and are scheduled for delivery later in 2020.

Wardle added, "For the new Cape Class patrol boat contract with the Department of Defence, Austal conducted extensive market testing for a new, proven partner that would be able to meet or exceed the technical scope of the project, whilst maintaining Australian industry engagement. 

Construction of the six Capes for the RAN will commence immediately at Austal Australia’s Henderson, Western Australia, shipyard with deliveries scheduled from September 2021, then successively through to mid-2023.

Austal has designed, constructed and sustained the Commonwealth of Australia’s entire fleet of patrol boats since 1998; including the Bay, Armidale and Cape Class operated by the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force, comprising 32 vessels.

Austal is also delivering 21 Guardian Class patrol boats for 12 Pacific island nations and Timor Leste under the SEA 3036-1 Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, with six patrol boats delivered since 2018.

Henderson-based Austal provides in-service support to both the Cape and Guardian Class patrol boat fleets through service centres located in Henderson; Cairns, Queensland; and Darwin, Northern Territory.

Rohde & Schwarz to provide naval comms for Cape Class patrol boats
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