The Bundeswehr, too, is a driving force behind digital transformation. The goal of its efforts is to achieve superiority of effect through improved and faster processes in terms of command and control as well as planning. And this is where Directorate I of BAAINBw plays an important role.
It manages the projects concerning information technology relevant for operations and command and control. This includes everything from data processing centres and software developed for specific purposes to entire signal teams. The Directorate even has its own communications satellites and cryptographic equipment in the product portfolio. A current example of how products of Directorate I are used is the IT equipment of the GAF combat operations centre (COC), which has been in use in Jordan since May 2019. This COC ensures the safe flight operation of the Tornado reconnaissance aircraft and the A310 MRTT transport/tanker aircraft within the scope of the Counter Daesh mission.
Directorate I implements products and keeps them in service in the context of different projects, and, in the end, they must all be compatible with each other in the Bundeswehr IT system. Division I1 bears control responsibility and takes care of different cross-sectional matters. Two current examples illustrating the work of Division I1 are presented below; this will be followed by news regarding the project work of Divisions I4 to I6.
Introduction of the IT Service Owner Role
The MoD’s IT strategy requires that the Bundeswehr IT system is further developed until a service-oriented architecture is achieved. The IT service management that is needed for such a development is introduced in the areas of equipment and in-service support by the Bundeswehr IT service designer, who is part of Directorate I. The cross-sectional nature of its products and IT services is another reason for the importance of Directorate I.
When a service-oriented architecture is to be introduced, one of the success criteria is to clearly determine the responsibilities, apart from designing and introducing IT service management processes and connecting them to the existing core processes of requirement identification and procurement. The IT service owner role is especially important in this regard.
The IT service owner ensures that the IT services can be reused beyond the original project scope. In addition, he manages the interdependence between the IT services and other IT projects and IT services. The Bundeswehr IT service designer exercises overall control over all IT services, which results in an optimised Bundeswehr IT system.
In the case of projects in which only one IT service is implemented, this responsibility lies with the project manager/IT service owner as one single person. When more IT services are implemented within a project, however, a proper IT service owner will be assigned to each one of them. It is challenging in this context to switch from the former project landscape to a service landscape. The IT service owner can take over the increased responsibility only step by step and in line with the available personnel, especially in the case where an IT service has so far been integrated in a single project only, but is now meant to be used in several different projects.
Preparations are currently under way to designate the first IT service owners on the basis of a step model. One main point of effort are the IT services at infrastructure and platform level that are provided through the Harmonisation of the Command and Control Information Systems/German Mission Network program (HaFIS/GMN) and the HERKULES follow-on project. There is a high potential for reuse in this context. Other than that, the focus lies on IT services relevant for the Digitalization of Land-Based Operations (D-LBO) program so as to ensure reusability right from the start.
This will provide the organizational groundwork required to achieve the service-oriented IT strategy goal.
Internet Protocol Version 6 for the Bundeswehr IT System
The Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) is a standardised protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force and has been used for data transfer within computer networks since 1998. IPv6 has become more prevalent on the Internet since the assignment of IPv4 addresses came to an end. Although still widely in use, IPv4 will increasingly be replaced by IPv6, especially because IPv6 serves as the standard for new products and, in addition, IPv4 is not supported anymore.
The IPv4 addresses consisted of 32 bits; with Version 6, however, it is possible to use 128 bits for the addresses.
Back in 2003, the Bundeswehr considered for the first time to migrate its IT system, step by step, from the then standard IPv4 to IPv6. This was formulated more clearly in the FMoD’s IT strategy, stating that the goal is, by 2017, to generally use IPv4 and IPv6 side by side (dual stack operation); in the long run, however, IPv4 is not intended to be used anymore.
The hardware and software must support the intended dual stack operation as much as possible. This is important for the migration of existing systems or the procurement and development of new IT systems. IPv6 characteristics must already be implemented in a way that conforms to the standard, especially in the case of characteristics that are not yet meant to be used.
The past has shown that the testing of functions and, if required, a certification in accordance with accepted standards is indispensable. The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Information Technology and Electronics (WTD 81) supports Branch I1.3 of BAAINBw in these inspections.
HaFIS is Up and Running
In the field of command and control information systems, it was customary to implement monolithic, proprietary individual systems based on projects that were required in terms of planning. Each one of them perfectly fulfilled the user requirements, but the way in which these systems interacted with each other was less than ideal in most cases. This approach is rather unfavourable, both in the context of realisation and especially during operation, because different technical solutions are used in multiple ways to implement functionalities. In addition, the operating personnel and users must be trained on different systems.
The solution is to combine and further develop the projects within a programme for the harmonisation of the command and control information systems (HaFIS). The HaFIS programme provides the different users who employ common technology with the required IT services in the form of a single system, while also ensuring information security. The services comprise, among other things, situation, email, document handling, chat, classified registry and user-specific applications. The HaFIS platform is generally accepted to be a modern and highly secure work tool.
Despite all the issues, it can now be said in good conscience that “HaFIS is up and running”. The geo-redundant data processing centre located in Germany is used by thousands of persons involved, for example, in operational reporting, military intelligence and Air Force specific services. Thus, the main work focus of this stationary data processing centre currently lies on service use. A lot of expert knowledge and detail work is required to keep the system permanently up to date and in a highly secure state in cooperation with the operator.
The connections to the mission areas can only handle limited data rates, which is why it is necessary to operate data processing centres on location in which mission-specific data stocks are kept. In this context, considerable progress was made regarding the implementation. Generally, there are two ways of implementing these kinds of data processing centres: either fitted in regular containers or in transport and operating containers. Both options have advantages and disadvantages; but, all in all, they cover a large operational spectrum. The transport and operating container version is currently about to be put into service for the Joint Forces Air Component Headquarters (JFAC HQ) in Kalkar; the same solution will also be used for the Multinational Joint Headquarters Ulm.
The German Mission Network (GMN) stands for the continuation and extension of HaFIS. The GMN Block 1 project will implement the HaFIS solutions across the Bundeswehr. First and foremost, this means building up capacities in the data processing centers located in Germany, and it also means a higher number of transportable units. Within the Integrated Project Team (IPT), a small core team of Directorate I has made a proposal regarding the further approach for GMN1 in which HaFIS serves as the basis and will be improved on the grounds of the gained experience. To give an example, a highly integrated container type is implemented in order to reduce risks and to be able to minimize the effort required for the transportation to the mission area, which is done by reducing the number of containers per data processing centre to a minimum. On the other hand, it is intended to simplify the mission-specific IT preparation for the user and to make it more flexible.
The German Improved Air Defence System (GIADS) is an Air Force combat control system that is employed within a system of national air defence sites. It was already fielded in the Air Force at the end of the 1990s and has been continuously adapted to the relevant requirements in multiple cycles.
German military air surveillance is currently based on one transportable and two stationary national air defence sites. The stationary air defence sites are part of NATO Integrated Air Defence and exchange data with other allied air defence sites and agencies in continuous operation.
This system enables the Air Force to ensure, at all times, the command and control capability in air operations as well as to perform airspace surveillance by way of air situation pictures and to identify objects within the national and international context.
The fast-paced nature of IT systems nowadays leads to obsolescence effects in next to no time. If not identified in good time, they result in limited materiel maintenance and availability, leading to increased follow-on investments and operational costs. A regeneration project ensures that the systems can be supported.
The complexity of regeneration measures is often underestimated. High demands are placed on engineering when systems are ported to modern hardware environments and full functionality is to be maintained at the same time, especially because technically outdated interfaces must be implemented and maintained with modern hardware. This was also the case within this project. In the end, the second regenerated combat centre was handed over to the user in April 2019, and thus the project was completed successfully.
Joint Networkable Radio – First Procurement Contract
The introduction of Joint Networkable Radio Equipment marks the beginning of an activity in the context of D-LBO. As part of this, outdated radio equipment will be replaced, among other things, so as to be able to provide the IT services required for network-enabled operations (NEO). The information exchange classified up to SECRET and NATO SECRET forms part of these IT services. In future, this will be handled with networkable radio equipment in order to meet the requirements of continuous IP-based communication and to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability of digital information.
Networkable radio equipment essentially is Software Defined Radio (SDR). The functions can be configured as desired with the help of software rather than having to adapt or exchange the hardware. This gives the users the possibility to operate multiple radio networks in different frequency ranges with a single radio; all they have to do is to load software. While it was so far necessary to install several different radios in a given vehicle platform, it will now be possible to control a lot of applications with a single SDR for quite some time to come.
The modular design makes it possible to cover a large frequency spectrum; hence, by using networkable radio equipment expensive and complex platform and weapon system rework can be avoided.
The advance procurement of networkable radio equipment for 23 PUMA battalion command vehicles and 27 BOXER battalion command vehicles is currently underway, representing the first element of D-LBO.
Apart from the networkable radio equipment of those 50 command vehicles, the procurement contract also covers the entire operational environment required for use (network management system, safety management system), the training sites, the initial spares requirement and servicing float.
The delivery of the first networkable radio production units has been agreed for 2020.
The digital transformation is crucial for the future of the Bundeswehr. The activities in this regard provide the possibility to increase the robustness of the Armed Forces and, at the same time, to render the Bundeswehr’s administrative practices more efficient.
On the one hand, digital transformation means a change in processes and work culture. This affects BAAINBw internally, and Directorate I in its day-to-day work routine as well. One example is how our processes are supported by SASPF. So far we have made good progress; however, we still have far to go and we hope that we will profit considerably from the digital transformation, which would enable us to support the Armed Forces in an even better way.
On the other hand, the activities in the context of digital transformation naturally also have an impact on current and future CPM projects, for which BAAINBw, as provider, is responsible. This affects many projects of Directorate I. In this regard, we will increasingly face the challenge in the upcoming years to implement the project adjustments and new projects to be specified by the Cyber and Information Domain major organisational element. The goal is to keep old systems in use while also tackling new projects. This has already led to a considerably condensed workload for Directorate I. And this is why the future success will largely depend on an ideal balance between the tasks of the Cyber and Information Domain organisational element, BAAINBw, and BWI as an in-house company. Within this context, Directorate I will continue to bring its expertise to bear, always in the best interest of the Bundeswehr.
Team of authors BAAINBw.