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Re-armed Defence Force targets network, cyber capability

Re-armed Defence Force targets network, cyber capability

A slew of network, radio and cyber capabilities are to be delivered to support the NZ Defence Force

The NZ Defence Force is replacing its aging Orion fleet with the new Poseidon P-8A.

The NZ Defence Force is replacing its aging Orion fleet with the new Poseidon P-8A.

Credit: NZ Defence Force

The NZ Defence Force (NZDF) is being rearmed and revitalised, not least in the realm of its cyber and network capabilities.

Defence is commencing the development of a strategy for what is termed the "information domain", including cyber, intelligence, semi-autonomous and space-centred technologies.

The strategy will identify the capabilities required and the optimal delivery sequence for these capabilities along with the necessary workforce, technology and infrastructure, Minister of Defence Ron Mark told Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee. 

However, that will also pose significant workforce and skills challenges. A new workforce strategy is being developed for the area to identify priority skill areas and how to deliver them.

A network enabled Army project, which is already running behind schedule, is to be delivered in two tranches. 

Contracts have been inked with Systematic, for battle management software; Harris Australia, for core radios, development of radio network and soldier/vehicle radio integration, and with Cubic Mission Solutions, for tactical networks through communication access nodes.

Defence is also working with industry partners to achieve interoperability with American, British, Canadian and Australian forces and to complete capability integration into the New Zealand Army.

It has, however, taken longer than expected to build the necessary relationships with providers and put contracts in place for the project due to its "technical and commercial complexities". 

Tranche 2 will build on Tranche 1 to extend mobile communications and communications bearer networks and introduces intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities to support a deployable force, including
network enabled support elements such as transport, engineering services and medical cover. 

A business case is to be presented to Cabinet for approval later this year with costs yet to be determined.

The project also requires the replacement of Army vehicles.

Separately, a Cyber Security and Support Capability (CSSC) project is being managed under the Defence Capability Management System (CMS). 

The project aims to enable the Defence Force to remain effective, deployable and to protect its networks against cyber attacks.

Again, human capabilities need to be developed.

"Delivering improved capabilities out to 2030 requires the military workforce to start preparing for growth and development of personnel now," Marks said in response to written questions.

Finally, new systems on new and existing planes will require IT support for mission planning and post-mission analysis, but this already exists in a different form. 

Two mobile tactical operations centres will be purchased with four new P-8A Poseidon aircraft, one to be permanently based in New Zealand and the other for use on deployments. 

"These facilities will provide the key IT mechanism for processing data coming off the P-8As for forwarding on to interested agencies," the report said.

The cost of replacing the existing Orion fleet with the four new Poseidons, including all ancillery requirements, is $2.3 billion.


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