France’s defense procurement agency, DGA (Directiongénérale de l’armement), awarded an Airbus-led consortium a naval IT contract worth up to $170 million on Monday.
The contract will last up to eight years and entails maintaining the current RIFAN 2.1 (Réseau IP de la Force Aéronavale étape 2) IP (Internet Protocol) network used by French naval forces, adapting it to Navy needs over the contract period, integrating it into new ships, and remedying hardware and software obsolescence.
Airbus is leading a consortium that also includes Naval Group and Rohde & Schwarz.
While 63 French ships are equipped with the RIFAN 2 network, the contract will allow the integration of future frigates of the FDI (frégates de défense et d’intervention) program and future replenishment tankers of the BFR (bâtiment ravitailleur de forces) program.
Airbus said the network adaptions will include the central architecture and an update of the cybersecurity incident monitoring and detection system. Network management and cybersecurity monitoring can occur on individual ships and at an ashore management and control center.
The RIFAN 2.1 contract aims to equip all French naval forces with a secure broadband network and can exchange data at both unclassified and secret classification levels between ships and to ashore command centers.
Airbus explained in a statement that the network “transmits data from applications specific to the coordination of carrier group operations and those dedicated to the daily and logistical management of life on board, such as those between information systems of theater chiefs of staff on board a vessel for the duration of an operation.”
RIFAN 2.1 can combine various communications systems to optimize transmission capacity at sea. This includes the French military satellite system Syracuse and radio systems. That in turn allows all-IP exchanges between ships at a range of dozens of nautical miles.
Naval Group is a private company, but the French government holds a 62 percent stake. Rohhde & Schwarz, based in Germany, is a technology company that develops, produces, and markets communications, information, and security products.