Minister announces mobile tactical network boost for Army

Line of Defence Magazine, 26 February 2019

Harris Global Innovation Center
Harris Global Innovation Centre. Source: Harris.

In a media statement released on 25 February, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced that a new tactical communications network will be delivered to the New Zealand Army following the signing of a contract with Harris Defence Australia on 21 December 2018.

“The $40 million contract for the mobile tactical command system, funded from an existing appropriation, will design and deliver a modern network along with software, systems and connecting radio equipment,” said the Minister.

“The contract has been signed as part of the first tranche of work being delivered under the Network Enabled Army programme, one of several projects underway addressing equipment obsolescence.”

The programme will enable accurate and detailed information to be transmitted securely between military personnel and command centres, both within New Zealand’s forces and when operating at an international level.

“Communication networks are vital to Defence Force operations and must be modern, effective and designed to meet the needs of military personnel,” said the Minister.

“Whether at home or overseas, the Defence Force operates alongside other Government agencies and New Zealand’s international partners, and the ability to work together effectively is vital to the success of these operations.

A key objective of the NEA Programme is to enable land forces and special operations forces to participate fully in Joint, Interagency and Multinational operations. “Interoperability with partners is strategically important, and as technology continues to advance Defence must be ready to keep pace in both procurement processes and capability requirements,” the Minister stated.

According to the Army website, this will ensure the NZDF’s land forces and special operations forces can continue to support future deployments in the South Pacific and in higher-intensity environments. 

The new network will use a range of radios supplied by Harris Defence Australia, including new portable radios for soldiers.

The Network Enabled Army programme is being rolled out in four tranches through to 2025/26. Tranche One, which is focused on Army and Special Forces’ capabilities in relation to Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4), will be delivered over time to the end of 2021.

Tranche Two will focus on Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability.

As part of the initial C4 tranche, the Ministry of Defence issued a closed request for proposals for the Mobile Tactical Command System in September 2017. This will deliver digital combat radios and supporting hardware and software to provide line of sight, and beyond line of sight communications.