Vanguard Magazine

Feb/Mar 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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C C4iSR As a global company reaching into over 50 countries and as a prime contractor to the Cana- dian Armed Forces on a wide spectrum of C4isR and related systems, thales has acquired extensive experience developing and integrating new technology. in Canada, the company provides core command and control (C2) capabil- ity to the Army, integrated C3 and maritime domain awareness to the navy – it is positioning for communications integration and C2 applications under the national shipbuilding procurement strategy – and communications systems integration to the Air Force and, increasingly, the Canadian Coast Guard. alain Gauthier, thales Canada's vice president of secure Com- munications and information systems and a 23-year veteran of the Canadian Army, spoke with editor Chris thatcher about a changing ap- proach to providing C4isR solutions to military customers. 20 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 There are two aspects to this: there are interoperability issues with both national and inter- national partners, and depending on the customer those may be well defined; and then there are the integration issues with legacy systems. That usually becomes much more challenging. If you have a mature customer, like Canada, who has a lifecycle material management plan, is acquiring C4ISR systematically, and knows he is building a capability, typically he is more aware of integration challenges, dealing with obsolescence and how to in- tegrate backwards and prepare for the future. If you have a less mature customer, it is a little bit harder to do that. So you want to educate them on the risks and the approach as they bring in their capability. And there are some areas of the world where it is strict- ly about lowest cost compliance. What can you do for them right this minute and what will it cost? That brings different challenges. Q Within that context, are you designing with an overarching architecture in mind? Absolutely. Thales is a systems integrator and as such has a vision for how we would like to see the products integrate and interop- erate. We believe we bring strong architecture expertise to all pro- grams. We work very closely with the customer to assist in their architecture decisions, but in the end it is a customer decision. We may not always be completely aware of all their challenges but we will work very hard to inform them of all evolving technol- ogy so they can make the best decision with the most relevant information possible. Internally, Thales works very hard to ensure interoperability of its own applications and systems. Q Are customers at least acknowledging the need for com- Q Cutting-edge technology is always impressive, but what is driving C4ISR customers' concerns and priorities at the mo- ment? The primary concerns and priorities are with interoperability, with the U.S. being first amongst equals and then the rest of the al- lies, followed by other government departments or national agen- cies when applicable. The challenge is that each customer believes their "needs" are unique and therefore we see more of a priori- tization on specific Canadian requirements than on commonality of requirements. This "tweaking" to address the unique tends to make solutions more expensive as there is less and less "off the shelf" systems being acquired. These changes may be for national sovereign reasons or differ- ent concepts of operations, but the era of buying something out of a catalogue is fading. More and more, it's about understanding where the customer is trying to go with the capability and joining them on that path. In the past, industry would pursue more of sell product X or radio X. We still have some of that – a radio is a radio or a truck is a truck – but more and more in C4ISR it is: sell the relationship. Understand their risk areas and try and help them fulfill a capability rather than buy a platform. We're finding that in more and more countries. Q Since these systems need to interoperate within services and with allies, if customers are all tweaking to their specific requirements, are they at least thinking "Joint"? That depends on the maturity of the customer. The Canadian cus- tomer is quite mature in thinking about and then implementing their interoperability requirements at all levels, including Joint. sharing the vision A call for a common C4ISR understanding

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