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19 February 2013

IDEX 2013 - Command Information Systems for Gulf Forces

Command Information Systems (CIS) have a variety of roles. Those systems supporting the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries offer the ability to increase overall mission effectiveness, boost operational readiness and in turn the improved capability means increased threat deterrence. 

The CIS systems in place or being developed share a number of common elements; an ESRI Geographical Information System (GIS) and the adoption of NATO's MIP (Multilateral Interoperability Programme) data model, often supported by a communications layer that includes Kongsberg's EriTac communications bearer, with each country placing great store by the ability of CIS to support air power, which is considered a key force multiplier. Each has a desire to substitute technology for limited manpower or to maximise the effectiveness of existing assets.

Jordan is focussing on lower level C4I acqusitions at the moment. (All Photos via Adam Baddeley) 

The GCC is a homogenous group containing the Gulf Sheikhdoms of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. And yet also heterogeneous as despite having a common ally in the US and a common threat in Iran, the level of interoperability between the CIS systems remains stubbornly low, as the political will to deepen integration is lacking with each country's systems remaining fundamentally national systems, albeit with some interfaces, which pay lip service to the goals of interoperability. In, addition Jordan and Morocco have been invited to joint the GCC, but while Jordan's CIS profile has some similarities to those in the Gulf it would stretch the term “Gulf” to include Morocco's capabilities somewhat.


In 2010, Bahrain has reportedly installed a new C2 system for homeland security, with a network of above 3,000 surveillance systems, covering key facilities throughout the country.


Jordan's US funded, Northrop Grumman led C4I contract would have incorporated a strong CIS capability. However, this collapsed in early 2010 for reasons undisclosed, but is understood to be as a result of it being too complex and the schedule being too tight for Jordan's Armed Forces (JAF). Northrop Grumman were awarded the $230 million award in 2005, which funded the fielding of the BattleSpace Command, based on the US GCCS (Global C2 System), separate from the existing SAIC based C2 system for Jordan's Special Forces. Also under the work is an update to the air defence network with the Radiant air-defence system. Jordan's requirement remains and is still being pursued via the vehicle of Foreign Military Financing but this is being split into bite sized chunks. The next substantial element to the country's C4I plans are not high level CIS but a lower level BMS-type systems for use on light tactical systems using Harris radios and Cobham ROVIS/ANVIC-3 intercoms, which would be brought out in increments but with a rough budget of $100-200 million.

Jordan has used SAI) to provide support to its (C4I) helping put together a new C2 Centre for the JAF Joint Special Operations Command (JSOCOM) in Amman in a $7 million deal announced in 2010. The centre was opened in 2012 and provides real time input to command echelons. Given the role of the JSOCOM in national stability, this would likely function as a national CIS system for the JAF and others.

In terms of homeland security the challenges of CIS has recently increased significantly as a Tetra based network used to support police, paramilitary and military users has recently been extended. The basis for this is the JAF’s Special Communications Commission (SCC) Network. Run by the military and delivered by Thales in 2008, the SCC is a military network also used by the police and paramilitary. It is a Tetra network using a combination of Sepura STP800 and SRG-3900 and Motorola MTH 800 and MTM 800 handsets/vehicle sets; Thales base stations and the systems use Thales’ LIMA tracking software. The microwave relays linking base stations have been acquired outside the SCC network contract and Jordan uses 9Ghz and 18GHz Ericsson relays. Until recently the systems went from the North to the South of the country in two loops. The Eastern portion of Jordan has until recently not been covered. This has been changed in the past few months with an Eastern Loop adding 50 nodes and 200 relays sights in a less dense network than elsewhere in the country. Thales supplies the equipment with the SCC tasked with installation and operation


Kuwait has an on-off requirement for an integrated C4I system, which early last decade had a price tag of $1.2 billion. Its small size and pre-existing military network notably in support of air and missile defence assets that was quickly established after 1991 and a strong US presence coupled with the end of the threat of Saddam Hussein led some to speculate that it had ceased to be an active programme.

EriTac - CIS Bearer
Kongsberg's EriTac systems has been adopted throughout the GCC countries as a bearer for CIS and to often support air and missile defence applications. Users include Oman, Kuwait as part of the Al-Ameen network, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia where the Norwegian firm is working with JASH Technical Services.


Cassidian and the MoD of the Sultanate of Oman worked together on both the initial acquisition in 2001 and a subsequent a follow-on contract to enhance the OFEQ2000 joint C4I system, a version of the Joint Command and Control Information System (Jo-CCIS), supplied by Cassidian, the basis for Oman's C4I, supporting the Army, Navy, and Air Force based on. The upgrade to the contract was signed in 2007 and saw the system grow from an initial five headquarters and 41 workstations with a further seven HQ and 55 workstations added under the upgrade. Subsequent took the number of workstations to 120. A training element to the systems was installed in 2005.

Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait

The demand for C2 systems to enhance capabilities in Qatar are even more pressing now with the country's recent plans to acquire Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and PATRIOT Configuration-3 systems worth $9.9 billion. Qatar operates the Cassidian Jo-CCIS, a COTS based system designed to be scalable for a variety of high and medium level C2 applications that has both an Englih and Arabic man machine interface, supporting standard NATO data models and APP-6 symbology.

Saudi Arabia

In November, Raytheon Network Centric Systems were awarded a contract worth over $600 million in direct sales rather then FMS and is described by Raytheon as a “national, strategic C4I system, providing capabilities for joint service coordination.” Saudi Arabia will under the term of the deal take on a larger role in the integration and operation of the system than with the earlier PEACE SHIELD system, also provided by Raytheon. Exactly what is covered in the contract is unclear. Previously, Saudi Arabia was thought to have established a “Strategic C4I” programme, sometimes called the Al Diriyah/ Al Dreiyah project and sometimes called the MODA C4I Systems. BAE Systems had previously been linked to this. Whatever its name, this would have established a national C4I system for Saudi Arabia, which would bring in information from Saudi Armed Forces and other government and non-government agencies via the establishment National Defence Ops Centre (NDOC). It is also that a second site or alternative NDOC would be acquired both as a backup as well as a sop to dual internal power structures in the Kingdom rather than any pressing military need.

Reflecting the strong emphasises on air and missile defence, a major slice of previous CIS investment has been via the PEACE SHIELD system for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), also linking into the country's Army and Navy. Supplied by Raytheon, the PEACE SHIELD system is installed on 164 sites around the country using a number of bearer systems ranging for fibre optics to wireless RF including HF systems. It also integrates airborne nodes, notable the RSAF E-3S.

Advanced Electronics, a Saudi company, has worked with Kongsberg on the delivery of the EriTac system as part of an upgrade to the Saudi Arabian air defence system/PEACE SHIELD air force C3I systems.
Another source of complexity for CIS in Saudi Arabia is the extension of the homeland security focused MIKSA contract. Awarded in 2009 to EADS, working with local partner Al Rashid Trading and Contracting, the five year €2.8 billion award will see a network of physical barriers and surveillance capability comprising a highly monitored security fence, ground surveillance outposts and airborne monitoring extended across 9,000km of the Kingdom's borders with the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Yemen, and Oman.

EADS was able to overcome fierce competition from DRS Technologies and Raytheon, LG Electronics in South Korea and Thales, and BAE Systems. After the Gulf War in 1991, the first elements of MIKSA were also provided by EADS in an earlier separate contract covering that order. There are other communications and C2 projects in terms of Police/HLS that may be integrated with any nation’s CIS, notably the Thales-led Haj security contract.


Cassidian and Emiraje Systems, a joint venture between Cassidian and a UAE company C4 Advanced Solutions, were in 2011 awarded a $550 million contract for the UAE C2 System (ECCS) with subcontractors from Spain, France, UK, Canada, UAE, and Switzerland. The key CIS element to the overall C4ISR system is understood to be Amper Programmas' ne.on family of systems, initially covering a BMS solution due to be put in place by 2014, as well as supporting elements throughout the command chain. The system is MIP compliant at a number of levels. The UAE domestic security forces use a version of Cassidian's solution.

ThalesRaytheonSystem (TRS) were the competitors for ECCS, said to be offering a solution similar to that supplied to Algeria, which is based on its COMMAND VIEW system
The UAE can also call upon its dual use YAHSAT system provided to enhance the reach of its CIS systems to provide military Ka -band down to command vehicles on the move. Other CIS bearers include the UAE's high speed ground network, supplied by Thales’ ZAGIL network, based on the TRC-4000 HCLOS network.

The UAE's CIS systems benefit from YAHSAT's Ka-band connectivity even down to moving vehicles via a Thales SOTM solution.


Each country acquires national systems and despite the often floated goal of networking these systems together, this has stubbornly been refused to come to pass. Given that air and missile defence requires such a close co-operation, this omission has become a big drag on overall effectiveness. There has been some work such as the GCC Hizam Al Taawun or “Belt of Co-operation” HAT II contract, which was awarded to TRS for the supply of automated interfaces between member states for the coordination of multilevel and multinational air defence. The system consists of a single Interface and Sector Integration Subsystem (ISIS) site in each country to coordinate air defences. HAT II connects the UAE, Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, State of Qatar, and State of Kuwait. Oman has been relatively open about its requirements for the OFEQ2000, which also provides an indication of interoperability requirement for the wider GCC, namely the use of NATO’s MIP C2 Information Exchange Data Model (C2IEDM). This leaves the US to be the glue to hold it together. The US is however obliging Gulf partners to pay for a higher proportion to military security themselves as US budget shrink along with desire to have further ways in the Gulf region.