Stewart Penney/Linköping

Saab and FMV, the Swedish defence material administration, are discussing a major demonstration in 2005 of the Swedish company's NetDefence battlespace concept. The exercise is set to be one of the largest battlespace demonstrations yet attempted.

NetDefence is a web-based network linking the entire fighting force, including weapons, personnel, sensors and other information sources. Internet protocols will allow all elements to be connected and accessed at any time using secure links.

The company has received study money and is discussing possible funding for the demonstration and a more limited exercise planned for next year. The aim is to develop capabilities available for the international market. Numbers and types of platform will be defined during the talks. Sweden's avionics and defence electronics specialist Ericsson is also participating.

Saab says the 2005 demonstration will be an air/sea exercise on the island of Göttland off Sweden's east coast and will involve air force, army and navy assets. Key requirements are to demonstrate the network of sensors across the three services and to prove network security. The demonstration is likely to include unmanned air vehicles.

The data will be fused into a single picture at "decision stations" - the joint headquarters. Initially the picture will be on large two-dimensional displays. Further developments could include three-dimensional (3D) immersive reality tables which would display all elements - friend or foe - within a battlespace in a 3D position relative to the other players.

Saab says its JAS39 Gripen is the centre of the system. Its datalink will not need modifying for the trials. It has been previously used to transmit sensor images to and from the cockpit during trials. Operationally it is used to transfer data between JAS39s, including radar information and aircraft status, such as fuel and weapons. The air force's Saab/Ericsson Erieye airborne early warning aircraft is also likely to participate.

Beyond 2010 the datalink will be modified as by 2020 the concept is planned to let any player to control any sensor. Other changes will include the man-machine interface to allow the JAS39 pilot to easily interpret the picture. Saab suggests this would include changing symbology so it is easier to tell, for instance, whether a target is seen by a wingman or a ship.

Source: Flight International