As reported on the Italian Army's website, Italian Land Forces have recently completed a set of trials and exercitations aimed at evaluating the achieved level of interoperability among the newly developed units of the Forza NEC digitalized Brigade.
The first part of these tests occurred between October 3rd and 7th during the "Joint Trials 2011" that took place in Brindisi and Lecce. SELEX Sistemi Integrati, the Finmeccanica Company acting as Prime Contractor and Lead System Integrator for the program, has supported the Italian Army's Mechanized Brigade "Pinerolo" in conducting a Command Post Exercise (CPT) that required network-enabled integration with Regimental Infantry Units and Joint Fire Support Teams.
During the exercise, all the key C4I components of the Forza NEC architecture were interconnected at both the operational and tactical level and allowed the creation of a Joint Common Situation Awareness to be exploited by ground, naval and air forces.
The second part of the tests was performed on October 7th during the 31st anniversary of the Italian Army's CEPOLISPE (polyfunctional centre for the experimentation), and was focused on the demonstration of the soldier-vehicle interoperability.
Forza NEC (Network Enabled Capability) is a Large System for military operations that provides the wide range of capabilities that is required by a modern land brigade operating in joint or multinational coalitions, including: Command and Control, Maneuver / Close Combat, ISTAR, Land Fire Support (Artillery), Air Defence, Force Protection (including CBRN), Mobility and Counter-mobility, Logistic Support, Helicopter Support, Joint and Coalition Interoperability, and Civil-Military-Cooperation (CIMIC).
Forza NEC units and related operational, logistic components are designed and structured in complete
compliance with a network-enabled architecture. Architectural design plays thus a key role for the development of such a system, since it ensures that the technical requirements of the individual components achieve an Integrated Force, in compliance with the operational requirements related to the specific efficiency level.
FORZA NEC system architecture is based on the following main components:
- C4I modules, covering all the hierarchy levels spanning from Brigade commanders to single soldiers, and all the functional areas associated with requested operational capabilities.
- Communication equipments for data and voice transmission (HF/VHF/UHF wireless radios, mobile satellite communications, advanced networking devices)
- HW stations and infrastructures (shelters) for deployable command posts.
- C4I stations (BMS, Battlefield Management Systems) for mobile command posts (to be mounted on a wide family of vehicles)
- C4I components for dismounted soldiers, fully integrated with the global architecture.
- Tactical gateways and Service Oriented Architectures for achieving interoperability among network-enabled units, legacy equipments, and external C4I systems.
- Certified components for allowing secure and protected data transfer between different security levels
- Unmanned Systems (maneuver range UAVs, UGVs)
- Helicopters (combat and cactical)
- Sensors (surveillance radars, EO/IR devices, acoustic sensors)
- Battlefield Target Identification Devices
- Electronic Warfare devices
- Force protection devices (including CBRN defence assets)
Currently, the reference platforms considered within Forza NEC are the IVECO 8x8 IFV "Freccia" and the IVECO Ligth Multirole Tactical Vehicle "Lince".
Finmeccanica subsidiary SELEX Sistemi Integrati announced on June 2010 that was awared a 238 M€ contract from the Italian Ministry of Defence’s Land Armaments General Directorate, for implementing the Forza NEC digitized system.
SELEX Sistemi Integrati is the main supplier and system integrator, but they will work with a very broad alliance of Italian firms. Other Finmeccanica companies such as SELEX Elsag, SELEX Galileo, Oto Melara, AgustaWestland, and MBDA are included. So are independent firms like Elettronica, Iveco, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, the Iveco-Oto Melara consortium, and the Soldato Futuro consortium.
Italy’s system is hardly unusual, joining recent efforts in Australia (LAND 75/ 125), Canada (LCSS), Germany (FuInfoSys Heer), and Israel (Tsayad). America has its Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below system, which is being expanded and improved.
References: Italian Army (1,2), SELEX Sistemi Integrati (3), Defense Industry Daily (4)