October 4, 2011

QinetiQ provides global asset tracking solutions to Czech Army

References: Jane's (1), QinetiQ (2,3), A-N-T (4), IridiumEverywhere (5)

News Report

As reported by Jane's, the Czech Army is among those now using the Bushman global asset tracking system, an improved blue force tracking system developed by QinetiQ on the back of its experience with the Helicopter Asset Tracking and Ground Asset Tracking Systems previously supplied to the UK Ministry of Defence.

The System

QinetiQ has developed a simple highly effective ‘pay-as-you-go’ satellite-based asset tracking service, which enables to have complete control of all assets at any given time. The service provides truly global coverage, enhancing situational awareness by enabling the user to locate and track their assets 24/7. It is ideally suited to nations seeking to participate in NATO coalition operations, and facilitates sharing of locations between partners.

In general terms, the system consists of small communicators that are attached to the assets, and a hi-tech map-based user interface which gives position reports on-demand. An integrated picture of the tracked assets can be received directly on the bridge or on a handheld device. The QinetiQ system has flexible web-based or satellite-based functionality, and also provides secure feeds into corporate networks, supporting a number of data formats and mapping applications, including Google Earth. Users can decide the extent to which they wish to interact with the system, safe in the knowledge that the Bushman system is equipped with alarm functionality and will send alerts directly to a PC or handheld PDA device, in the event of an emergency.

QinetiQ's Bushman solution consists of 4 different components:
  • Bushman Commander: a command and control and blue force tracking terminal which receives from multiple independent paths to ensure the user is always connected anywhere in the world, supporting rapid changes in coalition operations.
  • Bushman Airborne: a flight-cleared tracking solution for use in the airborne environment, consisting of a modem unit placed remotely in the avionics bay, and a control unit to be integrated directly into the cockpit.
  • Bushman Dismounted: a handheld personal tracking device which can be easily attached to body armour or webbing for the combat fighting soldier, and that can be set into a range of modes including; motion activation, text messaging and immediate emergency alert notification.
  • Bushman Mobile: a vehicle mounted tracker that is capable of operating from either vehicle power or battery and provides user-configurable updates of vehicle locations.
Coupled with the low latency and global reach of Iridium’s constellation of 66 low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites, the QinetiQ system is viewed as a cost-effective solution offering unique asset-tracking capabilities. That’s particularly the case for troops operating in Afghanistan’s deep valleys, where mountains disrupt line-of-sight communications systems and often thwart the military’s geostationary satellite communications systems. Iridium’s fast-moving LEO satellites provide full coverage, even in this extremely difficult terrain.

The QinetiQ system is interoperable with a range of Geographic Information System applications and military communications networks. That permits to share information with NATO and coalition forces. It is compatible with the Joint Automated Deep Operation Coordination System (JADOCS). A “go to war” command-and-control tool, JADOCS is designed to improve situational awareness across the military decision-making process. One key use is for deconfliction of weapons systems, such as to keep aircraft from flying through space where artillery operations are being staged. The QinetiQ system also works with Tapestry, a distribution management system used by U.S. forces and security contractors operating in Iraq to manage and track containers and for logistics. In addition, the system is compliant with NATO’s Friendly Force Identification network.

The Context

Since 2005 QinetiQ have provided a secure satellite tracking system to the UK Ministry of Defence that provides worldwide access and reliable service for secure global asset tracking. The system uses the Iridium satellite communications system to provide world wide coverage. The system uses commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment; protected with military grade encryption and security to provide a secure and robust tracking capability.

Working with Iridium and NAL Research, which supplies the hardware components, QinetiQ developed and fielded the HeATS (Helicopter Tracking System) and GrATS (Ground Asset Tracking System) under an Urgent Operational Requirement from the U.K. Ministry of Defence for improved tracking and monitoring of aircraft and ground vehicles in Afghanistan. Using Iridium’s global short-burst data (SBD) service, the systems have helped to enhance situational awareness, accelerate the tempo of operations, and improve response time to troops needing assistance in the field.

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