The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation signed a contract with Thales to provide the SOTAS IP vehicle communications system to the Australian Defence Force.
Thales will supply over 700 complete systems, plus spares, to be installed in various versions of the ADF's Bushmaster vehicles, including personnel transporters, command vehicles, air assault vehicles and ambulances. Installation is scheduled to begin in July, with in-service vehicles retrofitted at Thales's Vehicle Support Centre in Brisbane, and potentially at ADF bases around the country. In future, the system will be installed during Bushmaster production at the Thales Bendigo facility.
The SOTASIP communications system provides vehicle intercom, Ethernet Local Area Network and IP routing services, and allows further integration of VoIP services, Battle Management System, vetronics services, inter-platform communications, wireless LAN services, video on demand and mounted soldier systems into one rugged, reliable system.
Ian Irving, Thales Australia's Land & Joint Systems vice president, said the contract marks an important step in the evolution of network centric warfare:
"SOTASIP is an example of how advanced digital technologies can be installed into existing vehicles. Our systems integration expertise and global network combine here to deliver an advanced capability to the ADF, helping lay the groundwork for network enabled capabilities and paving the way for future concepts of full cooperative mission capabilities."
SOTAS is a third generation vehicle communication system developed by Thales in the Netherlands. The SOTAS system has been installed in over 50 vehicle types in more than 25 countries, including the Thales Bushmaster vehicles supplied to the Netherlands.
SOTASIP offers all required vehicle communications services on a single system and full connectivity for soldiers, extending the command and control chain to dismounted troops. It is a hermetically sealed, robust system that requires no special protection measures when installed and is designed to be used in harsh environments.
Thanks to its unique Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR) and human voice recognition algorithms SOTASIP offers crystal clear voice communications in all types of vehicles, including those with high noise levels. DNR improves the communication over the intercom and radios, and enables hearing protection for the vehicle crew.
The easily upgradeable SOTASIP services are not limited to individual vehicles. SOTASIP offers multimedia inter-vehicle networking, as well as voice, data, video communications, the sharing of radios, sensors and computer resources, etc. Vehicles can be connected in any order and in any topology. On connection, SOTASIP automatically adapts to the new topology; no management action is required.
In addition to wired (fibre and electrical) networks, SOTASIP provides ad-hoc WLAN networking with multi-hop routing, enabling random network topologies. SOTASIP integrates the BMS, the radios, telephone services and IP services, and provides interoperability between radio networks (UHF, VHF, HF) and with Wide Area Networks.