The U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy have jointly tested the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) real-time sensor netting system for the first time.
During the training and testing conducted near Hawaii, the Royal Australian Navy’s first Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD), HMAS Hobart (DDG 39), has established secure data links with the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) and shared tracking and fire control data across the two ships.
HMAS Hobart had thereby successfully tested a communications capability, proving her ability to share sensor information and real-time combat system data with the U.S. Navy. The testing was announced by Christopher Pyne, Australia’s Minister for Defence adding that the trials were a significant milestone in the testing and qualifying of Hobart’s combat and weapons systems.
“These trials are the culmination of 12 months of preparations and demonstrate Hobart’s formidable capability,” Minister Pyne said. “Australia is the first country outside the United States with Cooperative Engagement Capability, and so this demonstration marked the first time this Capability was proven between two navies”.
Commanding Officer HMAS Hobart, Captain John Stavridis, said the visit to the US had proven how closely the Australian and US navies can work together.
“Connecting and sharing data with the US Navy like this is an important step in increasing our interoperability with them, especially during linked task group operations at sea,” Captain Stavridis said. “Sharing information like this between ships at sea means that ships in a task group can know and respond to what is going on, including sharing tracking and targeting data. It means that a ship can detect and, if needed, engage a threat identified by another ship or aircraft, creating greater flexibility and better protection for all the ships involved”.
The RAN’s Hobart-class destroyers are the first warships outside the U.S. Navy service to be equipped with the CEC system. Australia has recently commissioned the second ship of the class, HMAS Brisbane (DDG 41), into its fleet during a ceremony at the Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney. The first ship of the class, HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) was commissioned into the Navy fleet on Sept. 23 last year while the third and final Air Warfare Destroyer, the future HMAS Sydney (DDG 42), will be delivered to the Navy in 2019.
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC)
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is a real-time sensor netting system that enables high quality situational awareness and integrated fire control capability. It is designed to enhance the anti-air warfare (AAW) capability of U.S. Navy ships, U.S. Navy aircraft and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Composite Tracking Network (CTN) units by the netting of geographically dispersed sensors to provide a single integrated air picture, thus enabling Integrated Fire Control to destroy increasingly capable threat cruise missiles and aircraft.
CEC is a system of hardware and software that allows the sharing of radar and Identification, Friend or Foe sensor data on air targets amongst CEC equipped units. CEC’s two major system functions consist of a Cooperative Engagement Processor (CEP) for sensor networking and a Data Distribution System (DDS) for real-time communications amongst cooperating units (CU). Sensor data from individual units are transmitted to other units in the network via the real time high quality, anti-jam capable line of sight, DDS. Each CEC equipped unit uses identical sensor data processing algorithms resident in its CEP, resulting in each unit having the same display of air tracks. CEC gives an individual ship the added capability to launch anti-air weapons at threat aircraft or missiles within its engagement envelope based on remote sensor data provided by the CEC sensor network. The CEC system makes it possible for multiple surface ships, aircraft and USMC land units to form an air defense network by sharing radar target measurements in real-time.
The CEC system interfaces with the platform’s sensors and combat systems. CEC’s Common Equipment Set (CES) provides hardware components among the different CEC equipped platforms. The basic CEC equipment set consists of an antenna subsystem, a signal data processor, a backup battery and technician control interfaces. The AN/USG-2 CEC system variant is designed for Navy surface ships, the AN/USG-3 CEC system variant is designed for Navy E-2 aircraft, and the AN/USG-4 CEC system variant is designed for the USMC CTN.
CTN is a USMC program. CTN integrates the CEC system with a mobile USMC High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) which incorporates a unique elevated CEC antenna. CTN integrates into the USMC Command and Control system and is capable to operate in a DDS network with other CTN units and/or with Navy CEC equipped units.
In the future, CEC will form a key pillar of the U.S. Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) capability, which will allow stealthy sensor platforms such as the F-35C Lightning II fighter aircraft to act as forward observers with their observations channeled through the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft to less stealthy platforms such as the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat jets.