French armament procurement agency – DGA – press release
This is a new tactical situational awareness capability based on radar information exchanges and using a protocol designed by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and Naval Group. The VCN demonstrator on the air defense frigate Forbin was connected for the first time to a Dutch demonstrator on board the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate De Zeven Provincien.
The validity of the VCN has already been demonstrated in France and an operational capability is being developed for deployment from 2022. This bi-national experiment is an important step in the development of this system, as it allowed the first European test of VCN between two allied ships. The aim of the France/Netherlands cooperation is to develop a standard VCN exchange protocol.
Naval cooperative watch (VCN) is an information system that allows a force to exchange radar detections in real time. Each ship equipped with a VCN can benefit from the radar data of other ships, expanding its tactical situational awareness. This capability is designed to improve the advance warning of air defence assets in the face of new and increasingly rapid threats.
The first conclusive studies and experiments in VCN were carried out in simulation by the DGA Techniques navales expertise and test center. The validation of this step led DGA to contract Naval Group in 2004 to carry out full-scale experiments, with the support of the French Navy. Their success led to the launch of the development of the operational capability in 2018.
In parallel with the development and qualification of the system for operational deployment starting in 2022, DGA is pursuing upstream studies that will enable subsequent capability increments in VCN in response to changing threats.
The success of this joint Franco-Dutch experiment demonstrates the robustness of the system and paves the way for other inter-allied cooperation on this program.
Naval News comments
French Navy Demonstrates its 1st Cooperative Engagement with Frigate & Destroyer in September 2019. Horizon-class air defense destroyer Forbin remotely engaged a target (with an ASTER 30 surface to air missile) using a radar track shared via data-link by the FREMM frigate Languedoc.
Veille Coopérative Navale relies among other things on V/UHF means made available by RIFAN step 2. The RIFAN (Réseau IP de la Force AeroNavale or naval and naval aviation’s IP network) was qualified in its “step 2” by the DGA in November 2015.