C4ISR Systems

ImageC4ISR Systems provides technology support for integrating defence personnel, ships, aircraft, vehicles, sensors and more.

It covers command and control technologies, information systems, communication networks, sensor data integration, environmental issues, simulation technologies, and approaches to avoid threats like mines and torpedoes.

Our main research areas are:

Each of these areas is explained below.

You may also like to view publications relating to our network systems research.

Current publications

Network enabled capability

Network enabled capability (NEC) brings together communication networks, information systems, operational procedures and knowledge.

Our network enabled capability research and development helps the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to be more responsive and effective, by having the right information in the right place at the right time.

Examples  of our network enabled capability work include:

  • providing engineering and experimental support for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Trident Warrior effort
    About Trident Warrior [Navy Live website]
  • sourcing unclassified data which, when combined with classified defence data, aids collaborative planning across the NZDF
  • supporting the Royal New Zealand Air Force by assessing the future role of the P-3K2 Orion aircraft to meet New Zealand’s maritime domain awareness requirements.
    About maritime domain awareness [US Homeland Security website]
    The challenge of maritime domain awareness for New Zealand [PDF: 1.2MB, 16 pages]
  • supporting the strategic development of C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) through research and the evaluation and development of new technologies, to help the New Zealand Army become network enabled.
    Case study: command and control system

Sensor integration

By combining data from various sensing systems (radar, sonar, etc.), and other sources, we get the most value from this data.

Other benefits from this integrated approach include being able to analyse and interpret the information more quickly, and improving New Zealand’s defence intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capability.

Our experimentation, industry engagement and research on radar technology trends and techniques, informs the advice and support we provide to the New Zealand Defence Force.

We also provide:

  • guidance on how to enhance the existing sensor integration capability
  • advice on what capabilities could be provided in new and upgraded platforms (aircraft, ship etc.)
  • help in identifying how to implement and optimise new capability.

Learn more about our sensor systems research

Information management and exploitation

Information management is about recording, organising and handling information so that we can easily find it, use it again, and exploit it to get the utmost value from it. It’s also about the infrastructure on which information is stored and communicated.

Our aim is to make defence information as useful, secure, and as accessible as is possible.

In the same way as for network enabled capability, information management is about helping the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to be more responsive and effective, by having the right information in the right place at the right time.

To achieve this, we assess modern and emerging information management concepts, approaches, and technologies that may be of benefit to the NZDF.

Examples of our work in this area include:

  • researching how to structure information so it can be shared across the NZDF, as well as with our allies
  • investigating information broker concepts and user-centric information management technologies
  • researching how to manage and exploit large unstructured data sets
  • reviewing the NZDF’s information management strategy and stakeholder engagement process
  • investigating how a private network could be used for sharing information. This was a collaborative project through The Technical Cooperation Program.
    About The Technical Cooperation Program [TTCP website]

Army simulation support

This work provides research and development in the use of simulation systems while supporting Army simulation exercises and experimentation.

Examples of our work in this area include:

  • bi-directional exchange of information between synthetic simulation environments and representative command and control systems
  • establishment of a DTA simulation test environment
  • development of simulation capabilities for training.

Mine and torpedo countermeasures

ImageDetecting and avoiding threats like mines and torpedoes requires an integrated network approach, rather than being limited to the platform (ship, aircraft etc) that is under threat.

The sinking in 2010 of the Cheonan – a South Korean ship of the Republic of Korea Navy – by a suspected torpedo, highlights the danger faced by surface ships to this threat.

Examples of our work in this area include:

  • supporting the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) by monitoring technology developments for sonar and torpedo countermeasures
  • developing computer modelling and simulation technologies, and research approaches, to help avoid threats like mines and torpedoes
  • assessing shortfalls with the current countermeasures and identifying technologies and systems to overcome these shortfalls
  • providing technical support to help the RNZN move away from more traditional mine countermeasures, like extensive route survey operations, to new tactics. For example, breakout operations, employing autonomous systems and automated data processing.
  • developing an in-house computer model of torpedo attack which helps to assess the effectiveness of countermeasures against particular types of torpedo. It provides models of surface ship motion, towed countermeasure motion, acoustic radiated noise, and sonar detection performance.

We collaborate with other allied partners to The Technical Cooperation Program to do this work.

About The Technical Cooperation Program [TTCP website]

Signature Measurement

To lower, as far as is possible, the likelihood of being detected by a mine, DTA works on signature measurement and data gathering for a range of RNZN ships and divers. To do this, we have developed a portable sensor measurement system that can be used on the sea floor to remotely record sensor data.

This system provides:

  • baseline ship signature data – to assist maintenance, signature reduction, mine jamming and target minesweeping
  • an assessment of the vulnerability of RNZN ships and other vessels, to modern mine threats.

We’ve also developed a Diver Signature Evaluation System for evaluating diver performance when attempting to identify and deactivate mines. Initially developed for the RNZN, this system is being commercialised and has been purchased by the United States Navy.

Learn more about this system and others we’ve commercialised

Maritime and littoral environmental assessment

We help the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) to understand and better utilise the maritime and coastal (littoral) battlefield environment.

The processes, tools, models and tactical decision-aids that we develop, help with the collection, analysis, and utilisation of environmental information.

Examples of our work in this area include:

  • rapid environmental assessment using unmanned vehicles
  • remote sensing of meteorological and oceanographic data to help with planning and operations
  • providing environmental assessments for joint operations and deployments, such as the impact of sea state on piracy incidents off the coast of Africa
    Satellites and piracy on the high seas [European Space Agency website] 
  • doing environmental assessment for RNZN system acquisition
  • developing a relocatable tide prediction model, to rapidly produce tidal predictions anywhere in the world.