Future: French Navy will acquire a ‘digital frigate’

PARIS, (BM) – It is widely argued that “big data,” that is, the massive collection of data and its storage and exploitation, will be the “oil” of the 21st century, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing opex360. This fact will inevitably have economic consequences as this concept, with the technologies associated with it [cloud, artificial intelligence], will stimulate growth and improve productivity. According to Valuates Reports, the global “big data” market expects to exceed $ 500 billion in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of nearly 15%.

Given that the armed forces produce an enormous amount of data, big data can have an active interest, whether in intelligence, the development and use of weapons systems, the development of concepts of operations, maintenance in operating conditions [MCO], etc. Thus, in its “Mercator” strategic plan, the French Navy even intends to make it an “essential need for superiority and victory in combat. “

Only, for that, it is necessary to collect and store data which, until then, was not. But it is not enough to contain them: they still have to be reliable or processed for them to be usable.

“Oil is worth next to nothing in its raw state. It is by undergoing multiple kinds of transport, processing, storage, and refining operations that it gains value and becomes useful. It is through all these industrial operations that a simple black liquid transforms the world. Again, it’s the same with data. Raw data is essential, but it is useless and little valued without transformation “, summarizes Mick Levy in his book “Take your data out of the fridge.”

For the Navy, transforming this data is a challenge in itself. “When we record data, it must be annotated, that is to say, elements of context must accompany it: weather conditions, surface vessel, submarine or aircraft participating in the mission, phase [ equipment, transit, exercise, refueling…] during which they were recorded”, summarizes Laurence, head of the software engineering division at the Center of Expertise for Naval Programs [CEPN], in the Cols Bleus columns.

This “refining” work has been entrusted to the Marine Data Service Center [CSD-M], whose mission is to set up annotated and contextualized databases to feed artificial intelligence algorithms and manufacturers. and operational staff. “Equipped with a data center, the CSD-M will retrieve data ‘in bulk’ of any confidentiality level into coherent, sorted, and structured datasets,” explains Cols Bleus.

Regarding the contribution of “big data” to naval operations, the Navy launched the AXON @ V project, which aims to connect various platforms [ships, aircraft, commandos, etc.] to multiply the operational effects of air and sea forces, thanks to ‘network intelligence’ and massive data processing. In a nutshell, it’s about fostering collaborative combat.

Finally, to exploit its data, the French Navy intends to acquire a “digital frigate” as part of the LILO project [Operational Interoperability Laboratory]. There, it is a matter of creating the “digital twin” of a first-rank frigate [FREMM, FDA, or future FDI] to test its information systems in an operational context, assess the interoperability of the latter with each other and the tactical data link and combat management systems. Finally, it is also a question of “integrating the latest developments from manufacturers and start-ups with which the Navy works,” specifies Cols Bleus.

This “digital frigate” will be equipped for this purpose with the same radio and satellite communication facilities as those found onboard real frigates. And they will operate with the same latency as encountered at sea.

France will deploy the LILO project on the General Directorate of Armament – Naval Techniques [DGA / TN] in Toulon. This platform, which will be operational by the end of this year, will occupy 800 m² divided into four zones, including “a part welcoming manufacturers, a sector dedicated to qualification, a space dedicated to interoperability exercises with our allies, which will make it possible to acquire real experience feedback on the use of NATO information systems and an area in which the CEPN has reconstituted the information system of a frigate.”

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