British Navy’s Type 45 Destroyers Test Thales’ FICS System

One Year of FICS Operations Onboard British Navy's Type 45 Destroyer

Thales UK has marked one year of successful operations for the Fully Integrated Communications System (FICS) onboard the Type 45 Destroyer, the Royal Navy’s most advanced class of surface ship.

First of class HMS Daring was deployed operationally to the Arabian Gulf in 2012, followed by the operational debuts of HMS Dauntless and HMS Diamond. During the deployments, the three ships were tasked with a variety of operations and exercises that thoroughly tested the communications systems.

The FICS system plays a vital role in assisting the ship’s crew to communicate in all environments. It provides the internal and external communications services for the platform including extensive HF and V/UHF systems. The system was designed from the outset to reduce the manpower required to manage and operate the system, ensuring the ship’s company can remain focused on operating the ship.

Thales is the lead contractor supplying the system to all six ships of the new Type 45 Class. These 8,000 tonne vessels are designed to shield the Fleet from air attack, as well as being used as general purpose warships.

Thales has taken the lessons learnt from the Type 45 Project and has ensured that they have been embodied into the product lines that have been selected by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) to provide several of the Primary Communications Systems for the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers, currently under construction.

After keen competition, Thales was selected to provide the Communications Control and Management System (CCMS), which is formed around the ‘Partner’ Management System product. Thales are also supplying the associated Tactical and Command and Control (Voice) (TC2V) Internal Communications sub-system which is formed around its Next Generation IP Network (NGIN) product and its specially designed voice terminals, which are deployed in Navies around the world.

In addition, Thales has been selected by the ACA to supply the HF and V/UHF Communications sub-systems, Land Forces BOWMAN, the Broadcast and Alarms sub-system and Self Powered Telephones that will form the fallback system.

Additionally Thales is working with the ACA to carry out integration of these systems, plus closely coupled third party systems, in a state of the art, purpose built facility at the Thales Crawley site. This integration work is set to capitalise on the lessons learned from the Type 45 Project, and deliver integrated and preconfigured systems to the Platform, therefore significantly reducing the time required at Platform to commission and set to work the systems.

During their deployments east of Suez, Daring and Diamond assumed the responsibility of Air Defence lead while patrolling with a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Group and combined naval forces. Dauntless completed an operational patrol of the Falkland Islands and multi-national exercises in the Caribbean and African waters.

Type 45 Destroyers are also fitted with Thales UK’s new fully digital Radar Electronic Support Measures (RESM) system, in addition to S1850M radar (with BAE Systems).

 Ed Lowe, head of Thales UK’s naval business said: “A year of operational service is a significant milestone for Thales UK’s Fully Integrated Communications System. The success of these deployments is testament to the work done between Thales, BAE Systems, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy to ensure such a complex system can operate optimally across the full spectrum of missions and environments.”

The Type 45 Destroyer FICS Programme is the latest in service addition to Thales’ long pedigree in supplying Communications Systems to the RN, building on systems supplied to Type 23 Frigates, Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH), Landing Platform Dock LPD(R), and continuing into future platforms such as the Queen Elizabeth Class and Astute Class submarines.

Press Release, May 22, 2013; Image: Thales