The Coast Guard is implementing a new information assurance process that will strengthen cybersecurity for the C4ISR equipment on the service’s newest cutters.
The C4ISR program is currently implementing its latest electronics upgrade on the national security cutters. It has already been installed on the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, and a contract was recently awarded to begin implementing the systems on the rest of the NSC line. This upgrade will also serve as the baseline for future electronics on the fast response cutters and for the systems to be installed on the offshore patrol cutters which are currently in the early stages of design.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems acquisition program is a multi-year effort to design, develop and integrate the equipment used on the Coast Guard’s newest assets, including the national security cutter, offshore patrol cutter, long range surveillance aircraft (HC-130J) and the medium range surveillance aircraft (HC-144A, C-27J). The program acquires and integrates electronic sensors, networking, data processing and information-sharing equipment, which help Coast Guard operators develop effective situational awareness and interoperate with partner agencies.
Additionally, the C4ISR program enhances the command, control and communication capabilities of in-service cutters, boats and aircraft. As the service transitions from aging command and control networks to a new standard, called Seawatch, this effort will help to link the Coast Guard’s older assets with its newest.
Once completed, the C4ISR program will bring online the Coast Guard’s most capable communications and technology infrastructure and integrate the largest recapitalization effort in the service’s history.
To be effective and proactive against threats to the nation’s maritime environment, the Coast Guard must have an accurate and timely picture of the maritime domain at all times. C4ISR systems produce actionable information, improve situational awareness and enhance efficient collaboration among Coast Guard operators and those of partner agencies; simply put, C4ISR provides the eyes and ears of any operation, helping staff to efficiently apply resources, prioritize missions, and, at the tactical level, automate various watch-stander tasks. At the strategic and national levels, these information products enable more effective and efficient mission execution, improving both maritime domain awareness and maritime homeland security outcomes.
The Coast Guard’s C4ISR acquisition strategy features a segmented approach to delivering products. Each subsequent segment builds upon the previous to avoid technology obsolescence and bring new capability to the fleet at a faster rate. In the process, the project is helping the Coast Guard to establish a new C4ISR capabilities baseline, including the authority to pass data on the Department of Defense classified networks, as well as laying the foundation for greater interoperability among Coast Guard and partner agencies by adopting an open architecture paradigm for future C4ISR equipment. This paradigm will help the Coast Guard to minimize life-cycle costs and keep pace with technology obsolescence by acquiring state-of-the market, plug-and-play C4ISR tools and capabilities.
At the same time that new equipment is procured for new assets like the NSC, the C4ISR project is improving the capabilities of in-service cutters, which must continue to use and maintain existing command, control and communications systems. The project has installed commercial satellite communications, Automatic Identification System and, aboard the 378-foot and 270-foot cutters, the Seawatch C2 system.