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11 27 2013

Industry demonstrates secure voice technology at NATO HQ

On 19 November 2013, during the C3Board (Principals) Meeting, Industry demonstrated SCIP (Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol) compliant secure voice technologies at the NATO Headquarters.

Under the coordinated guidance of the NATO HQ C3 Staff, the NCI Agency and SACT SEE, Industry provided a demonstration of secure voice and multimedia using SCIP at the NATO HQ. Industry from seven nations were present: Sectra, Transbit, Epicom, Sirrix, Selex ES-Telsy, Tecnobit, Tutus, Tubitak and General Dynamics. The demo was witnessed by NATO representatives from the C3Board, NATO HQ, SHAPE, SACT-SEE, and the NCI Agency.

The event demonstrated to Senior Leadership within the C3 Domain the interoperability of SCIP devices. In addition to the demonstration of SCIP, a federation of TACOMS networks (Sweden, Italy and Spain) was installed to show that SCIP devices can also operate over the TACOMS networks. The demonstrations linked sites located in Spain, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Turkey and the USA to the NATO HQ. This demonstration proved that different nations and vendors can communicate via the SCIP protocol over trunk networks, the Internet, ISDN and Cellular technologies.

This demonstration also showed the feasibility of integrating two elements of the Future Mission Network (FMN) profile; secure communication services using SCIP operating via a gateway over a federated IP networks based on TACOMS+ interoperability standards.

With the call for increased security and interoperability through Smart Defence and the Connected Forces Initiative, experts across NATO continue to explore capabilities that meet the requirements to transmit secure voice and data over a wide range of networks. The devices demonstrated at this event complied with the SCIP, STANAG 5067. Standardization of the SCIP protocol within NATO allows SCIP-compliant devices from different vendors to interoperate securely, independent of the communications access network, and can provide both NATO and national encryption modes in the same device.

Industry was satisfied with feedback and outcome of the demonstrations and interest demonstrated by the visitors. Visitors were impressed by the fact that the same terminal can be used over different networks, be it Internet, WiFi or over a tactical environment such as TACOMS and interoperate with terminals from other manufacturers over these networks.

The organisers received excellent technical support from NATO HQ, as well as from the nine companies taking part.

Industry demonstrates secure voice technology at NATO HQ
SCIP is an application layer protocol that allows secure end-to-end communications interoperability, both Voice and Data, independent of the underlying network infrastructure. The main components of SCIP are signaling and cryptographic specifications, with other specifications addressing multipoint communications, specific payloads etc. SCIP is a multi-national effort in which NATO, 14 NATO nations and Sweden participate. Both National Governments as well as National Industries participated in the development of SCIP. This cooperation allows various National Industries to develop and build to the same specifications resulting in interoperable products. NATO and NATO nations involvement in SCIP started in 2003. The first informal tests with SCIP implementations were initiated in 2006. This approach proved to be successful and more challenging interoperability tests were conducted at subsequent testing events. In the meantime SCIP was implemented nationally and also within NATO, albeit at a small scale (ISAF). SCIP is currently the only active multi-national program that aims to provide interoperable end-to-end secure voice and data communications.

TACOMS is a suite of STANAGs which provide NATO, Nations and Partners with specifications for interoperable tactical communications infrastructure. The TACOMS STANAGs define a proven set of universal interfaces, or Interoperability Points (IOP), that can be retro-fitted into most existing legacy network systems and planned into any future network capability. The IOP is a 'universal joint' for the federation of heterogeneous networks. The TACOMS standards allow multinational tactical systems to interoperate, providing the federated communications network needed to support current and future multi-national operations, efficiently and reliably.