NATO Nations Testing Equipment Interoperability

By Connie Lee
Troops participate in Bold Quest in 2016.

Photo: Defense Dept.

The most recent event in a series of coalition capability demonstrations is helping to ensure that equipment from NATO countries are able to work together, according to military officials from participating nations.

John Miller, the event’s program manager assigned to the U.S. Joint Staff command and control, communications and computers/cyber directorate, told reporters during an Oct. 30 phone call that the setup for Bold Quest 17.2 kicked off at the end of last month. Operations and data collection began two weeks later and is scheduled to run until early November, he said. The demonstration is being held at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck, Indiana. This year’s Bold Quest includes participation by 16 partner nations in addition to the United States.

“If you go around the Bold Quest community, everybody comes here to link their equipment up with somebody else,” Miller said. The demonstration is focused on performing operations in all domains and requires the use of a variety of platforms and equipment, such as fighter jets and unmanned aircraft systems.

Miller highlighted joint fires support as one of the best examples of ensuring interoperability. Countries have been “working the digital interoperability involved with a call for fire from a joint forward observer or joint terminal tech controller all the way up to the combined joint task force headquarters," he said.

“They have equipment, battle management systems, that represents all of those echelons,” he added. “What they’ve been doing for the last week and a half or two is just . . . making sure that everybody’s system is interoperable with everybody else’s that’s in that line of work here so that regardless of what the nationality of the requester or the fires providers is, it’ll work.”

Industry participation through government sponsorships is also helping countries demonstrate and examine multiple capabilities, Miller said.

For example, Dutch army Maj. Martijn Hadicke said Harris Corp. provided about 20 to 25 radios and two operators for the event to inform a larger procurement process.

“We’re able, as an army, to work with the newest equipment in a very early stage," he said. In return, Harris gets to work with experienced operators and communications architects to develop a concept of operations for the radios. "It's a win-win situation," he added.

Master Sgt. Anders Simonsen, of the Royal Danish Air Force, hopes to use the event to put Denmark’s equipment through its paces.

“Very quickly we can see how robust our equipment is and maybe make some changes,” he said. "We used Bold Quest to do some [interoperability] tests before a deployment to Iraq. We actually tested with some U.S. units over here, so we were sure that our radar was interoperable with the U.S. system.”


Topics: Air Power, Defense Department, Battlefield Communications

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