Defence gets the message

The New Zealand Defence Force is set to spend $3 million on a new military messaging system to bring it up to speed with our allies.

The New Zealand Defence Force is set to spend $3 million on a new military messaging system to bring it up to speed with our allies.

NZDF spokesman John Seward says unlike the systems that allies such as Australia, the UK and the US either already possess or are implementing, current military messaging systems are based on 1970s technology and suffer from a number of limitations — they’re slow, restricted in throughput, manpower-intensive and are limited to passing text only.

“Nations are now replacing these with modern systems based on x.400/SMTP technology to gain benefits in speed, responsiveness and the ability to exchange documents and imagery.”

He says the $3 million budget is cheap compared with that spent by other nations.

“Allied implementations have involved large and expensive development projects and the NZDF seeks to limit cost and risk and avoid the problems they’ve faced by using proven off-the-shelf products.”

New Zealand’s military messaging system uses Compucat’s CMX and CTS technology and the ACP 127 and 128 protocols. Classified messages are sent over the defence force’s secure wide area network (SWAN). The force has another network, the defence information exchange service (DIXS), which carries information that is restricted but less secret than that which goes over the SWAN. The SWAN has 204 terminals and 500 users and the DIXS 6000 terminals and 12,000 users.

Specifications for the new military messaging system include a message transfer service, message clients and directory services, to work with the SWAN’s SunOne directory. The message transfer service function is presently provided by Microsoft Exchange with x.400 connectors.

Records management, an overall management system and access units including printer, fax and removable storage are also required.

ACP 145 and 128 gateways are required to enable the system to work with those of our allies, as is the ability to support messages in formats they use, such as ASMTF (Australian message text formatting) and USMTF (US message text formatting).

The system must be able to provide at least four grades of message importance, including routine, priority, immediate and flash.

The implementation will be carried out in two phases, the first extending it to some SWAN users and the second to begin next year, providing it to additional SWAN and DIXS users.

Integration with the tactical environment and other government departments is also part of the plan.

The country’s navy recently updated its ship-to-shore email and instant messaging systems.

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