Publication: Dataweek Issued: Date: 2006-03-03 Reporter: Maurice McDowell

SA Electronics Companies Profile: C2I2 Systems

 

Publication 

Dataweek

Date 2006-03-03

Reporter

Maurice McDowell

Web Link

www.dataweek.co.za

 

C2I2 Systems (C2I2) was registered in 1990 and the founding and current MD is Richard Young, a highly qualified engineer with a PhD. This company is focused on the development of realtime systems, including data communication. Markets currently addressed are mainly military and include naval, avionics and land applications.

C2I2 (www.ccii.co.za) is growing dynamically and is building on its base of expertise and experience by ensuring that all technical employees are graduate engineers. Together with its capabilities in software engineering and system integration, C2I2 is well placed to provide effective solutions to any organisation's information engineering requirements (this includes commercial industrial companies).

C2I2 was one of two companies competing to supply the combat suite for the new SA Navy corvettes. It also appeared that it was the preferred bidder as Armscor itself had provided funding for the development of some of the systems required for this application. In the event the contract was awarded to its competitor, ADS, but a lot of political controversy surrounds this decision. What is relevant for this article is that at one stage (2003) the C2I2 solution was referred to as a technology demonstrator and carried too much risk. This is not borne out by the facts presented below as the company is selling some of these products to Raytheon in the US. It is my personal opinion that any local company that can sell high-tech products to the great USA, particularly in the defence market, must be operating at the cutting edge of that technology and thus the efforts and technology of C2I2 must be applauded.

The website of C2I2 is very full of data and press releases, but it appears that the US story started about 2001 when the conduction-cooled high-speed aerial I/O PMC adaptors from C2I2 were selected for use in the US Army's air defence radar system. More significantly, in the same year the FDDI PCI, PMC and CC PMC adaptor boards were selected by Raytheon for use in the US and German Navy's rolling airframe missile (RAM) surface to air launch system. The other important event for 2003 was when Raytheon selected the C2I2 FDDI PMC adaptor board for application in its ship self-defence system (SSDS) Mk 2 and its upgrades. Note that Raytheon unveiled the 150th RAM guided missile launching system in August 2004 (Good business for C2I2!).

During 2003 the US decided that all of the Nimitz-Class aircraft carriers would be equipped with the SSDS system with the in-build USS Ronald Reagan being the test vessel. During 2003 Raytheon completed the development and functional qualification testing of the SSDS Mk2 Mod1 for the Ronald Reagan and later that year it was awarded a contract to supply the Navy with five new SSDS systems. Three of these would be land-based for training, one would be used on the Reagan and one would be evaluated for use on the new in-construction amphibious assault vessels.

It should be noted that the SSDS is largely based on COTS (commercial off the shelf) technology and the long term view is that it will be retrofitted to all vessels in the fleet with the exception of the AEGIS-Class ships. The USS George Bush is the next aircraft carrier to be built and will be the most advanced of the class, acting as a bridge between the Nimitz class and the next generation of carriers. The American press is quoted as saying that ship is seen as revolutionary by the US Navy, largely because of the electronic systems sourced from C2I2 and a former Pietermaritzburg man, namely Richard Young.

The new amphibious assault craft (12 in total) were earmarked for the SSDS as long ago as 1995. The San Antonio Class are a major addition to the US fleet and the SSDS was selected because the heart of the ship's defence capability is quick reaction. They are also the first US Naval vessels to be equipped with a fibre-optics-based shipboard wide area network (SWAN), and they will also use the RAM missile for which C2I2 is also supplying components as described above. In a report dated 2003 it was noted that the existing amphibious assault vessels (Whidbey Island and Wasp Classes) would also be fitted with the SSDS.

In fact, regarding SWAN, much of the success of C2I2 can be attributed to the early adoption of FDDI (fibre distributed data interface) technology, which is just now being implemented by the US Navy and hence the sales of the FDDI PMC cards. Although the current ideal networking technology would be asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), this is a long way from maturity. Richard Young strongly believes that FDDI will remain a feature of major ship-borne networks for years to come.

All of this appears to be good business for C2I2. The company was not however completely excluded from the local arms deal as in 2001 it received a contract for the adaptation of the software for the ISUS 90 combat measuring system for the SA Navy's U-209 submarines. Other products developed by C2I2 amongst many others, include a universal tracking platform (UTP), a helicopter take off and landing system (HTLS), a tracker radar console (TRC), a search radar console (SRC), a signal concentrator unit (ICCU), a realtime weather watch (RTWW) and a realtime surveillance watch (RTSW).

The UTP provides an integrated solution for monitoring and reporting the geographic position, movement parameters and internal health of a vehicle. The HTLS assists in the take-off; landing and flying of ship-borne helicopters by measuring and displaying weather conditions and the ship's motion data (will Armscor buy it for the Lynx helicopters?) The TRC provides a sophisticated, geographically-oriented, human-machine interface for optronics and radar trackers (as used on the corvettes). The SRC is a control and display console for a 3-D naval search radar tracker incorporating primary search radar, missile control radar and air control functionality.

Moving on to the ICCS, it is a hierarchy of IT elements integrated so as to supply commanders and battle troops with command and control data and information to support joint operations in the 21st Century digital battle space. The RTSW provides realtime surveillance of remote sites on an interactive website. Digital cameras capture high resolution images that are displayed on web pages allowing www clients to view these sites. The RTTW provides realtime weather information from a number of remote sites on an interactive web page. Weather trends are displayed allowing clients to monitor and predict weather patterns. A digital camera captures high-resolution images which are displayed on a web page allowing www clients to view the selected site and weather patterns.

The above is a summary of about a third of the products developed by C2I2 for realtime applications. Many of these developed products would have been appropriate for the corvettes.

In the beginning, with its focus on realtime information (Young's PhD thesis was on realtime mission-critical protocols) C2I2 started out to develop a series of board level products, including PMC adaptors, PCI adaptors, PC 104 Plus adaptors and converters. One of these products was the much-mentioned FDDI PCI adaptors, the company being at the forefront worldwide in the adoption of FDDI technology.

The FDDI (fibre distributed data base) PCI adaptor provides dual-redundant 100 Mbps communications links signalling over multimode fibre and is ideally suited to realtime data communication applications. The adaptor is available in air-cooled versions in either commercial or ruggedised (-40 to 85C) packaging. Whereas the FDDI PCI features VxWorks software drivers, the newer FDDI PC104 Plus adaptor features additional software drivers, including Linux, Solaris, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003 as standard, as well as a wide range of compatible and qualified third party software drivers. Both adaptors use the AMD Supernet 3 chipset which offers advanced features such as synchronous bandwidth allocation (SBA) and end station support (ESS).

Having studied the capabilities of C2I2, there is no doubt in my mind that it could, together with its partner companies, have developed a truly state-of-the-art combat suite for the local corvettes. Not knowing what C2I2 actually offered, but if it was an FDDI solution then the combat suite would have been on par with what the US Navy is just introducing.

With acknowledgement to Maurice McDowell and Dataweek.