The importance of information-driven operations is increasing. This means that the operational armed forces are able to collect and analyze the correct information more quickly. This way, faster and better decisions can be made. With the Foxtrot program, many units are provided with modern tactical communications equipment and IT infrastructure during the first phase. Minister Kajsa Ollongren informed the House today about a number of matters within the program. All major units of the army, the battalions of the Marine Corps, the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC) and the military police are involved in the Foxtrot program. Approximately 8,000 vehicles, 3,500 soldiers, 135 vessels and 170 aircraft and helicopters will receive the new means of communication. One of the most extensive projects is the modernization of current military radios (software-defined combat net radios). The armed forces now use several different types of radios. With the new radios, the units must be able to communicate with each other smoothly and securely. Not only with each other, but also with international allies. The House has also been informed about the results of the research phase for this so-called military transmission building block (MTBB).
The Netherlands wants to purchase the new radios from the American company L3Harris. This is the only manufacturer that meets all requirements. Moreover, L3Harris can deliver at short notice. Acquisition is done through the US government through so-called Foreign Military Sales. Foxtrot also focuses on broadening connectivity options through civilian standards. This concerns, for example, WiFi, 4G/5G and satellite communication. Supporting applications such as the battlefield management system will also be upgraded. The modernization of the systems will continue in the coming years. In addition, Defense is preparing vehicles, ships and aircraft for the installation of the resources acquired from Foxtrot. Education and training in areas such as use and maintenance are also included in the program.
In addition to modernization, Foxtrot also includes a continuity track. This is because operations continue as normal in the meantime. Technically outdated military communication systems are being upgraded without compromising their usability. This concerns, for example, ground/air radios or the NIMCIS radios of the Marines. The replacement and lifespan extension projects in the continuity track are therefore closely coordinated with the modernization track. Important principles here are sustainability and efficiency. Procurement for all projects is done ‘off the shelf’ as much as possible.
This not only provides benefits in terms of costs. The delivery time is also shorter and offers better options for integrating systems with each other. For each project, it is examined whether and how the Dutch defense industry can be involved. Defense is already exploring cooperation options with the Dutch Industry Foundation for Defense and Security (NIVD). Another option is for the military organization to call on trusted partner countries. The requirements for the entire program involve up to €2.5 billion. The expectation is that work on the program will continue until at least 2036. Foxtrot also influences various current Defense replacement and modernization projects. It also has a direct relationship with the Frontier IT (GrIT) program and the Improved Operational Soldier System (VOSS) project.