The UK considers NATO at the heart of Defence planning assumptions and interoperability with NATO information systems is a key UK Defence requirement. NATO employs many different communication systems to provide telephone, VTC, E-mail and data sharing services both between the NATO command structure, national level Headquarters and in deployed locations. It is not possible to determine the number of communication systems used by NATO, owing to the diverse number of members and the communication systems they use.
Interoperability between NATO nations is achieved through compliance with commonly agreed technical standards and protocols rather than system specific solutions.
As such, the UK is firmly embedded in the NATO led planning for the Federated Mission Networking (FMN) solution and Connected Forces Initiative (CFI). The FMN is a NATO initiative to improve interoperability and information sharing amongst Alliance members through adherence to common standards for deployable communication systems. The CFI will allow UK and other partner nations to work together and exchange information more freely when not deployed on operations.
The UK is now beginning to employ the JACKDAW communication system to provide a mission configurable capability that will support interoperability with NATO Allies and also bringing an increasing amount of NATO applications into service to enhance interoperability. JACKDAW will be compliant with the NATO FMN initiative and will be configurable to match the security classification needs of the operation. JACKDAW will be the communication system that provides interoperability for UK naval forces and NATO Allies for the NATO Readiness Force 16 (NRF 16) period.
The UK acts as the framework nation for the multinational Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Headquarters (HQ ARRC) based in the UK. The ARRC utilises the MAGPIE communication system hosting core NATO applications which provides interoperability with the NATO Command Structure and its NATO partners. Technical interoperability is validated through NATO led exercises such as Exercise STEADFAST COBALT that also test procedural interoperability and readiness for future operations. It is planned that MAGPIE will be replaced by JACKDAW in due course.