LSRC - supporting the delivery of C5ISR capability for deployed operations

Land Systems Reference Centre (LSRC)

 The Land Systems Reference Centre (LSRC) is the MOD’s vital test and reference facility providing a Centre of Excellence that assures end to end systems engineering, ensures reliability, confirms interoperability and evaluates performance of Land Environment (LE) Communications and Information Systems (CIS). Testing is carried out to the highest standards on both in-service equipment and emulated solutions through the communication, infrastructure and most importantly the application layers.

This agile and flexible military facility, centrally funded by Joint Force Command (JFC) Coalition, Command, Control, Communications and Computers Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR), offers services to the Armed Forces as well as to organisations supplying and delivering IT capability to the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Beyond its in-service equipment maintained at a reference configuration, it offers a wide range of test tools, extensive test expertise and the real estate on which to perform a diverse range of tests.

Welcome to the LSRC

Foreword by Air Cdre Ian Kirkwood Head of Network Technical Authority

 The LSRC continues to play a crucially important role in preparing, deploying and supporting a wide range of C5ISR capabilities to Afghanistan. By providing a unique Test and Reference centre, project managers can de-risk complex systems. Generating traceable and repeatable interoperability tests, project managers gain robust evidence of their project’s performance, minimise system rework once deployed, reduce the cost of a project and, ultimately, make sure that their project is fit for purpose in the most demanding of operational environments.

The addition of Kestrel and Overtask, with its suite of applications, build upon the existing suite to create a fully representative test environment for Op HERRICK which is available for use by projects that must comply with the Deployed Technical Architecture as referenced in Joint Service Publication 604 Network Joining Rules. In the near future, the LSRC will be pivotal in supporting the rollout of Falcon, Defence Information Infrastructure Land Deployed (DII LD) and the Joint Command & Control Support Programme (JC2SP) suite of applications. Further out, the LSRC needs to move into the contingent operations space, the other environments and, potentially, the cyber field. All in all, an exciting time.

I strongly encourage those with responsibilities to deliver new Information and Communications Technology capabilities to visit the LSRC and see how it can help them. It is my intention that the LSRC should feature prominently in projects’ test evaluation and acceptance plans, and projects should contribute a representative reference system within the LSRC for their longer-term support.

Foreword by Brigadier DB Warne Capability Director Information (Army)

 As one of the two User representatives for the LSRC, I recognise the Centre’s continuing role in de-risking the delivery of operational Communications and Information Systems (CIS) and supporting the re-equipping of UK forces for Contingency. The LSRC provides a controlled, secure and repeatable set of standards and conditions against which to test and evaluate military CIS - an essential Defence requirement.

The LSRC continues to develop and expand its technical facilities; equipment and hosted applications are continually refreshed and upgraded to enable the facility to support a broad range of technical CIS development work. In particular, the recent introduction of Falcon, Overtask and Kestrel, combined with applications such as JC2SP and Bowman ComBat Infrastructure Platform 5.5, allow the LSRC to test new equipment and software within an integrated ‘system of systems’ environment. Work is also underway to assess the LSRC’s possible future use for testing and evaluating UK military Information Assurance. In addition to providing support for the development of UK C4IS systems, the LSRC is seeing an increase in the support it provides at an international level; most notably, the ability of UK CIS systems to interoperate with those from the United States, France and Germany. This is an area of work that I expect will grow as the UK focuses more heavily on contingent operations. As we aspire to deliver CIS capability in a more agile manner our ability to rapidly assure and test multiple iterations and baselines before release onto operational networks will be crucial to operational success.

In light of the above, I commend the use of the LSRC to all those involved in the development and delivery of military C4IS equipment and applications. The facility provides (through central funding) the technical infrastructure, management and expertise necessary to de-risk complex CIS projects and identify potential interoperability issues at an early stage. By helping to assure these CIS equipment programmes, the LSRC continues to make a valuable contribution to UK Defence and I encourage Defence Equipment and Support Delivery Teams and their industry partners to take advantage of the opportunities that the LSRC offers.

LSRC – what we do

The LSRC is the MOD’s LE test and reference facility. It conducts acceptance, interoperability and risk reduction activities on CIS in use, or being developed, in support of all three of the UK Armed Forces operating in the Land Environment. Centrally funded by JFC C5ISR, the LSRC facilities are available free of charge at the point of use. The delivery of the LSRC is through a Combined In-service Facilities Management Operation Upgrades and Support (CIFMOUS) contract managed by DES Defence Information Services Team (DIST); the current CIFMOUS Contractor is Sopra Steria.

Customers at the LSRC, from within the Armed Forces, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and defence industry partners have access to a range of services. These are prioritised to maximise the use of LSRC resources and to ensure that support is provided to the following activities:

  • Support to operations
  • Support to mission planning and rehearsal
  • Support to exercises
  • Assurance testing in support of Release Management processes
  • CIS equipment acceptance testing

The delivery of the LSRC as a facility requires a number of activities to be carried out by diverse subcontractors and military personnel, all of which must be able to collaborate as and when required.

As the Facility Manager of the LSRC, Sopra Steria is responsible for this collaboration and manages it on behalf of the MOD, in liaison with specialist military personnel at the Blandford site.

Sopra Steria facilitates the integration of all the organisations working at and supplying the LSRC. These range from best-in-class systems engineering firms and integrated logistics support specialists to the MOD’s Defence Information Services Team (DIST).

As you would expect from a reference testing facility, the LSRC’s testing services are delivered in accordance with the facility’s own ISO 9001 – 2008 Certification. The aim is to maximise testing efficiency, whist providing high levels of assurance of the validity of the test results. These services minimise risks at all stages of CIS procurement and operation, and complement the services of systems developers and research establishments.

What type of tests?

Testing Activities.

The testing activities within the LSRC have been aligned with, and support the functions identified for, the Service Lifecycle phases as defined within Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) v3. Additionally, they are aligned with the project cycle for defence procurement. The following activities are supported:

Service Release Assurance

As defined in JSP 604, test evidence is required to provide assurance that risks to the operational system are within managed bounds, prior to the In-Service phase of a project. This testing maps to the Service Transition phase within ITIL and is required to provide a degree of assurance that new or modified elements of CIS will:

  • Perform as designed on deployed tactical networks.
  • Not adversely affect the performance of existing deployed CIS.

Additional tests can be conducted to rehearse and validate deployment/mission plans.

In-Service Support

In-Service support covers those functions identified within the ‘Service Operation’ and ‘Service Improvement’ phases of ITIL.

At the request of the FalconMOD user community, the LSRC is able to utilise its reference equipment and resources to recreate the circumstances leading to a reported incident in the test environment. Having recreated the incident, the LSRC is able to investigate the problem and make recommendations on courses of action.

Support to DE&S Delivery Teams

During early phases of the project cycle, equivalent to the ‘Strategy’ and ‘Design’ phases of ITIL, the DE&S DTs with their delivery partners will need to test their CIS solutions in the following areas:

  • Functional. Is the proposed solution meeting the User Requirements Document/System Requirements Document?
  • Performance. Is it compliant with the Network Joining Rules?

Termination of services

Additionally, the LSRC can support DE&S with investigation into the effects of terminating services or removing from service elements of CIS.

Support to Research Programmes

Typically ‘What If’ or ‘Can I’ type testing that informs the early phases of the project cycle.

How we do it

The Land Systems Reference Centre is at the leading edge of test and reference activity. It comprises laboratories, external hard standing and garages and at the core of its operations is Test Control.

Efficiency and quality at every stage of management and operation are essential to deliver an affordable and reliable test and reference facility. The LSRC team uses best practice methodologies to deliver a cost-effective programme of testing and evaluation and is driven by a Quality Management System that ensures a quality of delivery to military and civilian customers.

Test Control

Test Control is the management hub from which the configuration of the reference systems and the execution of test scripts are run. From Test Control, LSRC staff are able to remotely configure and control reference systems and test tools deployed on any given task.

External Hard Standing

20 external hard standing bays can accommodate vehicles or containers. Each bay is provided with single and 3-phase power and signal cable connections.

Satellite Hard Standing

The LSRC is a registered satellite Radio Frequency launch site and can accommodate up to 4 satellite terminals. Single and 3-phase power is available and ducts are provided to lay cable between the LSRC building and the remote facilities to create a secure working environment.

Secure Garage Bays

6 internal garage bays are available, each provided with single and 3-phase power and signal cable connections.

Laboratory Space

10 laboratories are available, each with personalised access control per door, thus helping to maintain customer confidentiality. Two of these labs may be used for tests at the highest protective marking.

Briefing rooms and office space

6 small office/meeting rooms and a conference room are available.

Reference equipment at the LSRC

Current reference capabilities within the LSRC include:

Bowman

Bowman, the tactical C4IS for the British Armed Forces. Delivering Voice and Data services. The LSRC has representations of both BCIP 5.4. and 5.5 to support both of the currently used baselines. Example task usage:

  • 15 Signal Regiment 3rd line fault analysis and rectification
  • Overtask interoperability testing

Tactical Network layer Gateway (TNG)

Tactical Network-Layer Gateway meets the requirement for greater interoperability at the tactical level. It provides a secure combination of voice and data network interfaces that will be accessible to current and future tactical systems. Example task usage:

  • Testing information exchange between Overtask and BCIP for Command and Control functions
  • BCIP Interoperability trials with UK equipment and other national partners

Housekeeper

Housekeeper supports Restricted information exchanges and applications such as Joint Personnel Administration and other medical, logistic and administrative Applications. Housekeeper will continue to be in service in Afghanistan for several years to come. Example task usage:

  • Interoperability trials using Cormorant as a bearer of opportunity
  • Support to Service Release Assurance of new applications

Cormorant

The Cormorant system is a theatre-deployable communications network for the Joint Task Force Headquarters, providing communications support for direct subscribers at Joint Force and other deployed Component Command headquarters. Cormorant is a communications system that offers world-wide deployability and is an integral part of the broader Global Information Infrastructure concept.

The LSRC will hold this capability until out of service, currently planned for end 2014.

"The LSRC will continue to evolve to meet the testing market but our aims remain constant - to give the highest standard of service to the customer and the highest return on investment to the MOD"

Dermot Cusack LSRC Manager

Example task usage:

  • DII Land Deployed SAT and Infrastructure Field Trial
  • Reacher/ Skynet 5 Interoperability testing
  • ASTOR development and acceptance testing
  • Falcon de-risking
  • Richelieu interoperability testing

Promina

Promina is the currently deployed multi access platform for handling all in-theatre voice (utilising the Avaya exchange) and data services at UK Secret and Restricted in a networked environment. Example task usage:

  • De-risking interoperability with new or upgraded end- systems such as Housekeeper
  • Functional testing of Kestrel
  • Release Assurance test evidence for Biometric Data

Capture System

Satellite Communications (SatCom) While the LSRC does not hold reference SatCom equipment, it offers a hard-standing that can simultaneously accommodate four terminals.

Customers wishing to utilise SatCom services make their own arrangements for the provision and funding of ground terminals and airtime as well as for trained manpower to operate the terminals. The LSRC also has a number of satellite simulators that can be used if physical SatCom services are not required or available.

  • Reacher interoperability testing
  • Falcon interoperability testing

Overtask

Overtask is the UK C4IS system which is federated to the Afghan Mission Network supporting protected coalition force command and control activities. It is now being used from the strategic through to the tactical levels of command in Theatre and also provides points of presence in the UK. It supports applications that deliver situational awareness, intelligence planning, collaborative working and office tools, such as E-mail. The LSRC holds an Overtask representation comprising the main network nodes to facilitate the release of applications and to evaluate the systems engineering performance.

The test and reference capability is continually being upgraded and used to evaluate performance as part of the de-risking process for delivery of new services and applications prior to release onto the operational system. Example task usage:

  • Support to Release Assurance of applications
  • Characterisation of application traffic
  • De-risking of changes to network elements prior to configuration of upgrades in theatre

Kestrel

The Op HERRICK Wide-Area network has seen huge improvements in the last year with the primary bearers switching from satellite communications to a high speed, Direct Line of Sight, meshed radio network provided by the Kestrel system. The LSRC has a Kestrel Reference Capability where the Kestrel edge routers allow connectivity to both Promina/Avaya and Overtask. Example task usage:

  • De-risking and trialling of network enhancements including the integration of the network to a partially meshed state and the upgrade of the radios to 100Mbps
  • Simulation of varying bearer conditions in both Promina and Overtask networks.

Falcon

Falcon is the Joint tactical trunk communications system for the Land Environment. It replaces Ptarmigan and uses Internet Protocol technology to provide a high capacity, tactical, formation level secure communications system for the ARRC, RAF, UK divisions and brigades. It will complement, but not duplicate, the capabilities of other systems such as Bowman and Cormorant. Falcon provides a resilient communications system that is flexible enough to support operations across the full spectrum of conflict, as well as being interoperable within the joint and multinational environment, and with legacy systems. The LSRC is equipped with both Falcon equipment and also a hardware model that can emulate a 35 node WAN. Example task usage:

  • Interoperability activities with future projects such as Watchkeeper
  • Interoperability with US system WIN-T
  • TNG Interoperability

DII(LD)

DII (LD) will provide a managed computing infrastructure and service that will enable the sharing of information and collaborative working. It will provide separate Restricted and Secret Infrastructures and has been designed to support the Defence Change Programme and the JC2SP suites of applications respectively. Example task usage:

  • Support to Service Release Assurance process for new and migrating applications
  • Interoperability testing through the Bowman Gateway

Representative Test Environment

The need to react to Urgent Operational Requirements, in a timely manner, has driven the creation of an Op HERRICK Representative Test Environment (RTE) that utilises the reference systems in a configuration that is being used in theatre. The Architecture of the RTE is aligned with the NTA’s Op HERRICK Technical Architecture, although not all component elements are available at the LSRC. Such elements may be provided by the test customer at the LSRC, or at other locations which have appropriate communication Links.

The RTE utilises Kestrel and simulated SatCom to emulate the WAN capability providing connection for infrastructure systems, such as Overtask and Housekeeper. It allows tests across all elements including the application suites hosted on these infrastructures and as it is permanently configured, it avoids the set-up times previously required for each Reference System.

The right connections

The LSRC is able to connect to the following external systems:

  • Restricted LAN Interconnect (RLI)
  • Secret LAN Interconnect (SLI)
  • Joint and Multi-national Interoperability Assurance Network (JMNIAN)
  • Combined Federated Battle Laboratory Network (through JMNIAN)

Application Testing

The Applications Testing Capability offers up-to-date test tools and computer infrastructure to customers, including DE&S, military units and industry providers of military CIS. Its primary function is to provide evidence to support the Service Release Assurance process, in accordance with JSP 604. It provides an environment in which an application’s functionality can be checked to confirm response times and latency. Applications can be monitored in the presence of other applications, the effect of the network on the application’s performance can be assessed, as well as changes to the performance of the network hosting the application, all factors which contribute to the ‘User Experience’ of using the application over a system of systems. Other capabilities include:

Emulation of Real Environment

  • Emulating a real environment and adjusting the network’s parameters using test tools
  • Monitoring an application’s performance whilst working in a representative, but emulated environment
  • Monitoring server and workstation traffic to characterise performance
  • Testing the application and network by using real users to stimulate the standalone network, or by using test tools to generate traffic on the emulated network

Load Testing

  • Loading a network through the generation of traffic via test tools, application usage or replaying recorded user actions
  • Monitoring an application’s performance whilst working in a representative or emulated environment
  • Monitoring server and workstation traffic to understand performance
  • Testing in a Representative Synthetic Environment in Standalone Mode (for example Housekeeper)
  • Monitoring the application’s performance whilst working in standalone mode to whatever Application Servers and customers are available locally
  • Testing the application and network by using real users to stimulate the standalone network or by using test tools to generate traffic on the network

Testing in a Representative Environment in Connected Mode (for example Housekeeper connected to the RLI)

  • Monitoring the application’s performance whilst working in connected mode to whatever connected servers are appropriate
  • Testing the application and network by using real users to stimulate the deployed network

PLANNED CAPABILITY

Formal Off-Site Testing Capability

Building on the current best-endeavours approach, the LSRC will be able to offer an ability to conduct testing at customer sites equipped with a suite of test tools similar to those used at the LSRC. This capability is planned to be available from early 2014.

"The increasing complexity and inter-dependant nature of land-based C5ISR systems make it essential that we fully assure all new and upgraded capabilities before they are released onto live operational networks."

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hudson, Military Head of the LSRC

The test tools we use

Tests at the LSRC are conceived and initiated by each customer who details what they require from the LSRC. An LSRC Test Controller will work with the customer to produce a Service Level Agreement which reflects the specific customer situation. They will then design tests, execute tests and produce a report for the customer.

Commercial Off-the-shelf (COTS) Test Tools

The LSRC now has a wide range of commercial test tools available to stimulate and monitor systems. These tools have been built into bespoke Test Racks, each for a different protectively marked domain; the current LSRC capability supports 5 separate test domains. The tools are connected to form an independent LAN for management and also to transport captured data, thus separating it from the System Under Test. The following are some of the tools available, to support application testing activities:

Monitoring Equipment

  • The Endace Network Monitor is the primary means of capturing data. This is a multi-port tool capable of capturing and storing high quantities of traffic at line rates of up to 1Gb.
  • Opnet AppResponseXpert Rover is a statistical monitoring tool which can monitor a network for very long periods of time. It observes network traffic and writes information about the traffic to a database which can be queried to provide views about the network activity.

Stimulation Equipment

  • The Spirent Test Centre is used to introduce traffic into a network in a controlled manner to partly or fully load it. This can either be as a Layer 2-3 packet stream or at Layer 4-7 employing fully defined protocol stacks for source and sink.
  • HP LoadRunner automates the stimulation of Web-based applications by recording operator actions and then replaying them under scripted control to simulate multiple users, but in a repeatable manner.

Network Emulation

  • iTrinegy Network Emulator Enterprise is a network emulation tool which can be configured to operate as a simple point to point link or to reflect more complex networks with multiple nodes and multiple paths. Traffic can be routed and degraded based on a variety of parameters, as required.
  • iTrinegy Network Emulator LCD/Compact. This provides basic point to point emulation with control of delay, bandwidth and error.

Analysis

  • To manipulate and analyse the traffic captured during testing, the LSRC has a number of tools:
  • Wireshark
  • Opnet AppTransactionXpert
  • Clearsight Analyser
  • CACE Pilot Pro

Ongoing development

The UK MOD is the LSRC’s highest priority customer, but by no means the only one. The UK defence industry is also a major user of the facility, making use of the services to help speed up and de-risk the delivery of new capability to the MOD.

A process of continual development and improvements at the LSRC ensures the facility keeps pace with the technology curve at all times. This progress is managed by the LSRC’s prime systems integrator Sopra Steria, in association with third party specialist vendors and other stakeholders in the LSRC, as well as with the MOD personnel located at the facility.

The LSRC has:

  • reduced development and deployment risks
  • improved efficiencies and ultimately increased performance of new and emerging communications information systems
  • delivered scalable testing environments in response to the rapidly changing communications information environment, including network and infrastructure developments
  • increased productivity with the amount of concurrent testing projects exceeding sponsor expectations
  • reduced MOD cost through the reduction of operational and development risk

Partnering for success

 The LSRC staff is made up of a mix of military and civilian personnel who operate the facility on behalf of the MOD. They configure and deploy the equipment and systems, maintained at reference state, which are enabling and supporting military operations across the globe. Sopra Steria is the prime contractor for managing both the site and the testing service, supported by its key partners and suppliers. In partnering with external suppliers to deliver this vital facility, the MOD is able to gain access to best- in-class skills and the most advanced technology that might not be otherwise available.

This ensures that the LSRC remains a key facility within the MOD, providing essential services that help guarantee the reliability, interoperability and performance of communications and information systems deployed in geographically and operationally diverse locations.

"I will not let anything go out to theatre without going through the LSRC, so I know apps will not mess up my systems."

Housekeeper system project Manager

Sopra Steria in Defence

Sopra Steria has been a key provider of specialist systems and services to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for over 30 years. Independence, broad capability and knowledgeable people with a reputation for operational and commercial flexibility have secured Sopra Steria’s position as one of the MOD’s top ten ICT suppliers.

Sopra Steria’s involvement in the LSRC, MJDI, UNICOM and EMS projects has developed core solutions spanning secure systems, identity management, end-to-end logistics and operational environments.

The focus is on establishing strategic partnerships with customers and delivering innovative, practical IT solutions based on core capabilities which include:

  • Security
  • Systems Integration
  • Infrastructure Services
  • Enterprise and Network Management
  • Business Process Outsourcing