Wednesday, 17 December 2008

COSYS, ISUS and Herding Cats

It's now been nearly 13 years since I was in the Frei- und Hanse- Stadt Bremen, but I still have many happy memories of living and working there.

The main two systems I was involved with - one as Co-Chief Architect, the other as a sort of "Grand Vizier" and Fire-fighter, allocated to crisis points, were the COSYS family of Naval Combat Systems, and the ISUS-90 Submarine Combat System.

Both are described in brief in Norman Friedman's book, The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems, something of a Bible in the Industry. I last had a chat to Norman Friedman, the doyen of all things naval and electronic, about 15 years ago, in the Royal Navy Equipment Exhibition at the old gunnery school at Whale Island, Portsmouth.

The book itself has a heavy Thunk factor.
Last month, a suspiciously large package from Subsim arrived at the post office. Was it a torpedo? No, it was the 2006 edition of The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems. A $250, seven pound hardcover monster of a book - the most expensive book published by the Naval Institute. What had I gotten myself into?

Despite its title, and the cover showing missiles and bombs flying around, WNWS '06 is an encyclopedic textbook of naval weapons and technology. Virtually every weapon and electronic system used aboard warships and naval aircraft today is covered in detail; often more detail than anyone would ever need. Everything from electro-optical systems, minehunting equipment, combat direction systems, radar, sonar, ECM and ESM systems, mines, countermeasures, guns, fire control systems, missiles, ASW rockets, torpedoes, to sonobuoys, is covered. Despite being about 200 pages shorter than Combat Fleets, this book massive. I was shocked by its tremendous scope when I first browsed through it. I'm still a bit bewildered.
Um... to me the systems are "described in brief", but I guess that's a view only a professional in the area would hold. To anyone else, possibly a bit much to handle. Friedman is not just good, he's the best, without peer or equal.

The COSYS family is described on page 73. The only error is in who which firm was the lead in the project. Friedman assumes the "CO" in "COSYS" is for Oerlikon-Contraves, the famous Swiss manufacturer. The truth is a bit more prosaic - the acronym is for COmbat SYStem. And there is a small omission - the COSYS-200T1 variant for the Royal Thai Navy, a massive 16-console system that was the ultimate, a system designed for an aircraft-carrier. Most of the consoles would be devoted to aircraft operations and recovery, the rest is basically a reduced 8-console destroyer system with many redundant bits removed. I know, I wrote the 200-page basic requirements specification document single-handedly. From the looks of it, it still might get a look-in, as the Spanish equipment supplied by the (Spanish) shipyard Bazan has a less than stellar performance, especially as regards maintenance.

The other system I was most involved in, though I did do a bit on some minehunting gear, was the ISUS-90 Integrated Submarine Combat System described on page 138. It was consultancy work in connection with this system that led me to Haifa Naval base in Israel some 18 months ago. This has enjoyed some considerable commercial success, with many sales since the book was written. Even though I say it myself, it is an outstanding piece of kit - though developing it caused me a few headaches. Leading a mixed team of Israelis, Germans, and Australians in a technically challenging and utterly crucial area was, well, like this:

There aren't that many people in the industry worldwide, and most of us know each other. Or knew, as I've been out of it for a while, doing Rocket Science, and recently, research. Stealth was never an option for me.


Bad hair days said...

> There aren't that many people in
> the industry worldwide, and most
> of us know each other. Or knew,
> as I've been out of it for a
> while, doing Rocket Science, and
> recently, research. Stealth was
> never an option for me.

When I searched for a new job in software development in switzerland I had to learn the same thing (stealth would never be an option). Given the small sice of switzerland, everyone in IT knows each other over a max of two hops. And doing quite some comunity work a few years ago alot more people know me that I thought.

MgS said...

I've thought about the notion of stealth a few times, and I quickly realized that it's not only impractical in my world, it would result in me denying such a big part of who I am that it's just not worth it.

(BTW - that was a great post, Zoe)

Bad hair days said...

Yes, I think thats true, either. I read somewhere in a blogcomment of a women who was stealth for about five years, and had plans to out herself, because she can't stand the constant denial of her past.

And not being stealth means the people that like you like YOU and not only an image you give them.