ADLIPS, LINK 11 /14, CCS-280 and Other Systems

ADLIPS is the acronym for Automatic Data Link Plotting System and was a Canadian development, first started in 1973-4. It enabled ships without tactical computer systems (ie St Laurent, IRE, Mackenzie and Annapolis classes) to exchange tactical information with ships so fitted, such as the DDH 280 class which uses the Command and Control System 280 (CCS 280). Generally speaking, the CCS computer polled the peripheral systems and used the information to compile the Operational picture. Electronic Warfare (EW) data was a one-way transfer; the CCS computer did not send information back to the EW supervisor. That was done by intercom. In addition, ADLIPS  would permit Canadian ships to exchange tactical information with our US and UK allies. Program delays meant that this new system was only fitted to a few ships by the early 1980's.

ADLIPS was a federated system.   A federated system is one where a central processor controls all the inputs and outputs. Unfortunately everything in a federated system dies if the central computer goes down for any reason.  In contrast, the CCS for the new Halifax Class ships is a distributed architecture system. Canada pioneered this system in destroyer-sized ships, building on the strengths of the CCS 280 system. In distributed architecture, all systems are attached to a data bus. The failure of a subsystem only causes a graceful degradation of the overall system, not a complete failure. The sonar and EW systems supplied information to ADLIPS when interrogated. There was one display dedicated to air control and one anti-submarine (A/S) position. Sonar data from a helicopter could be displayed on ADLIPS.

1980s_mfhf_trans_adlips_block_diagram_b.jpg ADLIPS External and Internal Block Diagram circa 1985. Click to enlarge. System components are represented within the dashed box on the drawing . The AN/UYK-505 computer was basically the UYK-502 with a memory upgrade from 64 kb to 128 kb of memory. ADLIPS is now obsolete. (Drawing courtesy Canadian Navy)
Gary  Isliefson is a hardware engineer who designed many of the components in the UYK-502 and 505  computers. He recalls the following. "One web reference states that in a later development, the UYK-502 received a memory upgrade from 64 to 128 kb and was renamed the UYK-505. That is incorrect.

AN/UYK-505 was actually a Canadian version of the AN/UYK-20, not a variant of the UYK-502. The memory upgrade mentioned for the 502 wasn't really a memory upgrade, but rather an ordering option. It could be ordered with 64KB of core memory or up to 256KB (I believe ) of Dynamic RAM. It also had a CMOS static memory option but its capacity was less than the DRAM memory.  The core memory option was attractive to users who wanted their programs to survive while the equipment was powered off  since core memory is non-volatile. Its drawback was density and speed. The core memory was one of the products fabricated in Winnipeg.  There wasn't much demand for UYK-502's  operating on core memory so its unlikely the Canadian Navy purchased machines with core memory.

The real upgrade to the UYK-502 occurred in the early 90's with the development of the AN/UYK-507/ AN/UYK-44EP. This was a true custom ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit)  solution which executed the same programs but at much higher frequency (approximately  50 MHz versus 200 KHz). It was a joint development by engineers from Sperry-Univac Winnipeg and St. Paul working together. All frigates were upgraded to this computer and it continues to serve to this day (2009).   I believe that there were more 507's produced than 502's, a really an impressive achievement."

World Naval Weapons Systems 1991-92 provides the following ADLIPS description:

"Automatic Data Link Plotting System, a "poor man's NTDS" (Naval Tactical Data System), was developed as part of the Canadian DELEX (Destroyer Life Extension) program. Like NTDS, ADLIPS integrates shipboard sensors and provides both Link 11 and Link 14 communications capability. Until ADLIPS had been installed, only the four Tribal-class destroyers had Link 11 capability. Thus, the older ships could not rapidly exchange ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) data, nor could these ships fully integrate with the 280 Tribals. The ADLIPS contract was awarded to Litton of Canada.

Like NTDS, ADLIPS displays both raw radar data and synthetic video, including data received over Links 11 and 14; it also replaces existing obsolete electro-mechanical plotting tables (such as dead-reckoning tracers). ADLIPS was developed using only existing components, which had to be integrated with the existing sensors.

The central computer is the standard U.S. UYK-20(V) minicomputer [16-bit], rather than the UYK-7 [32-bit] used in contemporary versions of NTDS. The key system decisions seem to have been to minimize the actual computing load (e.g., in target evaluation), and also to distribute that load (e. g., to rely on the existing computerized EW and ASW systems). The only weapons directly controlled by the UYK-20 are the gun and any missile the ship might carry. The ships involved carry only the ASROC weapon.

Link 14 data is entered directly (which is unusual in NTDS systems) through a special interface. There is an analog-to-digital converter for radar, log/gyro, and sonar data (the converter transmits data to the gun), and the UYK-20 connects directly to the Canadian ASW Data System (ASWDS), where that system has been installed. A similar computer-to-computer channel connects the ship's EW system with ADLIPS. Finally, Link 11 and other encrypted digital data links feed directly into the computer via a modem and a decrypter.

The main display is the Situation Information Display (SID), a 20-inch CRT showing raw video, IFF data, and synthetic video. There are 3 operating stations around the horizontal SID, each with its own trackball and alphanumeric keyboard. This type of display was chosen to minimize space requirements in a relatively crowded operations room (CIC) already filled with radar and sonar displays. There are also 22 x 22-cm plasma displays, which show only synthetic video (bridge, EW control room). The system can carry 140 tracks (100 moving, 40 static) plus 6-min track-position histories for 25 targets and velocity vectors for the 100 tracks. As in NTDS, the operators at  the consoles detect the targets, so that each SID can insert 3 targets into the system simultaneously.

The system is federated, in that each SID carries its own replica of the data base and carries out its own display-related computations. However, most of the computing power of the system resides in its central computer. Litton sees the duplication of the data base in the SIDs as insurance against the failure of the central computer.

Development began in August 1979 to replace manual plots in non-TDS ships. ADLIPS is interesting as the simplest and least expensive mechanization of such plots and, thus, should have had considerable export potential. In fact, it never sold abroad, but Litton Canada is trying again with ADLIPS 90. The Canadian Navy bought a total of 19 systems, 3 for its Fleet School and 16 for installation in the St. Laurent (2 SIDs, 2 plasma displays), Improved Restigouche (2 SIDs, 2 plasma displays), Mackenzie (1 SID, 2 plasma displays), and Annapolis (2 SIDs, 2 plasma displays) classes. Installation time is around 10 weeks per system.

The ADLIPS concept was first proposed in a Fleet Operations Study in 1968; the problem as then understood was that ships without a Link 11 capacity could not take full advantage of information available to those with modem tactical data systems. In 1969, the Canadian Navy  headquarters proposed a solution in which Link 14 data was automatically projected optically onto a perspex surface. That idea, in sum, led to a Canadian Navy Operational Requirement (OER M3/72),  released on 8 February 1973, calling for a system that could receive, filter, and plot either Link 11 or Link 14 data (but not both), with Link 11 (digital information) the first priority. In fact, as  installed, ADLIPS can receive and display both types of information.  The first R&D contract was awarded in June 1973 to Computing Devices Co. of Ottawa, and a prototype system was delivered for initial tests in August 1975. A shipboard prototype went to sea aboard HMCS Athabaskan in July 1976. The first production installation was in  HMCS Skeena in October 1981; the last was in 1985.

The designers sought to limit costs by avoiding any new equipment;  hence the use of the standard UYK-20 [1] computer. The only entirely new elements are some unique interface cards and the software".

One operator remembers his experiences with ADLIPS.

"I trained and used the ADLIPS in Esquimalt, HCMS Nipigon and HMCS Ottawa from 1989 to 1992. Recently I was discussing trouble-shooting a printer with a colleague. During my training in Esquimalt in 1989-90, my instructor noted that the most important thing to know about the ADLIPS was the O-N-O-F-F switch.

Of course, when he said this, we all went .. huh.. What's the O-N-O-F-F switch? Another thing of note was that we also did table training before we did much ADLIPS training. Table training consisted of multi-contact reports over a period of 15 minutes. Learning to write upside down as the tracker needs to update the table not read it, figuring out closest point of approach and closing on a steady bearing by hand (the last one is kind of easy).

The ADLIPS system was stable sometimes and had other times of great instability. In Nipigon software updates were delivered by tape (the boot disk) frequently and we sometimes saw the folks from DRE ( Defence Research Establishment) come and visit and pull it apart. They would never talk to us Seamen though, because, of course, their work was above Top Secret.  The system worked well provided there were a low number of contacts."

LINK 11 and 14

Both Link 11 and Link 14 are NATO standards for tactical data transmission over radio frequencies. This was the link used to transmit and receive data between ADLIPS systems. Security for LINK11 was provided by the TSEC/KG-40 cryptographic security system.

World Naval Weapons Systems 1991-92, describes Link 11:

"Link 11 was conceived by a CANUKUS (Canadian-U.K.-U.S.) Naval Data-Transmission Working Group (NDTWG) formed in 1954 to design a standard intership data-link format and a terminal. By 1956 the group had decided on the Kineplex modulation technique (which is still used), and the 30-bit message format consisting of data plus error detection and correction codes. The final proposal was ratified at Ottawa in late November 1957. The Royal Navy proposed a name, TIDE  (Tactical International Data Exchange); the TIDE committee met at frequent intervals through 1960. The TIDE link was made the subject of a NATO standardization agreement (STANAG) in 1960-61. Four  alternative links were under consideration at this time: Link 11 (a fast automatic HF link), Link 12 (fast automatic UHF), Link 13 (slower, hence cheaper, automatic HF), and Link 14 (slow semiautomatic HF/UHF). The U.S. Navy pressed for the HF links because it expected to operate its ships in dispersed (primarily anti- nuclear) formations, and HF (unlike UHF) could pass beyond the horizon. Hence the dominance of Link 11, with Link 14 as a backup for  ships not equipped to decode and use Link 11 data.

Reportedly, the TIDE link was initially designated Link II (Roman 2), the earlier British digital link associated with the comprehensive display system (CDS) being Link I. Link III was presumably the original designation for what became Link 10. That would explain the designation of the air link as Link IV; the Roman 2 was misread as an eleven. This history would explain the absence of Links 5–9.

The name TIDE was reportedly inspired by the name of a popular U.S. laundry detergent, Tide; the data link would help clean up a messy tactical picture. Many contemporary television commercials showed Tide (or some other advertised detergent) as superior to an alternative, less expensive, "Brand X." It seems likely that the name Link X (which became Link 10) was inspired by that parallel (Link 10 is, after all, a less capable but also less expensive data link)".

Link 11 is based on 1960's technology and is a relatively slow link which normally operates on a polling system with a Net Control Station polling each participant in turn for their data. Messages are transmitted as 30-bit data frames, each consisting of 24 bits of encrypted message data plus 6 bits of error-detection code.  In addition to this Roll Call mode, Link 11 may be operated in a broadcast mode in which a single data transmission or a series of single transmissions are made by one participant. Link 11 is, therefore, a half duplex link. It is secure but not ECM-resistant. Data is transmitted using the modulation scheme called differential quadrature phase-shift keying. Only two data rates are supported depending on the band of operation  - 1364 bits per second on HF/UHF or 2250 bits per second on UHF. The Link was designed for operation on High Frequency (HF) ground wave so it has a theoretical range of approximately 300 nm. Link 11 can also operate in the UHF band but it's then limited to line-of-sight ranges (approximately 25 nm surface-to-surface or 150 nm surface-to-air). HF operation is AM; UHF is FM. Link 11 uses both upper and lower sidebands of the radio signal to achieve a degree of diversity.

The system worked well provided there were a low number of contacts.


Basically, Link 14 is a teletype link allowing ships with a tactical data processing capability to send to ships that are not equipped with any system. The data produced on this link can be read from a teleprinter and plotted manually by hand if necessary. Link 14 can be either HF, VHF or UHF depending on the communication fits of the ships sending the data. Each nation within NATO has its own Link 14 transmission formats which are promulgated in publication ADatP14. Message protocols are defined in STANAG 5514.

1980s_mfhf_trans_link11_14_block_diagram_s.jpg Link 11 is the radio component of the ADLIPS system. This was the fitting in ISL, 265, IRE  and Mackenzie Classes. Click to enlarge. 

Processed target data from the UYK-505 computer was encrypted by the KG 40 crypto unit and applied to the Link 11 Data Terminal Equipment. From there is was sent over the air by the SRC-511 ADLIPS transceiver. The Link 14 was an interface between the UYK-505 computer and the ship's teletype radio equipment. Limitations of hardware and software of that era precluded simultaneous Link 11 and 14 operation. (Drawing courtesy Canadian Navy)

AN/SRC-511 ADLIPS Transceiver

AN/SRC-511 ADLIPS Transceiver. See description below. (Image courtesy Canadian Navy)

Purpose - Designed to be used for Link 11 HF on ADLIPS fitted ships. 
Frequency Range - 2 to 29.999 MHz
Modes - Data (ISB,USB,LSB), Voice (ISB,USB,LSB), AME, CW, FSK. Has its own low level keyer but it is not externally wired for TP operation. 
Power Output - 1 KW in all modes. 
Power Input - 110 V 60 Hz ; RF amp requires 440 V 3 PH


OA 8796 Antenna coupler group - 4 pre selectors provides tunable filters for the receiver in the bands 2 to 6 MHz,  4 to 12 MHz, 10 to 17 MHz and 17 to 30 MHz. In addition, the preselectors protects the receiver from high RF input.

C 5423/SRC - HF Control Unit . Audio switching unit and frequency standard supply 100 KHz and 1 MHz.

R 1903 Receiver  - Receives all modes 2 to 29.999 MHz.

T 1322 Exciter or transmitter. Transmits approximately 100 milliwatts in the frequency range 2 to 29.999 MHz.

Power Distribution Panel  - Distributes 110 VAC to all units.

AM6675/URT - RF amplifier. Increases the 100 millwatt signal from the exciter to 1000 watts.

PP 3916(Mod/UR) - Power Supply Distributes 440 V to the RF amp

C1007 Transmitter Control Unit . Provides frequency and mode control signals to the transmitter exciter (insert of 5423) 


Traditionally, EW systems have been somewhat autonomous, or set apart physically and logically from the remainder of the ship's combat systems. Not until the DDH-280 Class, with its sophisticated CCS-280 command and control system, was introduced in the early 1970s was there any attempt to integrate EW with the ship's command and control system. Even then, the extent of intergration was minimal by today's standards. Electronic warfare simply stood off in its own compartment - a world unto itself.

This excerpt from World Naval Weapons Systems 1991-92 describes the CCS-280 system.

"CCS-280 is the Tribal (DDH 280) class Command and Control system. These ships were intended as squadron flagships and as such can send and receive Link 11 messages as well as handle Link 14. CCS-280 is built around a single Litton USQ-501 (L-304F) computer, connected to 7 multifunction situation-display consoles (SDC) in the operations room (CIC), connected in series, i.e., sharing the same data base held by the main computer. One console is used for command; the others can shift in role from situation to situation. Typically, 1 is used for air and 1 for surface detection and tracking. One might be used to control the ship's helicopter; others might be used for target evaluation, intercept direction, weapons coordination, and engagement monitoring.

There are separate dedicated consoles for sonar (feeding the ASW computer), for fire control (feeding a fire-control computer, for the 5-in gun and the Sea Sparrow missiles), and for EW (feeding a data processor). Link 11 also feeds directly into CCS-280, as do the main navigational sensors (gyro and log). The 32-bit computer has a capacity of 40k words (expandable to 80k), and the displays can show objects at ranges of up to 152 nm. This system was one of the earliest applications of fault-isolation software.

The consoles show both raw and synthetic video. Operators communicate with the consoles via light pen, keyboard, and trackball. Tracking is manual with update (i.e., rate-aided), and the system can handle surface-target speeds of up to 64 kt and air-target altitudes up to 64,000 ft. CCS-280 can store up to 237 tracks (of which 50 may be targets). Like NTDS, CCS-280 conducts TEWA and also directs interceptions (in this case by both aircraft and the assigned ASW helicopter). The system can also display alternative tactical options.

CCS-280 was installed on board the two Annapolis-class frigates as part of their DELEX (Destroyer Life Extension) modernization. CCS-280, then, is a small-ship NTDS equivalent, roughly contemporary with the German SATIR. The Canadian Navy described it as the first operational micro-electronic tactical data system for shipboard situation assessment and control.

A Canadian naval-technical historian remarks that the "Tribal" design was the first in which the operational requirement emphasized adequate data-exchange capability. The design was federated: the central command/control system interfaced with autonomous weapons and ship-control subsystems. Thus, the subsystems could continue to function if CCS-280 failed. They would lose their ability to communicate by data link with other ships. Similarly, the failure of any subsystem would not crash the system as a whole. CCS-280 was also intended to support a group commander as well as a commanding  officer. This modular design was a new concept, and presumably it was conceived as a way to avoid the computer-capacity squeeze experienced in the fully centralized AIS 240.

The design contract was awarded to Litton(Canada) in September 1966; the main combat subsystems were UCS 280 (ASW), SAWS (surface- and air- warfare system), and EWIS 280 (EW system)".


This excerpt from the paper "A TIMELINE OF CANADIAN ACHIEVEMENT IN NAVAL TECHNOLOGY" by Pat Barnhouse and Michael Young (2000) summarizes some of the other systems which were finding their way into HMC Ships in the 70's and 80's.

"In 1977 the  Destroyer Life Extension Project (DELEX) was given planning approval. This project demonstrated yet again the efficacy and flexibility of the basic St Laurent design in that adequate space and weight margins were available for added equipment at a late stage of the ship's lives.

Cabinet also approved the definition phase of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project.  This paved the way for imaginative developments by some far sighted naval engineers, such as (then) Cdr. Jim Carruthers who pioneered and advocated the distributed architecture approach using data buses, standard processors and displays that became SHINPADS which, despite considerable political obstacles, eventually found their way into the ships.

The key systems, all at various steps in the development process in 1977, were:

* SHINPADS. Shipboard Integrated Processing and Display System [2] providing a distributed and redundant (and thus survivable) computer architecture throughout the ship.

Gary Isliefson, a hardware engineer, helped to develop the SHINPADS system. He provides this brief, high level, technical overview of the system. " The Canadian Navy used SHINPAD versions of the AN/UYK computer series. We had UYK-502's (and then 507's) which embedded various versions of the SHINPADS network controller (node) inside the 502's cabinet. The box looked very similar but inside it would contain either 1, 2, or 4 SHINPADS "nodes". The one or two node systems co-resided with a stripped down UYK-502, while the "quad node" box just had four SHINPADS nodes in it. A node consisted of seven 6 x 9 inch cards and communicated to the computer by either NTDS parallel, NATO serial, or the internal computer bus known as the "RMF" bus. Another piece of the network was the Bus Access Module (BAM) which was physically removed from the node. A triax cable was used to connect the node to the BAM. The BAM's connected to each other via the main triax cables, which were the main network cables. A node would be connected to up to 6 BAMs for redundancy.

The SHINPAD's network was an impressive network for its time. For example, in the commercial world, 10Mbit Ethernet was just emerging, at that time. Early Ethernet used the "vampire" connections to attach stations to a  thick coax cable (10B5) . At the time, SHINPADS ran a the same 10Mbit rate, but was considered a real-time network with predictable packet latencies, etc. It also didn't waste bandwidth on a preamble like Ethernet does. It also had provisions for redundancy where it used up to six cables to transmit and control messages. You could cut the active cable and the controller would detect that and automatically switch to another cable. The SHINPADS network implemented on the Halifax class frigates only used 4 of the possible 6 cables. All of the SHINPADS network infrastructure was designed in St. Paul Minnesota and transferred to Canada around 1983. The hardware was built in Winnipeg.

This variant of the SHINPADS network was also used by the Americans on some of their programs.  MATCALs is one I worked on (Marine Air Traffic Control and Landing). Many years later, the SHINPADS node was reduced to a single VME [3] based card with the same network protocol implemented in FPGA's. Not many of these were produced".

* SHINMACS . An integrated machinery control system, processor controlled, with innovative displays that simplified the task of the operator.

* SHINCOM .  An integrated and digital, processor controlled interior communications system based on a commercial telecommunications switch.

* CANEWS. A passive electronic warfare system that combined Canadian signal processing with British receiver and antennae technology.  Based on EW system development projects dating from the late 1960s.

CANEWS provides instantaneous threat detection, identification and warning and will also be used to build and update a threat data bank. A main library, which holds information on a large number of  radar modes, provides for background data collection. To meet immediate mission requirements, a tactical library with pre-programmed threat radar signatures is used. Analysis of the detected RF signal can identify the type of radar, type ot platform,  identity of the platform and give a confidence-level indication. CANEWS is known internationally as the AN/SLQ-501 Shipboard ESM set.

The system uses multi-band omni-directional receivers as well as a DF receiver and covering the designated frequency spectrum, it provides instantaneous frequency and bearing information. Fully automatic and controlled by one operator, CANEWS uses sophisticated signal processing techniques to perform real-time emitter analysis. The receiver's wide dynamic range provides a very high probability of detection under extremely dense signal conditions and it presents the information in real-time using a high resolution digital television display. For situations which require close scrutiny, a manual pulse analyzer is used and dense portions of the spectrum can be expanded for more detailed examination. CANEWS is a fully automatic EW system, but the system operator is always in control and can intervene at any point particularly to resolve identification ambiguities. This manual override facility is extremely useful when complex radar signal environments are encountered.

The production CANEWS system, delivered by M.E.L. Defence Systems Ltd. is comprised of a large programmable library of emitter characteristics, back-to-back AN/UYK-505 computers and AN/UYQ-501(V) Shipboard Standard Display. CANEWS is fully autonomous from the rest of the ship's systems, but it can be interfaced directly to both an ECM system and to the ship's command and control system data bus.

It's important to note that CANEWS was conceived in Canada, designed to meet unique Canadian requirements and is the first EW system developed for Canada's own use.

A CANEWS workstation in use by engineers in the TEMPEST-screened development facility at M.E.L. Defence Systems, Stittsville, Ontario. Dual AN/UYK-505 computers are mounted in the rack at the right. Above them is the CMTU (Cartridge Magnetic Tape Unit) AN/USH-26(V). It used DC 300 tapes which were used to download data to the UYKs in order to do  maintenance, threat libraries, load op system etc. (Assumed to be a M.E.L. Ltd photo)

[1] The article mentions the use of the AN/UYK-20 in ADLIPS but the RCN block diagram shows the UYK-505. It is believed that the UYK-505 is a Canadian adaptation of the UYK-20. The UYK-20 was a militarized version of the Unisys 1616 commercial computer with 65,000 words of memory. It was first built in for the USN in 1974.

[2] The International Systems web page offers this additional information . "The SHipboard INtegrated Processing And Display System (SHINPADS) is a Canadian Forces Trademark and is not really a system. Rather, it is rather a concept of ship integration—not combat system integration or propulsion and machinery system integration but ship integration.  It encompasses the entire ship system including all combat system equipments, marine engineering systems, and extending into administrative support hardware.  Other aspects of the concept include standardization of hardware, software, and interfacing".

[3] VMEbus is a computer bus standard, originally developed for the Motorola 68000 line of CPUs, but later it was widely used for many applications and standardized by the IEC as ANSI/IEEE 1014-1987.

Credits and References:

1) RCN's AOR/TRBL/ISL/265/IRE/MACK Class Equipment Handout. September 1985.
2) Link 14 info
3) Michael Young <ejmy(at)>
4) James G. Dean  <jgdean(at)>
5) Bob  Willson  <rawillson(at)>
6) Excerpts from World Naval Weapons Systems 1991-92  (Naval Institute Press, 1991).
7) Michael Potter <shipphoto(at)>
8) Link 11 speeds:
9) Bob Langille <ewcs(at)
10) Shinpads
11) AN/UYK-505
12) Ken Bowering.  "Canadian Naval Electronic Warfare: A Review and Update". January 1986
13)  Gary Isliefson <gc_isliefson(at)>
14) VME Bus

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Apr 16/21