All posts by Julian Nettlefold

AI Principles and the Challenge of Implementation By Morgan Dwyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Nov 19. The Defense Innovation Board (DIB) recently advised the Department of Defense (DOD) to adopt ethics principles for artificial intelligence (AI): that AI should be responsible, equitable, traceable, reliable, and governable. These principles aim to keep humans in the loop during AI development and operations (responsible); avoid unintended bias (equitable); maintain sufficient understanding of AI capabilities (traceable); ensure safety, security, and robustness (reliable); and avoid unintended harm or disruption (governable). Overall, these principles are good. But as with all principles, implementation will be a challenge. This is especially the case today since, if adopted, the DIB’s proposed principles will be implemented during a tumultuous time for defense technology. Presumably, the DIB’s principles will require meticulous development and careful oversight. In recent years, though, DOD’s standard technological processes and oversight mechanisms have been reimagined.

For example, to prioritize innovation and the speed with which DOD fields new capabilities, Congress restructured the department’s primary technology oversight office and delegated most acquisition decisions to the military services. Congress also created new acquisition pathways that enable rapid prototyping and fielding by forgoing traditional oversight processes. The DIB itself also heralded many software-specific changes through its Software Acquisition and Practices (SWAP) Study. The SWAP Study, which preceded the DIB’s focus on AI, encouraged DOD to—among other things—adopt speed as a metric to be maximized for software development. But on AI software programs, there may be an inherent tension between the DIB’s proposed principles and speed.

As DOD develops AI-enabled software, it will need to work through potential trade-offs and articulate a more detailed strategy for navigating the department’s objectives. In particular, the SWAP Study suggests replacing traditional software development processes that separate development from operations with DevOps, which blends the two. It also recommends adopting agile management philosophies that forgo strict requirements in favor of lists of desired features . Further, it espouses the benefits of sharing development and testing infrastructure, granting authority-to-operate (ATO) reciprocity, and employing automated testing. Finally, by changing how it implements software development and prioritizing speed, the SWAP Study argues that DOD will improve software security since it will be able to find and fix vulnerabilities sooner. But how will speed interact with the DIB’s proposed AI principles? Grappling with that question is where the DIB, DOD, and the broader defense community should focus their attention next.

For example, should the principles be implemented as strict requirements or—per agile philosophy—as more flexible features? How should DOD ensure traceability while simultaneously sharing software infrastructure and ATOs? Furthermore, how can DOD enable traceability without encumbering its agile software programs with unnecessary documentation? With respect to responsibility, how much and what type of oversight should be used to ensure that AI software is safe, secure, and robust? How much of that oversight process should be delegated to the lowest levels of an organization or automated to enable speed? And more fundamentally, when and how should the DIB’s principles be incorporated into the DevOps cycle? The defense community is right to want responsible, equitable, traceable, reliable, and governable AI software that is also developed and fielded quickly. But the above questions don’t have easy answers because—as with all systems—the challenge will be implementing all objectives at the same time. Systems engineers typically manage multiple objectives by making trade-offs that prioritize some objectives at the expense of others.

The next step for the defense community, therefore, is to understand what these trade-offs look like for AI software, under what circumstances DOD is willing to make trades, and who in DOD’s oversight hierarchy is empowered to adjudicate trade-off decisions. To do this, DOD should leverage ongoing and planned AI projects to address the questions outlined above. In collaboration, the broader research community should identify and address methodological shortcomings that unnecessarily force DOD to make trade-offs. Requirements definition, as well as testing, verification, and validation, currently require some level of certainty and predictability. As the DIB highlights, DOD needs to adapt current acquisition and testing processes for AI. It remains an open question, however, how the systems engineering methods that underly these processes should evolve in order to address AI’s inherent uncertainty. Therefore, in addition to furthering the science of AI, researchers should tackle the common implementation challenges that will impede DOD’s ability to optimally operationalize and field AI-enabled systems. Although future implementation challenges may be significant, the DIB has taken the right first step by proposing objectives for DOD. The next step—developing and implementing AI software that achieves all objectives—is a challenge that systems engineers have faced for decades. Going forward, the defense community must undertake the challenging work of understanding potential trade-offs, identifying strategies to balance competing objectives, and developing new methodologies that enable future AI software to optimally satisfy as many objectives as possible. Morgan Dwyer is a fellow in the International Security Program and deputy director for policy analysis in the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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Industry Breakfast Briefs During SSAFA MoD Raceday Briefing Breakfast By Julian Nettlefold

The race sponsors are briefing the audience after the MoD briefing this year.

Viasat Industry Brief – Steve Beeching, managing director, Viasat UK Ltd.

 

 

 

 

Over the past two decades, Viasat’s UK defense business has expanded to new strategic locations and in recent years grown to nearly 100 defense and technology experts across the country.  In June 2018, Viasat UK acquired Horsebridge, a well-known ground networks company based near Cheltenham, home to government agencies including the GCHQ. Viasat is also set to expand its footprint and headcount further over the next six months.

With deep roots in protecting some of the most sensitive information in the UK, we continue to deliver valuable, innovative and significant advancements in the areas of tactical networking and datalinks, information assurance, cyber security and satellite communications (SATCOM), among other market segments.

Viasat’s Government Systems business in the UK is helping save lives, protecting the integrity of information and delivering connectivity driven clarity out to the tactical edge to help enhance force effectiveness and address threats from near-peer adversaries. As a leading private sector technology business, we believe there is increasingly an obligation to provide military personnel with the same degree of connectivity and situational awareness they have grown to depend upon in everyday civilian life. 

Viasat’s technology offerings already extend across multiple UK programs, from the Royal Air Force’s new F-35 stealth fighter to Royal Navy warships and we are committed to working with Ministry of Defense (MOD) and coalition forces to understand their unique mission requirements and expand capabilities to fit their needs.  

Viasat’s UK growth comes at an opportune time, as the British government and MoD look to modernize forces and expand capabilities across the battlespace. While several major MoD acquisition programs, such as aircraft carriers, Ajax armoured vehicle and F35 jet fighters – already underway, there is an overwhelming need to develop new technology to better enable and connect these platforms and today’s warfighters. These private sector technology capabilities also need to considered and realized as part of delivering Skynet 6 and the LeTacCIS programs in order to realise the full potential of the battle-network of the future.

With abilities to deliver assured, resilient, integrated (ARIN) networks and information connectivity needed to power the battle-network of the future today, it’s clear that Viasat’s growth and expertise places us in a unique position to be a national asset to the UK MOD. Viasat’s UK business is ready to address emerging threats from adversaries and help the MOD weaponise information, help implement the battle-network of the future and better connect MOD forces across today’s rapidly evolving battlespace.

Spectra

 

 

Spectra’s SlingShot:  A Game-Changer in the Arena of U/VHF Beyond Line of Sight Communications

With SlingShot’s versatility and interoperability, the availability of Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communication for all standard U/VHF communication system users is now a simple reality.

Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications have traditionally been a complex requirement when operating without recourse to conventional fixed infrastructure or satellite communications systems.  In today’s technologically advanced world, where ease of communications is often taken for granted, many may question why this should be such a challenging concept, or even an essential requirement.  Nevertheless, many scenarios still remain where independent access to BLOS communications is not just convenient, but a life-saving necessity.

Take, for example, the devastating effect of natural disasters or terrorist attacks on conventional, land-based communications systems.  Emergency or disaster-relief organisations deploying to provide support and assistance following such events will have an immediate requirement for reliable, long-range communications in order to carry out their role to best effect.  Or an emergency non-combatant evacuation operation utilising multiple force employment.  Early-entry forces deployed by air may be required to mission plan and communicate unsung their tactical radio systems whilst airborne, whilst a naval contingent stationed offshore will need to join the operational net to communicate with the early entry force.  Both teams use tactical radios and, despite being potentially hundreds of kilometres apart, will require secure voice and data capability.  On landing, ground troops conducting the evacuation to the waiting naval ship will, using tactical VHF radios alone, need to communicate with both the air and naval platforms throughout the operation.  Above this, the national HQ in the home base will need to maintain a listening watch. 

The challenge is how to maintain secure BLOS voice and data communications on tactical UHF & VHF radios throughout the operations taking place in these scenarios.  SlingShot is designed for precisely these challenges. With easily implemented SlingShot-enabled UHF or VHF radios in each node and the provision of a bespoke, multi-headed, satellite beam covering the whole area of interest, interoperability becomes possible without the need for further re-equipping or training. 

These scenarios clearly illustrate where safety or mission-critical BLOS communications can be essential; where lack of infrastructure could significantly impair command and control, situational awareness and passage of critical information when most needed.  These are the operating environments within which many disaster relief, security or military agencies operate, and it is just such agencies that are reaping the benefits of Spectra’s revolutionary SlingShot communications system.

BLOS Voice and Data Communications on the Move

Conceived and designed to meet demanding Special Forces requirements, Spectra’s SlingShot is a unique, low SWaP system that enables UHF and VHF tactical radios to extend into the realm of BLOS Communications on the Move (COTM) utilising Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network with L-TAC (L-band Tactical Satellite).  With its discrete, lightweight omnidirectional antennas, optimised to be man-portable, or easily fitted to vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, SlingShot allows a tactical net to be broadcast over 1000s kilometres to meet a wide range of tactical and operational network configurations.  In addition to voice, SlingShot provides a data capability to support wide-ranging mission-critical applications, such as artillery fire missions, GPS tracking and biometric analysis, to name a few.  With reduced cost compared to traditional TACSAT, increased channel availability and virtually no increase in the training burden, SlingShot is rapidly redefining tactical communications capabilities.

Multi-Agency Interoperability

When, for whatever reason, fixed infrastructure communications are unavailable, SlingShot has a proven record of providing a reliable and easily implemented communications network for multiple agencies worldwide.  Following emergency or natural disaster, SlingShot enables reliable communications during that critical immediate deployment and operating time-period for disaster relief agencies.  Organisations operating within this environment understand that flow of information is essential and is likely to require dialogue between multiple international agencies at multiple levels.  SlingShot offers the key defining capability of providing a collaborative network for interoperability; permitting seamless inter-agency communications between individuals or organisations likely to be using nationally distinct communications equipment.  SlingShot is able to provide this unique capability of organisational interoperability to disaster-relief agencies, customs and border patrol, anti-narcotics, maritime patrol, homeland security, National Guard, intelligence communities, police, and emergency responders.

Ease of Use

SlingShot provides critical voice; when the user transmits, a channel is automatically provided to instantaneously transfer the message to an all-informed network.  This is the significant difference between SlingShot and other range-extension systems that provide either an on-demand channel, where a channel is provided only if available, or Voice over IP (VoIP)/Radio Over IP (RoIP), where there is no guarantee of the IP network providing a circuit when needed, therefore giving no guarantee that the message will get through.

As a small external appliqué connecting directly to the users’ existing radio, SlingShot demands minimal training and reduces the cognitive burden on the operator.  It can be powered from any 12 – 230v power source, utilising the users’ existing power system or a host of any secondary power sources.

Global Sales Success

Spectra Group (UK) Ltd is an internationally renowned specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems, specifically optimised for use in remote and challenging environments.  They are a world-leading solutions provider of high-grade information security and communication capabilities, with over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries, special forces and private enterprises of all sizes.

Launched in 2013, over 3500 SlingShot systems are now in operation world-wide. The system is used by 18 different organisations, including several NATO countries.  Spectra continues to expand its SlingShot business with just over 600 systems having been ordered across 4 continents in the last 12 months.  Recent world-wide exhibits at Africa Endeavour (Cape Verde), Land Forces (Australia), DVD (UK), Global SOF (Spain), AUSA (USA) and the Africa Security Symposium (Senegal) have been met with considerable international interest, further endorsing Spectra’s dominant position in the Tactical SATCOM marketplace.  Globally, SlingShot is rapidly becoming the system of choice for tactical radio users needing increased range, flexibility and interoperability.

In Oct 2018, following contract successes in North America, particularly with their game-changing SlingShot system, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd established new offices in Fairfax County with Spectra Group (US) Inc.  Spectra Group’s permanent presence in the USA enables them to guarantee closer product support to their existing partners in North America, as well as dedicated product and service support directly to the end-user.  Spectra Group are now looking to expand their already substantial international sales into new sectors not currently covered by their existing US partners; a significant development as, globally, the USA offers the largest Defense, Emergency Response and Homeland Security market.  As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage their international delivery experience to also provide Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.

Fujitsu

 

 

 

 

About Fujitsu

For over 50 years we have innovated with the MOD, government departments and intelligence communities, co-creating new technologies and capabilities. As a result, Fujitsu has around 4,000 security cleared staff and the experience to deliver and manage both generic industry offerings and those tailored to specialist needs at OFFICIAL, SECRET and ABOVE SECRET classifications.

Digital transformation has become a business priority as organisations seek to secure their future. By streamlining and improving existing processes; transforming user experiences; and deploying new products and services, organisations worldwide are driving efficiency and increasing agility as they try to stay ahead of their competition. At Fujitsu, we are committed to helping customers realise their digital ambitions.

Committed to Enabling Your Information Advantage

Never before has information been such a key enabler and effector in securing operational advantage. Fujitsu’s vision is to provide our customers with the means to better understand, decide and act upon an ever-increasing pool of data. Transforming this into useful information through analytics, automation and genuine Artificial Intelligence is critical to achieving this goal, but delivery is also entirely dependent upon the provision of an integrated, resilient and secure network-extending end-to-end across the enterprise. We are committed to working closely with our customers and using co-creation as the vehicle to deliver the best possible value. We seek to enhance capability both through the acceleration of existing processes, and also through the delivery of truly new capabilities and ways of working.

AI & Analytics

Innovating business processes and operations through the use of Artificial Intelligence and other advanced analytics technologies is becoming a top priority for organisations striving for an information advantage. With such a huge volume and variety of data available for analysis, knowing what sources to interrogate and how to process the data quickly and accurately is a critical challenge for decision makers. This is especially true of military organisations and intelligence functions who rely on data feeds and information to function effectively. Today, Fujitsu is leading the way in its adoption of Artificial Intelligence and quantum-inspired computing. Our unique, highly agile approach to analytics allows organisations to interrogate and analyse huge volumes of data from different sources in a fraction of the time, compared to traditional, manual techniques and processes.

Cloud

As more and more technology products and services are becoming cloud capable, organisations are striving to adapt their security and privacy policies to be compatible with the cloud. Combined with organisations demanding more flexible, easy-to-consume technologies means that cloud is becoming the default for infrastructure services.

Through our long-standing global relationships with industry-leading technology partners, Fujitsu has developed a portfolio of services to provide our customers with a personalised, flexible, multi-cloud solution covering all security classifications.

Digital Enablement

Digital transformation has become a business priority as organisations seek to secure their future. For the Defence & National Security sector, Fujitsu enables robust end-to-end digital modernisation that balances the drive for innovation with the need for business continuity, building the best solutions for today. All this is underpinned by a flexible, pragmatic and evolutionary approach to digital modernisation. One that supports customers throughout their digital journey – from launching or improving a single service, to delivering multiple solutions that, together, achieve enterprise-scale transformation.

Secure Networks

Providing your stakeholders with highly secure yet flexible access to the vital information they require to work effectively is an absolute necessity for the Defence and National Security sector. As the provider of the Global Connectivity Service to the UK Ministry of Defence, Fujitsu is at the forefront in providing high-speed secure network connectivity and integration solutions. Our highly secure network solutions integrate both people and technology with the very best and latest set of COTS technologies from industry-leading suppliers with whom we partner to ensure we provide the most optimal and cost-effective secure network solution. Flexibility and agility are in-built, providing ease and speed of change to meet operational requirements, and to exploit future advances in technology.

The latest security technologies are deployed to allow constant, real-time tracking and monitoring of the entire network, ensuring rapid response and exploitation of service incidents, when required.

Hardware

Deployed and Maritime operations often expose your IT resources to some of the most extreme environments on the planet. But the process of tempesting and ruggedizing all of your IT equipment to make it suitable for such extremes is an expensive and time-consuming process, often using outdated technology. While this process is often necessary, it is not always required, and a more flexible pragmatic solution can realise significant savings. Fujitsu understands this requirement intimately. Working with our own hardware and an established network of trusted, specialist suppliers we ensure we deliver the right hardware solution for the environment in which it will be operated. Our broad range of technology solutions are trusted by Defence & National Security services around the world. We deliver reliable, trusted, innovative solutions that support domestic and deployed IT installations in some of the most challenging environmental conditions on the planet.

Committed to Veterans, Reservists and Service Leaver Recruitment

Our extensive experience working within Defence and National Security has enabled us to recognise the significant contribution that veterans and reserve personnel bring to the commercial sector. For many years, Fujitsu has helped Service leavers to transition from military to civilian life, providing the opportunity for veterans to develop rewarding careers within our organisation.

Committed to Responsible Business

Fujitsu’s approach to being a Responsible Business is embedded throughout our organisation – from protecting intellectual property rights, enforcing our human rights policy to encouraging all employees to get involved with community action projects.

To achieve this, we have created our Responsible Business framework, which gives us a common structure for setting out our strategy in five key areas of our business: the Environment, Community Involvement & Development, Diversity & Inclusion, Wellbeing, and Operating Practices. One example is our active BITC (Business in the Community) Business Class partnerships. We are 5 years into our partnership with The Vyne School in Basingstoke, delivering relevant and powerful interventions across the whole school community, including a SSAFA fundraising day event, mock interview session and an LGBT+ awareness session.

Jankel

 

 

 

Jankel:  From classic Panther sportscars to the Light Tactical Transport Vehicle (LTTV), the latest in modular military vehicles

Founded in 1955 by Robert Jankel, an automotive engineer and performance car enthusiast, Jankel’s first venture was the Panther sports car, produced in a factory near the famous Brooklands racetrack in Surrey, UK.  In parallel, the Jankel Group focused on the development of specialist coachwork for Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley, creating luxury armoured vehicles sought after by Heads of State from around the world. The foundation was set for Jankel’s journey to becoming a globally acclaimed designer and manufacturer of high-specification, specialist defence and security vehicles.

The journey began in 1997 with the production of armoured Jaguars for the police force in Northern Ireland, followed by a specialist fleet of Ford-based vehicles for the Metropolitan Police. It was in the late-1990s that Jankel first identified the Middle East as a significant market, leading to the establishment of an enduring relationship with the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) in Jordan and the announcement of their joint venture, Jordan Light Vehicle Manufacturing (JLVM).

Working closely with customers to define and design optimal solutions formed the basis of a major company upgrade to support their expansion into specialist armouring requirements for the military operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.  From around 30 employees in 2005 when Andrew Jankel, the current chairman and son of the founder Robert Jankel, took over the company the Group now employs over 500 globally; with secure manufacturing facilities in UK, the USA and Jordan. Today the Jankel Group focuses exclusively on defence and security, covering the design, development, prototyping and production of armoured vehicles, light tactical vehicles, counter-terrorism vehicles and equipment, and customised occupant survivability solutions for military, security, government, aid agencies and NGOs. 

Jankel’s global understanding of the full requirements for enhanced protection and survivability has led to the development of two further products: their own patented blast mitigation seating solution, BLASTech; and the use of Hot-Formed Armouring  to offer improved protection in Civilian Armoured Vehicles (CAVs) by increasing the structural integrity of an armour installation and  significantly reducing the number of armored plates, which diminishes penetration risk at welds and joints.

The core of Jankel’s business is the production of fully engineered solutions that utilise commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) base platforms. Working with highly capable and universally available commercial OEM platforms, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mercedes-Benz Unimog, Jankel specialises in the design and engineering of bespoke bodies to meet exact customer requirements, standards and operational needs.  Jankel’s upper-body structures provide a specialist environment, optimising the weight, carrying capacity and functionality of tried and trusted OEM base vehicles.  Opening their latest manufacturing base in Rushington, UK, has enabled Jankel to meet both high volume production targets alongside short time-frame deliveries for urgent operational needs.

DSEi 2019 saw the unveiling of Jankel’s latest product, the Light Tactical Transport Vehicle (LTTV), developed for the Belgium Ministry of Defence (BeMOD) and based on the indomitable Unimog platform.  Achieving Direct Partnership certification with Mercedes-Benz is central to this venture and gives Jankel access to otherwise unavailable levels of technical information and support from Mercedes-Benz.  Direct Partnership approval is not limited to the Unimog platform; it comes at the end of an extensive and exhaustive due-diligence process, with Mercedes-Benz fully assessing Jankel’s capability to market, sell and support modified Mercedes-Benz COTS chassis systems. 

Designed to provide a modular and configurable tactical support vehicle, Jankel’s LTTV features unique, removable modules that enable the vehicle to be easily re-rolled for different missions, delivering a platform with huge operational versatility.  With a payload of over 3 tonnes, dependant on the final vehicle specification, the LTTV currently has 3 core variants for Special Operations support with the tactical, troop-carrying and ambulance modules. 

Alongside a user-configurable suite of military sub-systems that includes a removable ballistic protection kit, a Roll-Over-Protection-System (ROPS), weapon mounts and communications fit, the platform will provide full interoperability with Jankel’s Toyota-based Fox Rapid Reaction Vehicle (RRV) fleet already in-service with the BeMOD.  As the BeMOD already has the Unimog in service, including a fleet of Dingo’s based on the Unimog chassis, the LTTV fleet offers supportability and interoperability synergy beyond that already available through the existing Fox RRV supply chain.

Set to be the first truly modular hamper vehicle in its class worldwide, the LTTV’s versatility promises to be a world-leader, with the user literally able to plug-and-play ambulance module to tactical module to troop-carrier module.  Combining the strengths of a trusted OEM platform with militarised and mission-specific tactical enhancements, Jankel’s LTTV has already attracted the attention of several other countries and will be of particular interest globally to those already operating the Mercedes-Benz Unimog platform.

Jankel has a clear vison of the future, with a five to seven-year outlook concentrating on a number of key capabilities which include armour, seating and crucially, Through Life Support which the company sees as a key area of growth. This vision includes continuing to invest in R&D, with all services under one roof: modelling, prototyping, blast testing, homologation, EMC, and ECM/EW fits. Jankel’s strength lies in their established key partnerships, a leading range of vehicles and specialist tactical vehicle sub-systems, and the flexibility to transfer the technology to build anywhere globally. 

There may be a world of difference between Robert Jankel’s original passion for sportscars and the highly specialised output of today’s Jankel Group, however it is clear that the family tenet of listening to their customers and delivering forward thinking products and services has remained throughout. Their vision of marrying protection, performance and quality has been at the heart of the business since 1955 and looks set to continue with exciting future programme options available working in partnership with respected OEMs and partners such as Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.

TVS Supply Chain Solutions (TVS)

 

 

 

 

Leaders of the NATO committee on codification coined the phrase ‘Data is the DNA of logistics’ and it could be argued that Industry has recognised this for some time whilst progressively exploiting data to enhance support of legacy platforms and equipment employed across a variety of sectors.

The DE&S 2019-2022 Corporate Plan articulates Future Logistics Information Systems (LOG IS) as a key programme within which Digital and IT transformation providing the opportunity for the UK MoD to embrace modern technology and improve its data and analytics capability to drive wider business transformation.

TVS Supply Chain Solutions (TVS) has been progressively introducing its Product Data Management capability to Defence through a range of contracts it operates in and at the SSAFA Raceday it will brief on current examples of how data has transformed the logistics of its automotive, utility, beverage and rail clients.  

BATTLESPACE Publications

 

 

 

BATTLESPACE Publications cover the whole spectrum of the battlespace, from sensor to shooter. Our news coverage and readership is truly international, contacting the main decision makers in the worldwide defence industry.  We aim to provide our readers with the latest developments in the complex and ever changing world of C4ISTAR and the Global Battlespace.  Our coverage is unique in its breadth of topics in the International C4ISTAR arena from airborne sensors and UAVs, fast jets and military transports, rotorcraft, airborne communications, radar and avionics, thru specialist naval systems and communications to land-based communications, EW, infantry equipment and armoured vehicles, trucks and unmanned robots.