Sponsored by Spectra Group
10 Nov 20. Spectra Group participates in UK Army Warfighting Experiment 2020 (AWE20). Spectra Group is an internationally renowned specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems, specifically optimised for use in remote and challenging environments, with offices in UK and USA. Spectra Group has recently taken part in the UK Army Warfighting Experiment 2020 (AWE20) demonstrating high-capacity over-the-horizon communications systems.
The British Army has established AWE20 as a capability spotlight to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities in the agile Command, Control and Communication (C3) space that are suitable for rapid exploitation. AWE20 aims to push the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of systems by putting them in the hands of the user while giving invaluable military feedback to suppliers. Previously known as URBan Experimentation (or URBEX), AWE20’s purpose is to ‘Identify how the Army can exploit developments in technology in the agile C3 arena’.
At AWE20, Spectra Group, together with industry partners Comtech, have been demonstrating the advanced troposcatter mobile system known as COMET (Compact Over-the-horizon Mobile Expeditionary Terminal) that provides high capacity, low-latency data links for over-the-horizon communications, without the need to rely on satellites or multiple line-of-sight repeaters. At AWE20 Spectra demonstrated how the new, innovative, low-RF signature modems can consistently deliver bandwidths far exceeding those possible using satellite communications systems. Sitting alongside Spectra Group’s highly acclaimed SlingShot satellite tactical communications system, COMET completes a mobile communications suite, enabling Spectra Group to deliver remote, beyond line of sight communications capability, both with and without satellites.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said, “It’s an important and prestigious step for Spectra Group to take part in AWE20 with the COMET troposcatter system. Feedback has been very positive with users appreciating the ease of use, large bandwidth and overall ability to communicate over the horizon in a potentially satellite and GPS denied environment”. He added: “Troposcatter and SlingShot offer different yet complimentary capabilities to our users. We’re confident that all of our existing and future customers will see the benefits on offer in using both systems side-by-side, to meet every Beyond Line Of Sight communications scenario.”
12 Nov 20. AIDP and Andy Khawaja are Working to Create New AI Defense Technology. Artificial Intelligence Defense Platform, a technology start-up creating AI technology for a safer, more comfortable future, and its Founder Andy Khawaja are integrating new AI advancements for defense technology.
Global defense is a race in itself to have the most advanced technology, and every country wants to be able to effectively protect its borders and its citizens.
According to the United States Department of Defense, they are forming global partnerships that they feel are very important. The Department of Defense and the United States government are taking “a very stringent approach to putting together the ethics principles and frameworks within which [they are] going to operate.”
As technology, weapons, and attacks are innovated to be more effective and, in turn, deadly, Artificial Intelligence Defense Platform is working to use AI to protect the innocent.
“I’ve seen war and violence, and I’ve seen innocent casualties first-hand. It’s something that is hard to witness and even harder to unsee. The world may unfortunately always know war and will always have to innovate for defense,” Founder Andy Khawaja said, “…but I want to create AI technology for defense that will protect people and save the innocent.”
At a panel on October 19th, 2020, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center’s CTO said, “Artificial intelligence is the new oil.”
On September 9th, 2020, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said, “Artificial intelligence has the potential to change the battlefield, and the country that’s first to field it will have enormous advantages over competitors.”
According to Defense.gov, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, the nation that leads in AI will be the “ruler of the world,” and they have already begun investing heavily in AI technology with AI-enabled autonomous systems across ground vehicles, aircraft, and nuclear submarines.
Defense.gov says, Chinese weapons manufacturers are selling autonomous drones and advancing the development of next generation stealth unmanned aerial vehicles.
Andy Khawaja and AIDP’s goal is to create AI technology to protect the innocent from this deadly war technology.
“AI-enabled attack vessels and nuclear technology… deadly autonomous systems…We want to save lives while others innovate to take them. We want to protect people and fight for peace,” said Dr. Andy Khawaja.
He added, “We look forward to announcing new developments on our AI Technology for Defense Program so that we may help defend the innocent.”
About Artificial Intelligence Defense Platform:
Artificial Intelligence Defense Platform is creating new AI technology for compatible systems and machines to build a safer, more sustainable future for mankind. Please visit http://www.ai-dp.com/ for more information. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
10 Nov 20. ASELSAN Wins NATO’s Defense Innovation Challenge. Turkish company ASELSAN has won the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency’s Fifth Annual Defense Innovation Challenge. ASELSAN participated with two separate projects in the NCI Challenge along with many other projects from allied NATO countries, aimed at improving distributed air surveillance radar data processing.
The jury for the innovation challenge was composed of experts from NATO and AFWERX, an organisation of the US Air Force. From several dozen proposals, the jury selected eight proposals for the final phase. This year, the focus was on improving distributed radar data processing to enable NATO air operations to use the latest technologies available in the defence sector and beyond. The challenge for the participating companies from all NATO countries was to accelerate ideas, technology and the latest solutions.
One of the solutions suggested by ASELSAN is an architecture in which a module operates a local radar as an “AI Operator”, with the intelligence gathered from other radars. Studies showed that the AI Operator controls the radar in a very precise and quick manner that no human operator can, hence significantly improving the performance of the radar in a selected network. The other ASELSAN solution was “The A-Fact”, which fuses all information from different sources into a single air picture. The NATO radar network will be capable of working effectively and intelligently with the assistance of A-Fact even in a dense and cluttered environment.
During this process, ASELSAN was able to apply its valuable experience from previous competitions. During the EAST-2019 Exercise, the software Tactical Area Information System (TAIS) and Tactical Area Command & Control Information System (TACCIS), which were developed and successfully deployed within the framework of the project “Networked Enabled Capability”, were used to create a tactical situation and reflect the current situation throughout the exercise.
ASELSAN’s qualified, competent and professional staff not only develop high-end technology, but also continue to make a difference with their innovative ideas around it. Thus, ASELSAN will pioneer new business opportunities in the global arena by proposing these projects which utilise AI at its best for operation of NATO radars in the most well organised and meticulous manner. By winning the 2020 Challenge, ASELSAN has a chance to put these systems into operational use for NATO’s collective security, through a competitive bid with the NCI Agency. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
13 Nov 20. Penten tunes into securing Defence’s tactical comms needs, secures SICP grant. Canberra-based, Australian cyber technology company Penten has established a specialist business unit dedicated to securing sovereign communication technologies for defence and emergency services.
Penten’s new business unit, Tactical Communications Security, aims to support Australian industry in the delivery of secure and easy-to-use communication technologies that are compatible across military, emergency and humanitarian applications.
The company’s new unit was launched at Penten’s Canberra headquarters by Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price who also announced Penten had secured a $520,000 Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grant, as part of the government’s commitment to supporting the construction of a secure facility fitted with information communications technology infrastructure.
Defence Industry Minister, Melissa Price said, “Penten is a great example of a small business working with Defence to deliver leading-edge capability for our service men and women. It is businesses like Penten that provide us confidence that our ADF will maintain its capability edge into the future.”
Headed by Penten’s chief technology officer, Merik Karman, the new business unit has a team of 10 dedicated people specialising in advanced electronics, waveforms, cryptography, photonics, field programmable gate arrays and high assurance security.
The new Tactical Communications Security business unit is working with some of Australia’s leading radio manufacturers to secure new communications solutions focused on Defence requirements.
Penten CEO Matthew Wilson said the company realised, and sought to address new communications security needs, a missing link in Australia’s sovereign radio technologies, “We knew that Penten had the capability and the expertise to develop and provide support and solutions to Australia’s radio communications companies to meet Defence needs, allowing those in uniform to focus on doing their job rather than managing technology.”
With multiple contracts already and the ability to draw on Penten’s Secure Mobility and Applied AI business units and 100-strong team for specialist resources, the new business unit is forecast to grow rapidly creating more high value engineering jobs in Australia.
Wilson said the sovereign secure communications technologies being developed would:
- Harness the critical advanced manufacturing skills and expertise within Australia;
- Allow different Defence elements to co-ordinate and communicate effectively, easily and securely; and
- Deliver highly complex technologies, in a simple solution to enable the focus on the mission.
Karman said he had evaluated and researched radio technologies in recent years, in a mission to extend existing technology and transform it into a modern solution that was more secure and user-friendly.
“We are working intimately with Australia’s leading radio specialists to combine their expertise with Penten’s secure mobility technology to develop a truly sovereign secure communication solution,” Karman said.
Minister Price added, “The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants Program helps to make our small and medium businesses more competitive and our supply chains more secure.”
One of the projects the team is already currently engaged is the C4 EDGE Program, launched in August 2020.
Penten is a cyber technology company based in Canberra. The business started in 2014 and has since grown rapidly to around 100 staff.
Penten delivers innovative, purpose-built cyber technology for Defence and government users and exports its products globally. The business focuses on providing secure mobility, applied artificial intelligence and tactical communications security to government users to provide a competitive advantage in the age of cyber warfare.
Penten’s innovations have won high profile awards: 2018 Business of the Year at the Telstra Business Awards, Most Innovative Company at the AFR and Boss awards 2019, and Cyber Business of the Year at the Australian Defence Industry Awards 2019.
Karman is currently listed as a finalist in the Defence Connect 2020 Australian Defence Industry Awards as Innovator of the Year.
Launched in August 2020, C4 EDGE (Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment) is a communications program bringing together 23 Australian sovereign C4 (command control communications and computers) subject matter experts leveraging internationally agreed upon standards to scope a proof of concept demonstration of a sovereign land battlegroup and below communications environment for the Australian Army by the end of 2021.
The demonstration will showcase the capability of Australian Industry to further develop a protected, integrated and supportable sovereign system: one that delivers agile and resilient C2 functionality to meet the flexible, scalable and interoperability needs of a battlegroup operating independently or with partners.(Source: Defence Connect)
13 Nov 20. Hanwha selects Kongsberg as C4 partner under Land 8116 Phase 1. Hanwha Defense Australia has announced that Kongsberg Defence Australia will be its Command, Control, Communications, and Computing (C4) Integration partner for Project Land 8116 Phase 1 (Protected Mobile Fires).
This follows the government’s recent announcement that it intends to acquire a quantity of Self-Propelled Howitzers and Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles from HDA.
The Managing Director of HDA, Richard Cho, said that Kongsberg was a natural choice for the Protected Mobile Fires program as they provide the proven digital architecture and Fire Control System for Hanwha’s K9 and K10.
“The cooperation between Hanwha and Kongsberg has already proven to be highly successful for the recent Norwegian ‘Vidar’ K9 and K10 Program, and in the delivery of K9 vehicles to Finland and Estonia,” Cho said.
Hanwha’s K9 is known locally as the Huntsman and it will bring improved interoperability for the ADF with both NATO and US armed forces through Kongsberg’s integrated ODIN fire support system.
“The selection of Kongsberg as a central part of our Land 8116 Ph 1 industry team will make a very important contribution to Hanwha’s capacity to deliver effective capability for the ADF while fulfilling our extensive Australian Industry Capability commitments.
Kongsberg will be responsible for integrating the Protected Mobile Fires capability into the ADF’s C4 Force Structure, including the integration of tactical communication systems and Battle Management Systems, and will also transfer hardware and software technology to Kongsberg Defence Australia to execute and support the Australian Protected Mobile Fires Program.
Kjetil R Myhra, Executive Vice President of Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace and Chairman of Kongsberg Defence Australia, said that Kongsberg was proud to be selected as Hanwha’s C4 integration partner for this strategic Joint Fires program.
“Project Land 8116 provides another great opportunity for Kongsberg to transfer world leading and proven C4 systems to Australian industry and enable sovereign capability. We will support our landed company Kongsberg Defence Australia and our local partners to meet the objectives of the recently released Land Combat and Protected Vehicles Industry Plan,” Myhra said.
General Manager of Kongsberg Defence Australia, John Fry, said Kongsberg Defence Australia is incredibly proud to be selected to deliver these capabilities for the Protected Mobile Fires program. Fry also said Kongsberg Defence Australia would continue to partner and work with Australian suppliers, as it has been doing under Project Land 19 Phase 7B.
“Together with Hanwha Defence Australia, Kongsberg is committed to the establishment of a sovereign industry capability to support the Australian Protected Mobile Fires capability throughout its service life. We’ll continue to source as much C4 hardware as possible through Australian and New Zealand-based suppliers,” Fry said.
Hanwha Defense Australia is planning a new manufacturing facility in the Greater Geelong area in Victoria to produce its Huntsman artillery systems and the armoured resupply vehicles. The Geelong facility will be a key hub in fulfilling the company’s AIC program on Land 8116.
Kongsberg Defence Australia will also establish a local software support and test environment that will be used by Kongsberg to support Land 8116 and other programs in Australia and the region.(Source: Google/https://www.australiandefence.com.au/)
09 Nov 20. 5G Implications. Modern soldiers are increasingly digital natives who expect their military IT equipment to be as much like the personal electronics they are used to as possible, and 5G will be central to that shortly. While the drive towards 5G systems is irresistible, foreign commercial developers leading the charge present unavoidable security concerns. Military communications at the tactical edge always struggle to obtain the bandwidth they need, particularly for the most demanding applications such as real time transmission of high definition video. The current generation of serving soldiers, and even more so the upcoming generation from whom militaries seek to recruit, have grown up with mobile phones, smartphone and tablets with constant high bandwidth connectivity. Thy are digital natives who can make the most of these technologies and often find creative ways of using them unanticipated by their inventors and developers, so armed forces want to make their tactical communication systems feel, work and behave as much like the smart devices their soldiers are used to using.
These have been key drivers behind military adoption of 3G and 4G/4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular communications technologies and their keenly anticipated take up of emerging 5G (fifth generation) systems, the first commercial applications of which are due to roll out this year, which as well as greater capacity also promises greater speed and security.
Higher radio frequencies offer greater bandwidth and carrying capacity fundamentally because more radio waves (peak-to-peak cycles), which can be modulated to carry the desired signal, pass a notional fixed point in a given time. For example, 4GLTE networks use seven frequency bands between 700MHz (700 million cycles per second) and 2.6GHz (2.6 billion cycles per second) with wavelengths in the microwave bands. Using bands of frequencies between 1GHz and 6GHz, 5G overlaps with 4G LTE at the lower end, with most services expected to be around 3.5GHz. This is well into the millimetre wavebands and promising much greater bandwidth and consummately higher data rates, and channel widths up to 100MHz. However, some services will even use spectrum from bands above 24GHz with channel widths between 50MHz and 400MHz, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Potentially, 5G can use frequencies up to 300GHz.
While higher frequencies can carry much more information, the shorter wavelengths suffer more from attenuation in the atmosphere and the effects of airborne obscurants including rain, so effective communication ranges tend to be shorter. This implies an inevitable trade-off between bandwidth and range, as some signals won’t propagate more than a few hundred metres, while some wavelengths have difficulty passing through walls, which is bound to cause problems in urban environments.
Shorter signal ranges can be overcome by a variety of techniques including simply providing more relays, which can be dedicated devices or functions built into others, perhaps every cooperating radio in a given operational area, so that they can relay friendly third party signals without interrupting services to the primary user, for example.
One of the keys to this kind of capability is 5G’s support for ‘massive MIMO’, which is a significant extension of the Multiple Input, Multiple Output concept used by existing LTE and wifi systems to increase signal carrying capacity without occupying more bandwidth.
MIMO systems can carry more than one digital data signal over the same radio channel at the same time. One method is to exploit polarity. If the channel can handle a vertically polarised and a horizontally polarised radio signal at the same time they can carry different information, effectively doubling the channel’s data capacity. Massive MIMO systems make use of multiple antennas, with eight receive and eight transmit antennas usually considered the threshold for a system to be defined as massively MIMO. With different polarities and multiple antennas to manage, massive MIMO communication systems need advanced signal processing capabilities and therefore complex software and a lot of computing muscle in every network node, but the computer industry is more than capable of providing that.
What is likely to be more of a challenge is making decisions about how much to rely on civilian 5G infrastructure, in which Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has both a big lead in global deployment and a major price advantage over western competitors (the two are not unconnected), and how much to invest in dedicated military equipment that operate independently of potentially compromised infrastructure overseas and provide connectivity where there is no other infrastructure.
Naturally, the fear is that that Chinese equipment will have back doors in it that will allow the Chinese government access to sensitive information, either directly or through pressure on Huawei. This suspicion was given more credence by the latest annual report published in March to the UK National Security Adviser by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board.
HCSC is a facility in Banbury, Oxfordshire, belonging to the Chinese company’s UK division established eight years ago under a set of arrangements between Huawei and the UK Government to mitigate any perceived risks arising from Huawei’s involvement in critical national infrastructure. Established in 2014, the Oversight Board is is chaired by Ciaran Martin, who is the chief executive officer of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and is an executive member of GCHQ’s Board with responsibility for cyber security. The Oversight Board includes a senior executive from Huawei as deputy chair, senior representatives from the British Government and telecommunications sector.
Despite acknowledging capability improvements the report found a number of ongoing problems. These include significant technical issues in Huawei’s engineering processes, leading to new risks to UK telecommunications networks, and that no progress had been made on the remediation of issues identified in the previous report. Furthermore, the report found, the Oversight Board can provide only limited assurance that the long-term security risks regarding currently deployed equipment can be managed, that it will be difficult to risk-manage future products appropriately.
James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director, Technology Policy Program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies CSIS), a US think tank, wrote that the US and, by implication, other western countries can manage 5G risks by ensuring that their companies can continue produce advanced technologies and that they face “fair competition” overseas and by working with “like minded” nations to develop a common approach to 5G security.
He noted that western companies routinely outspend their Chinese competitors in 5G research and development, that they hold 10 times as many 5G related patents and that Chinese companies depend on western companies for the most advanced 5G components, but accused the Chinese government of effectively subsidising its industry with easy access to state finance. He also recommended that the US invest in, research and adopt a comprehensive approach to combating non-tariff barriers to trade.
It’s clear from this that the military’s adoption of a still evolving communications system over which it has no direct control and key elements of which are produced by potential adversary countries is something that has to be handled with extreme care, involving high politics and trade policy as much as technology. (Source: Armada)
10 Nov 20. DOD Working With Industry to Ramp Up 5G Network Innovation. The introduction of 5G network technology helps restore military readiness, builds a more lethal force, expands and strengthens alliances and partnerships and brings business reform to the department, a Defense Department official said.
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord, spoke today about the future 5G network technology remotely from the Pentagon to the MITRE Corporation.
5G will transform the way the military operates, she said, noting that it supports fires, command and control, intelligence, movement and maneuver, protection, sustainment and information.
“Tomorrow’s warfighters will use local and expeditionary 5G networks to move massive amounts of data to connect distant sensors and weapons into a dense, resilient battlefield network. This massive amount of data is a key to unlocking further technological gains in the form of artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as unmanned and autonomous weapons systems across all domains,” she said.
The deployment of 5G will also enable a new generation of the knowledge economy, increasing productivity, growing new businesses and spurring innovation, Lord said.
The technology is vital to maintaining America’s military and economic advantage and the DOD is heavily invested in 5G to test and demonstrate various applications and use of these emerging technologies to support the National Defense Strategy, she said.
Spotlight: National Defense Strategy
The department’s focus on 5G, Lord said, involves large-scale experimentation and prototyping. Currently, five installations will be used as a 5G test-bed.
Trusted 5G communications systems require secure software, firmware and hardware as well as reliable microelectronic technology. These require a closer working relationship with both traditional defense sector partners and non-traditional partners in sectors such as telecommunications, she said. The commercial and government sectors are working together to establish processes and standards that will ensure the security of all three areas.
It is also critical to re-shore the microelectronics industrial base, used in the manufacture of communications equipment, Lord said, meaning bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.
Current microelectronics and telecommunications manufacturing is being done largely overseas, mostly in Asia, she said.
That puts U.S. national security at risk, she said. For instance, the Chinese could install backdoors and malicious code into the electronics. Also, overseas manufacturing means a loss of employment opportunities and economic growth here in the U.S. The department is hoping to change that, she said, adding that “the U.S. must lead in 5G development.” (Source: US DoD)
10 Nov 20. Emergency Services Networks Kodiak Mission Critical Push to Talk application tested for first time in airborne environment.
The Kodiak Mission Critical Push to Talk Application demonstrated successfully in the final phase of the Air to Ground Technology Demonstrator Programme
The final stage of the ESN Aircraft Communication System (ACS) Technical Demonstrator Programme (TDP) included a successful in-flight demonstration of the core Kodiak Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT) application. The Kodiak MCPTT application enables essential mission-critical voice communications over 4G/LTE networks and supports the range of functionality required for critical Emergency Service and other Public Safety operations. The TDP, a key element in the ACS development, was conducted jointly between Cobham and QinetiQ.
The final phase of the TDP successfully established two-way voice communication to an airborne platform, using the Kodiak application. Kodiak was run on test hardware installed on a QinetiQ A109 flight-trials helicopter and was used to communicate with a terminal on the ground over a dedicated terrestrial cellular test network, which was representative of the final ESN ACS ground network. Encouraging results were obtained for both uplink and downlink and an analysis of audio recordings indicated an excellent level of speech quality. The tests demonstrated sustained voice communications during cell handovers and switching between the ESN terrestrial network and the dedicated ACS Band 40 network – all during archetypal flight manoeuvres.
The results will be used to assure the technology for the new 4G LTE Aircraft Communications System (ACS) that will transform the connectivity, reliability and effectiveness of the Emergency Services Air to Ground communications in England, Scotland and Wales. The ACS will be a world first for the application of 4G LTE in this manner. The ACS is a key component of the UK’s Emergency Service Network, which is being delivered by the Home Office Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP).
Cobham’s Vice President, Antenna Systems, Kevin Dunne, said, “As we draw the Technical Demonstrator Programme to a close we are delighted by the positive test results seen with our test and certification partner QinetiQ, culminating in the successful operation of Kodiak over LTE demonstrated throughout the flight testing. The TDP has significantly reduced risk for the overall ACS and ESMCP programme, ensuring that Cobham delivers a world leading, secure and resilient mission critical communication system the emergency services can rely on.”
Geoff Clarkson, Chief Engineer for the QinetiQ A2G programme, added “This is another significant step forward in delivering the technical performance required from the new Aircraft Communications System”
Working with Cobham, QinetiQ is delivering a wide range of activities into the ACS program, including bespoke software applications, specialist 4G/LTE consultancy and operational Service Management, in addition to providing Airborne Test & Assurance capabilities. Under Cobham’s prime contractorship, the two companies will deliver an assured programme for the Emergency Services, backed by 10 years of through-life support with the option to extend for a further 5 years. The ESN ACS 4G/LTE is expected to equip more than 100 air platforms in England, Scotland and Wales engaged in public-safety duties, including NPAS (police) and Air Ambulance fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
09 Nov 20. US Army floats the option of fielding high-altitude balloons. The U.S. Army is now carving out a path to field high-altitude balloons to provide an additional but less expensive layer of communications, connectivity, range extension and surveillance capabilities, adding resiliency to the service’s existing architecture of space assets and aircraft supporting multidomain operations.
Recent tests and experiments with high-altitude balloons at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, left an impression on the head of the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command. “It’s just phenomenal what we’re able to do with high-altitude balloons,” Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference, which took place virtually Oct. 13-16.
“I don’t have the cost analysis but, in my mind, pennies on the dollar with respect to doing it. If I had to do it via a [low-Earth orbit] or some satellite constellation, what we are able to provide with high-altitude balloons, it’s tactically responsive support to the war fighter,” he added.
Karbler said he sees the balloons supporting the Army’s Multidomain Task Force in the future.
“Conceptually, with the types of missions that the Multidomain Task Force is working, the high-altitude balloons would be a key capability enabler,” Brent Fraser, concept development division chief at SMDC’s Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, told Defense News in an Oct. 29 interview.
“[The balloons would] be able to provide some beyond-line-of-sight capability, whether it’s communications, extended distances, to be able to provide the ability to enable sensing of targets deep in the adversary’s areas, to be able to reinforce and complement existing sensing systems other than the aerial layer as well as the space layer,” Fraser added.
In terms of war games and experiments conducted with high-altitude balloons, “as we look at a number of emerging concepts and capabilities and formations,” he explained, “I think we still have a ways to go, but I think we’re on a positive path to continue.”
SMDC has been working on high-altitude balloons — basically dirigibles that can camp out roughly 60,000-90,000 feet in the air — for a long time, but recently the technology has improved, particularly through the commercial market. Google, for instance, used high-altitude balloons to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to help establish internet connectivity.
Duration is one of the areas that has greatly improved. High-altitude balloons can now stay aloft for weeks, if not months, rather than just hours or days. Users can also command and navigate the balloons better than before, and the platforms can more easily be recovered after missions.
“The technology readiness levels have really come a long way,” Fraser said.
SMDC has partnered with Army Futures Command to advance the technology, particularly involving the latter’s Assured-Positioning, Navigation and Timing cross-functional Team as well as Training and Doctrine Command, the Army Intelligence Center, and cyber and special operations personnel.
Several years ago, the Army developed a high-altitude concept that established a foundation on which to build, Col. Tim Dalton, Army capability manager for space and high altitude within the SMDC’s center of excellence, said in the same interview.
After integrating the concept into a variety of war games with Futures Command and other entities, the Army is starting to develop requirements. “We’re in the initial stages of defining what those requirements would be,” Dalton said. “There’s kind of two aspects to the high-altitude piece: the high-altitude platform, so it’s the balloon, and then whatever it’s carrying on there for a payload.”
The Army has created initial documents for staffing through Futures Command, and over the next couple of years the service will run those requirements through the Joint Capabilities and Integration and Development System process, which will lead to review by the Army Requirements Oversight Council.
The service is in the early stages of figuring out what a program of record would look like, but it has some options, Dalton said. “What we’re kind of hoping to do over the next couple of years as part of our campaign of learning is to help define what that looks like and the best way to resource those requirements for the Army.” (Source: Defense News)
09 Nov 20. Rohde & Schwarz Benelux to provide signal and spectrum analyzing and recording solutions for the Netherlands’ Defence Material Organization TESLA-M project. Rohde & Schwarz Benelux has been awarded €1.8m by the Netherlands’ Defence Material Organization (DMO) for the TESt Lane Analysis Mobile (TESLA-M) project. Under the contract, Rohde & Schwarz Benelux will provide signal and spectrum analyzing and recording equipment to be installed in a 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter van. Rohde & Schwarz Benelux will team up with Contour Advanced Systems for the integration and assembly of the TESLA-M vehicle.
This gives Defense a high-quality mobile measurement setup to test various types of Jammer configurations to protect defense personnel from a wide variety of Remote Controlled (RC) IED’s. IEDs are a daily reality in conflict and are considered by the Armed Forces tactical weapons with a strategic effect. To develop the operation and coverage per threat for jammers as good as possible, TESLA-M is used.
In 2021, the Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) will get an improved measurement and control vehicle that validates jammers now and in the future, thereby protecting the lives of Dutch soldiers. DMO expects TESLA-M to have a minimum lifespan of nine years.
Under the contract, Rohde & Schwarz Benelux will provide:
- The R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer offering analysis bandwidth for wideband-modulated or frequency agile signals.
- The R&S SMW200A vector signal generator for digitally modulated signals required for the development of new wideband communications systems.
- The R&S IQW wideband I/Q data recorder offering wide recording bandwidth and high sampling rate and bit depth.
“Thanks to TESLA-M, we will be able to protect our soldiers from RC-IEDs,” said Mr. H.D. Mooibroek, Project manager, DMO. “With this future-proof installation, Dutch Defense is prepared for current and future RC-IED threats and set the tone internationally. This is possible with the help of TESLA-M; a high-quality mobile measuring set-up with which various types of jammer configurations can be tested.”
“We are thrilled that DMO has chosen Rohde & Schwarz technology for the TESLA-M project and to deliver the first vehicle fully equipped with our equipment next year,” Mr. B. Maarleveld, General Manager of Rohde & Schwarz Benelux, explained.
09 Nov 20. Optus partners with university for cyber security initiative. The major telecommunications company has entered into a strategic alliance with the University of South Australia, in a bid to drive innovation in the cyber security and data science space. Optus and the University of South Australia (UniSA) have partnered to establish a Cyber Security Research and Collaboration Hub in the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C), located in Adelaide’s innovation precinct, Lot Fourteen.
The joint venture is designed to deliver research outcomes aimed at driving technology innovations and educating Australia’s next generation of cyber security and data science specialists.
The hub is expected to facilitate co-operation between industry, customers, partners, academics and students.
Students would be provided with opportunities for real-world engagement with industry and business while studying in the hub.
The agreement also involves the provision of an Optus scholarship program to support student and PhD enrolment in cyber security and data science related fields of study.
Optus Business vice president, product innovation, Deon Liebenberg added the co-investment was a response to the growing need for enhanced data science and cyber security capability.
“We want to apply advances in these fields to make a real difference in people’s lives and this joint venture will unlock opportunities and solutions that don’t even exist yet,” Liebenberg said.
“Our exciting collaboration will create opportunities to conduct cross-cutting research and a platform for exchange between UniSA, subject experts from Optus, and Optus’ enterprise and government clients and partners.
“This will ultimately help us assist our customers tap into emerging markets and opportunities across a range of industries and operate more efficiently.”
Optus and UniSA are expected to appoint a joint chair of cyber security and data science to head up the new Lot Fourteen facility.
University of South Australia deputy vice chancellor, research and innovation, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington said the joint chair would help to spearhead both research and education in the fields of cyber security and data science.
“This expertise folds perfectly into the capacities being developed in South Australia in defence and security, space and space technologies and in satellite systems,” she said.
“As South Australia grows its base in these industries, there will be increasing demand for the right research expertise and the right graduates to take up significant positions in both research and practice in cybersecurity and aligned positions in data science.
“The Optus-UniSA strategic alliance is an important investment in that future and creating that talent pipeline.”
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the new joint venture, which he said would provide broader support to the business community.
“The design of this joint venture and its location at Lot Fourteen and in the A3C will more closely align education, research and innovation and help to support existing and emerging businesses,” he said.
“Cyber security and data science are critical for business, for government and industry and having a relationship that will support growth right here in South Australia will be vital in creating jobs and investment post the pandemic.”
This latest agreement builds on Optus and UniSA’s partnership in Lot Fourteen’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Living Lab project, launched in 2019. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Nov 20. US Air Force awards ABMS contracts to another 24 vendors. The U.S. Air Force has awarded 24 companies new contracts for its Advanced Battle Management System, according to a Nov. 4 contract announcement from the Pentagon.
The contracts, which have a ceiling of $950m each, will help the Air Force build out ABMS, its platform behind the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, which seeks to connect sensors to shooters across domains. The contracts have a performance period of five years with a $1,000 minimum.
Under the contracts, the companies will “compete for future efforts associated with the maturation, demonstration and proliferation of capability across platforms and domains, leveraging open systems design, modern software and algorithm development in order to enable Joint All Domain Command and Control,” the contract announcement reads.
The 24 companies are Altamira Technologies Corp., Amergint Technologies Inc., Carahsoft Technology Corp., Geosite Inc., Lyteworx Automation Systems LLC, MarkLogic Corp., Rebellion Defense Inc., Rhombus Power Inc., Soar Technology Inc., Vidrovr Inc, Advanced Simulation Research Inc., Borsight Inc., Datanchor Inc., Digital Mobilizations Inc., EFW Inc., F9 Teams Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., Infinity Labs LLC, Radiant Mission Solutions Inc. Microsoft Corp., Ortman Consulting LLC, Peraton Inc., R2 Space Inc. and Sierra Nevada Corp.
“This creative contract strategy is needed to support the agile and fast-paced nature of this program. These Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts provide each vendor the opportunity to receive anywhere from $1,000 to $950m total over the next five years for work in up to seven different ABMS product categories,” Air Force spokesperson Capt. Clay Lancaster said in a statement.
70 companies have now received ABMS contracts. The Air Force awarded two other rounds of awards in the last few months, with 28 companies receiving identical awards in late May and 18 more getting added in July. The awards steam from a Broad Agency Announcement the service released in February.
“This ID/IQ is part of a multi-prong innovative ABMS ‘contract lattice’ strategy to enable an agile DevOps approach to software and hardware development — to include four month onramps with Combatant Commanders — that is necessary to deliver needed capabilities to the warfighter faster and more effectively in support of the National Defense Strategy,” Lancaster said.
After the last round of awards, Lancaster told C4ISRNET that the awards were meant to establish a line of companies that can respond to future ABMS solicitations. He added that after awards are made to vendors, the service will have more technical discussions with the vendors before releasing more “focused” solicitations that will be open to vendors who received IDIQ contracts. Vendors will then respond to the solicitations with their proposals and task orders will be awarded.
“These contracts provide for the development and operation of systems as a unified force across all domains (air, land, sea, space, cyber and electromagnetic spectrum) in an open architecture family of systems that enables capabilities via multiple integrated platforms,” the contract announcement reads.
The Air Force has requested $3.3bn in funding for ABMS, so it’s unlikely the $950m ceilings on the contracts would be reached. The announcement doesn’t list specifically what capabilities each company will provide.
Initial deliver orders will be funded with fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds. Work is expected to be completed in May 2025.
The third round of contract announcements are another step forward on the services’ march toward joint warfighting. The Army and Air Force recently agreed to collaborate over the next two years to develop what they are calling Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control. Next year, the Army plans to integrate ABMS into its Project Convergence, the Army’s effort to connect sensors to shooters. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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