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26 May 21. The Foundry unveiled, a hub for Britain’s AI cyber warriors. The head of the UK’s Strategic Command said a mix of military personnel and civilians will work from deployed locations.
An artificial intelligence (AI) defence centre called The Foundry has been unveiled, as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the UK urgently needs so-called “cyber warriors” just as much as fighter pilots.
The Foundry, for which a location has yet to be determined, will act as the hub for a new breed of cyber warriors.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of Strategic Command, said a new cadre called the Defence Digital Service, a mix of military personnel and civilians, will work from the new organisation and in deployed locations.
Speaking at the Strategic Command conference, Gen Sanders said: “As a key priority, I and my partner in GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, urgently need the nation’s cyber and digital talent, part time or full time.
“These cyber warriors will be as vital to our defences as an F-35 pilot, a special forces operator or a submariner, and in contact with the enemy more frequently and persistently than any of them.”
The MoD believes a different commercial model between the military and industry is necessary to withstand and exploit the “technological tsunami” enabled by AI.
General Sir Nick Carter (below), the chief of the defence staff, has often spoken of the need for a new career model to allow military reservists and civilians to work alongside the military in cyberspace.
Gen Sanders said defending against AI-capable adversaries without employing the same technology is an “invitation to disaster”.
“AI will compress decision timeframes from minutes to seconds, expand the scale of attacks, and demand responses that will tax the limits of human cognition.”
In 2017, President Putin said that the nation that leads in AI will rule the world. President Xi Jinping of China has made similar comments and has directed his country to pursue superiority in the field of AI.
The new Defence Digital Service will seek to attract software developers and data scientists to make the UK a leading power in the emerging technology.
In 2019 the UK was ranked third, after the US and China, in the global AI index by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre.
“That ranking conceals a huge gap in a winner-takes-all competition where first mover advantage is everything,” Gen Sanders warned.
The Government’s recent Integrated Review of foreign, defence, security and development policy highlighted AI as a “strategic priority” for the UK.
Gen Sanders said “a thousand narrow AI flowers are blooming across defence, but we have not mobilised this at the pace and scale needed”.
Charlie Forte, the MoD’s chief information officer, said The Foundry will seek to emulate ideas like Industry 100, from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
Under that scheme, 100 leading thinkers from the private sector worked with the NCSC, the public-facing arm of GCHQ, for days or weeks at a time to bring in fresh thinking.
“These notions are all about how we take advantage of what the UK has to offer in terms of skills,” Mr Forte told The Telegraph.
The conference also heard how in the last few months cyberspace has been a “vector for espionage” and a “conduit for disinformation”.
British and American authorities attributed the recent SolarWinds hack to Russia and the cyber attack on the Finnish parliament to China.
Russian cyber hackers, either from the government or state-sponsored troll factories such as the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, are also believed to be behind the ransomware attack this month which crippled critical US national oil infrastructure, and the attack on the Irish health service in the midst of the pandemic.
Gen Sanders said such threats underlined why the UK needed to develop cyber warriors, both in and out of uniform.
“We must be daring and entrepreneurial because the threat is moving towards us and the technological advantage away from us,” he warned. “We’ve been given the resources…we’ve now got to deliver.”
A senior Government official said: “The internet was developed by three geeks in a university three decades ago.”
As such, cyberspace is vulnerable to attack from rogue actors because it is “optimised for peace and opportunity” and has to “manage the complexity” this allows, the official added. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
27 May 21. Thales and Atos create the European champion in big data and artificial intelligence for defence and security. Atos and Thales announce the creation of Athea, a joint venture that will develop a sovereign big data and artificial intelligence platform for public and private sector players in the defence, intelligence and internal state security communities.
Athea will draw on the experience gained by both companies from the demonstration phase of the ARTEMIS programme, the big data platform of the French Ministry of Armed Forces. The contract to optimise and prepare the full-scale roll-out of the ARTEMIS platform was also awarded jointly to the two leaders by the French Defense Procurement Agency on April 30, 2021. The new joint venture will initially serve the French market before addressing European requirements at a later date.
With the exponential rise in the number of sources of information, and increased pressure to respond more quickly to potential issues, State agencies need to manage ever-greater volumes of heterogeneous data and accelerate the development of new AI applications where security and sovereignty are key. Athea will create a solution to securely handle sensitive data on a nationwide scale and support the implementation of that solution within government programmes. The new entity will also provide expert appraisal, consulting, training and other services.
The joint venturewill pool the companies’ investments, expertise and experience to respond quickly and efficiently to demand for innovation. Athea will work with an ecosystem of large companies, SMEs, start-ups and research institutes specialising in big data and artificial intelligence. In conjunction with the recently created Defense Digital Agency, the joint entity will also provide secure solutions and open and modular technological building blocks, which encourage collaboration and stimulate the industrial and sovereign ecosystem, in order to support the development of trusted applications.
“This joint venture between Thales and Atos illustrates the commitment of both our companies to supporting the digital transformation of our customers by providing a secure and innovative solution based on French technology to process huge volumes of heterogeneous data. Together, we will capitalise on our respective areas of expertise to provide best-in-class big data and artificial intelligence solutions.” said Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales.
“Sensitive data capabilities have become a sovereignty issue for State agencies. By combining the expertise of two major players in defence and digital technologies with the flexibility of a dedicated entity, Athea will generate huge potential for innovation, and stimulate the industrial and defence ecosystem, including innovative start-ups, to meet the needs of government agencies and other stakeholders in the sector. This new joint venture between Atos and Thales is an opportunity to combine a comprehensive understanding of the defence and security issues faced by European States with access to the latest innovations in big data and artificial intelligence.” said Pierre Barnabé, SEVP, Big Data and Cybersecurity, Atos.
Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with 105,000 employees and annual revenue of over € 11bn. European number one in cybersecurity, cloud and high performance computing, the Group provides tailored end-to-end solutions for all industries in 71 countries. A pioneer in decarbonization services and products, Atos is committed to a secure and decarbonized digital for its clients. Atos operates under the brands Atos and Atos|Syntel. Atos is a SE (Societas Europaea), listed on the CAC40 Paris stock index.
The purpose of Atosis to help design the future of the information space. Its expertise and services support the development of knowledge, education and research in a multicultural approach and contribute to the development of scientific and technological excellence. Across the world, the Group enables its customers and employees, and members of societies at large to live, work and develop sustainably, in a safe and secure information space.
26 May 21. Booz Allen Partners with Databricks to Drive Value for Federal Agencies with Unified Data Analytics. Deep Solutions and Capabilities Built on Databricks’ Lakehouse Platform Provide Advanced Insights to Meet Essential Mission Goals.
Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) announced today it is partnering with Databricks, the data and AI company, to drive business value by unifying data and artificial intelligence (AI) to meet federal agencies’ data challenges and advance their missions.
Booz Allen’s innovative, industry-leading analytics capabilities deliver mission-critical technologies, services, and strategies to help clients reach their full data analytics potential in any environment. Combined with Databricks’ Lakehouse Platform – which helps organizations accelerate innovation by unifying data engineering, data science, machine learning and analytics within a single open, collaborative platform for all of their data-driven use cases – agencies can now access even faster, more efficient end-to-end solutions to address their most pressing needs.
Booz Allen is the largest provider of AI services for the federal government and already delivers some of the most advanced AI, machine learning and data architecture solutions through its work with the Joint AI Center, Army Futures Command, and Veterans Benefits Administration, among other defense, civilian and intelligence agencies. The combined power of Databricks and Booz Allen provides an unmatched resource for data-driven insights and decision-making, with key applications including:
Scalable Enterprise AI Operations: Data-driven decision-making requires the ability to quickly analyze massive amounts and types of data, and Booz Allen delivers scalable machine learning workflows to accelerate AI initiatives beyond the lab to deploy them to the enterprise and enable trusted, machine-led insights in real time. With Databricks’ Lakehouse Platform, clients can experience the power of ML Operations (MLOps) across the enterprise, building scalable AI infrastructures to integrate and automate the process of ingesting enormous amounts of data in a single platform, and enabling organizations to more quickly develop, train and automate AI and ML models for increased accuracy, efficiency and explainability.
Fraud, Waste and Abuse Detection and Mitigation: Booz Allen leverages AI as a powerful tool for detecting patterns and anomalies in massive amounts of data such as those processed by healthcare and financial organizations. Critical to mitigating risks from these activities is both the ability to seamlessly bring together disparate data to bridge the information asymmetry gaps and hyper tune machine learning models in real-time to combat the constantly evolving threat vectors. Now, using Databricks’ single unified platform, data scientists and data engineers have the ability to operate in a single collaborative environment for building robust data pipelines – providing the ability to rapidly explore and interrogate data sets for anomalies, prepare and manage machine learning models from inception through to delivery, refine data quality in data lakes, and unify batch and streaming services for advanced risk detection and scoring. Those models can then be deployed into production settings and run closer to the point of transaction, efficiently and securely processing and training on billions of transactions to accurately detect risks and continuously improve outcomes – enhancing the speed and performance for forecasting, machine learning, and analysis of large datasets.
Genomics Data Processing: AI can bring enormous computing power to advancing the genomics mission, and Booz Allen brings deep mission expertise to help agencies unlock value from data to improve insights. Databricks’ Lakehouse platform accelerates the data engineering required to build high-quality genomic processing data delivery pipelines that convert raw data into valuable clinical information that drive insights and action.
“The ability to uncover actionable insights from data has never been more important as enterprises look to adapt, innovate and better prepare for the future in an uncertain world,” said Howard Levenson, General Manager, Databricks Federal. “We’re excited to be working with Booz Allen as they leverage the power of Databricks’ Lakehouse Platform to help organizations solve their toughest problems with data. We look forward to seeing the value this partnership delivers for our joint customers.”
At Databricks’ 2021 Partner Executive Summit, Booz Allen was named Federal Consulting Partner of the Year for its significant impact at a global scale and strong investments in training, marketing, and solutions as the leading provider of AI services to government agencies. The Booz Allen and Databricks partnership has already resulted in multiple successful joint implementations, more than 500 trained Databricks practitioners, and multiple accelerator solutions to drive results that meet essential government data missions.
“Combining Booz Allen’s deep technical expertise and mission knowledge with Databricks’ rich Lakehouse Platform will deliver truly powerful AI insights and outcomes for defense, federal civilian and intelligence agencies as they face the most urgent national data challenges,” said John Larson, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen. “The accelerated collaboration, scale and data-driven insights that this partnership brings will add tremendous value for our federal clients as they leverage these advanced capabilities to serve our national priorities.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
26 May 21. Okta Deepens Commitment to Public Sector with DISA IL4 Provisional Authorization. Identity leader meets significant milestone to support U.S. federal government agencies with cloud acceleration.
Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA), the leading independent identity provider, today announced it has received a Provisional Authorization To Operate (P-ATO) at Impact Level 4 (IL4) from the United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) under the Department of Defense’s Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide. The provisional authorization will allow government agencies and their contractors to further realize the benefits of the Okta Identity Cloud and simplify the adoption of Okta’s identity solutions within their organizations as part of their digital transformation.
“Okta’s technology enables organizations to securely connect the right people to the right technologies at the right time, which is crucial in highly regulated and sensitive environments such as the public sector,” said Sean Frazier, Federal Chief Security Officer, Okta. “Okta is proud to support government agencies in their modernization efforts around Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM). These capabilities are foundational as agencies adopt Zero Trust security frameworks, support a changing workforce and stakeholder landscape, and address the resulting access challenges. This is a significant milestone for Okta and we look forward to continuing to work with our government customers to accomplish their goals.”
Obtaining an IL4 P-ATO exemplifies Okta’s commitment to securing critical government information, meeting the DISA’s standardized requirements for cloud-based access controls and data security. Government agencies can trust the Okta Identity Cloud to provide highly secure and reliable solutions to manage identities and streamline processes within their organization. For government agencies, Okta’s modern identity and access management solutions enable digital transformation by providing a simplified user experience for today’s workforces and customers, in addition to enhancing security.
“As agencies conduct digital modernization to enhance mission execution, digital identity is absolutely foundational,” said Tom Clancy, former Chief of Identity Solutions at the Office of the Department of Defense CIO, Office of the Secretary of Defense. “If your agency’s identity services can’t carry the assurance levels of your principal credential (CAC/PIV) all the way to your mission applications, you can’t use cloud or mobile securely, you can’t share information with external partners securely, and you won’t really know who is accessing your sensitive data. For agencies already using CAC/PIV, elevating the assurance of your identity services is the first step on the Zero Trust journey.”
The IL4 P-ATO is part of continued public sector momentum for Okta, following the achievement of a FedRAMP Moderate Authority to Operate (ATO) for its core identity offering in 2017. Currently, Okta ranks fifth out of nearly 300 technology vendors in the most authorizations in the U.S. federal government sector of all authorized cloud vendors (SaaS, IaaS and PaaS).
“We applaud Okta for achieving DISA IL4 Provisional Authorization, which will allow them to help accelerate the federal government’s digital transformation,” said Sandy Carter, Vice President, Public Sector Partners & Programs at Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We’re excited to continue to collaborate with Okta to help our public sector customers securely transfer highly sensitive workloads to AWS, where they can take advantage of the cloud’s agility and cost savings.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
26 May 21. Operations in Ukraine, other countries help Army develop cyber teams. As the Army builds its cyber and electromagnetic spectrum forces and capabilities, it has leaned heavily on lessons from operations in Ukraine and other theaters.
The Army is paying close attention to writings that came out of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, said Tuesday at the Cyber and Electromagnetic Activity conference by the Association of Old Crows. “We’re actually trying to discern what lessons learned we need to draw from this, what conclusions that we need to draw that will shape investments both in organization and equipment and capabilities and TTP [tactics, techniques and procedures] as we move forward.”
Three years ago, the Army announced it was creating the 915th Cyber Warfare Battalion, the result of a pilot program to build tactical cyber and electromagnetic teams to augment brigades with additional capabilities depending on their specific needs in this realm.
The vision is to create a total of 12 expeditionary cyber and electromagnetic activities teams that will help plan tactical cyber operations for commanders and conduct missions in coordination with deployed forces.
Army Cyber Command has built the first of these teams, and while the unit participated in some training events, the service will test the team this summer as part of the broader Defender Pacific 2021, Fogarty said at the CEMA conference.
However, he warned of a long journey to create the teams, which likely will go through many changes in makeup and equipment before the Army assembles all 12.
“Formations will evolve so by the time we get to ECT 12 [expeditionary CEMA team], what I predict is ECT composition may look very different than what it looks like today,” Fogarty said. “I think equipment will be very different than what it looks like today. In some cases, authorities that we have might be very different.”
The Army’s work so far has drawn on experiences in other countries, and cyber personnel deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq have used that information, adding to the knowledge base for building the expeditionary cyber teams.
“This is going to be the start of a campaign of learning for us. We’re going to try out a series of ideas that we had,” Fogarty said. “Much of it has been influenced by the lessons learned that we derived from operations in the Ukraine and then most recently the operations in Armenia.”
Even at this early stage, the Army will adapt teams to the region and brigade they support. When helping with commanders’ different requirements, the teams will provide capabilities from Army Cyber’s four-pronged mission: operate, defend, attack and influence.
“What we assess is that based on who we’re going to support, where they’re going against competitors or adversaries that we will tailor that package. It might be heavy on influence to support one command, it might be heavy on cyber — either defensive or offensive — for another commander,” Fogarty said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
26 May 21. US Army tests new techniques with airborne jamming pod. The US Army used a series of exercises to prove out and mature its forthcoming aerial jamming pod, drawing lessons for senior leaders to make more informed funding decisions.
Most recently, the Army tested the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare Air Large pod — the service’s first organic brigade electronic attack asset mounted on an MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone — at Edge 21, an aviation-focused exercise leading up to the larger Project Convergence event later this summer. The Army is scheduled to field MFEW Air Large in 2022.
“This is the first time that we’ve had airborne capability like this. The big piece of it is just giving it visibility for senior leaders,” Col. Kevin Finch, project manager for electronic warfare and cyber at Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, said Wednesday at the Cyber Electromagnetic Activity conference hosted by the Association of Old Crows. “What we’re trying to do with Edge 21 and also with Project Convergence is to provide data points for the senior leaders so as they make decisions, making informed decisions versus guesses on what the capability will actually do.”
That information will factor into the Army’s decisions as it plans for the 2023 budget and lays out its program objective memorandum for 2024, Finch said. His office has been providing white papers to senior leaders after demonstrations to help them decide on capabilities based on what the systems can actually do.
In terms of the actual capabilities, Finch told C4ISRNET that the team tries to add more electronic attack techniques at each exercise or demonstration.
While declining to discuss specifics due to classification, he said some additional techniques at Edge 21 surrounded communications and electronic intelligence. Vendor Lockheed Martin also adds new capabilities and techniques regularly to improve the pod.
“When you start looking at it holistically, it’s proving a) we can integrate it on the Gray Eagle, and b) we can definitely sense the target sets that the platform is designed to go after. And then when you start talking about Edge 21, Edge 21 is kind of like the trial run of Project Convergence,” Finch said.
They plan to add cyber capabilities to MFEW’s portfolio over the summer as part of Project Convergence and Defender Pacific 2021. This will also be the first time the Army’s new tactical cyber force, the 915th Cyber Warfare Battalion, will use MFEW Air Large.
Personnel from the 915th will be able to upload techniques to the pod and deliver them from the air, which Finch said will demonstrate that the pod is configurable and can accept new technologies and techniques.
“We’re really demonstrating, it is just not a fixed capability that provides you these particular things. Now, it’s a capability that when you get it fielded in the tactical environment, you can upload new techniques into the pod and run them as software,” he said.
As part of the concept for the 915th, the Tactical Cyber Equipment-C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) chassis is the primary tool available to these forces. It’s a backpack that will plug directly into organic brigade assets, including MFEW, and leverage their capabilities to a higher degree than the conventional forces.
The 915th has specialized training and skills for these cyber- and radio frequency-enabled operations, but team members also possess necessary authorities that the brigade, or in the case of MFEW, the division combat aviation brigade, doesn’t.
But as authorities continue to change in the future, Finch said the Army is building capabilities into the systems.
“The policy may change over time, but the technology is already there,” he said. “Eventually, I think, senior leaders will realize or come to a decision that they may need to expand authorities down to a lower level, but the system’s already designed to do that so then when those decisions, if they’re ever made, the units already have the capability.”
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
25 May 21. US Naval Services Aim to Put Network-War Concepts to Global Test. Enormous exercise will combine several new concepts in scenarios up to major combat.
For the past several years, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been developing super-agile networked versions of age-old warfighting concepts. Now the services will try them out in a globe-spanning wargame that will bring together live, virtual, and computer-generated units to test the concepts in major conflict.
Postponed last summer and with its exact dates still unannounced, Large Scale Exercise 21 will be the first of a triennial series, according to Adm. Christopher Grady, the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
“Technology is revolutionizing our ability to expand the battlespace and LSE 2021 is a great opportunity to expand what it means to train at the Varsity level. We have shifted focus from the individual Carrier Strike Group to a larger Fleet-centric approach, challenging fleet commanders’ abilities to make decisions at a speed and accuracy that outpaces the adversaries,” Grady said in a prepared statement.
But are the services biting off more than they can chew? LSE 21 is slated to test at least five new concepts in scenarios involving 36 live units — aircraft carriers, submarines, unmanned systems, etc. — plus more than 50 units participating virtually and an “unlimited array” of computer-generated units, according to a Fleet Forces Command statement.
“The risks with that is everyone is going to focus on sort of their small piece of this puzzle, rather than thinking about how all the disparate pieces fit together,” said Becca Wasser, a defense fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “For example, someone’s got to be focusing on what it means for them to be testing this new, unmanned system, but they’re really only going to be focusing on that, versus, you know, the bigger picture at play.”
That bigger picture involves testing several new concepts of operations that seek to harness the power of networks to make forces more agile, resilient, and lethal. Among them are Distributed Maritime Operations, a way to better integrate and synchronize forces and effects; Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment, a concept for fighting on- and offshore; and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations, which governs fights that can range far inland. All depend on the Naval Operational Architecture, the integrated networks, infrastructure, data, and tools that connects those distributed forces and commands.
Most of these concepts have been tested only in isolation or in small-scale exercises. LSE 21 is the services’ first attempt to replicate, with scenarios of increasing complexity and challenge, what it would be like to use these concepts in a high-end fight against another major power.
Wasser said these concepts are meant to be used together in order to improve expeditionary operations, the survivability of the force, and to gain an advantage in a conflict with a near-peer adversary.
“While these concepts are mutually reinforcing in theory, more needs to be done to ensure they are in practice, and the Large Scale Exercise is an opportunity to see where these concepts create positive effects and where they are lacking. It is also an opportunity to identify potential areas [for] improvement, particularly for things like command and control, which undergird U.S. military operations,” she said.
The services expect about 25,000 personnel will participate across 17 time zones, six naval and Marine Component Commands, five numbered fleets, and three Marine Expeditionary Forces, the Fleet Forces statement said.
The specific units, ships, and aircraft that will participate are still being finalized, but the exercise is expected to include squadrons representing all Navy and Marine Corps airframes. One participating platform will be the Autonomous Littoral Connector surface vessel, which provides logistics support near the shore, according to Fleet Forces Command. And for this exercise, the Navy will be handling over this logistics capability to the Marine Corps to command and control.
The virtually linked and computer-generated units in the exercise will allow the Navy and Marine Corps to increase the number of exercise participants and “better replicate the realistic scale of scenarios the Navy and Marine Corps team is likely to face in the future,” the statement said.
Because this is the first year the Navy is attempting this type of exercise, it will only involve the United States, according to Lt. Cmdr. Tabitha Klingensmith, a spokeswoman for Fleet Forces Command.
“Supporting the live, virtual, constructive operating environment required for an exercise at this scale is complex. We feel it is a responsible decision to make the first iteration a U.S. only exercise, providing us an opportunity to test and evaluate the new globally-integrated format,” Klingensmith said.
While China is the “pacing threat” for the Pentagon’s current national defense strategy and the Indo-Pacific is now the region of most concern for the U.S. military, this naval exercise is meant to include challenges facing the Navy and Marine Corps around the world. Klingensmith said participating forces—whether they are on ships or on land– will be distributed across Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Command areas of operation.
“The exercise focus is not on a specific threat or region but is centered around challenging commanders to integrate globally and make and coordinate decisions that have effects across all domain boundaries. The increasingly complex and dynamic operating environments the Navy faces require an exercise design that is equally complex and dynamic,” she said in an email. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
22 May 21. US Air Force’s newest refueling tanker to get gear allowing F-35 and F-22 to share data. The KC-46 will be the first aircraft to be outfitted with equipment that will make it a node in the U.S. Air Force’s new battle management system, the service confirmed Friday.
As part of the first capability release of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System program, the service plans to outfit a portion of its Boeing KC-46 aerial refueling tankers with “an open architecture communications subsystem and edge processing” equipment that will allow it to pass data between the F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters, the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office said in response to written questions from Defense News.
The intent, the RCO stated, is to reach early operational capability by the end of fiscal 2022.
The F-35 and F-22 were both made by Lockheed Martin, but they use different data links, each with a low probability of intercept: the Multifunctional Advanced Data Link for the F-35 and the Intra-Flight Data Link onboard the F-22. Those links are incompatible and do not allow the fighters to share information while retaining stealth.
To solve that issue, a number of KC-46s will be equipped with a pod filled with communications equipment that translates between the two waveforms.
The RCO offered few specifics about what products it will seek to build the first ABMS capability release and what is the projected cost. It declined to comment on how many units it intends to buy.
Also left unclear is whether the ABMS “on ramp” demonstrations allowed the Air Force to cut down the development timelines of the technologies it will seek, or whether the exercises helped narrow the scope of what it will seek to buy.
To purchase the capability, the service will “utilize a range of contracts” that could include existing contracts, soliciting responses through broad agency announcements, Small Business Innovation Research awards, and cooperative research and development agreements, the RCO stated.
The Air Force is currently conducting a cost analysis, added the RCO, which provided no further details.
Through the ABMS program, the service hopes to incrementally test and field hardware and software that will allow all of its platforms and sensors to share data, while also using novel technologies like machine learning to ensure that meaningful, easily digestible information is presented to decision-makers when they need it most.
In addition to fielding ABMS hardware for the KC-46, the RCO also plans to make “major investments in digital infrastructure” as part of the program, said Randy Walden, who leads the office.
“To build ABMS, you must first build the digital structures and pathways over which critical data is stored, computed, and moved,” he said in an Air Force news release. “The Department of the Air Force needs a smart, fast and resilient ‘system of systems’ to establish information and decision superiority, and ABMS will be that solution.” (Source: Defense News)
24 May 21. Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making Initiative. The DST Group Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making Initiative is now accepting applications. The Initiative is a collaborative project between the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG, to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) expertise and capability in areas of significant importance to the Australian defence and national security community.
Individuals are invited to apply their skills and expertise to solve one of 10 AI and ML research and development related challenges.
Successful applicants will be provided with three-month funding of up to $20,000 per project and could also have the opportunity to be part of a national network focused on developing AI and ML technology. There is also the opportunity for project prototypes to be considered for progression through the Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre (DAIC), or defence and university sectors.
The Initiative is being delivered on a national basis through DSTG’s ADSUN network: the Defence Science Centre, Defence Science Institute, Defence Innovation Network, Defence Innovation Partnership and Queensland Defence Science Alliance.
Submitting your Application
Applications will only be accepted via the Initiative’s Application Form
Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.
If you require other assistance or guidance to complete the application form please email . DST Group will respond to your email within two working days. (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
20 May 21. Collins Aerospace Connects Military Airborne and Ground Data Through Multi-node Network.
–New approach expedites data transmission and extends data range.
–Two contracts awarded by U.S. Air Force for up to $21m.
As the battlespace becomes more data driven and dynamic, situational awareness and mission success are critically dependent on connecting ground and airborne data quickly across the network. But connecting large amounts of data transported by different waveforms has been a challenge for the warfighter. Now Collins Aerospace, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp. (NYSE: RTX), is developing two software-defined radios for the U.S. Air Force that will connect and transmit airborne and ground radio data for the first time using a multi-node network. The Software Programmable Agile Radio for Tactical Connected Ubiquitous Systems (SPARTACUS) and Software Programmable Agile Radio Frequency (RF) Tactical Aerial Network (SPARTAN) – will leverage an Open Systems architecture to enable the U.S. Air Force to develop and implement mission-specific waveforms to keep pace with evolving threats.
Large airborne and ground data sets – which may include imagery and video — are transported by different waveforms making it difficult to get data to key decision makers quickly. By combining commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology with military hardware, Collins Aerospace has made it possible for network nodes to expand and extend the effective range data can travel.
“Our warfighters encounter multiple challenges on the battlefield but being able to communicate between ground and air platforms should not be one of them. The radios developed for the SPARTACUS and SPARTAN programs enable the warfighter to transmit data high data rates and allow them to focus on the mission at hand.” We continue to provide solutions that address the most stringent needs of our customers,” said Ryan Bunge, vice president and general manager, Communication, Navigation and Guidance Solutions for Collins Aerospace.
The Collins Aerospace ground radio for the SPARTACUS program will connect ground links to air links in an aircraft. This low-cost, high-performance, radio can support legacy and future waveforms, and can also integrate additional 3rd party waveforms. The Collins Aerospace SPARTAN radio is capable of operating multiple waveforms simultaneously to maintain critical connectivity. The SPARTAN and SPARTACUS radios share common design elements, supporting a wide variety of waveform capabilities including multi-node directional data links and beyond-line-of-sight SATCOM links.
For over 85 years, Collins Aerospace has remained a world leader in the design, development, expertise and integration of airborne and ground communication systems including over 30 years of providing data link equipment to the U.S. military. (Source: ASD Network)
20 May 21. SOCOM CIO to industry: ‘Rethink your business models.’ U.S. Special Operations Command’s top IT official delivered a blunt message to industry Thursday: “I want you to rethink your business models.”
SOCOM CIO Lisa Costa requested more flexible tools for operators that the command can easily tailor to mission needs. “Think about not necessarily always proposing a full stack solution, but instead focusing on providing infrastructure as a service, data as a service, algorithms as a service, and keeping those separate so that we can mix and match them for the next unknown mission,” she said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference
Costa’s comments reflect a shift across the military that the technology it buys must be flexible as it prepares for constantly evolving threats in future wars. In the next few decades of warfare, the military must process mass amounts of data at the edge to ensure operators have the most up-to-date information possible, all while withstanding jammed communications.
What special operations forces need going forward, Costa said, is next-generation tools and platforms that will allow for resilient communications and network logins, secure access to data across classification levels and cloud-agnostic solutions that reach from the SOF enterprise to the battlefield — all while being interoperable. Costa wants to get away from the logistical nightmare of delivering pallets of hardware with proper cooling equipment into “incredibly” austere environments. Instead, she wants phones or tablets to adapt to needs.
“What I really want is I want to enable the hardware that we currently have in place and let’s say it’s a phone to be the thing I need it to be at that moment in time,” Costa said. “So it could be an unattended ground sensor. It could be a router or an AI computational processor. What’s key here is using process much like we use today to update, for example, your iPhone or your iPad. We can enable hardware to be computationally different from what it was originally deployed to be, and then return it back to its original place.”
With data at the center joint all-domain operations, SOCOM’s IT shop is also developing common data fabric for special operations forces that would allow for secure data access to operators across SOCOM.
“We no longer can afford to put our data into mission silos,” Costa said. “That data has to be discoverable to everyone at the security classification that it resides.”
Chief Warrant Officer Robert Byrd, SOCOM’s chief enterprise engineer, said at the conference that the data fabric effort is still in the “nascent stages.” Byrd said that the CIO team is working with SOCOM’s chief data officer to define what data SOCOM users have. From there, Byrd said SOF will decided what use cases and missions the fabric will need to serve, as well as work with its components and the military services to identify areas of interoperability.
SOCOM’s IT needs fit into its ongoing effort to provide operators with vast amounts of tactically relevant data in battle, an effort called the Hyper-Enabled Operator. One area the IT office is contributing to HEO is through edge data processing pilots, or ensuring that operators have high compute power on the battlefield.
“An operator who may be in a team who may be disconnected for a significant amount of time, not only do they need to have the ability to have access to information, but they also need the ability to process the information that they’re collecting,” Costa said.
In a call with reporters Tuesday, SOCOM’s director of science and technology, Lisa Sanders, said the command is experimenting with edge computing to evaluate it for the battlefield. The critical research area for the command right now is connectivity and what tradeoffs to make in terms of connectivity in disconnected environments.
“We are balancing what capability we can get without any connectivity back to a cloud-based environment and trading off how can that be used tactically because of the smaller sized servers operators need in battle,” Sanders said.
“Is it more important for [operators] that it’s small, and it’ll last on the battery power that you’ve got for a certain amount of mission … or is it more important that you have greater capability, and maybe I use something bigger than a handheld device, maybe I put something in a truck or I put something back in base, and I connect to that base. So those trade-offs are really the experimentation that we’re doing in edge processing.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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