Sponsored by Spectra Group
05 Mar 21. Azerbaijan Used Unmanned Antonov Decoys to Reveal Russian S-300s. Azerbaijani forces used a sophisticated method to destroy Russian-made S-300 air defence systems during the Nagorno-Karabakh war last year, combining Soviet-era single-engine planes with Israeli-made “suicide” drones.
Azerbaijan’s battle strategy was based on the use of advanced drone technology in the disputed mountainous territory, tactics that won Baku the 44-day war against Armenian forces. Yerevan suffered huge losses of Russian weaponry, including six S-300 systems, according to the Azerbaijan military.
A senior official, who was briefed on Azerbaijan’s drone warfare, told MEE that at first Baku found it difficult to detect the S-300s, which were concealed and difficult to spot.
The solution, according to the official, was simple: Azerbaijan needed a decoy aircraft to lure and identify the Russian-made systems. Baku then began to employ Soviet-era Antonov An-2 single-engine utility and agricultural aircraft, which cost no more than $100,000 and were readily available.
Azerbaijani engineers converted the aeroplanes into unmanned aerial vehicles by replacing the pilot with a kit that allows remote control.
“The Antonovs would appear on radar as legitimate military-grade drones and activate the S-300 systems,” the official said. “And then Israeli-built Harop loitering munitions, dubbed ‘kamikaze drones’, would hit the Russian-made systems.”
A satellite image published by Russian media last October indicated that Azerbaijan had moved 50 An-2 biplane aircraft to Yevlakh airport, near the Azerbaijani city of Ganja.
Shushan Stepanyan, the spokesperson for the Armenian military, reportedly said on 1 October that they shot down an An-2 that didn’t eject any pilot, raising suspicions that it was being used as an unmanned aerial device, collecting information on Armenia’s air defences.
Can Kasapoglu, director of defence research at Turkish think-tank EDAM, told MEE that the method was a textbook approach to the Russian weaponry.
“The Russian military, like the Armenians, wouldn’t activate their systems unless they see a threat on the radar,” he said. “Azerbaijan even didn’t need to change the actual shape of the Antonovs, they just need to appear as military drones on the radar.”
During the September-November conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a nominal Azerbaijani territory that had been occupied by Armenian forces since 1994, Turkey and Israel provided unprecedented support for Baku.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a ceasefire after six weeks of heavy fighting in November, following the Azerbaijani army’s seizure of the strategic city of Shusha (known as Shushi in Armenian). (Source: UAS VISION/ Middle East Eye)
05 Mar 21. US Navy transfers network authorities to Project Overmatch office. The U.S. Navy has transferred authorities over networks and IT systems to a newly created office dedicated to Project Overmatch, the service’s plan for a connected force for future battles, C4ISRNET has learned.
The Navy shifted several network and IT-related technical authorities held by Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Information Warfare Systems Command to the direct report program manager for Project Overmatch, according to a memo C4ISRNET obtained.
“As a DRPM, effective immediately, Project Overmatch has all program authorities for Research and Development, Acquisition and Sustainment programs related to warfighting networks, including the networking needs for unmanned systems and long range fires,” stated the memo dated Feb. 23. “In addition, the DRPM is responsible for developing a unified approach to the data, infrastructure and tools and analytics needed at the operational and tactical levels to execute DMO [distributed maritime operations] as envisioned.”
Under that vision for potential conflicts with advanced adversaries, the Navy’s ships could be dispersed across a wide area but connected by a secure network.
Project Overmatch is the Navy’s effort to enable that all-connected force for the Pentagon’s priority plan of Joint All-Domain Command and Control, in which sensors and shooters are linked across domains. Rear Adm. Douglas Small, who leads the project, was named the direct report program manager in an October memo, and he reports to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.
The move will give Small authority over the “applicable” war-fighting networks, technical architectures and standards, and will “expand authorities to include data management designs and standards for platform integration and data interoperability.”
The memo is signed by Frederick Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, and Adm. William Lescher, vice chief of naval operations. A Navy spokesperson did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on the plan outlined in the memo.
The Project Overmatch DRPM will also be tasked with developing a unified approach to the data, infrastructure, tools and analytics “needed at the operational and tactical levels to execute DMO as envisioned.”
The DRPM will also include a senior executive service deputy director position that will focus on Overmatch and staffing needs, working with leaders inside the Navy’s Digital Integration Support Cell and necessary program integration offices “to ensure a ‘whole of Navy’ enterprise team across Program Executive Offices (PEO) and System Commands (SYSCOM).”
Additionally, all science and technology efforts related to war-fighting networks and advanced data architectures and analytics will fall under the DRPM, according to the memo.
The Navy’s move to consolidate Overmatch responsibilities underneath one office is important as the military services look to break down stovepipes to move toward Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The Army and Air Force have similar projects, Project Convergence and Advanced Battle Management System, respectively. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Mar 21. Closer to the EDGE. Elettronica’s EDGE system joins two other European airborne jamming pod initiatives aiming to enhance the protection of combat aircraft strike packages. The pod is shown in its completed form. Elettronica is moving forward with the development of its EDGE airborne stand-off jammer.
There may be a global Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, but this did not stop Abu Dhabi hosting the biannual IDEX defence and security exhibition between 21st and 25th February. That said, photographs of the show clearly indicate that attendance is down compared to the shindigs of the past.
Despite an understandably quieter-than-usual affair companies in the Electronic Warfare (EW) sphere were keenly promoting their wares both physically and virtually. This gave an opportunity to take the temperature of some significant EW initiatives like Elettronica’s EDGE airborne stand-off jammer.
Sharing the stage name of the guitarist of rock band U2, EDGE personifies the renaissance of interest in jamming pods for combat aircraft seen in Europe and elsewhere: The European Defence Agency, the European Union organisation tasked with managing and improving Europe’s defence capabilities, launched its Airborne Electronic Attack pod initiative back in April 2019. Saab is forging ahead with its Arexis EW architecture which can be housed internally or in a podded configuration.
While standard combat aircraft Integrated Self-Defence Systems (ISDSs) provide protection for individual planes, EW pods can detect and jam radar threats for several. This is important when flying in contested airspace where several aircraft in a strike package may have ISDSs of varying competence. A pod helps support tactical electromagnetic superiority and supremacy. With threats to airpower proliferating like Russia’s oft-cited Almaz-Antey S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) high-altitude/long-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system, there is an ever-present need to ensure that packages of aircraft are as well protected as possible when flying through dangerous airspace.
Elettronica took advantage of IDEX to update Armada on the pod’s progress. Roberto Torti, responsible for the company’s electronic countermeasures product line, revealed that the firm is using the common jamming core it has developed for other airborne, naval and land jamming applications at the heart of the EDGE.
The frequencies of radar that the EDGE can detect and jam have not been revealed although these are almost certainly in the two gigahertz/GHz to 18GHz waveband. They may stretch downwards to 500 megahertz and upwards 40GHz. This would allow the jammer to engage the panoply of ground-based air surveillance and fire control/ground control interception radars, along with missile active radar homing seekers, that it might encounter in battle.
The company says that the jammer boasts a “very high” effective radiated power to attack radars at stand-off ranges. Tactically, this ensures hostile radars can be engaged before a strike package arrives, and while the package is within the radars’ instrumented range. Like its musical namesake, the EDGE can make a racket. An active electronically scanned array transmits noise and deception jamming waveforms as well as discreet waveforms developed by the jammer’s digital radio frequency memory.
Mr. Torti added that the company is exploring the feasibility of augmenting the EDGE’s capabilities with cyber warfare functions. This would make sense. The pod’s electronic attack attributes could deliver malicious code to infect the computers and computer networks integral to the smooth running of a modern integrated air defence system and deployed ground-based air defences like SAM batteries. Code could be delivered via electronic attack into the radars and radio networks these defences rely upon. The EDGE can also be used passively to collect electronic intelligence giving the user two systems in one; an electronic support measure and an electronic attack system.
Elettronica’s EDGE system joins two other European airborne jamming pod initiatives aiming to enhance the protection of combat aircraft strike packages. The pod is shown in its completed form on the left of this picture, with its internal architecture shown on the right.
Mr. Torti said that the pod’s continued development hinges on an unnamed potential customer moving ahead with an acquisition. Armada sources indicate that the customer may be a Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft operator. The EDGE’s showcasing at IDEX leads to speculation that this could be a Typhoon operator in the Middle East, possibly the Kuwaiti Air Force which has 28 jets on order, the Qatar Emiri Air Force which has ordered 24 or the Royal Saudi Air Force which has 72. Mr. Torti disclosed that EDGE jammers could be delivered 36 months after the company receives an order. (Source: Armada)
04 Mar 21. Eyes on the Prize. A photo of the Pantsir-S1 system the US is believed to have sprung from Libya. The system was reportedly targeted by an earlier airstrike which has clearly left its mark, but which may have left the all-important radars largely untouched. The intelligence value of this 96K6 is a matter for debate.
Is the US acquisition of a Pantsir-S1 short-range air defence system really the electronic warfare bonus it is cracked up to be?
Flightradar24 is a gift for propellerheads and amateur sleuths alike. Forget trying to surreptitiously fly an aircraft from one airport to another without someone, somewhere, tracking your flight and telling the world about it via the social media squawk box.
The US Air Force probably hoped that its flight of a Boeing C-17A Globemaster-III turbofan freighter from Zuwarah Airport near the far western Libyan coast to Ramstein airbase in southwestern Germany last June would elicit little suspicion. However, the arrival of a USAF plane in a war-torn state and its subsequent departure was always going to set tongues wagging and fingers tapping. Just what was going on?
A late January report in The Times laid the mystery to rest. Uncle Sam was reaping the spoils of battle. The civil war in Libya, raging as it has been for almost a decade, has morphed into a proxy conflict embroiling several nations within and without the Middle East each with a dog in the fight.
One such actor is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Emirati government backs Libya’s House of Representatives in turn supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA). These actors control much of the eastern and southern parts of the country. The UAE has matched its political support with materiel. Kit deployed on the ground has included KBP Instrument Design Bureau 96K9 Pantsir-S1 (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) short-range air defence systems.
Armada’s records indicate that the UAE procured 50 96K9s from Russia between 2009 and 2013 following an initial order in 2000. All these systems are installed on MAN SX45 eight-wheel drive trucks and deployed with the UAE Army. The UAE commenced its deployment of 96K6s in Libya from June 2019, according to open sources.
It seems the Pantsir-S1s have not had a good war. One system was reportedly destroyed by forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), in control of large parts of western Libya, on 13th November 2019. A second system succumbed to a GNA Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) strike on 15th May 2020. Three days later GNA cadres captured Al-Watiya airbase and with it reportedly the same Pantsir-S1 targeted on 15th May. Pictures of the 96K6 on social media showed the system looking worse for wear. A further seven Pantsir-S1s were claimed destroyed by GNA forces at Al-Watiya.
The C-17A visiting Zuwarah airport spirited away the Pantsir-S1 captured at Al-Watiya which had been handed over to the United States. The current whereabouts of this system are unknown. It would be surprising if it is not already in the United States being pawed over by intelligence experts.
Big Birds and Cheese Boards
That the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are interested in the 96K6 comes as little surprise. The Pantsir-S1 forms an important part of the wider modernisation of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ and Russian Army’s respective integrated air defence system and deployed ground-based air defences.
Russian Aerospace Forces typically deploy three 96K6s with each Almaz-Antey S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) high-altitude/long-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) battalion. Two S-400 battalions form an anti-aircraft missile regiment with between two and five regiments forming an air defence division. The 96K6’s role is to provide short-range air defence for the S-400 batteries. This is to protect them against aircraft, UAVs or anti-radiation missiles seeking to exploit blind spots in the low-altitude coverage of the S-400’s 91N6A/E (NATO reporting name Big Bird) S-band (2.3 gigahertz/GHz to 2.5GHz/2.7GHz to 3.7GHz) and 96L6E (NATO reporting name Cheese Board) C-band (5.25GHz to 5.925GHz) ground-based air surveillance radars.
The 96K6 uses a combination of 57E6 semi-active radar homing/optically guided SAMs with a range of 9.7 nautical miles/nm (18 kilometres) and a maximum altitude of 49,000 feet/ft (14,935 metres/m). The missiles are joined by two 2A38M 30mm autocannons with a maximum altitude of 9,842ft (3,000m) and a maximum range of 2.2nm (four kilometres). Target detection is courtesy of the 96K6’s VNIIRT 2RL80 S-band radar with a 1RS2-1 Ku-band (13.4GHz to 14GHz/15.7GHz to 17.7GHz) radar for fire control.
At first glance, having these radars fall into US hands seems like an intelligence coup. Any future confrontation betwixt Russia and NATO would almost certainly see an imperative to engage 96K6s electronically and kinetically. To do the former requires a good knowledge of the radars used by this system so jamming waveforms can be devised.
Having the radars one wishes to jam in one’s possession helps immeasurably. The Royal Air Force realised this in February 1942 when British Army paratroopers stole a Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Telefunken FuMG-62D Würzburg fire control/ground-controlled interception radar during the Operation Biting raid at Bruneval on France’s Normandy coast. The theft gave British engineers and scientists the chance to rummage around the radar’s innermost workings which betrayed the secrets necessary to devise electronic countermeasures to jam the FuMG-62D.
While the capture of a 96K6 is useful, the secrets its radar might yield could be limited. It seems all but certain Mother Russia will have supplied export variants of the Pantsir-S1 with less sophisticated versions of the 2RL80 and 1RS2-1 radars compared to those used by Russia’s armed forces.
The UAE Pantsir-S1 now in American hands “is a pretty basic system,” argues Michael Kofman, director of the Russia studies programme at the CNA Corporation: “I don’t really see tremendous insights coming from (the US) getting its hands on one.” He says that the radars equipping the UAE’s Pantsir-S1s need modernising owing to the fact they use technology developed in the 1990s and are now very much legacy systems. He adds that the Russian armed forces have already upgraded the radars on their 96K6 systems. That said, owning a Pantsir-S1 could confirm or scotch existing intelligence estimates of the system, Mr. Kofman observes. Shortcomings in the radar may also indicate the potential direction of travel for the Russian radar upgrade. Ultimately though, “an export variant can only tell you so much because it is often a lobotomised version in terms of performance.” (Source: Armada)
04 Mar 21. When they sounded the ALARM. ALARM missiles are seen here on the ventral fuselage hardpoints of this RAF Tornado-GR.4A jet. The Tornado could carry up to nine rounds, although fewer were routinely deployed operationally to leave space for other ordnance.
30 years ago, the RAF deployed its ALARM anti-radar missile. Armada reflects on this weapon and its legacy.
British Aerospace’s Air-Launched Anti-Radar Missile, better known as ALARM, was a child of the Vietnam War. As Richard Scott chronicles in his article ALARM Call: Defence Suppression from the RAF Tornado, the Royal Air Force (RAF) was wise to the experience of US forces vis-à-vis Soviet-supplied Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) during America’s involvement in the conflict. Chris Hobson’s book Vietnam Air Losses: United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia 1961-1973 says a total of 205 aircraft were lost to SAMs between 1965 and 1973. These were reaped by S-75 Dvina (NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline) high-altitude/medium-range SAMs supplied to North Vietnam by the Soviet Union.
Realising the potential vulnerability of its aircraft to such weapons the RAF issued Air Staff Requirement 1228 (ASR-1228) in 1978. Its contents are classified but this probably outlined the need for an anti-radar weapon which could be launched at high speed and low altitude from the RAF’s now-retired Panavia Tornado-GR.1 combat aircraft.
As Mr. Scott’s article explains, British Aerospace and Marconi Space and Defence Systems responded to ASR-1228 with a study of a potential solution before the requirement was mothballed one year later. It was resurrected in 1982 with the two companies proposing a new missile called ALARM. Meanwhile a team involving Texas Instruments and Lucas Aerospace proposed the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). ALARM was selected in July 1983.
ALARM took a novel approach to detecting and engaging hostile radars. The missile would match emissions with an onboard threat library, prioritising the radars the missile’s software ascertained as most threatening. After launch, the weapon climbed to 40,000 feet (12,192 metres). This gave its Radio Frequency (RF) seeker the wherewithal to detect emissions over a wide area. At altitude, the missile would deploy a parachute and slowly descend to Earth while watching for radar emissions. If a hostile radar was detected the parachute would detach, the missile’s motor reignited and it would zoom towards its target.
There was little point a radar operator switching off their equipment if they realised they were under attack from the missile. The RF seeker would remember the radar’s geographical location and head there anyway. A written statement provided to Armada by MBDA, which inherited responsibility for the weapon after the merging of the missile businesses of EADS, Finmeccanica and BAE Systems in 2001, said that one factor which made ALARM unique “was its loitering ability, provided by its parachute and aided by its two-stage rocket motor. Other anti-radiation missiles would be wasted after being launched by flying blind and missing if the target radar was turned off.”
It is instructive that recent HARM derivatives like the Northrop Grumman AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile and Raytheon AGM-88F HARM Control Section Modification weapons have GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) enhancements. This lets the missiles to memorise the location of a targeted radar to press home its attack even if the radar is deactivated.
Other tricks up the missile’s sleeve included its support of corridor suppression: An ALARM could be fired to loiter to encourage radars to stay off the air, lest they attract its attention, giving a strike package sufficient time to ingress and egress a target without being illuminated, MBDA’s statement continued. While some “anti-radiation missile warheads could be ineffective if they overshot the target, with the detonation heading into the ground. ALARM was particularly good at attacking the ‘space’ above radars.” Usefully, ALARM could be fired from low level with a loft trajectory which helped keep the launching aircraft below hostile radar, without needing to pop up to perform the attack. This proved particularly useful for the missions ALARM supported during Operation Desert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait.
By October 1990 the missile had completed trials with its maiden deployment just around the corner. Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait a few months prior on 2nd August. The US had assembled a coalition of nations to oust Iraq from its new possession, one of which was the UK. Operation Granby, the codename for the UK’s contribution to Operation Desert Storm, included a major deployment by the Royal Air Force which included 51 Tornado GR.1s.
Iraq’s ground-based air defences comprised the very radars ALARM was designed to seek and destroy particularly the SNR-75 (NATO reporting name Fan Song) S-band (2.3 gigahertz/GHz to 2.5GHz/2.7GHz to 3.7GHz) and C-band (5.25GHz to 5.925GHz) and P-35M/37 (NATO reporting name Bar Lock) series of ground-based air surveillance radars. These supplied data to Iraq’s strategic and operational level ground-based air defence systems.
The RAF had nine Tornado-GR.1s from 9 Squadron deploying ALARM flown by crews from 20 Squadron at Tabuk airbase, northwest Saudi Arabia. Open sources state that these jets would typically carry three rounds firing them in loiter mode protecting inbound strike packages. Carlo Kopp says in his analysis of ALARM that the RAF fired 121 rounds during the conflict for a total of 52 ALARM sorties, exhausting stocks by mid-February.
Operationally and tactically relevant electronic intelligence to programme ALARM for the detection of Iraqi radars was supplied by Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) collection flights performed by RAF Hawker Siddeley/BAE Systems Nimrod-R.1P jets believed to be flying from RAF Akrotiri airbase, Cyprus. This was alongside that collected by US SIGINT assets like US Air Force Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint and RC-135U Combat Sent SIGINT planes flying from King Khalid Military City Airport, north-eastern Saudi Arabia.
Given the dangerous offensive counter air missions being flown by the Tornado-GR.1s, which required jets delivering the RAF’s Hunting Engineering JP233 airfield denial weapon, to fly in a straight line at low level over the airfield, robust knowledge of ground-based air defences in the vicinity of an Iraqi airbase was paramount. ALARM could directly target radars providing these air defences, typically SAM and anti-Aircraft artillery batteries, fire control information.
Since then, the missile has been used in every major air campaign involving RAF aircraft where an adversary’s ground-based air defences and integrated air defence systems posed a risk to its success. This included NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) respective operations Deliberate Force and Allied Force over the Balkans in 1995 and 1999.
A seeker upgrade in the early 2000s expanded the types of radar the missile could engage, while improving its accuracy, MBDA noted. This version was used to “good operational effect” during Operation Telic, the UK’s contribution to the US-led Operation Iraqi Freedom which removed Mr. Hussein from power in 2003. More recently it supported Operation Ellamy, the UK’s participation in the US/NATO Operation Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector air and sea campaigns to protect civilians from forces loyal to Libya’s erstwhile dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. This was the final war for the RAF’s ALARMs. The missile retired from Royal Air Force service in 2013.
Thirty years on from its maiden deployment and almost ten years after its retirement one can reflect on ALARM’s legacy. Desert Storm and the subsequent conflicts ALARM supported should have been a powerful advertisement, but the missile only secured one export customer in the guise of the Royal Saudi Air Force. Armada records indicate that the RSAF purchased 250 rounds in 1991, all of which were delivered by 1998 for use with the air force’s Panavia Tornado-IDS ground attack aircraft.
MBDA’s statement put the lack of export success down to the fact that ALARM had only been integrated on one airframe, the Panavia Tornado, compared to competing weapons like the AGM-88 which could outfit a plethora: “This made it a challenge to export, despite its advantages and proven operational capability.” Nonetheless, the missile did have shortcomings. Range finding support was needed to enhance its effectiveness and it was vulnerable to electronic counter-countermeasures. Nonetheless, ALARM’s ability to ‘remember’ the location of a targeted radar based on its last transmissions could to an extent obviate this.
Ultimately, “the RAF’s deployment of ALARM in combat proved it was a technologically innovative missile design which could be launched by aircraft with a minimum of missile-specific hardware modifications.” In some senses, it has become a ‘cult’ missile, lauded by those who worked with it but condemned to undeserved obscurity. When the ALARM sounded the missile delivered, entering the crucible of war at breakneck speed as an unsung aegis preserving aircrew lives. (Source: Armada)
04 Mar 21. Thy Fearful Symmetry. The French Army’s command variant of its new VBMR Griffon seems a likely candidate to house the SYMMETRY systems equipping the force’s COMRENS military intelligence command.
French electronic warfare modernisation takes another step forward for all three services with the procurement of the SYMMETRY SIGINT system.
The news that the French government has awarded Airbus and Thales a contract for the development of a joint Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) system underscores the country’s commitment to modernising her Electronic Warfare (EW) attributes.
Several initiatives are ongoing to improve how the Armée de Terre (ADT/French Army), Marine Nationale (French Navy) and the Armée de l’Air (ADLA/French Air Force) manoeuvre in the spectrum to achieve Electromagnetic Superiority and Supremacy (E2S). The ADLA is procuring three new Dassault Falcon-7X Archange strategic/operational SIGINT aircraft to replace the service’s two TransportAllianz C-160G Gabriel SIGINT planes from 2023. The air force has also taken delivery of the first of eight Beechcraft King Air-350 Vader intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft thought to carry a Communications Intelligence (COMINT) payload, possibly Thales’ Airborne COMINT Solution. Space-based SIGINT assets are getting a makeover with the expected launch this year of the first of three CERES (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatial/Space Electromagnetic Intelligence Capability) satellites.
The French armed forces are modernising other elements of their electronic support assets beyond the platforms above. The contract awarded to both companies on 11th February covers the development and introduction of a new joint SIGINT analysis tool with a common architecture that can be scaled and tailored to the needs of each service.
Known as SYMMETRY (Système Tactique Renseignement d’Origine Électromagnétique Interarmées/Joint Tactical Electromagnetic Intelligence System), this hardware and software combination will help analysts interpret COMINT and ELINT collected by electronic support measures equipping land, sea and air platforms, a statement from Thales informed Armada.
Using the system, operators can configure their sensors remotely to search for specific signal parameters based on frequency or waveform, for example. SYMMETRY will also have tools for the detailed fine grain analysis of signals of interest which can enable their demodulation and decryption. Relevant SIGINT can then be shared with other users from SYMMETRY over standard communications.
Thales continued that SYMMETRY’s characteristics will be specific to the tactical requirements of each service. This makes sense as the army might have more of a need to analyse communications traffic, while the air force may be more concerned with radar transmissions with the navy needing to keep tabs on both. As a written statement from Airbus supplied to Armada notes: “The system complements (those) already used by the French Army and replaces systems (deployed) by the French Navy and air force).” The statement continued that SYMMETRY is at the heart of French armed forces’ E2S doctrine as it “contributes to the elaboration of the tactical and technical situation helping to keep (French) forces safe, determine the enemy intent and assess the situation.”
Thales continued that the equipment will be deployed with the ADT’s Commandement du Renseignment (COMRENS/Land Forces Intelligence Command). COMRENS is a division-level command including three EW formations; the 44e and 54e Regiments des Transmissions (44th and 54th Signals Regiments) and the 785e Compagnie de Guerre Electronique (785th EW Company). More details on the French Army’s electronic warfare order of battle can be found in this Armada article published in March 2020.
The Thales press release announcing the contract stated that SYMMETRY systems will equip armoured vehicles being delivered to the COMRENS via the ADT’s Project Scorpion modernisation. These are almost certain to be Nexter/Thales/Arquus VBMR Griffon wheeled armoured personnel carriers; some of which are being delivered as mobile command posts. These could process SIGINT collected by the army while probably having the wherewithal to fuse this intelligence with tactically and operationally relevant SIGINT collected by air force and navy assets.
Airbus and Thales told Armada that initial deliveries of SYMMETRY will commence in 2023 with a full capability achieved by 2025. (Source: Armada)
04 Mar 21. Babcock awarded new tactical communication contract for UK MoD. Babcock International, the Aerospace and Defence Company, has secured a five year, £150m Logistic Support Contract (LSC) for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). The contract forms part of the £3.2bn Battlefield and Tactical Communication Information Systems (BATCIS) programme of opportunities to deliver the next generation tactical communications and information systems, including adjacent air and littoral assets, and the dismounted close combat soldier.
The contract is an exciting new opportunity for Babcock to deliver world-class technical support to our customer, and will allow our teams to embed robust ways for the MOD to perform critical operations. Babcock’s LSC solution, as part of BATCIS, enables the customer to provide assured Tactical Communication support to the end users, in the most efficient and effective manner.
Within the BATCIS Programme, Babcock will deliver an intelligent digital solution that provides cost effective, resilient support to the Land Equipment Tactical Communications Information Systems (LeTacCIS) equipment portfolio.
Working closely with our customer, Babcock will deliver four critical services: inventory management, inventory modelling, information management and technical services, to the BATCIS team in support of their delivery to the wider Armed Forces.
Through a unique network of industry experts and service providers, Babcock has developed Team Connect to deliver all aspects of the LSC and utilise a wealth of expertise. The collaboration, building on similar principles from our successful Maritime System Support Partner programme, has established an effective and agile end-to-end supply chain to satisfy full lifecycle operations. The support chain will transition legacy arrangements and protocols, and is focused on delivering a responsive and sustainable solution that offers value for money.
04 Mar 21. Leonardo to deliver cyber security courses in Australia. The Italian defence and aerospace company is set to offer a new range of cyber security courses in Australia, in collaboration with a South Australia-based electronic warfare company.
Rome-based defence and aerospace firm Leonardo has announced it will deliver cyber security courses through DEWC’s School of Information Operations (SOIO) at the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C) in Adelaide.
Specifically, Leonardo, which has already offered courses through the School of Information Operations since its launch in February 2020, is expected to offer training in cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA).
The first of the new courses, designed in partnership with technology skills learning specialists QA, is a three-day entry-level cyber security workshop, which includes an instructor-led online component as well as classroom and demonstration elements at the AC3’s cyber range in Adelaide.
The new offering forms part of Leonardo’s broader strategy to expand its global footprint.
The firm also delivers courses through the Leonardo Academy in Lincoln, UK, in which it trains the UK Armed Forces’ Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Centre (JEWOSC) as well as international clients.
According to the company, its global offering leverages its experience working with intelligence agencies in the UK, Italy and other NATO-member nations. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Mar 21. INFODAS SDoT Security Gateway receives NATO SECRET approval enabling digitization of classified systems. The bi-directional SDoT Security Gateway received a general NATO SECRET approval from the NATO Military Committee (MC) after a two year in-depth evaluation by NATO’s Information Security and Evaluation Agency (SECAN). INFODAS is the only Cross Domain Solution (CDS) and Cybersecurity vendor in the world with a product portfolio that holds triple accreditations for NATO, EU and German SECRET. SDoT products cover any military use-case from data center to tactical edge. As the flagship SDoT product, the data guard filters both structured data and works with any data classified with NATO compliant XML security labels. It is listed in the NATO Information Assurance Product Catalogue (NIAPC). The general NATO SECRET approval makes it easy to get NATO specific IT solutions accredited.
In past, classified information and systems were physically separated from other military and government networks. This prevents end-to-end digitization and requirements for rapid decision making among 30 NATO members and allies. SDoT Cross Domain Solutions enable combined operations and near real time classified data sharing as well as fusion between systems and people in all domains from general headquarters to frontline: land, sea, air, space and cyber. They closely inspect, transform and monitor data transfers, ensuring only correct and authorized information crosses systems at different security levels. With a common operating picture (COP), the right sensor, processor and potentially shooter can be connected. Enabling tactical data links across security domains, SDoT provided this capability at multi-national air defense live fire exercise at NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI). Soon, the Sneaker-net will be thing of the past.
All elements of the Secure Domain Transition (SDoT) Product Family meet strict information security requirements for hardware and software security at the SECRET and below interoperability level (SABI). They are developed and manufactured in Germany with full supply chain transparency. They are available as 19″ appliances or tactical sizes as COMP-LAND for vehicles and COMP-AIR for drones. Other products include the SDoT Security Gateway Express optimized for near real-time, low latency filtering of military data such as XML, Link 16 /JREAP or ASTERIX. Just like the SDoT Diode for unidirectional data transfer up to 9.1 Gbit/s, both products hold a general NATO, EU and German SECRET accreditation. They are complemented by the SDoT Labelling Service for NATO STANG 4774/8 compliant data classification with XML security labels that are cryptographically bound to any data object such as MS Office documents which recently received a German SECRET accreditation.
For over 10 years SDoT products have been used in the toughest and mission critical environments around the world. Recently, SDoT CDS were selected for NATO’s AWACS aircraft upgrade and Joint Electronic Warfare Core Staff (JEWCS). “To maintain our accreditations with Germany’s Federal Office of Information Security (BSI) or NATO SECAN our team is constantly innovating our security architecture and functionality. New use-cases are annually tested at CWIX. Many of our clients and us have been eagerly awaiting SECAN’s decision. We are looking forward to work with NATO and its members to digitize mission critical domains”, said Dr. Alexander Schellong, VP Global Business.
About INFODAS – connect more.be secure
INFODAS is an independent, family owned business founded in 1974 in Germany. The company develops innovative cross domain solutions based on security-by-design principles and provides Cybersecurity and IT consulting to government, defense and commercial clients. INFODAS SDoT product family cross domain solutions (SDoT Security Gateway, SDoT Software Data Diode, SDoT Labelling Service, PATCH.works) are approved up to German, EU, NATO SECRET and are listed in the NATO information assurance catalogue. For the past 10 years SDoT products have been used in the toughest and mission critical environments around the world. They are designed and manufactured in Germany following the security-by-design principle and supply chain transparency. (Source: PR Newswire)
01 Mar 21. USAFE Completes CJADC2 Demonstration. U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, in conjunction with the Department of the Air Force’s Chief Architect’s Office, conducted a Combined, Joint All-Domain Command and Control demonstration in international waters and airspace in and around the Baltic Sea. Participation included assets from U.S. Naval Forces Europe – Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, U.S. Army Europe – Africa, U.S. Strategic Command, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Netherlands air force and the Polish air force.
This demonstration was designed to test and observe the ability of the joint force, our allies and partners to integrate and provide command and control across multiple networks to multiple force capabilities.
“Conducting a complex and real-world focused CJADC2 demonstration allowed our joint and allied team to find areas where we can innovate with systems we already have and also to identify areas where our warfighters need assistance from the Air and Space Forces’ Chief Architect’s Office,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander.
Combined forces participated in two separate mission threads during the CJADC2 demonstration. First, U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, conducted a targeting scenario using Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile employment tactics over the Baltic Sea. The JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile designed to destroy high-value, well-defended targets.
The U.S. and U.K. also provided intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance airborne assets to support the targeting and command and control of the demonstration. These assets were able to integrate targeting and sensor information with other Air Force entities, including the 603rd Air Operations Center and the Deployable Ground System, as well as joint assets from the U.S. Army and a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon. KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., and a C-17 Globemaster III from Air Mobility Command also supported the demonstration.
U.S. Air Force and Royal Netherlands Air Force assets also participated in a mission thread involving the defense of Ramstein Air Base, Germany. This second demonstration occurred simultaneously with the targeting demonstration and tested the ability for the joint and combined force to sense and target unmanned aerial systems and cruise missile attacks against the base. Dutch F-35 Lightning IIs also participated in the demonstration as communication links between base defense arrays as well as the 10th Army Air Missile Defense Command.
U.S. Space Force also supported the demonstration with one Multiband Assessment of the Communication Environment from the 16th Space Control Squadron, Peterson-Schriever Garrison, Colorado. Other programs that supported the event include the Command and Control, Incident Management, and Emergency Response Application, Kessel Run – Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/Detachment 12, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Additionally, the 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana contributed by exploring various communication methodologies and technologies in support of a common operating picture.
“A truly connected joint force can’t happen without strong partnerships with our combatant commands and major commands in overseas theaters,” said Preston Dunlap, the Air and Space Forces’ chief architect. “Our methodology for these Department of the Air Force demonstrations is to take our technology to the warfighter and to iterate and innovate alongside them during these demonstration sprints. Future conflicts will be with technologically advanced adversaries – and will be contested – so a distributed but integrated system of command and control is critical if we’re to compete and win. Our USAFE counterparts working with our allies and partners during this CJADC2 event was extremely productive and helped us push the ball down the field on digitally connecting the joint force.”
In an era of great power competition and in line with the National Defense Strategy, this CJADC2 event demonstrated the joint and combined force’s ability to converge assets from all domains and across NATO allies into the Baltic Sea. This will generate firepower inside an area that an adversary believes to be protected through anti-access, area denial technology, while also supporting the resiliency and defense of a key power projection base. U.S. and allied military exercises in the Baltic Sea enhance regional stability, combined readiness, and capability with our NATO allies and partners.
“Overall, I’m impressed with our warfighters’ ability to command and control a complex targeting process as well as a base air defense scenario,” Harrigian said, “but there are areas where we can continue to improve and where technology can help us streamline our network systems to ensure all of our disparate networks can communicate and ease the workload on our Airmen.”
USAFE-AFAFRICA, alongside European joint and allied partners, will continue conducting CJADC2 events to integrate technology – including target recognition and joint force integration network solutions – to connect as many sensors as possible to a common operating network, presenting warfighters with an information advantage across all warfighting domains. (Source: ASD Network)
18 Feb 21. Arab Gulf States Bolster Land Forces With New Battle Management Systems. As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enhances the situational awareness capabilities of its army, other Arab Gulf States are also seeking to provide their land forces with state-of-the-art systems to keep their troops well informed of their operating environment and increase their lethality on the battlefield.
As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enhances the situational awareness capabilities of its army, other Arab Gulf States are also seeking to provide their land forces with state-of-the-art systems to keep their troops well informed of their operating environment and increase their lethality on the battlefield.
Acquiring information in real time in a changing battlefield during intense operations is an extremely tough challenge, but of essential importance to field commanders when engaging an enemy in rugged mountainous terrain or in mobile operations in a vast desert. This is something troops from the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia experienced firsthand in their Yemen operations.
Saudi Arabia has since 2015 been leading an Arab Coalition in a military campaign to restore the internationally-recognized Yemeni government to power after it was deposed by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.
“Establishing situational awareness on the battlefield is one of the most crucial tasks in modern warfare, where there are different terrains and the nature of the threats vary between conventional and asymmetrical,” said Mohammed al Kenany, military researcher and defense analyst at the Arab Forum for Political Analysis in Cairo.
“Achieving situational awareness enables the army formations, on platoon, battalion, and brigade levels, to follow up developments on the battlefield in real-time or near real-time, which allows for quick decisions by commanders to deal with rising situations and request fire support when needed to maintain constant tactical advantage,” Kenany added.
The Emirates Land Tactical System
The UAE launched a program in 2017 aimed at digitizing the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces command and control system. It awarded L3Harris a contract worth $189m to provide an integrated battle management system, which the UAE has called the Emirates Land Tactical System (ELTS).
The ELTS initial operational capability aimed at fielding a brigade headquarters and subordinate units with a battle management system that can enable commanders and users to track friendly forces, connect to sensors, acquire data from the field and provide network-centric communications.
At the core of the ELTS is the Data Distribution Unit (DDU), built by Leonardo DRS. The DDU enables sensors, data, video applications, communication devices and vehicle services to be integrated, subsequently providing the user with an advanced mobile Command, Control, Computer, Communication and Intelligence (C4I) capability.
“This edition has been nothing short of exceptional,” Maj. Gen. Staff Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee, which “enables our nation to cultivate and expand our defense infrastructure and technological systems, using them to ensure security and peace across the Mideast.”
“The DDU can interface several tactical radios, which could be supplied by different vendors, and can provide a common operating picture that includes receiving real-time images from drones and other sensors in the field, and can track friendly forces,” said Al Mosher, Senior Director, International Strategy at Leonardo DRS Land Electronics.
“The DDU small size enables it to be fitted on to command vehicle and regular tactical vehicles, and uses touch screen technology to operate,” added Mosher. “The DDU has been procured by the military in the United States, Britain and Australia, and its ability to integrate systems from different origins allowed it to be operated by multinational forces as is the case with NATO units using it in Afghanistan.”
A Foundation for GCC Battle Management
In September 2020 the Bahrain Defense Forces signed a contract with L3Harris to enhance battlefield management, and according to industry sources it will include the DDU provided by Leonardo DRS. After UAE and Bahrain, it’s reported that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are now also seriously considering upgrading their battle management systems.
Mosher pointed out that the company has opened shop in Abu Dhabi to assemble and integrate the DDU and other equipment, which will give Leonardo DRS a strong advantage in being very close to its clients.
Mosher said that the company was in talks with the UAE military to enable the DDU to provide target handoff capability, by linking it up to the Raytheon’s Boomerang shooter detection system.
“Operating advanced battle management systems are of great importance to Arab Gulf States to enhance the efficiency of their land forces,” said Kenany. “A system like the DDU is highly effective and will enable the user to perform many functions and ensure situational awareness at all times to the various friendly units linked up together on the battlefield.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
25 Feb 21. Lockheed To Use UAE-designed AI For All Aircraft. “As the work progressed, we were able to digitize the time-consuming process of inspecting aircraft manually and delivered a real-world solution that drives significant time and cost savings as a result,” Hala Alzargani, with Lockheed Martin, explained.
Lockheed Martin is using an AI algorithm built and tested by a group of UAE interns to detect paint and primer defects on its airframes and plans to use it across the company’s planes.
Demonstrated at IDEX 2021 here, the system helps improve the speed and accuracy of quality inspections on aircraft production lines in the U.S.
Although the company did not reveal what aircraft are using the new AI solution, the company ultimately aims to “scale it across all kinds of its in-house aircraft product lines,” a company spokesperson told me.
Hala Alzargani, lead engineer at Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation and Security Solutions (CISS), told Breaking D the project’s main objective was to save time and cut costs.
“As the work progressed, we were able to digitize the time-consuming process of inspecting aircraft manually and delivered a real-world solution that drives significant time and cost savings as a result,” she explained.
However, “I truly believe that nothing can be fully digitized, so technology should be used to reach the most efficiency of any system and that’s what our mission focused on,” she said.
Lockheed Martin’s CISS hosts merit-based internship programs and implements a series of technology development programs for UAE engineers and industry professionals.
One of the project’s main challenges, according to Hamad Al Nuaimi, payload design intern at Lockheed Martin, was to identify the defects which required the most time, effort and labor.
“This project has been in the works with a previous team of interns, but we evolved it into an AI-based technology,” he said, “a huge responsibility achieved through high coordination and mentorship from the aero team at Lockheed.”
Mohamed Al Salami, another intern, stressed the importance of implementing AI into the defense sector.
“AI has become very important as we are indeed witnessing the fourth industrial revolution based on implementing this trend in all sectors,” he said. “In our case, I learned how AI can become more accurate to the point that it detects anything in a more efficient way and how to apply agile software development practices to develop real-world AI projects.”
The CISS program provides specialist training in artificial intelligence development and unmanned aerial vehicle design, defense simulation exercises, business administration skills, and IT systems management, allowing students to work on real-world projects that positively impact the aerospace and defense industry. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.