Sponsored by Spectra Group
13 Sep 18. Spectra exhibit their revolutionary SlingShot communications equipment at DVD 2018. Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, world leading provider of high-grade information security and communication capabilities, will be at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) event taking place on 19/20 September 2018 at Millbrook to showcase their revolutionary SlingShot communications system. Working in collaboration with Jankel, SlingShot will be on display in a number of configurations, mounted in Jankel specialist military and civilian vehicles on stand number OR-12.
SlingShot is a unique system that enables UHF and VHF radios to work on L-Band Satellite frequency, allowing users to instantly extend the range of their communications equipment to BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight). Conceived and designed to meet demanding Special Forces requirements, SlingShot also offers a significant number of benefits for conventional and land forces requiring secure, reliable and robust Communications On The Move (COTM). Over 3000 SlingShot systems are in operation world-wide, used by 18 different organisations, including several NATO countries, as Manpack, Vehicle, Maritime and Aviation fits.
In addition to voice, SlingShot enables low latency data capability, supporting mission-critical applications such as artillery fire missions, situational awareness and biometric analysis. With reduced cost compared to traditional TACSAT, increased channel availability, and almost no increase in the training requirement, SlingShot is redefining tactical communications. Spectra has strategic relationships with both Inmarsat, whose L-TAC™ service uses SlingShot, and Airbus, which brands SlingShot as TREx services.
At DVD, the military UHF variant of Spectra’s SlingShot will be exhibited on the Jankel FOX RRV-x, with a standard magmount antenna. The civilian, commercial VHF variant with discrete, low-profile antennas, will be mounted on Jankel’s Toyota-based Civilian Armoured Vehicle (CAV) Land Cruiser 200.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “Spectra is delighted to be exhibiting SlingShot in collaboration with Jankel. This will allow us to highlight both the military and low-profile variants that will be of interest to any organisations or units that require BLOS COTM capability without drawing attention to their vehicles.”
To see the Spectra SlingShot on display at DVD, visit the Jankel Stand OR-12
12 Sep 18. WB Electronics reveals U-Gate, new software-defined radios. WB Group’s U-GATE C4ISR-Extended system will be available for integration into the company’s own PERAD 6010 SDR by the end of 2018. WB Group is developing a software-defined radio (SDR) for the export market that will support the company’s forthcoming Battle Overwatch and Strike Capabilities (BOSC) concept. The Personal Radio (PERAD) 6010 was in development ahead of an expected low-rate initial production (LRIP) by the end of the year, Adam Bartosiewicz, WB Group vice-president, told Jane’s at the MSPO exhibition in Kielce, Poland, on 5 September. Full-rate production is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2019, he added.
Comprising a variant of the company’s PERAD 5010 – which is also in a development phase to support the Polish Land Forces’ TYTAN soldier modernisation effort – PERAD 6010 will operate across UHF and L-Band frequency ranges, with a variety of waveforms available to users including mobile ad hoc network (MANET), wideband, and narrowband. The radio, which will not feature embedded encryption technology, does feature frequency hopping, anti-tamper protection, and built-in GPS receiver technology.
Bartosiewicz said the PERAD 6010 will be integrated into the company’s BOSC concept, which is due to be unveiled at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC, in October.
To support this, WB Group is working to integrate PERAD 5010 and 6010 SDRs with the U-GATE Dismounted Observation and Command System that will also be made available to customers by the end of 2018.
According to WB Group, U-GATE comprises a ‘C4ISR-Extended’ solution designed to support strike missions with loitering munitions, including the company’s own Warmate solution. Comprising an all up weight of 1.5 kg, U-GATE will enable operators to control the “observe, orient, decide, and act” features of the loitering munition at ranges out to 10 km. U-GATE also supports battlefield observation out to 2 km, the company said.
“U-GATE uses augmented reality technology to provide special forces with the ability to visualise the battlefield and add information or markers that can instantly be viewed in both their own and other operative field of views,” company officials said, adding that the solution enabled “full control” over unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) using a virtual ground control station. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Sep 18. Sonitus Technologies Wins Multi-Million Dollar DOD Award for ‘Molar Mic’ Personal Communication System. U.S. Air Force is first to leverage audio interface system that enables clear communication in the harshest conditions; performing underwater, in free-fall, and when using full-face life support masks. Sonitus Technologies announced today that it has been awarded Phase II of its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) which is structured to provide the U.S. Air Force with a novel new personal communication system that Air Force personnel have nicknamed the ‘Molar Mic.’ The innovative two-way, personal communication system, ATAC™, fits a miniaturized traditional headset into a device that clips to a user’s back teeth. The DOD, via its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), has contracted Sonitus for a multi-million dollar, multi-year agreement, to complete development of the Molar Mic for purposes of transition to Fielding and Deployment of the system upon successful conclusion of the first segment of the contract which is funded by the U.S Air Force. Subsequently, other qualified branches of the U.S. defense community may leverage the technology as part of the DOD’s program to enhance communications capabilities and operational safety of its personnel. Sonitus was introduced to the DOD by In-Q-Tel, the not-for-profit strategic investor that identifies and partners with startup companies developing innovative technologies that protect and preserve U.S. security.
“Sonitus Technologies is honored to bring this game-changing technology to our country’s elite military, making them safer and more effective by enabling them to communicate clearly – even in the most extreme situations,” said Peter Hadrovic, CEO of Sonitus Technologies. “The voice interface sustains communications in dangerous and challenging environments. The Molar Mic is the first in our family of solutions that conventional approaches are unable to address.”
Pararescuemen (commonly known as PJs) from the Air National Guard 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA, participated in early field testing of the Sonitus prototypes, including rescue operations during Hurricane Harvey last summer in Houston.
“The ability to communicate by radio is crucial for our mission,” said a PJ and DIU Warrior in Residence. “It enables us to execute in extreme conditions and save lives. But despite having amazing technology, communication still commonly breaks down because of the extreme environments where we operate.”
In one case during Hurricane Harvey, a PJ was involved in airlifting an injured civilian into a helicopter hovering directly overhead and was attempting communication with the helicopter flight engineer and pilot using the Sonitus system. The crew was amazed that they could clearly hear the PJ in these conditions. Parachuting from high-altitude aircraft, working under a hovering helicopter, swimming in open water, and similar conditions, interfere with traditional communication devices precisely when they are needed most. What is needed is an entirely new approach.
Sonitus Technologies uses a patented audio interface and near-field magnetic induction (NFMI) technology to achieve its performance. The recent award followed DOD-funded field-testing of prototypes by military personnel from all of the major service branches with extensive field experimentation. Testing included multiple scenarios, with and without personal protective equipment, all with extreme noise and without loss of communication.
The Sonitus solution creates a unique wireless audio interface by embedding both a tiny microphone for talking and a speaker-transducer for hearing in a compact custom-fit mouth-piece that snaps comfortably around a user’s back teeth. This allows the user to both talk and hear without external devices attached to the head. The placement on the teeth uses the body itself to block external noise when speaking and leverages the user’s teeth and jawbone to create a new auditory path for hearing. The result is an unobstructed head and face, clear communication, higher comfort, enhanced situational awareness and the ability to add or remove personal protective equipment without breaking communication.
Security personnel, first responders, and industrial workers such as those in the energy sector are evaluating the Sonitus solution for their market applications. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
10 Sep 18. Five Eyes nations to benefit from comms enhancements. Armed forces from across the Five Eyes community are set to benefit from a series of tactical communications enhancements allowing them to operate in command and control denied and degraded environments (C2D2Es). Solutions are set to reduce the vulnerability of small unit teams operating in contested environments which continue to witness the proliferation of electronic warfare threats across the battlespace.
On 20 August, Lockheed Martin announced it was preparing to launch the first GPS III satellite in December 2018, designed to provide forward deployed units with 300% increases in the accuracy of GPS data. The satellite will also provide ground elements with up to 800% increases in anti-jamming capabilities over legacy GPS II satellites, Lockheed Martin officials have claimed.
Developed in support of US Air Force requirements, the GPS III satellite (designated GPS III SV01) has already been transported to Cape Canevaral, Florida, by C17 aircraft from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The air force is planning to launch a constellation of 10 GPS III satellites. The news follows a £4.3m contract awarded by BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration on 8th August by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to explore the concept of ‘Protective Forward Communications’. According to an official solicitation, published on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the contract will require BAE Systems to design and develop a solution capable of supporting tactical communications requirements of small unit teams operating austere environments.
The programme is likely to feature requirements for low probability of intercept and detection; protection against exploitation by enemy electronic warfare capabilities; as well as assured connectivity across land, sea and air domains. BAE Systems was unable to provide further information regarding development work. Finally, Harris Corporation is gearing up to enter Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of its Special Operations Forces Tactical Communications (STC) Next Generation Handheld radio. The news is also expected to trigger further discussions with Five Eyes PNFs regarding Foreign Military Sales of the technology.
According to company officials, more than 150 radios have already been delivered to USSOCOM to date for testing and training purposes, including tranches delivered in 2017 and most recently, in April 2018. Tests continue to be conducted to develop concepts of operation (CONOPS) at Fort Bragg, MacDill Air Base and Naval Special Warfare in Norfolk, Virginia.
‘LRIP will see the start of development of CONOPS to support USSOCOM components. By end of 2018, USSOCOM will be looking to equip the first company sized formations with the radio,’ a company official explained to Shephard.
Defence sources explained to Shephard how special operations forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK are likely to follow USSOCOM’s procurement of the AN/PRC-163 STC in order to maintain optimal levels in interoperability. The STC handheld features multiple specialist capabilities including the Trellisware Technologies’ TSM-X MANET waveform; as well as an ISTAR Mission Module developed in collaboration with L-3. (Source: Shephard)
11 Sep 18. British Army begins Bowman update. The British Army begins the update of its Bowman communications system in the next few weeks with the delivery of Bowman ComBAT Infrastructure P-BISA (BCIP) 5.6 to 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade, based in Paderborn, Germany. BCIP 5.6 is the largest single upgrade to Bowman since it entered service and includes a significant redesign of the Battlefield Management Application (ComBAT) in order to make staff planning more intuitive, quicker, and easier.
The software has the potential to host some third-party applications. This is a significant departure from previous iterations and is part of a general move to open architecture, whereby software from third parties and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware will be readily integrated. The GBP175m (USD228m) UK Ministry of Defence contract announced in March 2016 includes delivery of 12,000 new data terminals. This is planned to be the last major upgrade of Bowman prior to the transition to Morpheus from 2023 onwards, which takes the Evolve to Open (EvO) concept further. The commander of 12 Armoured Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Adrian Reilly, commented after trials in 2017, The greatest improvement has been the human interface. The ComBAT software is inherently more intuitive than its predecessor, which was well received by everyone that used it. Improved functionality comes from the similarities with the Microsoft Office suite of software that our staff routinely use.”
The VHF network has been optimised to improve data transmission and through the introduction of Situational Awareness Tagged-On Voice (SAToV), a user’s location will automatically be transmitted when a voice message is sent. The upgrade also includes a new 3D geographic information system and improvements to the planning software, including the ability to conduct faster regrouping when reassigning force elements to different formations, which has previously been noted as a problem by users. Network resilience has been improved by removing the reliance on GPS for time synchronisation. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Sep 18. DISA chooses 20 small businesses for big IT contract. The Defense Information Systems Agency has selected 20 small businesses for the opportunity to work on a range of information technology services for the Department of Defense, intelligence community and other federal agencies, according to a Sept. 10 announcement. The contract could run as long as 10 years and has a maximum value of $17.5bn. The ENCORE III small business set-aside suite makes 20 small companies eligible to compete for contracts to provide services in 19 performance areas. Those areas range from requirements analysis to cloud professional services and enterprise IT policy planning.
“One of the key advantages of leveraging the ENCORE III vehicle is that mission partners are able to team with us to determine the best acquisition strategy for their task,” Steve Francoeur, ENCORE III contracting officer, said in a press release. “Together, we are able to determine whether a best-value-trade-off or lowest price technically acceptable approach fits the mission requirement.”
The announcement follows DISA’s award of the ENCORE III full and open large business suite in March when another 20 businesses became eligible for task orders on the contract. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 Sep 18. ‘Greywolf’ Brigade Tests Army’s First Electronic Warfare Tactical Vehicle. The 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Greywolf” soldiers fielded the Army’s new electronic warfare tactical vehicle recently. The new vehicle was developed to give Army electronic warfare teams the ability to sense and jam enemy communications and networks from an operationally relevant range at the brigade combat team level.
“This effort will allow the ability for EW soldiers to influence future vehicle improvements and grow their knowledge,” Army Lt. Col. Scott Schumacher, chief of the Rapid Equipping Force solutions team, said in a release. “This is an advanced EW technology that can provide the Army new offensive and defensive capabilities.”
The Greywolf team attended two weeks of training on the vehicle in Yuma, Arizona. The electronic warfare kit is installed on a four-wheel drive MaxxPro Dash, one of the multiple types of mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles.
“It has never been used at the brigade level, so we have to really put it through its paces and see what its capabilities and limitations are,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Alexander Torres, the brigade’s electronic warfare technician. “We have to develop best-practices and [tactics, techniques and procedures] that will help future units as well as continue the development of a dedicated EW platform.”
Since the inception of brigade-level electronic warfare, electronic jamming had not been available. The new system is highly programmable, which allows the EW team to develop a program targeting the enemy’s frequencies.
“This is a huge benefit, because now we have it on our time instead of relying on our sister services to provide us with jamming capabilities and hoping it is available when we need it,” Torres said.
The new vehicle was developed as part of the Army’s Rapid Equipment Fielding program, which identifies gaps that need to be filled and cannot wait on the traditional contracting route. This is just the first step in building a platform that will benefit the brigade, Torres said.
“We had nothing, and now we have something, and I hope we continue to keep building on it,” he added. “We need to make sure it is effective. If we go out there and just let it sit and collect dust and don’t use it — and [if we don’t] make sure that it also enables the commander to maneuver his forces and gain the advantage in the electronic spectrum — then really it is wasting a valuable resource.”
The Greywolf team will integrate the vehicle during its upcoming brigade evaluation. (Source: US DoD)
10 Sep 18. Elbit emerges as preferred bidder for UK’s Morpheus. Elbit Systems UK has been selected as the preferred bidder for the UK’s Project Morpheus Battle Management Application (BMA) contract, Jane’s has learned. The UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) confirmed the decision, but was unable to comment further because the contract is still at the “standstill” stage, which allows an unsuccessful bidder 10 days (until 18 September) to challenge the contract award. Morpheus is a major part of the Land Equipment Tactical Communication and Information Systems (LE TacCIS) programme and overall is worth GBP3.2bn (USD4.1bin). It will replace the current Bowman system and its ComBAT battle management system. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
10 Sep 18. Nutanix Announces $20m+ Deal, Largest In Company History. Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense Will Use the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform Software to Power Edge Cloud. Nutanix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NTNX), a leader in enterprise cloud computing, today announced it closed the largest deal in company history in Q4 of fiscal 2018, worth more than $20m with an agency in the U.S. Department of Defense. The customer will use Nutanix software to operate 15 remote sites running two different networks. This customer selected the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform software for its reliability and resiliency even at the edge after its previous solution was crippled by power losses and complex operations. These power losses resulted in IT teams spending harrowing hours coaxing the previous solutions back to life to avoid data loss, all at the detriment of operations near these sites.
According to IDC, “edge computing is growing increasingly important in IoT environments with intermittent access to connectivity, low tolerance for network latency, or high security requirements.”1 These remote sites require robust software platforms that can support specialized hardware and, more importantly, quickly and securely process data on-site, eliminating the challenges of transmitting vast amounts data back to a centralized cloud over unreliable network connections.
“Government agencies face enormous pressure to control costs, streamline IT infrastructure, and maintain application performance from basic IT functions to critical national security tasks,” said Chris Howard, Vice President, Public Sector Sales, Nutanix. “The simplicity, ease of use and overall great value of our software is why U.S. federal organizations have been such early and sustained adopters of our platform. We’re excited to continue to supporting their missions.”
This deal was one of five worth more than $1m in the U.S. federal vertical, and one of 46 worth more than $1m overall in Q4. These deals indicate increasing momentum among large customers as the company continues an aggressive and successful shift toward a software-defined business. As government agencies increasingly shift attention toward modernizing IT infrastructure to take advantage of the cloud, approximately 350 have adopted the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform software to reduce IT silos, cost and complexity within their infrastructure, creating an ideal foundation for the hybrid cloud. With native virtualization capabilities, application automation, centralized management, one-click upgrades, and government-grade security features, Nutanix can support any application at any scale. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
10 Sep 18. US Army to trial ‘radio-over-satellite’ communications. Spectra Group’s Slingshot appliqué kit has been selected to support the US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWEs) in 2019, company officials have disclosed to Shephard. Due to be conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia, over the course of the year, AEWE events form part of Spectra Group’s ongoing strategy to expand the operational utility of Slingshot beyond its current employment by special operations forces to more conventional units, BD manager, Billy Bingham confirmed to Shephard. Tasked with supporting the ‘Mission Command’ element of the AEWE exercises, Slingshot will be used to support ‘radio-over-satellite’ communications to ground force elements provided by the US Army.
According to official documentation provided by the army for AEWE 2019, Slingshot will provide beyond line of sight (BLOS) connectivity and communications on the move (COTM) interoperability to ‘widely dispersed military forces or civilian agencies in austere environments without the delay of deploying terrestrial infrastructure or the operational burden of protecting and sustaining them’.
‘SlingShot is capable of providing a SWaP, BLoS, COTM, interoperable capability with LPI/LPD characteristics which are becoming once again increasingly more of a requirement both for special operations forces and conventional troops, and in particular from a US and NATO perspective,’ Bingham explained.
Earlier in the year, Spectra Group crafted a White Paper for the US DoD regarding potential application of Slingshot in support of dismounted and mounted combat forces. Slingshot’s suitability to support coalition and partner nation force (PNF) joint operations was demonstrated by Iraqi special forces over the past year when it was used to facilitate communications with the US force elements including the Security Force Assistance Brigade.
US Army officials also explained to Shephard how the SATCOM appliqué kit provided secure LOS communications; as well as enabling increasing levels of interoperability between US, coalition and PNFs.
‘Tactical commanders can expand their C2 footprint across a Geographic Combatant Command,’ it was added.
Slingshot comprises a small and lightweight frequency conversion device which allows small units to operate military and commercial VHF/UHF radios over commercial L-band satellite communications. The technology is also able to support COTM for tactical ground vehicles at speeds up to 80mph and comes with an option to integrate encryption services for secure communications.
Initial planning sessions to organise AEWE 2019 are due to begin between 4-5 December, US Army officials confirmed.
Slingshot is available in both UHF and VHF configurations, measuring around 500g and 600g in total weight respectively. Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the unit is capable of running for 24 hours with the option to be carried in manpack form or integrated on board tactical ground vehicles, surface vessels and airborne assets. (Source: Shephard)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra has a proven record of accomplishment – with over 15 years of experience in delivering secure communications and cybersecurity solutions for governments around the globe; elite militaries; and private enterprises of all sizes.
As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage this experience to deliver Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Spectra’s SlingShot® is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over 1000s miles between forward units and a rear HQ, no matter how or where the deployment. Unlike many BLOS options, SlingShot maintains full COTM (Communications On The Move) capability and low size and weight
On 23 November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced that it had recently been listed as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier for 2015-2016 by the UK Crown Commercial Services
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year by BATTLESPACE magazine and is a finalist in the inaugural British Ex-Forces In Business Awards in the Innovator Of The Year category.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.