Sponsored by Spectra Group
17 Jun 20. US Army delays final RFP of encryption device. The Army program executive office responsible for network modernization is delaying the release of the final request for proposals for an advanced encryption device, in the meantime considering if it should award the contract to two vendors.
In a June 16 post on beta.sam.gov, the Army Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical announced that the RFP for its Next Generation Load Device-Medium would be delayed to “no later than November.” The RFP was originally scheduled for release this month and was to be a single-award contract.
“Under consideration are plans to award contracts for up to two vendors, enable rapid software integration options, leverage potential mature Non-Developmental Item (NDI) solutions, and accelerate NSA certification,” said Paul Mehney, communications director for Army PEO C3T.
The release of the final RFP has been delayed as the program office works to incorporate industry feedback after the release of the second draft RFP in April. The delay is “due to solicitation modifications to help increase competition,” Mehney said.
The NGLD-Medium indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract is expected to be worth $700-800m with a performance period of 10 years (a three-year base and seven one-year options), according to a presentation from PEO C3T at a virtual industry day in early June.
Contract management is also shifting from the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization at the Defense Information Systems Agency to Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where PEO C3T is located. That move was made to create “long-term efficiency,” Mehney said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Jun 20. DOD plans new JEDI amendment. The Defense Department says it will need until Aug. 17 to decide on a new award in its controversial $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement.
Amazon Web Services is suing DOD over its award of the JEDI contract to Microsoft last October, citing technical problems with the evaluation and political interference from the White House.
The case is on remand for 120 days while DOD considers revised proposals. In a June 16 court filing, lawyers representing the DOD side said “another solicitation amendment will be necessary” and that DOD would review “additional limited proposal revisions.”
It’s not stated in the filing what technical areas will be covered by the new amendment.
The previous revisions are centered around storage requirements in an area of the JEDI solicitation called ” price scenario 6″ – a cloud storage component that, according to the judge’s read on the bids, was out of compliance with JEDI requirements. That aspect of the dispute erupted into public view in May as AWS filed a protest with the DOD to obtain more information on the requirements and Microsoft responded with a blog post slamming its rival.
The political aspects of the case – allegations that the contract award was steered to Microsoft to accommodate President Donald Trump’s personal animus to AWS founder Jeff Bezos – are not part of the remand.
Microsoft was also recently caught up in a political firestorm that took aim at its status as a government contractor. Former acting intelligence chief and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell tweeted June 12 that Microsoft “should be barred from government contracts” for its decision to stop selling facial recognition technology to police departments. Trump shared Grenell’s tweet with his 82 million followers.
AWS announced a similar decision with regard to its Rekognition facial recognition software – a self-imposed one-year moratorium on law enforcement sales, designed to give Congress time to craft regulations for the use of such systems. In the court filing DOD indicated that it might need more time to review revised proposals and may seek an extension of the remand. (Source: Defense Systems)
17 Jun 20. DOD looks for extension on Huawei ban. The 2021 must-pass defense policy bill could be a prime vehicle to give the Defense Department and its contractors more time to comply with a governmentwide ban on Huawei and other China-made telecommunications equipment.
DOD’s acquisition head, Ellen Lord, said DOD needed more time and worried about “unintended consequences” in implementing the ban on contracts with companies that use products or services like Huawei in August.
“The thought that somebody in six or seven levels down in the supply chain could have one camera in a parking lot, and that would invalidate one of our major primes being able to do business with us gives us a bit of pause,” Lord testified at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense industry base June 10.
Lord said that while she thinks a “majority” of compliance could be achieved, “it is a heavy lift to find all of this equipment everywhere” within two years, and potentially “shutting down major portions of our defense industrial base because of one infraction of a Hikvision camera in a parking lot somewhere, at a level-four supplier.”
The issue comes as the Defense Department, and government agencies broadly, have become more reliant on information systems and telecommunications services amid the coronavirus pandemic — an issue that’s sure to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act, making the bill a suitable avenue for deadline modification.
Wesley Hallman, the National Defense Industry Association’s senior vice president for strategy and policy, told FCW that as is, Section 889, which was passed in the 2019 NDAA, was basically unimplementable, approaching crisis-level concerns.
“The bottom line is, we don’t even have a draft rule to comment on and it’s supposed to be implemented on Aug. 13,” Hallman said. “As written, it’s very near impossible to certify that you are free of this in your supply chain.”
Supply chain concerns will likely be a mainstay in the NDAA. The COVID-19 pandemic “exposed and exacerbated supply chain deficiencies across the government, and the FY21 NDAA takes numerous steps to secure the supply chain — both from overreliance on foreign nations and from infiltration by our adversaries,” the Senate Armed Services Committee indicated in its summary of its version of the 2021 NDAA.
Moreover, it requires DOD to “report on the risk to DOD personnel, equipment, and operations due to Huawei 5G architecture in host countries and possible steps for mitigation.” DOD also has to consider security risks with 5G and 6G when using vendors like Huawei and ZTE.
David Berteau, the president and CEO for the Professional Services Council, said Lord’s testimony was DOD’s “strongest” support of an extension, which has “huge dollar implications” for a requirement that doesn’t have a rule and is less than two months away from an implementation date.
PSC and the NDIA are pushing for an extension to February 2021 “to allow contractors time to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and effectively comply,” according to a March 31 letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders.
“Postponement of the deadline will provide the government with better assurance of achieving its supply chain security objectives with the least disruption and harm to the vendor and supplier base,” the letter states.
Without it, Berteau said it could be problematic for DOD’s thousands of contracts, potentially leaving compliance up to individual companies, which could make it harder for contract officers to verify that banned equipment and services are removed.
“Because we don’t know what the procurement rules are, businesses can’t begin to budget or prepare,” he said. “The government regulation needs to set precise standards and give companies time to plan for and build compliance.” (Source: Defense Systems)
17 Jun 20. European team seeks holy grail of unifying airborne EM systems. More light can be shed on the European Defence Agency’s (EDA’s) CROWN initiative to develop a scalable, single architecture for airborne radar, EW and communications applications.
Indra is leading this effort to integrate the electromagnetic (EM) functions for future European military aircraft. The Spanish company announced on 20 May that it will lead a team of 11 European companies to develop an integrated radar, EW and communication system under the auspices of the EDA. The EDA is responsible for coordinating collaborative defence projects involving EU members.
This initiative marks an important step forward towards the ‘holy grail’ of integrating these disparate, yet essential aircraft EM subsystems into a single architecture. Until now, combat aircraft have required distinct radars, EW systems and communications which often use and detect different frequencies and are provided by disparate suppliers.
From an engineering standpoint this introduces complexity into aircraft design, as each system has its individual back-end that generates, transmits, receives and processes RF energy before visually or aurally presenting this information to the pilot.
Each of these systems must also have its own antennas, all of which occupy valuable internal and external space on an aircraft. This also increases costs, as each system must be procured separately, similarly adding a MRO burden to the aircraft during its service life.
The CROWN initiative aims to develop a common back-end connected to an active electronically scanned array (AESA), which can use a software-defined approach to perform the panoply of EM functions mentioned above. According to Indra, this architecture will be housed internally in the nose of an aircraft, mounted conformally on the fuselage or carried in an underwing pod.
New European fighter programmes are in the offing which could exploit this approach, such as the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS – pictured with expected levels of connectivity).
While Indra has earmarked FCAS as one potential application for CROWN deliverables, a written statement from the company stressed that the technology is ‘not specifically for one unique aircraft’, adding that the design could potentially be used by an array of future European platforms.
Another interesting dimension of the overall programme is that the technology that will be developed via CROWN is intended to be scalable, to fit platforms ranging from UAVs to manned combat aircraft.
In terms of the roadmap for CROWN development, Indra noted that the project will reach Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 by 2027. This means that a prototype will be demonstrated in an operational environment.
Subsequently, Indra aims for the single EM architecture to complete system development and qualification (TRL-8), followed by a transition to production and operational use (TRL-9).
It is entirely possible that the final two stages could arrive once the CROWN technology is adopted for an aircraft programme. (Source: Shephard)
13 Jun 20. The US Army is reorganizing its top IT office. The Army is reorganizing its chief information officer/G6 position into two roles as a way for the service to better take advantage of technology.
In a call with reporters June 12, Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the current CIO/G-6, said artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud computing made the original structure of the office — set up nearly two decades ago — outdated.
It was “time to reassess and revisit some of the assumptions that went into forming the organization and are all of those assumptions still true,” Crawford said. “I would argue …. many of those assumptions have been overcome by the significant advancements in technology.”
The service will now have a dedicated chief information officer and a separate deputy chief of staff of the G-6. According to a June 11 announcement from the Army, the CIO position will serve as the “principal advisor” to the secretary of the army “on information resource management, information technology, and their effects on warfighting capabilities.”
The deputy chief of staff for the G-6, a position that will be filled by a three-star general, will focus on network communication issues and their effects on warfighting capabilities, as well as implement the Army CIO’s policies. The G-6 will report to the Army Chief of Staff and serve in an advisory role on the enterprise network.
The reorganization will take place by Aug. 31.
Crawford, who is scheduled to leave his role in August, said that the decision on the next CIO of the Army is an “ongoing process” underway by top Army officials with a decision that will “likely” be made before Aug. 31.
“Given the reliance on technology, this recognition of the strategic importance of both the CIO and the G-6 is going to be critical in that move from the industrial age to the information age,” Crawford said.
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
13 Jun 20. US Army releases $1bn cyber training request. The Army released its highly anticipated request for proposals June 11 for a contract that could be worth as much as $1bn to provide cyber training for the Department of Defense.
The Cyber Training, Readiness, Integration, Delivery and Enterprise Technology (TRIDENT) is a contract vehicle to offer a more streamlined approach for procuring the military’s cyber training capabilities. The Army is running the contract on behalf of the joint force.
The largest part of that contact will be the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE). PCTE is an online client in which members of U.S. Cyber Command’s cyber mission force can log on from anywhere in the world for training and to rehearse missions. Cyber Command leaders have said this element is one of the organization’s most critical needs. Currently, no integrated or robust cyber training environment exists.
To date, two companies have announced their teams that will be pursuing the contract. ManTech and General Dynamics announced late last year they are joining forces to compete for the opportunity. (Source: Fifth Domain)
13 Jun 20. US Army units in Europe are getting new electronic warfare equipment. The Army is giving units in Europe and in the Pacific new electronic warfare equipment, marking what one service leader said was the first “reintroduction” of such tools since the Cold War.
The Army’s plan to reinvigorate electronic warfare capabilities has consisted of two paths. First, to provide a series of urgently needed tools to forces in theater. The second is to procure a permanent system that will be outfitted to units across the Army.
The service had finished sending units in Europe interim equipment just before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Similar efforts will continue through fiscal year 2021, Col. Kevin Finch, program manager for electronic warfare and cyber within Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, said during a remote presentation at Aberdeen Proving Ground June 10.
“These new capabilities are critical to allow us to start matching our near peer competitors,” Finch said. “This is really the reintroduction of EW capability to the force. After the end of the Cold War, [we] removed a lot of EW capabilities from the force and this is really introducing … capabilities back to the force to get us back up to speed to provide a capability to the commander.”
These new systems include the Stryker mounted Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) – an electronic support and electronic attack platform – and the Flyer72 mounted Tactical Electronic Warfare Light (TEWL) – an electronic support only platform.
Finch said the Army is working to create several new units to include tactical cyber units and EW companies and platoons to ensure the service has the right people to field those systems.
“We really have to make sure that our capabilities are aligned with the force structure that is being stood up,” he said, adding that these interim capabilities help with that.
The Army is also taking lessons lessons from these tools to help inform its longer term system, the Terrestrial Layer System-Large (TLS), Finch said.
Terrestrial Layer System
TLS is the Army’s first brigade-focused, integrated signals intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber platform.
Finch described it as a gamechanger that will allow the brigade commander to be more effective in the electromagnetic spectrum. As the Army aims to become “multidomain capable” by 2028, Finch said TLS will be the centerpiece of what his office is doing for the ground brigade commander.
TLS is expected to be fielded to the first units in fiscal year 2022. At the moment, the Army awarded two Other Transaction Agreement contracts to conduct prototyping for TLS.
One was to Digital Receiver Technology on April 1 for $7.6m and the other was to Lockheed Martin on May 1 for $6m. These companies will work with the medical variant of the Stryker for their prototypes because that platform has more space and power available than other variants, Finch said.
The medical variant will also be the primary platform for Stryker brigades as well. Armored Fighting Vehicles were selected as the prime platforms for TLS at the armored brigade level. Finch said the Army is still working its way through what platforms will be used at the infantry brigade level.
The two companies will eventually face off at which point a single vendor will be selected for phase 2, Finch said.
The Army’s capability development document for TLS was recently approved by the head of Futures Command and the service’s top acquisition officer approved the program for middle-tier acquisition last month.
TLS Extended Range
The Army is also looking at capability for echelons above brigade, which it is calling TLS-Extended Range.
Specifically, this capability will focus on the multidomain task force, division and corps filling in gaps not covered by TLS-Large and other systems that are focused on the brigade.
The program is still in the works as the Army is working on developing concepts for it. Finch explained that the Army plans to keep industry informed of its progress. He said the Army plans to do some type of industry update in the fall to lay out the concepts to date along with industry days, likely in second quarter of fiscal year 2021 and early third quarter 2021. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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.