Sponsored by Spectra Group
25 Jun 20. Spanish Army defines its NBC priorities in context of COVID-19. The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Spain shed light on the importance of maintaining and enhancing NBC capabilities among the armed forces. Therefore, to bolster its readiness, the Spanish Army has laid out its priorities in terms of NBC equipment, systems and technology by 2035.
The service presented its requirements to the defence industry on 24 June during a webinar workshop called ‘Force 2035 – NBC Defence’.
The webinar was organised by the DIAD procurement directorate within the army’s Logistical Support Command (MALE), together with the General Sub-Directorate for Technology and Innovation Planning (SDG PLATIN) and the General Directorate for Armament and Material (DGAM).
Although speakers did not divulge details about the budget, they claimed that the army needs a range of hardware and other materiel, from uniforms to unmanned platforms and new-generation devices.
Lt Gen Ramon Pardo de Santayana y Gómez-Olea, head of MALE, noted the performance of the armed forces in Operation Balmis (providing military assistance to Spanish civilian authorities during COVID-19).
He highlighted the importance of having dual-use NBC technology and added that a new spike in infections cannot be discarded.
‘We need to look ahead and fix the mistakes in order to be ready if a second wave comes,’ Gómez-Olea said.
Col Jose Luis Muinelo Pardini, commander of the NBC Defence Regiment ‘Valencia’ 1, and Lt Col Jose Maria Perez Quintana, Chief of Projects at Military Emergency Unit (UME), spoke about the army’s broader NBC priorities.
These follow guidelines set out in the Force 2035 programme, which aims to upgrade capabilities and military doctrine in order to ensure readiness for the battlefield of the future.
Pardini explained that Balmis was a challenge for Regiment ‘Valencia’ 1, because troops faced ‘a real biological enemy’ for the first time.
He added that the experience of battling COVID-19 underlined the need for disruptive technologies, devices and sensors to be used from the soldier to the brigade levels.
In terms of dismounted soldier systems, Pardini claimed that the service should be equipped with portable sensors. In addition, vehicles and armoured platforms should have CBRN capabilities and a collective system for NBC protection.
A Spanish Army NCO helps to remove a soldier’s safety mask in Gijon on 17 June. The Spanish government mobilised up to 90,000 troops to support
At battalion level, he added, deployed troops should have access to NBC technology with data forecasting and management capabilities, integrated into a C2 system.
Spanish Army requirements at brigade level include UAVs and UGVs; a central control system able to alert and predict NBC threats; and a complete decontamination station.
Crewed armoured vehicles, UGVs and mobile laboratories were set out as divisional/headquarters requirements.
Pardini also confirmed that the army intends to procure uniforms with quantum dots, which can identify and destroy NBC threats through photodegradation.
‘With smart uniforms, we would save time with the decontamination process and would improve our operational capacity,’ he noted.
Quintana pointed out that the UME needs simulators and software able to predict NBC threats, as well as ultraviolet technology and robotic systems that can perform sanitisation.
In addition, the military emergency unit needs respiratory hoods for use in confined spaces and an automated decontamination station.
‘We are checking with companies if it is possible to develop what we need,’ Quintana said.
He explained that the unit also intends to procure a mobile medical facility such as a bus. ‘Our experience with COVID-19 showed that we need to improve our carrying capacity. With a medium vehicle, we could transport five or six patients at the same time and using only one medical team,’ he added. (Source: Shephard)
25 Jun 20. DARPA aims to hit the sweet spot on data link compatibility. NATO member states have various tactical data links (TDLs) at their disposal – notably HAVE QUICK I/II, Link 16 and the Situational Awareness Tactical Data Link – for secure and resilient airborne communications and data sharing.
The overall effect is a degree of communications redundancy, but each network uses a different protocol to handle data traffic; and they are not always mutually compatible.
For example, the Surveillance and Control Data Link, used by USAF personnel (pictured) in the E-8C JSTARS aircraft to share tactical data, transmits across a waveband of 12.4-18GHz, and handles data at rates of up to 1.9mb/s. This is in contrast to the frequencies used by SADL and Link-16, both of which also handle a different data rate of 2.4-2.5kb/s. H
Heavy data traffic sent from an E-8C would need to be compressed to allow it to be retransmitted across Link-16 and SADL.
In the US, DARPA believes it may have a solution to this problem in the form of the Dynamic Network Adaptation for Mission Optimisation (DyNAMO) programme. This seeks to address such shortcomings by ‘developing information-centric approaches to bridge disparate networks and adaptively configure and control networks… for operation in dynamic and contested environments,’ explained Aaron Kofford, DyNAMO programme manager in DARPA’s strategic technology office.
The programme ‘is developing techniques that adapt to changing mission needs at the network and application layers’. This is distinct from the physical layer, which constitutes the actual radio hardware. In a nutshell, the intention of DYNAMO is realise a mechanism by which mission-critical data can be moved easily between disparate communications networks during the air battle.
DyNAMO aims to ‘provide a virtual network overlay that can route mission data across otherwise incompatible networks’, said Kofford. He gave the example of ‘a high-resolution image which may need to be compressed before it is routed across links with lower data rates… while maintaining quality of service needs such as latency’.
At the core of DyNAMO’s approach is the formatting of data ‘into a common information representation which contains the intended user data with the necessary mission and network context’, Kofford continued. Nonetheless, he was keen to emphasise that the techniques to handle data across different networks will continue to use the standard waveforms employed by NATO and allied aircraft for communications. It is an imperative that these can continue to be used in an unmodified fashion. This summer and autumn, the DyNAMO programme will conduct experiments with the USN and USMC on various radio platforms to show interoperability. (Source: Shephard)
25 Jun 20. Bittium Launches Bittium Tough Mobile™ 2 C Smartphone Designed for CONFIDENTIAL Communications for Authorities. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone complemented with Bittium Secure Suite™ management system for secure communications is fully designed and manufactured in Finland. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C is based on the previously launched
Bittium Tough Mobile 2 smartphone platform.
Bittium, the provider of the world’s most secure smartphone-based communication systems, launches Bittium Tough Mobile™ 2 C smartphone designed for CONFIDENTIAL communications for authorities. Smartphone’s unique HW security solutions and multilayered security structure based on the hardened Android™ 9 operating system are reinforced with the dual-boot functionality, running two completely separate and hardened operating systems on a single platform: Confidential and Personal. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone, intended for government-level security needs, is complemented with Bittium Secure Suite management software, enabling remote management of devices and applications, as well as encrypted IP-based data transfer.
Operating system in the Confidential mode is completely separated and hardened for secure use, and it’s intended for ultimate, government-level secure communications. Hardened Android operating system in the Personal mode is for personal use where e.g. Google services and other social media applications are freely available. This unique dual-boot functionality enables both personal and professional use with high-level information security on a single device, eliminating the need for carrying two separate devices. The user can switch between the two different modes with dual-boot functionality. Security settings and other parameters of Tough Mobile 2 C operating systems can be configured with Bittium Secure Suite management software to meet the required level of usability and security needs. Both operating systems also support Multicontainer feature, enabling the use of several secure, isolated workspaces within one operating system. User can switch between the different workspaces by swiping sideways from the home screen.
Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C is fully designed and manufactured in Finland and Bittium ensures supervised and secure manufacturing and supply of the smartphones to the customers. Also, hardware components and software solutions of the phone can be audited for use by authorities. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C, together with the Bittium Secure Suite device management and encryption software product, can be certified for the secure use of different national government officials. As it is a smartphone that has been designed for use by authorities, it has a significantly longer availability and lifespan, and extended availability of security updates compared to several smartphones.
“Exceptional times have further increased the need for security in mobile communications, and we can proudly answer with the unique security of two totally separated operating systems of Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone,” says Jari Sankala, Senior Vice President, Defense & Security. “Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone and its supportive software solutions form a complete entity for customers requiring comprehensive state-level security. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C can also be customized to meet the security needs of different companies and organizations, further expanding the smartphone usability.”
More information of Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone: https://www.toughmobile2.bittium.com/C
Bittium Tough Mobile™ 2 C
Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone with Bittium Secure Suite device management system is targeted for ultra secure government-level mobile communications. The smartphone is a combination of unparalleled hardware- and software-based information security features and usability, and two completely separate and hardened operating systems; Confidential and Personal. Security policies and other parameters of the two operating systems can be modified with Bittium Secure Suite management software to answer different user needs. The tamper-proof information security platform, privacy switch, and the supervised and secure supply chain ensure reliable and secure communication and handling of data especially in use by professionals and authorities.
Bittium Secure Suite™
Bittium Secure Suite™ device management and encryption software product complements Bittium Tough Mobile smartphone with a scalable set of software services for remote management, remote attestation and securing the network connections of the device. Bittium Tough Mobile smartphone and Bittium Secure Suite together form a unique and reliable system for processing and transferring encrypted and classified material, and securing critical communications.
24 Jun 20. Electronic Warfare for RAF Wedgetails. Leonardo plans to certify electronic warfare equipment for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) new E-7 Wedgetail AEW.1 airborne early warning aircraft by 2022.
Defensive Aids System (DAS)
In a statement given to Armada the firm said it had completed much of the integration work for these electronic warfare systems. Leonardo is providing the aircraft’s Defensive Aids System (DAS). The company’s Modular Advanced Platform Protection System (MAPPS) manages the DAS. The DAS includes a Thales ELIX-IR infrared missile approach warner/hostile fire indicator advises the crew of incoming missiles and small arms fire. The ELIX-IR is joined by Thales’ Vicon-XF countermeasures dispenser.
The statement added that Leonardo will deliver this electronic warfare kit to Boeing from late 2020. Deliveries will conclude in 2021. The statement says “all of the equipment is mature and ready for operations.” Some certification work remains which will finish by mid-2022.
Installation will be done by Boeing and STS Aviation Services at Birmingham International Airport in the UK’s West Midlands. The facility in Birmingham will convert standard 737-NG airframes into the E-7 Wedgetail AEW.1 configuration. This includes outfitting the planes with Northrop Grumman’s MESA (Mult-role Active Electronically Scanned Array) S-band (2.3 gigahertz/GHz to 2.5GHz/2.7GHz to 3.7GHz) airborne surveillance radar.
Royal Air Force’s (RAF)
The RAF should receive its first of five E-7s in 2023. Deliveries will finish in 2026. These will replace the air force’s four Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 jets acquired between 1991 and 1992. (Source: News Now/Armada)
23 Jun 20. US Navy successfully tests Jammer Low Band during Covid-19. The US Navy’s Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) programme has concluded test events at two Naval Air Station Patuxent River facilities in Maryland.
Tests were conducted on schedule at the two facilities simultaneously with limited staff due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
During the pandemic restrictions, the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (PMA-234) NGJ-LB team was set to commence its final Demonstration of Existing Technologies (DET) testing.
Following the restrictions, the test execution requirements and logistics were reassessed to meet the Center for Disease Control and NAVAIR readjustments guidelines.
Within two months, testing was concluded with two contractors’ prototype pods at both the Air Combat Environmental Test and Evaluation Facility (ACETEF) and the Facility for Antenna and RCS Measurement (FARM).
As per the restrictions, FARM and ACETEF control rooms underwent a 50% staff reduction.
Despite the restrictions, the NGJ-LB test teams consisted of PMA-234 Program Office, L3Harris, Northrop Grumman Corporation, FARM, ACETEF, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
In addition, the teams that conducted the tests included Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division, PMA-234’s Jammer Technique Optimization (JATO), and Southern Maryland Crane Rental personnel.
FARM lead Greg Brannon said: “Limiting the number of people allowed on the FARM during testing reduced the security staff required to keep track of them.
“Further, the spaces in the FARM’s test facilities are small, and the limitations to the number of people allowed in those spaces made it much more comfortable for those involved.”
L3Harris and Northrop Grumman secured the 22 month DET contract, which is scheduled to conclude later this year.
The US Navy is currently set to select a prime contractor to develop the NGJ-LB Capability Block 1 tactical jamming operational prototypes.
Once developed, the NGJ-LB will replace the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System. (Source: naval-technology.com)
22 Jun 20. The US Army will soon allow users to access classified info from home. The US Army is expected to roll out a capability that will allow employees to remotely access sensitive and classified information in the next 30 days.
The decision to establish remote classified access comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep Americans working from home and military leaders prep for a second wave of the virus in the fall.
The new capability will allow remote users to access non-classified but sensitive information as well as classified information up to the secret level from remote locations, including at home, Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett, the commander of Network Enterprise Technology Command, told C4ISRNET in a statement.
The Army will be onboarding the first 500 users in the next 30 days, and it plans to eventually scale up to 2,000 users, according to Barrett. NETCOM is working with the Army CIO/G-6 and 7th Signal Command — which is responsible for defending Army networks in the United States — to gather “user requests for prioritization,” Barrett said, adding that the environment is “currently operational with initial onboarding and testing.”
“Based on location, the service will likely work better for [contiguous United States] users; it is our intention to test performance with [outside contiguous United States] users before issuing this as an offering [outside the contiguous United States],” Barrett said.
She added that the “majority” of the devices accessing information will be virtual desktops with no data stored on the end user device, though some will have data storage capabilities to allow users to work offline.
Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army chief information officer/G-6, said on a webinar in early June that before the coronavirus pandemic, the Army was “probably a year and a half” away from rolling out this capability, but the crisis accelerated that timeline.
The Army’s deployment of a remote environment to access classified information follows a similar effort by the Air Force. In April, the pandemic forced the Air Force to send thousands of unclassified devices to users as part of its Advanced Battle Management System. The devices were meant to be demonstrated as part of an April ABMS test, but that was delayed due to the pandemic.
The remote classified access capability is one of several adjustments the Army has made as the service adjusts to the effects of the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, the service had 800,000 telework -enabled employees on Defense Department network and experienced a 400 percent increase in network access.
Other top IT leaders across the services are preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus in the fall. Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, which manages Department of Defense networks, said in a webinar earlier this month that she’s working with industry to identify future chokepoints and has been asking DoD components what they need to boost telework capacity.
On the same June webinar, Crawford stressed that the telework environment would be around long term and that the service needs to ensure its workforce can continue to operate remotely. He added that Army users “deserve” access to “any data from any device.”
“It’s our job to decide how we’re going to enable them and more importantly,” Crawford said, “how we’re going to secure it.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Jun 20. RCS and SES Networks expand partnership with SD-WAN Service. SES has announced that RCS Communication, an ICT company in South Sudan, has adopted a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) built upon SES Networks’ SD-WAN service that will enable RCS to deliver an improved user experience while optimising resiliency and bandwidth usage.
SES Networks’ SD-WAN service is the first of its kind as it enables customers to optimally utilise their available WAN access connections ranging from Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation, as well as fibre and other terrestrial links.
RCS has been using SES’s low-latency MEO solution extensively since 2014 to provide reliable and uninterrupted Enterprise connectivity services to NGOs, Embassies and businesses of various sectors in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. With the recent availability of fibre networks in the country, RCS began seeking services that would enable them to bring resiliency and intelligence to the edge and pass end-to-end traffic securely over different available WAN links based on application-aware steering.
Through SES Networks’ SD-WAN service, RCS can dynamically and intelligently prioritise and route application traffic between its MEO satellite and fibre links, resulting in improved up-time. Always-on network performance monitoring and analytics provides RCS with high visibility and insights on which to base informed decisions.
“Having been a long-time customer of SES Networks, RCS is pleased to expand the partnership through SES Networks’ fully managed end-to-end SD-WAN service.” said Flippie Odendal, Managing Director of RCS. “SES Networks’ SD-WAN service has met RCS’s requirements and direction of moving towards intelligent, software-defined services that will enable us to dynamically react to evolving market conditions and scale whenever needed.”
“We developed SES Networks’ SD-WAN service to bring to our customers intelligent, application-aware resiliency, efficiency, visibility and control. In today’s cloud-scale world, we believe it is essential that our satellite network services are a seamless, integrated extension to our customers’ networks. Our SD-WAN service is another step towards enabling our customers to grow their business with more intelligent and resilient, cloud-optimised services,” said John-Paul Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks. (Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report)
19 Jun 20. IT Experts Discuss DOD’s Use of Digital Communications. It’s essential to modernize the Defense Department’s perimeter-based security models and compliance requirements that prevent DOD from transforming the way it achieves its objectives, information technology experts said in response to evolving cyber risks.
Peter T. Ranks, deputy chief information officer for Information Enterprise, discussed a range of IT issues yesterday at the Defense One Tech Summit via remote video. He was joined by Jeanette Manfra, the director of government security and compliance for Google Cloud. Manfra served in the Army as a communications specialist and a military intelligence officer and in high-level IT positions in DOD and the Department of Homeland Security.
Ranks said DOD has served as a model for other agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic as the department has increasingly realized the value of having infrastructure in place for workers to work remotely, particularly in cloud computing.
Working remotely involves an architecture that meets the need of users wherever they are so they have access to data, he said. But Ranks noted that it’s important to have a zero-trust mentality when it comes to cloud computing, which means being aware of the possibility of getting hacked.
Manfra noted that two forces are tugging in different directions in digital communications: security compliance and mission outcomes, which involve speed, productivity and agility.
“Security compliance acts as blocker sometimes,” she said, adding that security compliance often doesn’t measure and detect what it’s supposed to.
“You have to have a zero-trust mindset and move beyond the idea that a perimeter is going to keep you safe,” she said, noting that insider threats exist.
A solution to the two competing forces, she advised, is to bring in security experts early in software development so there’s a dialogue and an understanding about each other’s expectations and what is possible.
A particular area where transparency is necessary, she said, is having a good dialogue with cloud providers to aid in managing risk and reducing uncertainty.
Manfra also suggested that the “digital fortress” mentality that aims to keep intruders out can also hamper the innovations offered by commercial clouds, such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and edge computing.
Ranks and Manfra both emphasized the importance of having a well-trained workforce. They said not everyone needs to know how to code, but everyone should understand the fundamentals. (Source: US DoD)
22 Jun 20. Enhancing Australian Defence intelligence capabilities. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced a plan to combine the Department of Defence’s intelligence capabilities under a new Defence Intelligence Group (DIG) to ensure the organisation is best positioned to support Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations and take advantage of emerging capabilities.
The new group will include the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), and critical intelligence components from across the ADF as well as the broader department.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the decision to establish the DIG was a key recommendation from an independent Review of the Defence Intelligence Enterprise.
“Rapid technological change and increasing investment in intelligence means it is more important than ever that our department and military intelligence functions are co-ordinated and aligned across the entire organisation,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Our defence intelligence capability is world-class and informs Australian government decisions on our defence and foreign policy, and military operations.”
Minister Reynolds added, “The independent Review found that stronger co-ordination was required to optimise the Defence intelligence capability and workforce for the future.”
The new structure will align Defence intelligence management with the national intelligence community following the changes made after the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review.
It also mirrors the defence intelligence architecture of other members of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership, which will enable Defence to engage more effectively with allies.
“The establishment of a new Chief of Defence Intelligence supported by a new Intelligence Group will centralise intelligence functions and continue the journey of intelligence reform,” Minister Reynolds added.
”These reforms will reinforce the central role of the intelligence enterprise as a critical capability rather than a strategic enabler.”
The new group will be led by a three-star Chief of Defence Intelligence, with Major General Gavan Reynolds designated as the inaugural Chief, on promotion to Lieutenant General from 1 July.
The Chief of Defence Intelligence will assume a number of responsibilities including the training of the intelligence profession across the ADF and APS workforce, and the management of intelligence capability projects.
These changes support broader Defence reforms by making best use of the intelligence capability and workforce, strengthening accountabilities, and ensuring intelligence is positioned to best support government decision-making and ADF operations into the future. (Source: Defence Connect)
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.