Sponsored by Spectra Group
30 Jun 20. Spectra Group business continuity plans withstand the test. Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, the world-leading provider of high-grade information security and communication capabilities, is emerging from the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions confident that their business continuity plans have withstood the considerable challenges faced by the company. Over the last 4 months, Spectra Group has achieved 100% of their sales forecast whilst remaining fully compliant with all Government Guidelines and restrictions.
Throughout the lockdown period, Spectra Group has protected their staff by rapidly implementing IT systems and processes that have enabled the team to work from home, whilst ensuring production and deliveries can continue. Having activated a pre-rehearsed Business Continuity Plan, that included home-working lap-tops for all staff and a rapid switch to Microsoft Teams, Spectra Group experienced a seamless transition to a new way of working. Training for customers, partners and sales representatives continued using virtual methods supported by an accelerated migration to a new VPN endpoint, that was already in the pipeline to maintain compliance with Cyber Essentials.
In the process of manufacturing and delivering significant numbers of SlingShot systems to clients during the lockdown period, Spectra Group has helped sustain jobs across a multitude of companies in their supply chain through the placement of large orders for components, to support production. In terms of customer support, The Network Operations Centre (NOC) was moved to a distributed model to maintain project support and Service Level Agreements (SLAs), with no loss in service.
Spectra Group is best known for its revolutionary Slingshot technology that has become a true game-changer in the world of tactical communications. SlingShot is a unique system that enables UHF and VHF radios to use L-Band Satellite frequency, allowing users to instantly extend the range of their in-service tactical communications equipment to BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight). Conceived and designed to meet demanding Special Forces requirements, SlingShot offers a significant number of benefits for users requiring secure, reliable and robust communications on the move (COTM). Over 3500 SlingShot systems are in operation world-wide in the Manpack, Vehicle, Maritime and Aviation variants.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “after the initial shock to the system that we all experienced as the lockdown restrictions were rapidly introduced, we got our heads together and moved quickly to implement the changes needed to continue to work, operate and deliver Services to those that continue to keep us safe. I’m exceedingly proud of the fact that we were able to adapt and overcome the challenges we have faced, whilst protecting our staff and all of those around us, supported by our supply chain and partners”. He added: “we’re lucky that we have not been adversely affected by the Covid-19 crisis so far and understanding that this has not been the same for all, I do wish everyone the best as we emerge into the new world and begin to build our lives and businesses back up to and beyond where we were pre-Covid”.
01 Jul 20. USAF Boosts High-Speed Contract Pool For ABMS. “Agile operations require agile technology. Agile technology requires agile acquisition. Agile acquisition requires agile contracting,” says Air Force Chief Architect Preston Dunlap.
The Air Force has contracted with 18 more businesses to work on its high-priority Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) effort to enable all-domain operations — front-loading funds for 2021 and beyond.
The list of awardees ranges from large consulting firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton, to long-time defense contractor Ball Aerospace & Technologies, to sensor specialist Black River Systems and software management firm NETSCOUT.
“These vehicles are primarily for FY21 and beyond. The reason the team is doing the ID/IQ now is to drive the task timeline down which is required for the 4-month cycle acquisition strategy,” Air Force Spokesperson Ann Stefanek told Breaking D.
“So, these awards aren’t for development. They’re to onboard a fast operational contract that allows for agile DevOps task awards in the near future. This is a lattice upon which to hang operational contracting tasks that can move fast and respond flexibly multiple times throughout the year,” she added.
As Breaking D readers are well aware, ABMS is the Air Force and Space Force effort to develop technologies, primarily software-based, to operationalize DoD’s high-priority Joint All Domain Command and Control System (JADC2) concept — which in turn will allow commanders to run the fast-paced, All-Domain Operations of the future. And the Air Force is using a unique, high-speed set of contracting authorities to allow software to be iterated quickly and new capabilities plugged into the mix.
“Just like the Internet of Things, our Air and Space Force platforms will only be as effective as the data they can access, machine-to-machine,” Air Force acquisition head Will Roper says in today’s press release. “ABMS will help create internet-like data sharing across our Joint Force to fight at internet speeds. Rapid development and testing cycles are critical to fail, learn, and leap ahead of advancing threats.”
The new awards are, like the 28 awarded early last month, Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite Quantity” (ID/IQ) contracts, which means it is unclear how much will go to any one of the vendors for what technology. Rather, winning firms will pitch their wares against future Air Force requests for technologies related to the 28-odd ABMS “product lines,” such as radioONE and deviceONE. If the service is interested, the vendor is invited to demonstrate that particular technology at one of the Combatant Commander-led ABMS Onramp tests.
The next ABMS Onramp is scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 5, and will feature a simulated attack on U.S. space assets and involve three combatant commands: Space Command (SPACECOM), Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and Strategic Command (STRATCOM). Another ABMS onramp scheduled for September will support Indo-Pacific Command and SPACECOM, “connecting sensors and shooters in a geographic operational theater outside the U.S. for the first time,” according to today’s Air Force announcement. And, as Breaking D readers know, a fourth ABMS exercise in Europe is being designed to include NATO allies.
The ID/IQs, standard DoD contracting vehicles for rapid tech acquisition, will allow awards for product lines under each of the seven major ABMS “Product Categories”: Digital Architecture, Engineering and Concepts; Sensor Integration; All-Domain Data; All-Domain Secure Processing; All-Domain Connectivity; All-Domain Applications; and Effects Integration.
“Agile operations require agile technology. Agile technology requires agile acquisition. Agile acquisition requires agile contracting,” Air Force Chief Architect Preston Dunlap says in the press release. “It’s common sense.”
The minimum award for each vendor is $1,000; and over the five-year period any one company could, in theory, win up to $950m in total awards — although in reality the limit will smaller, bounded by the Air Force’s annual ABMS budget.
The Air Force currently has budgeted ABMS at $3.3bn over the next five years. The service has requested $303.2m for ABMS for 2021; however, both House and Senate authorizers are skeptical. While the Senate Armed Services Committee would fully fund the Air Force’s 2021 request, their house counterparts have proposed to chop $85m from the program in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
(Given that the list of now 46 vendors given ABMS awards includes a number of small, and medium-sized businesses, which Congress is keen to protect, we wonder if the ID/IQ announcements also will help ease the program through the NDAA and appropriations processes.)
The list of companies is: Accenture Federal Services LLC; Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp; Black River Systems; Booz Allen Hamilton Inc; CAE USA Mission Solutions, Inc; CUBIC (GATR Technologies, Inc); Global Air Logistics and Training Inc; Leidos, Inc; Mercury Defense Systems, Inc; Metron, Inc; NetScoutsystems Inc; Octo Consulting Group, Inc; Omni Fed LLC; Rincon Research Corporation; Rise8, Inc; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); Strategic Mission Elements Inc; and Wind River Systems Inc.
Another tranche of contract winners is expected to be announced in late July. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
01 Jul 20. News about NEWS. The Nikkei Asian Review reported on 29 June that the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGDSF) will active a new electronic warfare unit near the city of Kumamoto, on the southwestern island of Kyushu.
The report says that the new unit will be based in Kumamoto and will form part of the JGSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB’s), headquartered at Camp Ainoura, Nagasaki, also on Kyushu. Its activation could provide the ARDB with an EW unit supporting its manoeuvre force.
No details of the equipment to be employed by the unit were mentioned. However, it is possible that the JGDSF’s new Mitsubishi Electric NEWS Type-1 vehicle-mounted Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) system could form part of the inventory.
Mitsubishi Electric NEWS Type-1
Believed to cover a 30 megahertz to 300 gigahertz waveband the NEWS Type-1 may collect communications and electronic intelligence. It is known to be in service with the JGDSF’s 1st EW Unit, The 1st EW Unit is an independent formation containing three EW companies headquartered at Higashi Chitose on the western side of the northern island of Hokkaido. It provides electronic warfare support to the JGSDF’s Northern Army. From July NEWS Type-1 units will be delivered to the JGSDF’s Signal School outside Tokyo.
The activation of the new EW unit with the ARDB underscores the JGSDF’s ongoing modernisation of its electronic warfare assets and posture. Further details on Japan’s signals intelligence capabilities can be found in the forthcoming ‘Japan’s SIGINT Challenge’ article in the June-August 2020 edition of the Asian Military Review. (Source: Armada)
01 Jul 20. Watchdog finds the Pentagon needs to improve artificial intelligence project management. Poor management of artificial intelligence projects in the Department of Defense could erode the United States’ competitive advantage in the emerging technology, the Defense Department’s watchdog warned in a July 1 report.
The DoD inspector general suggested the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, established to facilitate the adoption of artificial intelligence tools across the department, take several steps to improve project management, including determining a standard definition of artificial intelligence, improving data sharing and developing a process to accurately track artificial intelligence programs. The JAIC missed a March 2020 deadline to release a governance framework. It still plans to do so, according to the report, but that date is redacted in the report.
The inspector general started the audit to determine the gaps and weaknesses in the department’s enterprise-wide AI governance, the responsibility of the JAIC. After starting its audit, the DoD IG determined the organization had not yet developed an department-wide AI governance framework.
“If the DoD does not develop an AI governance framework in a timely manner, there is an increased risk that the DoD will lose its opportunity to become a strong, technologically-advanced Department, which is essential for protecting U.S. service members; safeguarding U.S. citizens; defending allies and partners; and improving the affordability, effectiveness, and speed of our operations,” the inspector general wrote.
The fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directed the department to establish a standard definition of artificial intelligence by August last year, but the watchdog found that as of March 2020 the department had not created one. The DoD CIO’s office told the inspector general that it didn’t think a department-wide definition wouldn’t be helpful in part because it “does not align to any specific technical, operational, or programmatic requirement,” according to the report.
The inspector general however found that each service had differing definitions that “created a challenge in determining what is and is not considered an AI project.” The IG detailed miscommunication between different officials at research labs on whether certain projects were actually AI projects.
For example, the report cites a missile project at the Air Force Research Laboratory that a technical manager identified as an AI project because of autonomous technology and algorithms, while the project manager said the project was an autonomy project using predefined flight formations.
“Without a clear and standard AI definition, the DoD’s AI oversight and governance could be applied inconsistently across the DoD,” the inspector general warned.
The IG report also found the JAIC needs a process to maintain insight into artificial intelligence activity going on across the Defense Department. The DoD CIO office told the inspector general in August last year that it has required DoD offices to report AI projects in its annual Information Technology/Cyberspace Activities budget exhibit and it will establish a biannual AI portfolio review. The first review was scheduled for “mid-2020,” the report said.
“An AI inventory management process for identifying and developing a baseline of AI projects is necessary to maintain awareness of the types and number of AI projects across the DoD,” the inspector general wrote.
JAIC also should promote collaboration on AI projects across the services. It found that the Marine Corps and Army are both working on a project to identify service members who are likely at risk of suicide, but are not collaborating. If the services did collaborate, they may develop a technology that “might be suitable for any Military Service.” Other benefits identified were cost savings and transparency.
A data and tool repository would also reduce the cost of AI projects and improve secure data sharing, the IG recommended. The DoD CIO office, where the JAIC is housed, agreed and added that it is working on creating the Joint Common Foundation. The JCF will be a massive collaborative environment that spanning multiple classification levels that will allow for sharing tools, algorithms, source code and models, along with several other capabilities.
We have addressed this report with the DoD Inspector General team and have already begun implementing a framework that addresses the report’s findings. The JAIC will continue to coordinate AI governance on behalf of the Secretary of Defense as his designated Senior AI Official pursuant to Section 238 of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Collaboration and cooperation across the Department will be an essential driver to implement the DoD AI data governance and protection framework. A key pillar of this initiative is our DoD AI executive steering committee, AI working group, and AI subcommittees that the JAIC is leading and facilitating. We are confident that the JAIC is on a good course to implement a comprehensive AI data governance and protection framework for the Department.”
Lt. Commander Arlo Abrahamson, spokesperson for the JAIC, said in a statement that the center has “already begun implementing a framework that addresses the report’s findings.”
“Collaboration and cooperation across the Department will be an essential driver to implement the DoD AI data governance and protection framework,” Abrahamson said. “A key pillar of this initiative is our DoD AI executive steering committee, AI working group, and AI subcommittees that the JAIC is leading and facilitating. We are confident that the JAIC is on a good course to implement a comprehensive AI data governance and protection framework for the Department.”
Collaboration between the JAIC and other DoD components is a goal of the organization. The JAIC’s former director, now-retired Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, said that the JAIC needed to prove its value so service leaders and combatant commanders would seek out the JAIC.
“We have to have the combatant commanders in the service knocking at our door saying: ‘We can’t afford [for] you to go away, we need you to provide too desperately to cut you,’ ” Shanahan said before retiring in June.
The JAIC has so far worked on disaster relief and predictive maintenance projects since its inception two years ago. This year, it has started its first lethality project, which Shanahan said would start by solving low level problems, like calls for fires.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are also trying to boost the JAIC’s stature. The House version of the fiscal 2021 NDAA would elevate the JAIC out of the DoD CIO’s office and have it report directly to the deputy secretary of defense.
“Our ability to apply AI and other emerging technologies faster than our adversaries will allow us to maintain our competitive edge over Russia and China,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Jul 20. Suppression Aggression. US Air Force air defence suppression capabilities are being enhanced via the F-35. The US Air Force is on course to receive a new Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) asset in the form of upgraded Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning-II combat aircraft. The official Air Force Magazine reported on 2 June that a contract worth $26.7m had been awarded to the firm for structural enhancements to adapt the jet for the SEAD mission. Design work on SEAD structural modifications for the aircraft are earmarked for completion by August 2022. The modifications are to ensure that the F-35A/B/C can house the necessary sensors and weapons to perform SEAD.
The USAF has not taken delivery of a new SEAD aircraft since 1994 when it began to receive General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Viper Weasel. The USAF is thought to possess eight squadrons of these F-16C/Js, potentially totalling up to 100 aircraft.
The two crucial components used by the F-16CJ are its Raytheon AN/ASQ-213(V) High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) targeting system, better known as the HTS, and its AGM-88 HARM series air-to-surface missiles from the same company.
The report continued that these modifications would be backfitted to aircraft produced via the Lot-14 and Lot-15 production runs. Lot-14 sees the production of 169 aircraft for US and foreign customers. Reports in February 2019 stated that Lot-15 could also include up to 169 aircraft.
The USAF has not revealed how the F-35A will detect and locate hostile radars. One possibility is that the necessary algorithms to detect, locate and extract the parameters of potentially hostile radars could be added to the F-35’s BAE Systems’ AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare system. More details on the latter can be found here. The AN/ASQ-239 is believed to cover a waveband of 500MHz to 40GHz. In theory, this allows the system to detect and analyse emissions from hostile radars. Whether extra hardware in the form of additional antennas to aid the aircraft’s precise location of hostile radars will be needed has not been revealed.
The AN/ASQ-213(V) is thought to cover a waveband of 500MHz to 20GHz. While aircraft can still deploy AGM-88 missiles without the HTS, the AN/ASQ-213(V) gives highly precise target coordinates derived from the radar’s transmissions. Adapting the F-35A for SEAD will place a premium on ensuring that at least an equivalent, if not better, level of precision vis-à-vis the AN/ASQ-213(V) can be conferred on the aircraft.
As integral to the jet’s sensors will be the missiles it employs to engage hostile radars. The US Air Force is having an unspecified number of its AGM-88C missiles converted by Raytheon to the AGM-88F status. This adds a global positioning system and inertial navigation system to allow the missile to still target a radar based on its coordinates even if that radar’s transmissions are switched off in a bid to break the missile’s lock. The AGM-88F also includes a millimetric wave radar transmitting at frequencies above 30GHz. This aids battle damage assessment by gathering detailed imagery of the missile’s end game helping to ascertain the accuracy of the engagement.
Never Ending Story
The F-35A’s enhancement into the latest incarnation of the USAF’s Wild Weasel defence suppression aircraft is the latest chapter in a saga which commenced in 1965. The USAF was embroiled in the Vietnam War and facing serious losses from North Vietnamese surface-to-air missiles. 55 years later this mission is coming to the fore once more with the latest technology, against the backdrop of an enhanced Russian air defence threat. (Source: Armada)
01 Jul 20. BAE Systems has delivered its first shipment of next-generation radiation-hardened software defined radios (SDR) enabled by its RAD5545 computer to Lockheed Martin Space. The radios provide spacecraft with the performance, availability, reliability and on-board signals processing capacity needed to support future space missions — from planetary exploration to communications, national security, surveillance, and weather missions.
“Our RAD5545 software defined radios are ideal for any mission requiring reconfigurable radio processing,” said Ricardo Gonzalez, director of Space Systems at BAE Systems. “The radios can be easily modified to address various reconfigurable processing solutions.”
BAE Systems’ software defined radio is anchored by the RAD5545 single board computer (SBC), providing the most advanced radiation-hardened quad core general purpose processing solution available today to address future threats on a variety of missions. The system leverages modular and standard building blocks including a SpaceVPX chassis and backplane electrical connectors, Serial RapidIO® and Spacewire interfaces, and a fully supported expansion port for a custom interface card.
Adhering to industry standards, this flexible and adaptable architecture supports reconfiguration for other missions by simply swapping out SpaceVPX modules, a highly desirable feature in today’s space hardware.
BAE Systems’ next-generation software defined radios, centered around the RAD5545 computer, represent a significant advance in high reliability reconfigurable electronics systems. Increased processing power, and a radiation-hardened design combine for a product line that can enable increased mission flexibility.
The RAD5545 SBC delivers exponential improvements in size, speed, and power efficiency over its predecessor single board computers. BAE Systems also offers a suite of radiation-hardened Serial RapidIO network products that complement the RAD5545 SBC and allow the user to efficiently manage and route data through a system. Products include the RADNET® 1848-PS, an 18-Port RapidIO Packet Switch, the RADNET 1616-XP Crosspoint, a protocol agnostic SerDes signal circuit switch and replicator, and the RADNET SRIO-EP, a Serial RapidIO endpoint.
The RAD5545 SDR was developed at BAE Systems’ sites in Merrimack, NH, and Manassas, VA, and is produced in Manassas. (Source: PR Newswire) (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
30 Jun 20. Senators seek to cut Army cyber program for greater joint investment. The Senate Armed Services Committee is taking aim at an Army cyber program by effectively taking away funding, arguing the effort is redundant when compared to another program under development for Cyber Command and the joint cyber force.
The Army’s program, Cyber Situational Understanding, or Cyber SU, aims to allow commanders not only to visualize but also understand the cyber environment within their battlespace. It’s to be included in the Command Post Computing Environment, a web-enabled system that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single-user interface. Research Innovation Inc. was awarded a $21m contract in April for the program.
However, the committee’s report accompanying its annual defense policy bill markup calls Cyber SU redundant and recommends a decrease of $12m in funding from the $28.5m budget request. The panel believes a new program, called Project IKE, which was formerly called PlanX and developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is sufficient enough.
Project IKE, which is run by the Strategic Capabilities Office, is a tool used by cyber commanders within the cyber mission force to plan operations. The program is expected to factor into a larger Joint Cyber Command and Control (JCC2) program for Cyber Command.
Cyberwarriors lack planning tools. That could change.
The committee notes that PlanX was originally devised to aid tactical commanders, but had been developed to meet specific needs of Cyber Command for planning and operational elements.
“[A]t least portions of the codebase remain well-suited for providing the tactical-level situational awareness that the Army seeks for its brigade-and division-level commanders,” the Senate’s language stated. “The PlanX codebase is also owned entirely by the government and would provide interoperability between the Cyber Mission Forces and Army maneuver units, making it an attractive baseline for further development projects. This line of reasoning is also applicable to similar Navy and Air Force initiatives to provide cyber situational awareness to tactical commanders.”
However, Army officials have said that a visualization tool such as Cyber SU is key for non-cyber commanders to visualize and understand their terrain from a cyber perspective, given that is another dimension they must consider when conducting operations. It was not planned solely for conducting operations in cyberspace, they’ve noted.
Under the language, the funds taken away from Cyber SU would go toward tailoring the JCC2 baseline to Army-specific brigade applications. Moreover, the committee is urging the Navy and Air Force to take similar steps to adapt JCC2 to tactical echelons.
As for Cyber SU, the Senate is directing the Army to assess if Project IKE can meet the Cyber SU requirements with further development, or if Cyber SU can be reoriented to utilize Project IKE, among others.
A briefing to the committee from the Army is required no later than Jan. 30, 2021. The committee’s bill must still be reconciled with the House version. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Jul 20. Death Valley. A contretemps embroiling two of Asia’s biggest actors sheds light on commercial space-based RF collection and analysis.
A six-hour skirmish on 15th June involving the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ended with the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of PLA troops. The brawl occurred in the Galwan River Valley stretching between the western Chinese region of Aksai Chin and the northern Indian region of Ladakh.
The skirmish happened on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This is the loosely demarcated border between the two countries resulting from the 1962 Sino-Indian War. No firearms were used by either side because of previous agreements to help deescalate tensions on the border. Instead six hours of hand-to-hand combat took place in near total darkness.
Commercial RF collection
In what may have been a first, private-sector space RF (Radio Frequency) data collection and analysis shed some light on the incident.
Until recently, the ability to collect RF signals from space, and analyse them on Earth was the preserve of governments rich and ambitious enough to own and operate signals intelligence satellites. Electronic miniaturisation and lowering launch costs is helping companies build and launch RF collection satellites.
Hawkeye 360 is one such firm. The company’s Hawk-A, B and C constellation can collect and locate the source of a myriad of RF signals. These include Very High Frequency (VHF: 30 megahertz/MHz to 300MHz) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF: 300MHz to three gigahertz/GHz)) signals. This is alongside L-band (1.3GHz to 1.7GHz) and X-band (8.5GHz to 10.68GHz) Satellite Communications (SATCOM) transmissions. Other signals can be collected by the constellation although these will bave been the most relevant regarding the skirmish.
A Hawkeye 360 spokesperson told Armada Analysis said that the company started to monitor RF activity along the LAC in mid-May as tensions between India and the PRC rose. Both sides were accusing each other of violating their borders: “We started to monitor more intently in May when we realised the Indo-China border situation was continuing to escalate.”
Hawkeye 360 focused its search on areas reported to have witnessed activity by Indian Army and PLA units. It was then a matter of narrowing down the parts of those areas seeing higher than normal RF activity. While the company demurred from saying which signals it tracked it may have been possible for the Hawk constellation to detect and locate L-band or X-band SATCOM emissions, or spikes in standard V/UHF traffic to determine a human presence in a particular area: “We leveraged commercial RF signals to develop a general awareness of activity in this remote region.”
Galwan River Valley
Once a presence had been determined using RF emissions, these RF clusters would be matched with satellite imagery of that area. This would betray the presence of military units there: “We don’t collect satellite imagery,” the spokesperson continued: “Instead, we partner with commercial Earth observation providers such as Planet to task imagery.” This approach pays dividends: “In this way, we discovered the Chinese military build-up in the Galwan River Valley, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the LAC. People were not directing attention that far up the valley.”
Hawkeye 360’s work shows the contribution that commercial space-based RF collection and analysis can make to monitoring the world’s trouble spots. Commercial satellite imagery has been available for decades helping the public and private sector make sense of conflicts. Will the latest skirmish between India and the PRC kick off a similar trend for space-based commercial RF collection and analysis? (Source: Armada)
01 Jul 20. We need to talk about Pantsir. Despite being touted as arguably the most fearsome short-range air defence system currently in service, the Pantsir has been vulnerable to electronic warfare and kinetic attack in the Syrian and Libyan theatres.
How has electronic warfare made Russia’s Pantsir air defence system so vulnerable?
KBP’s Pantsir (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) series short-range air defence system was thought to have entered service with the Russian armed forces from 2005.
Pantsirs were deployed in the Syrian and Libyan civil wars: In Syria they supported Russia’s deployment to assist the regime of President Bashir al-Assad. One Pantsir was thought to be responsible for the destruction of a Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force/TAF) McDonnell Douglas RF-4E Phantom reconnaissance aircraft on 22nd June 2012 over Syria’s northern Mediterranean coast. Russian and Syrian sources claim Panstir has downed at least 50 aerostats, drones, missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) claims to have destroyed a single Pantsir during IAF attacks on Iranian targets in Syria in May 2018. Likewise between 27th February and 3rd March 2020 Turkey’s armed forces claimed to have hit two Syrian Air Defence Force Pantsir-S1s.
Several systems were lost in Libya: The United Arab Emirates deployed Pantsir-S1s to support Libyan National Army (LNA) forces during their advance on the Libyan capital Tripoli. Eight of these were reported destroyed/captured by Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkish armed forces assisting the GNA.
The Pantsir provides robust coverage against low-altitude threats and includes the following subsystems:
- 57E6 radio/optically-guided SAMs with a range of 9.7 nautical miles/nm (18,000 metres) and an altitude of 49,000 feet/ft (15,000m).
- Four 2A38 30mm guns with a range of 2.2nm (four kilometres) and altitude of 1.6nm (three kilometres).
- One 25.4-nautical mile (47-kilometre) range VNIIRT 2RL80/E S-band (2.3 gigahertz/GHz to 2.5GHz/2.7GHz to 3.7GHz) fire control radar.
EW and Pantsir
Electronic Warfare (EW) may have played a role in these losses. EW expert Yanal Sajaja says that electronic attack and electronic support may have helped to locate and destroy Pantsirs.
The Pantsir’s radar may be relatively easy to detect and locate. Whether the radar employs Low Probability of Interception or Detection (LPI/D) waveforms is unknown. If the radar uses only basic LPI/D techniques this may have helped electronic warfare practitioners to find the equipment.
The TAF might have deployed its TAI Anka-1 signals intelligence UAV in Syria and Libya. The Anka-I may collect electronic intelligence across a 30 megahertz to three gigahertz waveband: This waveband would allow the 2RL80/E radar to be detected.
Detecting the radar would betray the Pantsir’s location. Its location discovered, jamming could then be used. Electronic attack could be provided by TAF Aselsan Koral ground-based electronic warfare systems. Koral jams wavebands of 2.3GHz to 36GHz. Jamming the 2RL80/E would then allow the Pantsir to be attacked by weapons now undetectable by its radar.
Mr. Sajaja says that such weapons could include stand-off air-to-surface missiles with ranges eclipsing the Pantsir’s reach. He adds that Pantsirs have been attacked while on-the-move or undergoing maintenance. Meanwhile a weak Syrian Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) and a non-existent IADS in Libya may have deprived the Pantsirs of overlapping air defence coverage. Similarly attacking the Pantsir with multiple munitions from multiple directions may have saturated the systems’ ability to defend itself.
The Pantsir’s record in both theatres will have not helped potential sales. This record has also shown vulnerabilities exploitable by other air forces fighting this weapon in future wars. (Source: Armada)
30 Jun 20. The US Navy aims to install cyber baselines aboard 180 ships. US Naval Information Warfare Systems Command plans to deploy technology that will certify a ship’s compliance with cybersecurity requirements to 180 vessels by fiscal 2022. The cyber baseline system — deployed by FRD 300, which is short for the Cybersecurity Office of the command’s Fleet Readiness Directorate — is a web-based application. It allows the directorate to ensure a ship’s systems comply with cybersecurity requirements set by the departments of Defense and the Navy prior to departure, according to a June 29 news release from NAVWAR.
A baseline “offers a searchable, easy-to-use, platform-specific record of all Navy networks, including hosted and connected, afloat and ashore systems, enabling the ability to independently manage and maintain a ship’s information technology capabilities,” the release said.
Cyber baselines have been deployed aboard 40 ships in fiscal 2019, the release said. The program, which started in January 2018, has implemented cyber baselines on 80 Navy ships as of June 2020, according to the release.
“Delivering cyber baselines allows us to identify capability risks during a ship’s availability or scheduled modernization, assuring a cyber-ready platform prior to departure,” FRD 300 Director Duane Phillips said. “We are using an end-to-end approach, ensuring that all hosted and connected systems, including the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) and Integrated Shipboard Network System (ISNS), comply with DoD and DoN requirements and are approved to meet cyber security technical authority standards.”
The tool is delivered and installed in coordination with NAVWAR Headquarters, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific and Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic.
According to the release, FRD 300 supports 10 to 15 platforms at any given time. It is currently working on ships in Bahrain, Japan, California, Washington “and more,” the release said. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, FRD 300 is providing both distance and in-person training on the system.
“Despite today’s current circumstances, our Navy and our nation are continuing to experience an unprecedented degree of competition in the maritime environment,” FRD 300 Executive Director Mike Spencer said. “As the technical leader for Navy cybersecurity we must continue to drive implementation of cyber standards, creating a secure, defensible information domain. By delivering, installing and managing cyber baselines, we are able to provide a validated end-to-end cyber compliant network improving cyber readiness across the fleet.”
Know all the coolest acronyms
Sign up for the C4ISRNET newsletter about future battlefield technologies. NAVWAR is also working with NIWC Pacific and Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence and Space Systems to create a C4I certification by the end of fiscal 2021 that assess a system’s cyber readiness. According to the release, the certification process will confirm “all warfighter tools and capabilities are cyber secure through consistent and pervasive implementation of cybersecurity specifications and standards.”
The efforts come as the Navy continues to work to improve its cybersecurity after an assessment last year found the service lacked effective cyber hygiene and recommended that it restructure its cybersecurity governance. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Jul 20. Australian PM reveals details of $1.3bn cyber security investment. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed the details of the nation’s largest ever investment in cyber security, with $1.35bn over the next decade to enhance the cyber security capabilities and assistance provided to Australians through the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
This significant investment, known as the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package, will mean that we can identify more cyber threats, disrupt more foreign cyber criminals, build more partnerships with industry and government and protect more Australians.
The CESAR package has been designed to boost protection and cyber resilience for all Australians, from individuals and small businesses through to the providers of critical services.
The new capabilities to disrupt and defeat malicious cyber activity, providing greater capacity to take the fight to cyber criminals offshore and to neutralise and block emerging cyber threats to Australia, including:
- Over $31m to enhance the ability of ASD to disrupt cyber crime offshore, taking the fight to foreign criminals that seek to target Australians, and providing assistance to federal, state and territory law enforcement agencies;
- Over $35m to deliver a new cyber threat-sharing platform, enabling industry and government to share intelligence about malicious cyber activity, and block emerging threats in near real-time; and
- Over $12m towards new strategic mitigations and active disruption options, enabling ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching ms of Australians across the country by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed.
Prime Minister Morrison explained, “My government’s record investment in our nation’s cyber security will help ensure we have the tools and capabilities we need to fight back and keep Australians safe.”
To deliver these capabilities and initiatives, the package also includes a $470m investment to expand our cyber security workforce, with the creation of over 500 new jobs within ASD. Australians who want an exciting career at ASD should go to careers on the ASD website.
CESAR will also enhance our understanding of malicious cyber activity so that emerging cyber threats can be more rapidly identified and responded to, including:
- Over $118m for ASD to expand its data science and intelligence capabilities, ensuring Australia remains at the forefront of the technological advancements in cyber security, including the identification of emerging cyber threats to Australia;
- Over $62m to deliver a national situational awareness capability to better enable ASD to understand and respond to cyber threats on a national scale. This includes informing vulnerable sectors of the economy about threats most likely to impact them, coupled with tailored advice and assistance about how to mitigate cyber threats; and
- Over $20m to establish cutting-edge research laboratories to better understand threats to emerging technology, ensuring that ASD continues to provide timely and authoritative advice about the most secure approaches for organisations to adopt new technology.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds added, “The package will put our nation on the front foot in combating cyber threats and our investment in a cyber security workforce will help ensure we have the people we need to meet future cyber challenges.
“This package is one part of our $15bn investment in cyber and information warfare capabilities that will form part of Defence’s 2020 Force Structure Plan to address the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian Federal Police and other Home Affairs agencies are confronting increasingly brazen cyber criminals and other online threats.
“This investment will significantly strengthen our agencies’ ability to tackle these threats,” Minister Dutton said.
The remaining details of the CESAR Package will be detailed in our 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, which will build on the strong foundations established by our $230m 2016 Cyber Security Strategy and our $156 m 2019 cyber security election commitment. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Jun 20. Cybersecurity Pioneer Cyemptive Technologies Announces Cyemptive Compliancy Cloud, World’s First Cyber Security Platform Providing a Single Seamless Solution to Meet the New Requirements of DOD’s Upcoming Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.
Ensures Department of Defense Supply Chain Providers Will be Able to Quickly Meet the New Certification Requirements.
Cyemptive Technologies, Inc., a provider of pre-emptive cybersecurity products and technology and winner of the Department of Homeland Security’s national competition for most innovative border security-related solution in the market, today announced Cyemptive Compliancy Cloud (CCC), a new platform designed to ensure Department of Defense (DOD) Supply Chain Providers are able to quickly meet the upcoming certification requirements of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) – the certification procedure developed by DOD to certify that their providers have the necessary controls to protect sensitive data.
The finalization of the platform will occur when the CMMC is formally implemented, however, in recognition of the critical importance for Supply Chain Providers to quickly and seamlessly meet certification requirements to do business with DOD, Cyemptive has developed the CCC Platform with associated CCC blueprints that will be available immediately. It is the world’s first platform to provide a blueprint that works seamlessly with a revolutionary, patented solution stack to provide guaranteed service level agreements (SLA’s) measured in seconds.
“We want to let DOD Supply Chain Providers know that we can immediately provide clarity, assistance and a clear path forward to expedite their CMMC certification requirements from Level One to Five,” said Rob Pike, CEO and founder of Cyemptive Technologies. “We care about every client, no one too big, no one too small. We understand they will need to move quickly in an organized and comprehensive manner.”
“Cyemptive is well-positioned to ensure the DOD supply chain providers reach compliance utilizing our CCC Platform including our cutting-edge, pre-emptive security appliances and solutions,” said Jim DuBois, Cyemptive Chief Strategy Officer and former Chief Information Security Officer for Microsoft. “In addition, a key leader at Cyemptive, Mr. Gerges Hana, has been a key, trusted advisor to CMMC/DOD/Government, providing ongoing input, guidance and experience to the body designing the overall certification process for DOD. Gerges has also been one of the first individuals to prepare supply chain providers to meet the upcoming certification requirements.”
“We offer one, comprehensive seamless solution provided by one, experienced, seamless team,” said Mr. Gerges Hana, Cyemptive’s Chief Compliancy Officer. “We translate complex and complicated to simple and comprehensive. Our CCC Platform is designed to provide a cost-effective roadmap and blueprint to DOD supply chain providers to quickly obtain the certification level they require.”
About Cyemptive Technologies
Founded in 2014, Cyemptive is a provider of pre-emptive cybersecurity products and technology. With a leadership team comprised of executives from several of the world’s most powerful technology and security organizations, including the former CIO of Microsoft and the former Chief Computer Architect for the National Security Agency, the company’s focus is on delivering an alternative approach to security. It is the winner of the Department of Homeland Security’s Border Security Technology Consortium (BSTC) competition for most innovative border security-related solution in the market. More information about Cyemptive Technologies is available at www.cyemptive.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
29 Jun 20. NXTCOMM Announces Opening of New Antenna Production Facility. Proven Antenna Technology Solves Broadband Challenge Facing Mobility and Fixed Wireless Markets. NXT Communications Corporation (NXTCOMM), a new wireless connectivity company in metro Atlanta, announced today that it has opened a new 10,000-square-foot production facility that will produce the first cost-efficient, commercially viable electronically steered antenna to meet worldwide demand for affordable broadband connectivity on the move.
The 10,000-square-foot facility, located in Cherokee County, Georgia, will produce satellite broadband antennas for a host of mobility and fixed wireless markets. NXTCOMM plans to add 50 full-time positions in the next 18 months.
Situated in Cherokee County, Georgia, the facility will produce next-generation, satellite broadband antennas for the satellite, aviation, trucking and other mobility and fixed wireless markets. The location will house executive management and administration, engineering, supply chain, quality, production, integration, assembly and test capabilities.
“We are excited to open our facility in Georgia, a transportation, logistics and aerospace hub nurtured by leading R&D institutions like Georgia Tech, strong engineering and technical schools and a tech-savvy workforce,” says Dave Horton, NXTCOMM co-founder and CEO.
NXTCOMM is initially targeting airline inflight connectivity and land mobile applications such as rail and trucking fleets and first responders. The commercial market for connected equipment and services across aviation, maritime, land mobile and connected vehicle industries combined is expected to exceed $500B in the next 10 to 15 years.
Many satellite equipment manufacturers have struggled to solve the ground segment challenge of delivering efficient and high-performance electronically steered antennas needed for broadband applications.
“Unlike traditional antenna designs, our antennas are modular by design and easily mass producible in any form factor to meet global demand for wireless connectivity – anywhere,” explains Horton.
“Our goal is to drive production efficiencies with our next-generation, modular, high-performing antenna designs, a lower cost product and connectivity service solutions supporting the mobile connectivity marketplace,” says Tim Morton, NXTCOMM’s co-founder and president.
Officials plan to begin over-the-air testing of the aero antenna in fourth quarter with initial low-rate production in early 2021.
NXTCOMM intends to introduce other products and services to comms-on-the-move markets in the next year, and will add 50 full-time positions, half of which will be specialized engineering roles, in the next 18 months.
“We are excited to have NXTCOMM in Cherokee and look forward to further partnerships and much success as they continue to empower connectivity within the satellite and mobility markets,” says Marshall Day, chairman of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development. (Source: PR Newswire)
29 Jun 20. Soldiers in Europe could soon have a new system to disrupt signals. Light infantry Army units in Europe could soon have an electronic attack capability to deny, degrade and disrupt enemy signals, an industry official told C4ISRNET.
Army units are already using heavy and light prototypes of electronic warfare equipment as they wait for the service to select a more permanent solution. These prototypes includes the Stryker-mounted Tactical Electronic Warfare System, which provides both electronic support and electronic attack capabilities, and the Flyer 72-mounted Tactical Electronic Warfare Light, which currently only provides electronic support. Both have been delivered to Europe and the Pacific.
However, TEWL will be getting an electronic attack capability soon, Terence Winn, director for tactical ISR at General Dynamics, the prime for both systems, told C4ISRNET in an interview.
Additionally, Winn said General Dynamics is in the process of producing more systems to be deployed to units in these theaters. This will include building nine more TEWSs and four more TEWLs.
These systems, which received funding in 2018 and were first delivered in 2019, have helped the Army conduct risk reduction for the program of record, the Terrestrial Layer System, while also filling urgent needs of forces at the tactical edge.
TLS will be the Army’s first ground based integrated signals intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber platform. Two companies – Digital Receiver Technology and Lockheed Martin – were awarded contracts to develop the first phase of the program.
Stryker units will be the first to receive TLS in fiscal year 2022 while the Army works through what equipment infantry will receive in follow on programs. TEWL currently provides that light capability for light infantry units and is air-droppable, Winn said, and will soon possess the electronic support and attack capability in a smaller form factor. Units in Europe had asked for the electronic attack capability.
Currently, the TEWS capability, which performs “electronic attack at great distances” and denies, degrades, disrupts enemy signals, requires too much power for the lighter vehicles.
However, Winn stated that the electronic capability TEWS provides can be outfitted to a variety of vehicles to include the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Army Ground Mobility Vehicle and the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.
Winn explained that there has been a fair amount of input from soldiers and back and forth with the program office on the development of the systems and lessons learned.
“We continue, every time we field a TEWS or a TEWL, our training team gathers solider input – good, bad and indifferent – and we bring that summary to the customer to see which ones they can make changes, which ones are nice to have, which ones we must do,” he said. “Every time we field a system, we gather touchpoints and we share that with the customer.
“Our initial design we had soldiers from Fort Huachuca come up and give us feedback before we finalized that deign. The touchpoints where the seats go, where the monitors go, the start up and shut down procedures all had soldier input prior to finalizing the design. The customer was very pleased with that instead of just making a design and it’s a one size fits all. We had a lot of soldier input, not only the physical design but the software aspect.”
Winn said General Dynamics will continue to field systems to units throughout 2020 and 2021. (Source: Defense News)
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.