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06 Aug 20. USAF Tests F-35, Stealth Fleet For Integrated Electronic Warfare. “Many believe that stealth is perishable,” says Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia, thus increasing the need for suppression of enemy air defenses. Of course, a key requirement for the F-35 is that it can take out advanced air defenses.
The Air Force just wrapped up a first-of-its-kind test to hone how stealthy aircraft can work in tandem in highly contested airspace — with the F-35A providing critical anti-air defense cover for older aircraft, including the B-2 bomber and the highly classified RQ-170 surveillance drone.
The two-day exercise at Nellis AFB in Nevada also included Air Force F-22, F-15E fighters and the Navy’s E/A-18G Growler electronic warfare plane, with the aim of pairing fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft in conducting electronic attacks (EA) missions.
“Most people don’t think of F-35s as electronic warfare aircraft—but they are, and they are incredibly capable,” Mark Gunzinger, director for future concepts and technology assessments at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told Breaking D in an email today. (Breaking D readers have known that for a much longer time than most.)
“F-35s have EW suites that can detect emissions from radars and other threats, classify and geolocate them, and then distribute threat data to other aircraft. They can also perform active EW tasks such as standoff jamming of airborne and surface threats. Their active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars can also conduct electronic attacks,” he explained.
The $1.4 million Large Force Test Event was “designed to find solutions to Air Force prioritized Tactics Improvement Proposals for Suppression of Enemy Air Defense, low-observable ingress, and 4th-5th generation electronic attack interoperability,” the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group says in a press release today. “As a result of the LFTE, the Air Force to explore unique integration of tactics, techniques, and procedures that have never been tested together,” the release added.
“This exercise is primarily focused on demonstrating LO [low observable] platform effectiveness against advanced threats,” Maj Theodore Ellis, chief of 53rd Wing Weapons, says in the release. “We do this by utilizing emerging technology and tactics to minimize weaknesses and capitalize on joint capabilities.”
As tensions rise, ISR demand will increase exponentially as will the need for kinetic response to threats.
“An LFTE is so important because it’s not singularly focused on one platform, but rather on the collaboration and interconnectivity,” 1st Lt. Savanah Bray, an Air Force spokesperson, says in an email to Breaking D. “So, it’s not focused on the F-35’s EW capabilities against SEAD, but rather how the platforms are able to synergize in a singular effort.”
That said, the test event was also an opportunity for Air Force leaders to explore the F-35’s abilities to play a leading role in directing multi-domain operations — a role that just-retired former Chief of Staff David Goldfein likened to the “quarterback” of a football team calling out plays.
“The Large Force Test Event highlights the F-35’s ability to integrate both legacy aircraft, as well as other high-end assets including other F-35s, to achieve mission success and survivability using a combination of stealth, electronic attack, information sharing, and other measures,” Brett Ashworth, spokesperson for prime contractor Lockheed Martin, says in an email to Breaking D today.
That capability was also on display during the 2020 version of the annual Orange Flag exercise at Edwards AFB in California. The Air Force F-35A collected targeting data and bounced it to a U-2 spy plane service as an airborne communications node, as well as to a simulated Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS). IBCS, as Breaking D readers know, is the Army’s high-priority command and control system for its missile defense weapons — a system that Strategic Command chief Adm. Charles Richards says is critical to enabling all domain operations.
“The ability to share their operational picture, act as battle managers, and perform as electronic warfare assets make F-35s potent force multipliers,” Gunzinger said.
The suppression of enemy air defenses mission, known as SEAD, has become a more pressing need in recent years, according to air warfare experts.
First, peer competitors such as Russia and China have spent much time and treasure improving their anti-access/area denial capabilities, also helping to spur proliferation of sophisticated air defenses to countries such as Iran. Advances in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, including space-based, also have raised the likelihood that stealth technologies will be rendered moot.
“Perhaps most importantly, many believe that stealth is perishable anyway — implying the need, at least in the future, for EA/SEAD cooperation,” Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia told Breaking D in an email today.
But also, the new emphasis on EA and SEAD has been borne of choices made by the Air Force itself, largely due to budgetary pressures.
“Originally, USAF wanted to be an all fifth-gen force, with no need of Electronic Attack/SEAD. Then, it was a division of labor—fifth-gen for kicking down the door; legacy assets for day two and beyond,” Aboulafia explained. “But it’s increasingly clear that the Navy will have very little fifth-gen, and that they’ll need to cooperate. And given the F-15 procurement re-start, it’s clear that the Air Force will need to work with fourth-gen platforms in many roles for many decades to come.”
LFTEs “are Air Combat Command’s principal event for operational test warfighters to evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of emerging capabilities within an integrated and operationally realistic scenario,” the Air Force press release explained. “Unlike joint or multiple-platform exercises that focus on the training and readiness for units with fielded capabilities, such as Red Flag, LFTEs focus on yet to be fielded hardware, software, and tactics. Results from LFTEs inform a wide range of efforts to include capability development and the latest tactics, with a focus on integration.”
“Through events like these, we continue to improve our joint 4th and 5th generation tactics, which enhances our abilities in an advanced threat environment,” said Ellis. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
07 Aug 20. Billion-dollar cyber boost: A cash cow for defence SMEs? While the release of the national Cyber Security Strategy 2020 yesterday reflects an uptick in financial support for business, government, and household cyber resilience, much of the $1.67bn promised is pegged to defence – representing an unprecedented opportunity for defence SMEs to expand into the space.
Following on from months of review, the Commonwealth has finally handed down its grand strategy for “creating a more secure online world for Australians”. While some would argue the report – which replaces a 2016 iteration – is long overdue, others have argued it articulates a timely, robust response to mounting external pressures.
“We work to actively prevent cyber attacks, minimise damage, and respond to malicious cyber activity directed against our national interests. We deny and deter, while balancing the risk of escalation,” the strategy states in its opening paragraph.
“Our actions are lawful and aligned with the values we seek to uphold, and will therefore be proportionate, always contextual, and collaborative.”
The paper sets itself the lofty goal of evaluating:
- Action by governments to strengthen the protection of Australians, businesses and critical infrastructure from the most sophisticated threats;
- Action by businesses to secure their products and services and protect their customers from known cyber vulnerabilities; and
- Action by the community to practice secure online behaviours and make informed purchasing decisions.
The full package will see $1.67bn directed towards shoring up cyber resilience over the next 10 years, representing a marked increase on the $230 m laid out in the 2016 paper. Yet compared with the previous paper, the 2020 Strategy was remarkably clear about where this funding is being directed – and in large part, that’s towards defence.
As laid out yesterday, Canberra looks to ramp up funding towards intelligence cyber capabilities in the years to come. This comes, naturally, on the back of a rapidly shifting geostrategic environment – including, perhaps most ostensibly, a high-profile state-sponsored attack on the national infrastructure.
With a view to bolster offensive, as well as defensive, capability, just under one-third of the funding has been earmarked for the Australian Signals Directorate; $470m will be used to create some 500-odd jobs within the agency, as well as a further $62.3m spent on a “classified national situational awareness capability” to help ASD respond to threats.
As well as being handed a host of new cyber tools and legislative powers, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is set to receive an additional $88 m in funding – though no specifics were given regarding any additional roles added to the agency.
Cyber security training and employment has been high on the priority list for some time. AustCyber has previously estimated that the nation will need 17,000 extra cyber security professionals by 2026. It’s clear that, words aside, the strategy update is likely to create a surge in cyber security employment on the government side, as well as academia. But what of private business?
A role to play for SMEs
While a groundswell in support for government cyber security agencies is likely to lead to flow-on effects through the public-private supply chain, this year’s strategy also injects funding and opportunity directly into the private side of the equation.
One key aspect of the report, which seems to have been skimmed over by most commentators so far, is undoubtedly the $50 m investment into the industry, referred to as the Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program.
Split into four tranches, the blueprint for growth is designed to maximise SME involvement in both supply chains and critical government research initiatives – which, as we’ll discuss, is critical for protecting the contribution of SMEs as a whole.
There’s the $26.5m Cyber Skills Partnerships Innovation Fund, which seeks to bring businesses and academia together to partner on innovative skills projects that directly meet employers’ skills needs.
Whether it’s scholarships, apprenticeships, specialist cyber security courses for working professionals, or retraining initiatives (key in the current climate), this component of the strategy shouldn’t be overlooked for decreasing entry barriers for those looking to get into the profession.
Similarly, smaller packages dished out to specific institutions – like the Australian Cyber Security Centre ($6.3m) and Canberra’s Questacon ($14.9m) might not seem like much initially; but they represent a significant improvement on previous rounds of funding.
Training, mentoring and coaching programs are all important for bringing talent into the fold, but $2.5m has even been allocated towards data collection targeted at evaluating why there’s a cyber security skills shortage in the first place.
A self-protection mechanism?
Writing in ASPI’s The Strategist, Ian Bloomfield, Alison Howe and Max Heinrich make the case that small businesses are on the frontline of the nation’s battle with its cyber security woes. If correct, the Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program could provide the perfect mixture of opportunity and incentive to stimulate defence SME involvement in the cyber sector over the next decade.
Drawing on years of experience in the field, the authors argue that taking cyber resilience more seriously improves the experience of small businesses and SMEs, and sets them up to succeed. Citing a survey of small and medium businesses conducted by the Australian Cyber Security Centre in 2019, they note that the sector is highly vulnerable to malicious cyber activity.
Now, while it’s far from often that Australia hits the headlines worldwide for cyber innovation, recent years have shown that we certainly have the talent to do so – and that much of it exists outside of government agencies and public research institutions.
Earlier in the year, Adelaide-based SME CyberOps proved it doesn’t shy away from complex, large-scale contracts – after the company took on a $299,000 contract to develop a security framework to support the nano-satellite development programs and operating systems in partnership with the Department of Defence.
And in February, Canberra-based Penten scored funding under a contract with AustCyber, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, to provide secure network access to a pilot group of regional SMEs and academia.
At the time, company CEO Matthew Wilson put it particularly succinctly. “SMEs are the future growth and innovation engine of the Australian cyber economy,” he said. “These businesses provide invaluable opportunities for Defence to gain advantage. Without them, we are missing out. Australia is missing out.” (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Aug 20. Two US Army projects seek to improve comms between soldiers and AI. A pair of artificial intelligence projects from U.S. Army researchers are easing communication barriers that limit the relationship between AI systems and soldiers. The artificial intelligence projects are designed to support ongoing efforts for the Army’s next-generation combat vehicle modernization priority, which includes a focus on autonomous vehicles and AI-enabled platforms.
The first project, named the Joint Understanding and Dialogue Interface, or JUDI, is an AI system that can understand the intent of a soldier when that individual gives a robot verbal instructions. The second project, Transparent Multi-Modal Crew Interface Designs, is meant to give soldiers a better understanding of why AI systems make decisions.
“We’re attacking a similar problem from opposite ends,” said Brandon Perelman, a research psychologist at the Army Research Laboratory who worked on Transparent Multi-Modal Crew Interface Designs.
The JUDI system will improve soldiers’ situational awareness when working with robots because it will transform that relationship from a “heads down, hands full” to a “heads up, hands free” interaction, according to Matthew Marge, a computer scientist at the lab. Simply put, “this means that soldiers will be more aware of their surroundings,” he said.
Natural language AI systems are available on the commercial market, but the JUDI system requires a level of awareness in a physical environment that isn’t matched by commercial products. Commercial systems can understand what a person is saying and take instructions, but they don’t know what is going on in the surrounding area. For the Army, the autonomous system needs to know that.
“You want a robot to be able to process what you’re saying and ground it to the immediate physical context,” Marge said. “So that means the robot has to not only interpret the speech, but also have a good idea of where it is [in] the world, the mapping of its surroundings, and how it represents those surroundings in a way that can relate to what the soldier is saying.”
Researchers looked into how soldiers speak to robots, and how robots talk back. In prior research, Marge found that humans speak to technology in much simpler, direct language; but when talking to other people, they usually talk about a course of action and the steps involved. However, those studies were done in a safe environment, and not a stressful one similar to combat, during which a soldier’s language could be different. That’s an area where Marge knows the Army must perform more research.
“When a soldier is under pressure, we don’t want to have any limit on the range of words or phrases they have to memorize to speak to the robot,” Marge said. “So from the beginning, we are taking an approach of so-called natural language. We don’t want to impose any restrictions on what a soldier might say to a robot.”
JUDI’s ability to determine a soldier’s intent — or what Army researchers define as whatever the soldier wants JUDI to do — is based on an algorithm that tries to match the verbal instructions with existing data. The algorithm finds an instruction from its training data with the highest overlap and sends it to the robot as a command.
The JUDI system, Marge said, is scheduled for field testing in September. JUDI was developed with help from researchers at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies.
The Transparent Multi-Modal Crew Interface Designs is tackling the AI-human interaction from the other side.
“We’re looking at ways of improving the ability of AI to communicate information to the soldier to show the soldier what it’s thinking and what it’s doing so it’s more predictable and trustworthy,” Perelman said. “Because we know that … if soldiers don’t understand why the AI is doing something and it fails, they’re not going to trust it. And if they don’t trust it, they’re not going to use it.”
Mission planning is the one area where the Transparent Multi-Modal Crew Interface Designs may prove useful. Perelman compared the program to driving down the highway while a navigation app responds to changes along a route. A driver may want to stay on the highway for the sake of convenience — not having to steer through extra turns — even if it takes a few minutes longer.
“You can imagine a situation during mission planning, for example, where an AI proposes a number of courses of action that you could take, and if it’s not able to accurately communicate how it’s coming up with those decisions, then the soldier is really not going to be able to understand and accurately calculate the trade-offs that it’s taking into account,” Perelman said.
He added that through lab testing, the team improved soldiers’ ability to predict the AI’s future mobility actions by 60 percent and allowed the soldiers to decide between multiple courses of actions 40 percent quicker.
The program has transitioned over to the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle System Center’s Crew Optimization and Augmentation Technologies program. That’s where it will take part in Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrators phase 2 field testing.115(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Aug 20. Acquired Data Solutions Partners with KDM Analytics to Provide Cyber Risk Management Solutions to Federal Government and Equipment Suppliers. Helps Meet New Federal and DoD Cyber Compliance Standards (CMMC). Acquired Data Solutions (ADS), a leading-edge technology and engineering solution provider, announces its partnership with KDM Analytics. Together, the organizations will provide the federal government and equipment suppliers with Blade RiskManager (BRM), a fully-automated cyber risk analysis and risk measurement product.
BRM leverages artificial intelligence technology and a ten-year cybersecurity knowledge base to provide a one-stop source to store, manage, and trace all evidence regarding operational and system risk. BRM improves confidence in decision-making and reduces the time and cost of a NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF) assessment by precisely focusing risk-assessment resources.
As the cybersecurity threat risk worsens, DoD is improving information protections with its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). This is now a requirement for defense contractors and other vendors performing work for the DoD and other federal agencies.
“The overlap between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) networks is forcing many organizations to re-assess and improve their cybersecurity,” said Steve Seiden, President of Acquired Data Solutions. “The exposure of legacy OT devices to the internet has led to new risks that can have major impacts on critical national infrastructure providers. Urgent, proactive strategies are needed to ensure OT cybersecurity develops to the same maturity as IT cybersecurity. Our partnership with KDM Analytics enhances our ability to address these challenges and help our federal government customers prepare for compliance with CMMC and NIST RMF to support critical business needs.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
05 Aug 20. Gorshkov Electronic Warfare Upgrade Puzzle. Why is the Russian Navy is planning an upgrade of the electronic warfare systems adorning the ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ class frigates? While much of the Electronic Warfare (EW) limelight is occupied by the Russian Army’s enhancement of its EW systems, the Russian Navy is pursuing some notable endeavours. Last month, Russia’s official Tass news agency reported that the navy’s two ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ class frigates will receive new electronic warfare systems.
To date the eponymous vessel, the first in the class, commissioned on 28th July 2018. Her sister, the ‘Admiral Kasatonov’ is expected to commission this summer. A further six ships should join the fleet by the end of the decade.
Electronic Warfare Equipment
Open sources state that the two ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ ships are equipped with the KRET TK-28E/5P-28 electronic support measure, Prosvet-M countermeasures launcher, CT-308 decoy launcher to deliver corner reflectors.
The TK-28E/5P-28 is designed for large combatants, with a version of the system, dubbed the TK-25E, optimised for smaller ships like offshore patrol vessels. Russian sources have indicated that the TK-25E has similar performance characteristics to the TK-28E.
Rosoboronexport, which markets the system, states that the TK-25E can detect emissions across a 500 megahertz to 40 gigahertz/GHz waveband. Up to 100 targets can be analysed simultaneously, and two targets jammed simultaneously. Its literature continues that X-band (8.5GHz to 10.68GHz) and Ku-band (13.4GHz to 14GHz/15.7GHz to 17.7GHz) threats can be jammed by the TK-25E with between 100 watts/W and 1.2 kilowatts of power. Threats can be detected across 360 degrees of azimuth and up to 40 degrees of elevation.
The Tass report said that alongside upgraded radars, the two ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ ships would receive modernised electronic warfare systems. Tantalisingly, the report made no mention as to what this would entail or the EW systems to be procured.
Why the ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ class, a comparatively new frigate class in the Russian Navy, is receiving new electronic warfare systems is puzzling. The TK-28E is considered as among the most modern surface combatant EW systems in the fleet.
It is possible that enhancements are being made to the TK-28E and other electronic warfare systems used by the vessel as opposed to new EW systems being installed. These improvements may result from operational and trials experience with the eponymous ship in the class. They may be retrofitted onto the ‘Admiral Kasatonov’ once she has commissioned. These upgraded EW systems may thus become the standard specification for future members of the class.
Similarly, the improvements could adorn the enhanced so-called ‘Super Gorshkov’ class frigates; a greatly enhanced version of the ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ class. These could displace up to 8,000 tonnes and commence construction by 2023. (Source: Armada)
05 Aug 20. LORAN Runs Again. The LORAN (Long Range Navigation) radio navigation system is enjoying a new lease of life with E-LORAN promising improvements in accuracy and resistance to electronic attack.
The US pioneered LORAN during the Second World War to aid maritime navigation, particularly for Allied convoys crossing the Atlantic bringing troops, materiel and supplies to Europe. It uses hyperbolic techniques to provide ships or aircraft with information on their position.
The Maths Part
LORAN exploits the speed of light which travels at 161,595 nautical miles-per-second (299,274 kilometres-per-second). At least two radio transmitters are needed for LORAN to work. Imagine two radio transmitters, ‘A’ and “B’ on a coastline. Out at sea is the MV Ted Rogers, a fictious ship equipped with a LORAN receiver. Our two transmitters send out a regular pulse every half a second. These are sent on a frequency of 100 kilohertz/KHz, a standard LORAN waveband allotted by the International Telecommunications Union.
The MV Ted Rogers is positioned at the exact mid-point between both transmitters and will receive the pulses of transmitters A and B every half a second. If the ship is nearer transmitter A, its LORAN receiver will get the pulse from transmitter B slightly later and vice versa if it is closer to B.
The clever thing is that although transmitter A and B are sending out their pulses at the same rate, pulses from the transmitter which the ship is furthest from will take longer to arrive. By knowing the physical distance between transmitter A and B, and the ship’s relative proximity to each, the LORAN receiver can calculate the ships position relative to the coastline.
LORAN gradually fell out of favour from the late 1980s onwards as advances in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology gained momentum in the 1990s.
However it may be about to enjoy a new lease of life in the guise of Enhanced LORAN, better known as E-LORAN. Examples of GNSS jamming have been noted in the eastern Mediterranean during Russia’s intervention in the Syrian Civil War from September 2015. While GNSS signals are weak and easy to jam, they can also be ‘spoofed’; manipulated to provide false information. Meanwhile, research and development of anti-satellite weapons is continuing in India, the People’s Republic of China, Russia and the United States. All these factors are prompting interest around the world for GNSS alternatives to provide PNT (Position Navigation and Timing) services in the event of GNSS systems being jammed, spoofed or physically damaged.
Hellen Systems has developed an E-LORAN system which is a major overhaul of the existing LORAN architecture. The latter’s vacuum tube transmitter and analogue signal technology has been replaced by solid state architecture and digital signals, says Bridge Littleton who alongside Daniel Olmes, is a founder and president of the firm. Hellen Systems’ approach makes no change to the standard 90KHz to 100KHz waveform used by LORAN but adds a major enhancement in signal quality.
Mr. Littleton says that factors like the weather can degrade the LORAN signal as it travels through the air. This in turn affects the quality of the navigation information the transmitters can provide. Hellen Systems’ approach is to use a proven approach for improving accuracy via a Differential Correction Station (DCS). A DCS is about the size of a fridge which can run autonomously. It is positioned within range of a users receiver. The DCS samples the transmitted signal and compares this to what the signal should be like if there was no impedance. These corrections to the signal are then sent back to the E-LORAN broadcast tower and transmitted in the E-LORAN signal. Any E-LORAN receiver within range of the transmitter will receive the E-LORAN signals from the transmitter, and any corrections to that signal provided by the DCS. Mr. Littleton adds that the DCS has completed testing and validation and is ready for service for any E-LORAN deployment.
He says that much of the infrastructure needed by E-LORAN still exists in the form of legacy transmitters and equipment at LORAN sites around the world. These would need to be upgraded with a solid state transmitter and timing equipment. The DCS stations can be placed anywhere inside the arch of coverage provided by a LORAN transmitter which typically reaches between 1,043nm (1931km) to 1,216nm (2,233km) in range: “Compared to a GNSS system, the E-LORAN system is exponentially less expensive to implement,” argues Mr Littleton.
He says that E-LORAN has good resistance to electronic attack. The signal is typically five million times stronger than the circa 50 watt signals the US GPS constellation transmits. Anyone wishing to do so would have to build a large power-hungry system with a tower at least 213 metres (700 feet) tall if they wanted to seriously upset LORAN transmissions in a particular area. Mr. Littleton says that digital coding is built into the E-LORAN signal to make it harder to spoof. LORAN receivers will be able to recognise potentially false signals bereft of this coding.
Both the American and British governments are looking to introduce modernised LORAN systems in their countries to aid maritime navigation and provide resilient PNT services nationwide. Mr. Littleton says that the firm could have a fully operational E-LORAN system up and running in the UK within two years and in the US within five years of a contract signature. (Source: Armada)
05 Aug 20. Small System, Big Difference. The US Army’s RQ-7B UAV, and its successor, are platforms which could accommodate the MFEW-AS creating a bridge between the operational and tactical collection of COMINT/ELINT for Brigade Combat Teams. The US Army’s MFEW-AS electronic warfare system for Class-3 UAVs promises an enhancement to the electromagnetic capabilities of its Brigade Combat Teams.
The Multi-Function Electronic Warfare – Air/Small (MFEW-AS) electronic warfare ensemble is envisaged for so-called ‘Class-3’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), according to a US Army presentation. The US Department of Defence’s classification system for UAVs defines these aircraft as having a ceiling of 18,000 feet/ft (5,486 metres) and a maximum take-off weight of below 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms).
The MFEW-AS is the sibling of the MFEW-Air Large (MFEW-AL) electronic warfare system equipping the US Army’s General Atomics MQ-1C Grey Eagle medium-altitude/long-endurance UAVs. The MFEW-AL, which is currently undergoing flight testing, is to collect Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) on radios and radars. While specific frequencies have not been published, it is reasonable to assume that transmissions between 30 megahertz and up to 40 gigahertz are within the MFEW-AL’s purview.
Given the MQ-1C’s ceiling of 29,000ft (8,829m) the MFEW-AL may have a detection range for hostile emitters of up to 209 nautical miles (387 kilometres). This could allow the apparatus to collect COMINT and ELINT across an area of 181,666 square miles (470,513 square kilometres) optimising it for use at the operational level.
The MFEW-AS, on the other hand, appears intended for tactical level COMINT/ELINT collection. The MFEW-AS payload could equip US Army AAI RQ-7B Shadow tactical UAVs, and their successor aircraft. When outfitting the RQ-7B, the MFEW-AS could have a detection range of 151nm (279km), translating into coverage of 94,418 square miles (244,544 square kilometres).
One concept of operations for the MFEW-AS could be for the MFEW-AL to gather information on the prevailing electronic order-of-battle at the operational level which will be sent to the manoeuvre commander’s headquarters. There, emitters of interest relevant to the manoeuvre force could be investigated further by the MFEW-AS which may gather more detailed information on these emitters’ signal characteristics.
Electronic warfare staff back at the brigade headquarters could then use Raytheon’s Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool to task other US Army assets such as the force’s forthcoming Terrestrial Layered System (TLS) to electronically attack these emitters. Alternatively, they could be handed off as targets to other US Army kinetic or electronic effectors.
The US Army presentation mooted that a prototype MFEW-AS be fielded in 2020. Lockheed Martin responded to a request for information from the US Army regarding the MFEW-AS in the autumn of 2019. The company stated that it planned to employ technology developed for the MFEW-AL in the MFEW-AS architecture. Although the prototype was mooted as entering service in 2020, US Army reports in March detailed a tentative service entry date of 2031 for the MFEW-AS capability.
A further incarnation of the MFEW intended to equip US Army reconnaissance and light attack helicopters dubbed the MFEW-Air Rotary, has been tentatively scheduled for fielding in 2026. This system is expected to be used primarily for aircraft self-protection. Few details have been released regarding the current status of this project.
The MFEW-AS will be a major enhancement to the US Army’s ongoing overhaul of its electronic warfare posture alongside the EWPMT, MFEW-AL and TLS, and to how its Brigade Combat Teams ply their trade on the electromagnetic spectrum. (Source: Armada)
07 Jul 20. Anritsu Partners with COMINT Consulting to Add Signals Intelligence Capability to Field Master. Anritsu Partners with COMINT Consulting to Add Signals Intelligence Capability to Field Master Pro™ MS2090A RTSA
— Durable Handheld Field Analyzer Integrates Wideband Signal Analysis and Decoding Soft-ware for Effective Broadband Intelligence Gathering on RF Communications Systems —
Anritsu Company and COMINT Consulting announce the compatibility of the COMINT Krypto1000 Wideband Signal Analysis and Decoding Suite with IQ data captured with the Anritsu Field Master Pro™ MS2090A handheld real time spectrum analyzer (RTSA). The MS2090A performs capture and streaming of up to 110 MHz of IQ bandwidth across full 54 GHz, providing a broader range of RF IQ data for post processing to deliver a deeper view of SIGINT and/or COMINT activity.
The PC-based Krypto1000 software suite can be used to extract signal intelligence from IQ data collected Over-the-Air (OTA). It supports more than 50 digital radios, including DMR, TMR, PMR, LMR, and dPMR. Particularly well suited for intelligence and government applications, the MS2090A RTSA offers industry-widest 110 MHz of real-time analysis bandwidth across the full 54 GHz frequency range. IQ data can be streamed to a USB 3.0 drive or PC over Ethernet in user-selectable bit formats, for higher resolution and greater exploitation of signals of interest.
“Anritsu continues to support our COMINT software with leading-edge equipment solutions,” said Kinga Kilgallen, Vice President, COMINT Consulting. “We are happy to see our joint efforts rolled out to users of Anritsu’s portable systems.”
“The wideband IQ collection of the portable MS2090A combined with the Krypto1000 post processing software suite creates a best-in-class field portable solution that effectively addresses the needs of the military and intelligence communities,” said Robert E. Johnson, General Manager and Vice President, Anritsu Company. “Together, we are proud to provide electronic warfare (EW) test and analysis functionality in a form factor rarely seen in the industry.”
The Field Master Pro MS2090A allows 110 MHz of bandwidth to be streamed in up to a 16-bit format and has a 200 MSps sample rate. This level of performance allows the RTSA to capture and stream exponentially more data than any other handheld analyzer. Additionally, having IQ capture and streaming allows users to collect and analyze complex data in software, such as the Kryp-to1000, which supports multiple features, including voice detection, tracking and geolocation, radio fingerprinting (RadioID), nodal analysis, and an ability to process hundreds of channels.
About COMINT Consulting LLC
COMINT Consulting LLC is the market leader in communications signals gathering and analysis software. Krypto software is presently used in over 70 countries and all employees have 20 to 45 years of signals intel-ligence experience. COMINT Consulting’s vision is to offer an extensive list of classifiers – more than any other company – more complete decoders and best-in-class precision classification.
Anritsu Company is the United States subsidiary of Anritsu Corporation, a global provider of innovative communications test and measurement solutions for 120 years. Anritsu’s “2020 VISION” philosophy engages customers as true partners to help develop wireless, optical, microwave/RF, and digital solutions for R&D, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance applications, as well as multidimensional service assurance so-lutions for network monitoring and optimization. Anritsu also provides precision microwave/RF components, optical devices, and high-speed electrical devices for communication products and systems. The company develops advanced solutions for 5G, M2M, IoT, as well as other emerging and legacy wireline and wireless communication markets. With offices throughout the world, Anritsu has approximately 4,000 employees in over 90 countries. (Source: Armada)
05 Aug 20. JEDI announcement slated for end of August, Pentagon says. The Defense Department is preparing to re-announce the winner of its $10bn cloud contract, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, in August.
Dana Deasy, DOD’s CIO, told reporters the department is expected to re-announce its “intentions to award” by the end of August “barring any last minute unforeseen additional issues that are raised.”
The contract was initially awarded to Microsoft last October, sparking multiple legal and oversight probes regarding how the solicitation was handled and if there was undue influence from the White House.
A judge gave DOD a 120-day stay expiring Aug. 17 to reconsider portions of the JEDI contract and collect revised bids from Microsoft, which won the award in October) and Amazon Web Services, which has filed a lawsuit and protests contesting technical requirements.
“Cloud has always been much more than JEDI,” Deasy told reporters July 30.
Deasy conducted the call with reporters remotely using DOD’s Commercial Virtual Remote platform, using a version of the Microsoft Teams platform.
DOD launched and increased its use of the CVR environment to cope with the maximum teleworking mandates issued early during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, use has approached a million users, Deasy said, and encouraged conversations about using the expanded capability to facilitate classified work and to divest of physical workspaces.
The next step, Deasy said, will be to move CVR from “an [impact level] 2 to an [impact level] 5 environment that has all of the robust capabilities you would expect where you could do much more secure types of collaboration.”
The challenge will be maintaining the features that have made CVR successful, so DOD is now piloting solutions to help pivot CVR to a classified-friendly environment scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year.
“The trick in doing that is you don’t want to lose the goodness of how we’ve been able to allow people to work off-net, so to speak, from their home, from their own types of devices. How do you now transition to an IL-5 world which locks down things in a lot more restrictive way,” the CIO said.
Deasy also said there are active conversations about “what does a sustained teleworking environment look like,” and whether DOD should consider downsizing office space to save money and reinvest in higher priorities.
“There’s no doubt that we will be able to leverage [CVR] in the event that the future requires us to,” but also around cost-savings, he said.(Source: Defense Systems)
04 Aug 20. Stackley: Combined L3Harris Technology Will Compete to Build New Navy Distributed Battle Networks. A year after L3 and Harris merged into a single $18bn defense company, the corporation is finding its formerly siloed components can come together to meet some of the Navy’s and joint force’s most complex needs.
Sean Stackley, president of the Integrated Mission Systems segment for L3Harris Technologies, told USNI News in an interview that L3 and Harris each had important pieces of the puzzle to help the Navy achieve its distributed maritime operations concept. But Stackley, who previously served as the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition from 2008 to 2017 and as the acting secretary of the Navy from January to August 2017, said the key to DMO is not just fielding new platforms and tools but rather managing how information flows throughout the network, he said.
Under the Navy’s DMO vision, rather than deploying concentrated strike groups to a few places around the globe, the Navy would have many dispersed ships and planes that could share data to create a combined picture of the battlespace.
He described the future fight as a combination of aircraft, ships, submarines and ground vehicles – manned and unmanned – all with sensors and communications devices, feeding data into a battle management system. The challenge will be the ordnance-to-target ratio and picking out the right targets to control the fight. Before the fight starts, the U.S. needs to ensure it has control of the EM spectrum so that network of platforms can communicate, sense and target.
“It’s really about linking sensors, providing assured communications, having the ability to disrupt the enemy’s communications in their operating picture. It’s everything from electronic support to electronic attack. … That is a tremendous challenge because you have to work across the services, work across the platforms, you have to work across industry, you have to work across systems. So there’s not one contract that’s going to go out for DMO; it’s going to be incremental. It’s going to be an incremental approach to building this capability over time, over systems. And frankly the Air Force and the Navy are taking different approaches. I think there are some best practices across the services that they’ll benefit by as each of these get more mature,” he explained, saying those were his personal views and not the company’s.
“I’m frankly studying the way the Air Force is approaching ABMS [Advanced Battle Management System], and I see a lot of strengths to their approach. There’s a lot of parallel activities to the way they’re contracting ABMS that should allow, if we do it right, should allow the incremental steps that need to be taken to be done in parallel as opposed to one at a time in a series. And I’m frankly also spending time with the Navy trying to link up the Navy’s approach to DMO with the Air Force’s approach to ABMS, to at least study – the services should be studying each other’s approaches – and best practices should emerge, because otherwise we won’t get there, it will take too long.”
For example, he said, the Navy is preparing to contract for a ship-based signals intelligence program called Spectral. It also has an upcoming competition for a Spear program for electro-optical/infrared targeting. Under DMO, Stackley said, those two could be approached in parallel to ensure the whole network has access to the data they produce, instead of pursuing them separately and waiting for someone down the line to integrate the systems into a larger network.
“Traditional (acquisition) says you do the standalone upgrades; inside of DMO, you’re constantly looking at the total framework architecture, how do these capabilities integrate” on the front end “so that on the back end you are, in fact, building a distributed maritime operational capability,” he said.
Stackley said the company is positioned to adapt to the changing requirements of DMO.
“We are on the ocean floor, and we operate from the depths of the sea to the depths of space. We are in every domain. We operate across the entire kill chain, from sensing, communications, tracking, targeting, right down to putting ordnance on target. We operate across the kill chain and across the entire electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. In the acoustic realm, we operate below 10 hertz, and then you move into the [radio frequency] and in the RF end of the EM spectrum we’re operating above 50 gigahertz. So we dominate – I would say spectrum superiority is one of our strengths. And we do this to provide capabilities, solutions, for national security, ours and our allies.”
The company’s advantage is based on “two companies a couple of years ago that had a large number of stand-alone capabilities seeing a match in terms of our separate capabilities, and also seeing the power that comes through integration of these capabilities, understanding where the customer is going in terms of the future fight where that EM spectrum, that spectrum superiority, is so critical. Whether you’re talking about the Navy’s strategy, the Navy’s vision for distributed maritime operations, or the Air Force’s advanced battle management system, it is the same capability the services are looking for, which is to have the advanced sensors at the forward edge, have the information that they collect communicated back through secure data links to platforms, have that information integrated into a common picture so that we can control the spectrum, we can ensure our communications, we can disrupt [adversaries’] communications, and we can pull the information from our sensors and get it to where it’s most needed so that when the time comes we can put ordnance on target rapidly and reliably,” Stackley said.
The two companies had different tools in their portfolios prior to the merger that contribute to this new ability to network together tools for fighting in the EM spectrum. For example, “Harris focuses on tactical communications, electronic warfare, space payloads and supports FAA air traffic control modernization. L3’s portfolio is a bit more diverse and includes electronic components, aircraft modernization, flight simulation, UAS/UUVs, airport security and C4ISR components and subsystems,” Defense News quoted Byron Callan, an analyst for Capital Alpha Partners, as writing in a note to investors ahead of the merger.
In the interview, Stackley used undersea warfare as an example of where L3 and Harris have been to provide the Navy options to support DMO.
On the seabed, the company leveraged each of the halves’ legacy systems to create an underwater acoustic system that won a prime contract with the Navy – something neither L3 nor Harris could have done before the merger.
“Within the first year, we’re offering integrated solutions to the customer that prior to the merger we would never have seen and would never have found together,” Stackley said.
The combined portfolio also includes experience with unmanned underwater vessels. L3Harris is competing for the Medium UUV program that will replace separate medium UUV systems for the explosive ordnance disposal and the submarine communities. Stackley said the company had an already-existing, highly modular design that allowed it to work with Navy labs to integrate and operate advanced payloads at sea while the Navy was developing its specifications for the MUUV program.
The company’s UUV experience, Stackley said, coupled with underwater acoustic systems and above-water communications capabilities that reside within L3Harris, means it can offer a package that allows the Navy to receive real-time or near-real-time updates from this UUV.
The company also recently won a contract with the Navy to design and build at least one Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV), with options for more vehicles. Stackley said L3Harris had extensive experience with USVs, including through the Overlord large USV demonstrator program run by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office. For its MUSV offering, the company is partnering with Gibbs and Cox, which also participated in the Overlord program. Through its in-water testing, L3Harris has learned about autonomy software, vehicle reliability, and command and control.
Stackley said the company, outside of the MUSV program, wants to take its USV a step further and demonstrate to the Navy another option for combining several legacy L3 and Harris technologies.
The company builds the signals intelligence system on the Air Force’s RC-135 surveillance aircraft. That system had been stovepiped in the company’s aircraft systems division before, but Stackley said L3Harris plans to use that as the basis for the upcoming Spectral competition, which will be a ship-based SIGINT tool. L3Harris will adapt that system for integration on a medium USV, he said, thereby demonstrating “a sensing capability, where you start with a reliable unmanned surface vessel that has endurance on station, more so than an aircraft; you give it a sensor package that [meets Navy and Joint Force needs]; and then you add to that the data links that L3Harris provides and the secure communications that we provide, so that now you’ve got a node on the network that’s passing critical information to the operating force from an unmanned vessel.”
He made clear that the SIGINT package on the USV is not part of the Navy’s current MUSV program but that L3Harris would pitch the capability to the service. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/USNI)
04 Aug 20. US Army will hold industry meeting for Capability Set ‘23 next month. The Army network modernization team announced a technical exchange meeting Tuesday to discuss the service’s plan for its next round of network tools, known as Capability Set ’23.
The meeting will be held Sept. 2 on Microsoft Teams due to COVID-19, according to a solicitation posted on beta.sam.gov.
“The goal of the event is to assist industry partners and interested government organizations in identifying and aligning their efforts with Army tactical network modernization, specifically Capability Set 23 which is the Army’s next integrated kit of tactical network transport, application and command post enhancements,” the announcement reads.
The Army network leadership team wants to discuss the results of critical design review for Capability Set ’21, the new set of network tools set to be fielded to soldiers next year. The team also wants to discuss Capability Set ’23 experimentation and design goals with a focus on its needs for command post integration and modernization efforts. Command post survivability and mobility is a major focus of Capability Set ’23.
Army’s Network-Cross Functional Team (N-CFT), in collaboration with Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), the Army’s Combat Capability Development Command’s Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center, is hosting the meeting.
The team will also be introducing the Joint Communications Marketplace, the solicitation reads, which will “which will be an online tool and repository for industry and the government to use for submission of CS23 related white papers, and associated technical information,” said Paul Mehney, spokesperson for PEO C3T, in a statement. (Source: glstrade.com/C4ISR & Networks)
04 Aug 20. Cubic to deliver Joint Aerial Layer Network HCB prototype for USAF. Cubic is set to deliver a Joint Aerial Layer Network (JALN) High Capacity Backbone (HCB) prototype for the US Air Force (USAF).
The $38m contract was awarded to Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS), a business division of Cubic. HCB serves as a critical component of the JALN, which maintains network connectivity among joint forces across the aerial layer. As agreed, Cubic will deliver a high-capacity JALN HCB to connect troops to a mission-optimised network of networks in environments where satellite communications are fractured.
The solution will help in maintaining network availability even in challenging environments boosting data delivery to improve decision making and support advanced combat concepts.
Cubic Mission Solutions president Mike Twyman said: “Cubic’s selection by the USAF is a testament to our team and partners’ continuous pursuit to build this critical warfighting network prototype.
“Our innovations address aerial layer networking needs to ensure agile and resilient communications; we are honoured USAF trusts in us to build a critical enabler for Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capability.”
The company will deliver the HCB works in a partnership with Raytheon BBN and Expeditionary Engineering, who will offer advanced aerial networking technology and skill support.
Cubic Mission Solutions business development director Marja Phipps said: “Over the last decade, Cubic has partnered with government stakeholders and invested significantly in the development of assured network connectivity solutions.
“Our team is eager to deliver HCB operational utility to the joint warfighter.”
Headquartered in California, US, Cubic focuses on providing systems and support services to the transportation and defence markets.
In January, the company was contracted by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) for P5 Combat Training System (P5CTS). (Source: airforce-technology.com)
31 Jul 20. US Soldiers tout new network tool as a ‘game changer.’ The Army’s first iteration of new network tools, known as Capability Set ’21, was heavily influenced by existing network gaps identified by the 82nd Airborne on more than a year’s worth of deployments.
According to Capt. Brian Delgado, S6 of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, the “biggest game changer” for soldiers in the field provided in the integrated tactical network kit of Capability Set ’21 was the secure but unclassified environment.
The SBU environment allows soldiers to more easily share and receive information. In the current network, information that flows through the network is classified, and many lower-level users don’t have proper clearances.
“Army operational construct requires battalion formations to conduct combined arms missions, but today’s network does not support the battalion’s organic capacity to deconflict an air picture, nor an ability to combine dismounted, mounted, fires, intelligence and air pictures into a combined operating picture (COP),” Delgado said. “Part of this challenge is due to the fact that dismounted and most mounted COP tools like Nett Warrior (NW) and Joint Battle Command-Platform resided on the Secret enclave. The vast majority of users at the tactical level do not possess Secret clearances, which makes sharing and receiving key information difficult.”
Capability Set ’21 lets soldiers securely share controlled unclassified information across the network, allowing war fighters on the ground to receive important information regardless of their security clearance. With the new tools, the Army moved from a 100 percent classified network to a 75 percent SBU network.
“This means we now were able to use software applications at the Unclassified level in a tactical environment. SBU allowed the utilization of tactical software like the Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) to provide a [combined operating picture] down to the lowest level of leaders,” Delgado said.
Col. Garth Winterle, project manager for tactical radios at Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, said in a May interview with C4ISRNET that the SBU architecture ”opens the door for a lot of different things,” including improved information sharing with coalition partners.
The integrated tactical network kit also unifies the disparate operating picture into a single digital operating picture. The combined operating picture “directly reduces risk in the clearance of fires, combat air support and maneuvering in widely dispersed formations,” Delgado said.
“It allowed battalion commanders to fight teams in a dispersed manner that would have been impossible with legacy systems, and therefore greatly reduced the risk to the battalion combat power that enemy indirect fires commonly present,” Delgado added.
Capability Set ’21 was focused on solving immediate network capability gaps with current technology, while also making network hardware far more expeditionary and while improving network transport capabilities. The capability set includes new radios as well as smaller and lighter servers and satellite terminals. It was designed through collaboration between Army PEO C3T and the Army Network Cross-Functional Team.
The Army completed critical design review of Capability Set ’21 earlier this year and started procuring new tools this month.
Right now, the “majority” of the Army’s command-and-control systems sit on large vehicles that aren’t useful on expeditionary operations, Delgado said. With the new technology, the integrated tactical network “separated these systems from vehicles, allowing for more network access during early expeditionary operations that we performed,” reducing the reliance on vehicles and allowing soldiers to dismount systems based on needs.
Delgado said the new integrated tactical network, or ITN, hardware is “orders of magnitude” smaller than existing tools, providing more flexibility in how units choose command-and-control equipment for operations.
“We were able to load a battalion tactical operations center worth of equipment onto a nonstandard small tactical vehicle, and then move it in a matter of hours onto a UH-60 [Black Hawk helicopter] to function as a true command aircraft,” Delgado said.
The Capability Set ’21 ITN kit also includes radio waveforms that are more resilient, and it allows for data transmission. The 82nd Airborne has previously been reliant on the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System as well as the Soldier Radio Waveform for tactical radio communications, but Delgado said that both had “limitations regarding their effectiveness and survivability for distributed formations,” and that they didn’t allow for SBU transmissions.
The Army is investing several new radios with more resilient waveforms as part of its modernization initiative, including the two-channel leader radio.
“The ITN presents a significant increase in radio resiliency while operating in a contested environment. Most noteworthy are a resistance to tactical jamming, and a near-complete inability of the enemy to … find radio broadcasts,” Delgado said. (Source: Defense News)
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