Sponsored by Spectra Group
04 Sep 20. DOD Reaffirms Original JEDI Cloud Award to Microsoft. The Department has completed its comprehensive re-evaluation of the JEDI Cloud proposals and determined that Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the Government. The JEDI Cloud contract is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that will make a full range of cloud computing services available to the DoD. While contract performance will not begin immediately due to the Preliminary Injunction Order issued by the Court of Federal Claims on February 13, 2020, DoD is eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform.
(Source: US DoD)
03 Sep 20. US ARMY 2nd SFAB expands capability with new portable Intercom system from INVISIO. The US Army 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) will add the new lightweight and portable Intercom system from INVISIO to their capabilities to enable instant deployment into any military or commercial passenger vehicle or platform. Following testing the SFAB has now placed an initial order for delivery in the second half of 2020. The order value does not exceed SEK 5m.
INVISIO’s Intercom system will provide the US Army 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade with seamless integration of all communication sources such as radios or devices, as well as a unique inter-team chat feature that allows operatives in vehicles to remain in constant coordination and uninterrupted contact during all kinds of operations. The newly developed Intercom system meets a variety of communication needs and increases user safety, operational capacity and bridges the gap between mounted and dismounted communication.
“INVISIO’s innovative intercom system demonstrates that we can extend technology and capabilities to mobility platforms, while greatly reducing the size, weight, and cost of this type of equipment. We are very proud that the 2nd SFAB, operating under the most challenging conditions, has chosen our Intercom system,” says Lars Højgård Hansen, CEO of INVISIO.
The Intercom system – communication that enables and protects
The Intercom system is intended for use in ground vehicles, boats, rotary and fixed wing aircraft. The system enables inter-group communication, access to the vehicle’s radio system, communication with the vehicle’s driver, as well as usage of personal role radios when needed. INVISIO’s intercom system forms a complete solution for communication in all operative environments, retaining situational awareness and ensuring unimpeded hearing protection for all users.
Security Force Assistance Brigade
US Security Force Assistance Brigade are specialized units whose core mission is to conduct advise-and-assist operations with allied and partner nations. SFAB soldiers are highly trained and help brigade combat teams to build readiness by freeing them from advisory missions. SFAB have been important INVISIO customers for several years. (Source: PR Newswire)
03 Sep 20. Vuzix® Enters into an Agreement with a New Major Defense Contractor to Develop a Customized Waveguide Solution. Vuzix® Corporation (NASDAQ: VUZI), (“Vuzix” or, the “Company”), a leading supplier of Smart Glasses, Augmented Reality (AR) technology and products for the consumer and enterprise markets, is pleased to announce that the Company has signed an agreement with a new major international defense contractor to build a customized waveguide solution. Under the terms of the first phase of the development agreement, Vuzix and this new customer have agreed upon an upfront payment and phase-gated development milestones and payments. Phase 1 is expected to generate non-recurring engineering (NRE) revenue over the next 3 months for Vuzix with potentially greater NREs in subsequent phases, of which at least two are currently contemplated, before an accepted final product design could be expected to lead to a volume production order. This represents the third active defense engineering program for Vuzix thus far in 2020.
“We are excited to enter into this partnership and believe it represents a strong vote of confidence in our capabilities and recognition of our leading position within the waveguide optics technology space. Additionally, the agreement demonstrates how Vuzix is able to leverage our industry leading optics technology and partner with yet another top global Defense contractor for a customized solution,” said Paul Travers, President and Chief Executive Officer at Vuzix. “Vuzix continues to meet key 2020 operating objectives including the expansion of our OEM relationships and expanding the number and size of volume orders of our M-Series Smart Glasses.”
About Vuzix Corporation
Vuzix is a leading supplier of Smart-Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and products for the consumer and enterprise markets. The Company’s products include personal display and wearable computing devices that offer users a portable high-quality viewing experience, provide solutions for mobility, wearable displays and augmented reality. Vuzix holds 166 patents and patents pending and numerous IP licenses in the Video Eyewear field. The Company has won Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) awards for innovation for the years 2005 to 2020 and several wireless technology innovation awards among others. Founded in 1997, Vuzix is a public company (NASDAQ: VUZI) with offices in Rochester, NY, Oxford, UK, and Tokyo, Japan. (Source: PR Newswire)
03 Sep 20. ABMS Demo Proves AI Chops For C2. “Tanks shooting down cruise missiles is awesome — video game, sci-fi awesome,” Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper told a small group of reporters.
Air Force’s second demonstration of its burgeoning Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) today included a series of ‘firsts’ — including enabling rapid detection and destruction of surrogate Russian cruise missiles by linking multiple sensors to multiple shooters in near real-time.
Perhaps most importantly, new Northern Command head Gen. Glen VanHerck told reporters this evening, the demo convinced him that artificial intelligence-driven software systems will be able to actually make recommendations that commanders can rely on to make decisions about what they need to do to prosecute a fast-paced battle with peer competitors China and Russia.
“I am not a skeptic after watching today,” he said.
Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper told reporters during the same briefing that one of the exercise’s big successes was the shoot-down by a novel hypervelocity projectile of one of the surrogate cruise missiles, played by BQM-167 target drones flying over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The small projectile, which can fly at Mach 5, was developed by the Navy and the Army, he said, and was launched from an Army M109 Paladin-based 155mm howitzer and a Navy deck gun during the demo.
“Tanks shooting down cruise missiles is awesome — video game, sci-fi awesome,” Roper told a small group of reporters this evening.
He added that the hypervelocity weapon for missile defense was “near and dear to my heart,” because the development effort actually started under DoD’s Strategic Capabilities Office in 2013 when he was leading it.
Other shooters involved included the venerable AIM-9 air-to-air missile, launched by F-16 fighter jets and MQ-9 Reaper drones. But the AIM-9X also was lobbed for the first time from a ground system, one NORTHCOM officer told reporters yesterday at Andrews AFB. The command led scenario planning for the demo, that also include Space Command and Transportation Command, as well as all five services.
But the “star of the show,” Roper said, was the way data was used to enable the kill chain using both 4G and 5G networking and the cloud to produce a kill chain “that took seconds, not minutes.” He noted that there were some 60 different types of data feeds utilized in the demo.
VanHerck concurred that the information sharing aspects of the demo was key as far as operators are concerned.
“From my perspective, this is all about domain awareness,” he said. He said he was most impressed by the ability to share domain awareness data from all domains among Combatant Commanders “in a common place where that information can then be utilized by decision-makers from a strategic level all the way to the tactical level.”
While the first ABMS “on-ramp” held in December 2019 focused on proving capabilities to link sensors via machine code, this larger much more ambitious demo was focused squarely on the command and control (C2) element of a fight, according to the NORTHCOM briefers.
As Breaking D readers know, the goal of the multi-faceted ABMS effort is to develop the backbone connections required to build a military Internet of Things (IoT). That military IoT, in turn, would enable the US military’s future Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) network of networks to combine data from multiple sensors across all domains, create a common operational picture (COP) and allow commanders to choose and assign shooters to targets via direct machine-to-machine links, all in minutes, not the hours or days needed today.
The move to “bring direct action on board for the first time” in today’s on-ramp was “one of the key innovative leaps that’s happened since December,” one NORTHCOM officer said.
“We got a lot of feedback from the first one — ‘You keep saying JADC2, but so far you’ve been really only talking about JADSA, JAD situational awareness. So where’s the C2 in what you are doing? This isn’t any good to me if I can’t tie it into something that can direct action’,” he explained.
The officials explained that the problem ABMS is trying to solve is that the technology available to commanders today for “domain awareness, command control, and deterrence to defeat” of threats is outdated and incompatible.
In particular, sensors are stovepiped — one person sees one radar; another sees “blue force” tracking data, etc. — but nothing is integrated. Instead, “we play a 12-minute-long telephone game” with individuals calling each other. “And the only time that all of that data ever comes together is in the mind of the O-6 [the rank level of an Air Force colonel) at the command and control center who is making the decision,” one briefer said.
The scenario for the demo started with Russian action against US interests overseas, resulting in US force movements designed as deterrence measures. (“Things get sporty with Russia,” on participant quipped.)
The situation quickly escalated to include cyber attacks, then jamming and laser dazzling of US communications and imagery satellites. Finally, six ‘Russian’ conventional cruise missiles were launched against the homeland from the air and sea.
The action was scripted in four phases, one participant explained. The first focused on early indications and warnings, the phase during which the Intelligence Community usually leads the way. In phase 2, the focus was determining what “red” assets were doing — where the ‘Russian’ bombers and ships were moving for example — and figuring out their intent. The third phase concentrated on the surrogate cruise missile attacks — detecting them, identifying them as cruise missiles and not other aircraft in the area, tracking them and then engaging them.
Sensors ranged from the Raytheon-built AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel missile warning radar to novel acoustic and unattended ground-bases sensors, to new sensor towers that combined radar with electro-optical infrared cameras.
The ABMS program refers to the various products linking sensor data and finding targets to create of an all-domain COP for commanders “omniaONEs.” The ability to use AI/machine learning software systems to provide virtual reality-type battlefield awareness is at the heart of the ABMS effort, Roper said. He explained that there were five different products being evaluated for omniaONE use, all competing, but using standards developed by DoD to allow plug and play operations.
One example was the Lattice system provided by startup Anduril Industries.
“What Lattice is focused on is sensor fusion command and control and distributed networking,” Chris Brose, former head defense staffer for Sen. John McCain and Anduril’s chief strategy officer, told me in a Zoom interview. “We don’t do robot dogs, or 5G,” he said with a laugh. “We do all the unsexy and necessary things related to data that actually enable the Joint Force to fight differently and better.”
Brose explained that Lattice is an “open and extensible software platform. So, I can bring sensor data of any different kind of modality from any different kind of deployed system into the software environment. I can employ machine learning and computer vision to process that information and fuze it to generate objects of interest — targets — and tracks of those targets.”
The last phase of the on-ramp focused on “blue” force ability to move forces around the country under the evolving concept of “agile combat employment.”
This involved using a number of new technologies to scramble a security convoy to protect Nellis AFB in Nevada — including the ability to track individual soldiers and sailors, according to the NORTHCOM officials. It also involved the “robot dogs” built by Ghost Robotics for perimeter defense that were supposed to be involved in the first ABMS but were unable to connect due to bandwidth issues. (The robot dog that reporters got a look at at Andrews was surprisingly realistic, complete with a fetching personality that practically begged to be petted.)
All of this computer processing, of course, takes serious bandwidth. And bandwidth, experts say, is one of the crucial challenges to JADC2 and a fully networked battlefield. Access to bandwidth is already a problem, and is bound to become more limited during combat due to enemy attacks on satellites and communications links, the NORTHCOM briefers explained.
Thus, one of the main thrusts of the ABMS program is developing a secure cloud networking capacity for warfighters. ABMS has developed a strategic level cloud, “cloudONE,” and is working on a cloud at the tactical edge called “edgeONE.” The edgeONE application will allow data to be saved at the user’s end when connectivity to the central data cloud is lost, but automatically update once the connection was re-established, Roper explained.
Roper said one of the “good failures” during today’s on-ramp was the less than optimal connectivity among the four different national test ranges involved. “Things dropped out,” he said. “It was something we fought with all day.” One of the causes, he explained, was “weather challenges’” at some of the sites. These are problems, he said, that are indicative of likely real world issues that ABMS will need to handle.
He added that the demo also showed that the ability of AI assistant applications, such as DoD’s Project Maven, to generate “courses of action,” or COAs, for commanders to use in making decisions about actions is not yet ready for prime time.
“I think our COA generation tools generated by artificial intelligence and machine learning have more work to do,” Roper said. “I would not give it the check box.”
This was despite the fact that VanHerck and operators from four other Combatant Commands (and all of the services) were impressed, and would happily take that capability as it is today, Roper added.
Roper and VanHerck agreed that the ABMS “cloudONE” is one of the products ready to enter into the field. Roper said the acquisition method for transitioning ABMS tech to users would first be indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts with vendors, but stressed that any decisions to buy products would be made by Combatant Commands.
“Certainly the ability to to utilize the cloud to share information is there and we need to move quickly and rapidly down that path,” VanHerck said. “I was very encouraged by the status, if you will, of those systems and capabilities. I think they can be brought online within a year or less.”
The next ABMS on-ramp is actually scheduled for two weeks from now, based on a Pacific Command scenario, Roper said. The short turn-around is due to the fact that today’s demo was delayed. The fourth demo, being planned for next year, will involve allies for the first time, he added. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
01 Sep 20. Joint All-Domain Command and Control: It’s all about the data. Defense applications built using microservices and given real-time access to data can meet warfighters’ requirements in the globally distributed, multi-domain world of modern warfare.
When considering the challenge of implementing Joint All-Domain Command and Control, however, it is easy to get caught up in the specifics of the warfighting mission and lose sight of the critical elements JADC2 must address. Specifically, the intent behind JADC2 is to employ distributed, heterogeneous data and applications to get the right information from the right sensor to the right warfighters at the right time. Taking a step back and reframing the challenge as a “data problem” allows us to adapt and implement architectures that have already proven themselves in similar use cases.
This challenge has already been addressed by the global IT community, albeit in non-military scenarios. For example, when people order food via a mobile app, they expect to see real-time status tracking and mapping, and if they order from a grocery service, they expect to be able to communicate with their assigned shopper in real-time and receive status updates. Similarly, the health care industry is moving towards an increasingly internet-of-things-focused reality, where disparate data must be collected, integrated and delivered to health care providers in real-time to help them make life or death decisions.
Likewise, mission-critical applications must meet warfighters’ expectations and requirements in this new reality of data-driven combat. While the stakes and the mission differ, the parallels between commercial and civilian applications are clear. In both cases, it is important to first understand the burdens that applications must overcome in order to meet the users’ expectations.
Reducing data gravity and friction
Data and applications are like physical objects: They have both gravity and friction. To make this more concrete, imagine trying to work with a pile of three bricks versus a pile of 3,000 bricks. It is far easier to move and sort through a pile of three bricks.
The same concept applies to data and applications. Once the “pile” of data gets too large, or an application becomes monolithic and heavy, agility is rapidly lost, and the service that depends on that data and application often becomes difficult to manage. If applications and data are not architected in a way to reduce both their gravity and friction, they inevitably fail because they cannot scale or freely share data.
While service outages may be marginally acceptable in consumer applications, this is untenable for warfighters and will greatly inhibit what JADC2 is intended to achieve. Critical applications and data become liabilities if they cannot be architected in a lightweight, modular manner, readily scaled and consistently deployed everywhere they are needed — whether at the tactical edge, on an aircraft or in a cloud environment. The gravity and friction of both applications and data architectures dictate how easily they can be adapted to fit the mission, and both must be minimized to maintain effective functionality as demands continue to grow.
Creating modern applications to leverage data-in-motion
Building modern applications in a microservices architecture hosted on an agile, scalable infrastructure will help meet user demands. This infrastructure should abstract away the traditional limitations of storage and hardware platforms and support modern DevSecOps processes. Unlike traditional monolithic applications, modern applications rely on data being readily accessible and integrated across all producers and consumers of that data in real time. They are not burdened by masses of data residing within inflexible, legacy repositories. This data integration in-motion paradigm is foundational to building modern applications.
The benefits of this approach are apparent in the civilian world, where applications deliver results in real time. This is evident when a loan application prompts for multisource identity verification, or a travel application allows booking of car rentals, hotel rooms and flights all from a single interface. Both of these applications use read/write data sources in real time, imperceptibly to the user, and are built from multiple loosely coupled microservices that are developed, deployed and scaled independently across a globally distributed architecture. This prodigious feat is unachievable without data-in-motion integration solutions and the agile architecture that supports them.
Defense applications built using microservices and given real-time access to data can deliver similar benefits to the globally distributed, multi-domain world of modern warfare. Except there, those benefits will not be measured in terms of how quickly a person can get a loan application approved; they will be measured in how quickly a warfighter is able to make a decision that could mean the difference between life and death.
Building JADC2 for the future
Building JADC2 using these microservices architectures and data strategies is critical to aligning with systems warfare strategies like mosaic warfare, which deconstructs large, complex and expensive military assets into smaller, more agile and cheaper elements, a trend that appears to be the inevitable future progression of the battlespace. At their core, both microservices and mosaic warfare represent the very human strategy of solving complex challenges by breaking monolithic technology into smaller, more manageable pieces and espousing the use of horizontally scaled, lightweight components that aggregate into a resilient and agile architecture. Any JADC2 implementation must account for the demands of a large number of disaggregated, attritable assets, all producing and consuming data that must be exchanged between themselves and C2 assets in a frictionless manner.
This challenge is increasing by the day. New sensor technologies and battlespace capabilities are expanding the volume, velocity and variety of mission data, but without the ability to effectively use this data, they are essentially useless.
JADC2 must be implemented across both joint and coalition forces in a way that overcomes this challenge and continues to enable data-driven warfare. Fortunately, there are widely implemented approaches and technologies across both industry and government that can be brought to bear on this challenge for building mission-critical applications and data fabrics on a global scale. (Source: Defense Systems)
03 Sep 20. The SIM Reaper. Did mobile phone records help lead US intelligence to General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force, who was killed by a drone attack in January?
In early August, the AhluiBayt News Agency based in Qom, in the north of the Islamic Republic of Iran, reported that Gen. Soleimani, was assassinated as a result of information provided to US intelligence by an Iraqi telecommunications company.
Gen. Soleimani was killed on 3rd January 2020 as his two-vehicle convoy left Baghdad International Airport. Open sources state that he was most probably killed by a Lockheed Martin AGM-114 series Hellfire air-to-surface missiles launched by a US Air Force General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Also killed was Jamal Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis believed to be a high-ranking member of the Quds force which is responsible for unconventional military operations on behalf of the Iranian government.
The AhluiBayt report said that an Iranian committee investigating the assassination had been handed documents by unnamed commanders of the Iraqi al-Hashd ash-Sha’bi Iraqi counter-insurgency organisation. These documents claimed that an Iraqi telecommunications company had supplied information concerning Mr. al-Muhandis’ cell phone to US Army units based at Camp Victory on the outskirts of Baghdad International Airport. This claim seems odd as the US Army vacated Camp Victory in 2011. Nonetheless it is possible that cell phone transmissions may have played their role in helping locate Gen. Soleimani.
The immediate aftermath of the US attack on Gen. Soleimani outside Baghdad International Airport on 3rd January.
IMSI and TMSI
Using Mr. al-Muhandis’ cell phone to find Gen. Soleimani would be like following a trail of breadcrumbs. The first thing required by Communications Intelligence (COMINT) practitioners would be Mr. al-Muhandis’ cell phone number. If this was provided by the telecommunications company it would be the first, and arguably most important step, in finding Gen. Soleimani.
To understand how a cell phone reveals someone’s location, one must understand how cell phone transmissions work. The cell phone number forms part of the phone’s International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI). The IMSI is a unique numerical code. It includes a series of digits representing the country where the phone is registered, the network it uses within that country and the phone’s Mobile Subscriber Identification Number (MSIN). The MSIN is the number assigned to that phone which the handset uses to identify itself to a cell phone network.
Every time a cell phone joins a network it transmits the IMSI as a digital ‘handshake’. The network responds by providing that phone with a randomly assigned Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity (TMSI) code. The TMSI can be changed for that phone at any given moment with the intention of frustrating attempts by eavesdroppers to identify and track the phone using the IMSI. That said the IMSI must still be used, albeit briefly, to perform the digital handshake and to re-join the network if the connection between the phone and the network is lost. Every time the phone moves out of the local coverage of one part of the network and moves into another, the IMSI is sent anew, and the process repeated.
Once US COMINT practitioners had Mr. al-Muhandis IMSI number, it would be possible to track his movements. One source with close links to the Iraqi and US security and intelligence communities told Armada that both Mr. al-Muhandis and Gen. Soleimani would probably have used several different cell phones in a bid to frustrate attempts to gather COMINT. Nonetheless, it you are continually collecting Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) and Human Intelligence (HUMINT) on their whereabouts, you can see each time they make a call, and hence collect the IMSI as the phone connects with the local network. These IMSI numbers can potentially be detected by US communications eavesdropping satellites such as the US National Reconnaissance Office’s Advanced Orion constellation, or by UAVs or inhabited aircraft flying nearby equipped with COMINT systems. These assets are almost certainly be able to detect and locate Very/Ultra High Frequency (V/UHF – 30 megahertz to three gigahertz) military and civilian telecommunications.
Importantly, tracking Mr. al-Muhandis’ phone would lead intelligence operatives to other interesting targets and their cell phones. IMSI numbers from associates can then be gleaned and tracked. It is possible that Mr. al-Muhandis’ IMSI number led US intelligence operatives to Gen. Soleimani. With both Mr. al-Muhandis and Gen. Soleimani firmly in the sites of the US intelligence community, it would just become a matter of time before the military could move in for the kill.
It is possible that COMINT, HUMINT and IMINT informed the US intelligence community that Gen. Soleimani who had visited Syria before 3rd January was on his way to Iraq. The attack occurred against the backdrop of a worsening security situation in the latter. Anti-Iranian sentiment had increased within elements of the local Iraqi population. In a bid to reassert Iranian influence Gen. Soleimani had taken the decision to use the local pro-Iranian Kata’ib Hezbollah Shia insurgence group to increase attacks on US targets in Iraq. The group was later blamed for a rocket attack on 27th December 2019 on the K-1 airfield in Kirkuk Province, northern Iraq, where US forces supporting Operation Inherent Resolve against the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) were based. The attack killed one US defence contractor and injuring several US and Iraqi military personnel.
Motive, Means, Opportunity
The decision to kill Gen. Soleimani was believed to have been taken by US President Donald Trump in late December. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment. The USAF is thought to base MQ-9s are Ali al-Salem airbase in Kuwait, Qatar’s Al-Udeid airbase and Al Dafra airbase in the United Arab Emirates. At least one or more MQ-9 UAV maybe permanently stationed above Iraq on a rolling basis ready to provide rapid air-to-ground attack when needed. Once US intelligence had determined Gen. Soleimani was at Damascus International Airport and headed for Baghdad, they knew that they had at the most one and a half hours’ flight time until Gen. Soleimani arrived to get the MQ-9 within striking distance. As it happened, his plane was delayed by two hours, giving even more time to get the MQ-9 in position. Targeting experts may have also determined that sections of road around the airport provided good locations for the attack while minimising the risk of civilian casualties: At 12.32am on the morning of 3rd January, there was unlikely to be much traffic. By 12.48 Gen. Soleimani was dead. His two-car convoy was incinerated by the AGM-114s.
There is no doubt that Gen. Soleimani and Mr. al-Muhandis were scrupulous about security: “They often don’t have their phones on them, and one of their aide-de-camps usually has a bag of phones that they carry around which they continually change when making calls.” That said, both men still needed to communicate with the outside world, and each phone still has to transmit its IMSI.
Did Mr. al-Muhandis’ phone provided the break which lead US intelligence experts to Gen. Soleimani? This is impossible to say with certainty: “I find it hard to believe that we were not already aware of al-Muhandis and Soleimani’s cell phone particulars,” the source said. The deteriorating security situation in Iraq meant that US forces “had an intense ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) soak over Baghdad.” Iran’s involvement in this security situation provided the motive, the MQ-9 provided the means and the General’s convoy moving along a quiet road in the dead of night the opportunity: “We knew where he lived, we knew the signature of his convoys and we knew whenever he was in Iraq. The only difference was that this time, we popped him.” That COMINT from cell phones will have played its role in keeping tabs on Gen. Soleimani is all but certain, that this COMINT was handed by an Iraqi telecoms company to the US Army remains a subject for debate. (Source: Armada)
02 Sep 20. Shephard’s Messenger. Tempest (Leonardo) – The UK’s planned BAE Systems Tempest combat aircraft could be one of several platforms that not only benefits from the MD4IA but informs its design.
A quintet of companies have formed the Team Novus consortium in response to the UK’s Ministry of Defence’s Mission Data for Information Advantage (MD4IA) requirement. Announced in early August Team Novus includes BAE Systems, Leonardo, MASS, Meta Mission Data, Sigma and Thales. MD4IA focuses on UK military intelligence and platform mission data. It plans to streamline and accelerate the mechanisms by which Communications and Electronic Intelligence (COMINT/ELINT) is shared as mission data to platforms and personnel.
The MOD has already overhauled the UK’s Electronic Warfare (EW) database via Project Shephard which was launched in 2008. The EW database, housed at the Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Centre (JEWOSC), is the clearing house for all UK military COMINT/ELINT. This intelligence is collected by UK and allied assets like the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Boeing RC-135W Airseeker SIGINT gathering aircraft. COMINT/ELINT is analysed at the centre and used to populate electronic orders-of-battle developed by the JEWOSC and is distributed throughout the UK’s armed forces to ensure that electronic support measure threat libraries have the latest information. The JEWOSC is based at the Air Warfare Centre, RAF Waddington airbase in eastern England.
MD4IA is focused on linking the EW database with the platforms and personnel who need this intelligence to support their missions. The programme will ensure that this information is shared in the most efficient and expeditious way possible. Timely information can give friendly forces an information advantage over their adversaries. Conversely irrelevant or outdated intelligence can cost lives.
Mark Hewer, Leonardo’s vice president of integrated mission solutions, told Armada that the MD4IA effort is split into several strands: “At the highest level, the programme is trying to achieve an information advantage through better information sharing among the intelligence communities and the armed services. Therefore, a true collaboration approach across industry and working in a joined-up enterprise approach with the MOD is the only way to achieve this transformation.” He stresses that “all the intelligence which is gathered needs to get to the operator as rapidly and efficiently as possible. Whoever can do the dissemination quicker will have the greatest advantage.” The Project Janus strand of MD4IA will automate the process for generating and sharing relevant mission data, such as threat parameters regarding a ground-based air surveillance system, for example.
Software is at the core of the MD4IA approach. Mr. Hewer says that Team Novus will create standardised software architectures to provide “a common standard to share threat information and programme mission data by working with MOD and using the unique capabilities in the team.” While software will be vital, so will having the SQEP, Suitably Qualified and Experiences Personnel, who can use the software to its full potential.
Project Janus is expected to be the first element of the MD4IA undertaking formally contracted. This could happen in the first half of 2021. Project Janus could take up to five years to deliver a set of smaller developments. Mr. Hewer emphasises that MD4IA will not stop once Project Janus is delivered: “(MD4IA) will be an agile programme as the wider threat, platforms and technologies are constantly changing. This will be an ongoing journey.” (Source: Armada)
02 Sep 20. United States Air Force RSO Selects C3.ai as Strategic AI Platform. C3.ai, a leading enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) software provider for accelerating digital transformation, today announced an agreement with the United States Air Force (USAF) Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO) to deliver and deploy the C3 AI® Suite and C3.ai™ Readiness to support predictive analytics and maintenance across the Air Force enterprise.
“USAF RSO is truly a trailblazer in AI and big data solutions‚”
Predicting an aircraft weapon system’s readiness and increasing fleet availability is essential to the U.S. military’s operational success. RSO’s Condition-Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+) Program Office will use the C3 AI Suite and extend C3.ai Readiness to deploy an AI-based predictive maintenance application for the USAF to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance processes. The RSO will deploy this application to the HH-60 Pave Hawk aircraft weapon system and then assess further fielding to additional aircraft weapon systems. This initiative will also lay a foundation and framework for the enhancement of RSO’s overall AI and machine learning capabilities.
“C3.ai’s proven technology has demonstrated success across multiple industries with its AI-based readiness application for predictive maintenance and logistics planning, making C3.ai an ideal partner to implement RSO’s vision to increase mission readiness,” said Nathan Parker‚ RSO Deputy Program Executive Officer. “By partnering with C3.ai, RSO’s CBM+ Program Office will be able to accelerate scaling AI and ML capabilities across the Air Force enterprise, and combine data science with Air Force operational maintenance, to digitally transform how we maintain our global fleet.”
“USAF RSO is truly a trailblazer in AI and big data solutions‚” said Ed Abbo‚ President and CTO of C3.ai. “Together, we are successfully modernizing and expanding the Air Force’s AI capabilities that will ultimately extend its competitive edge, support its vision of implementing artificial intelligence at scale, and unlock untold billions of dollars in cost savings by increasing aircraft mission capability.”
Since 2017, C3.ai has worked with the Department of Defense (DoD) deploying its AI-based predictive maintenance solution. In January 2020, C3.ai announced a five-year agreement with the DoD to deliver AI-based predictive maintenance software applications for military use. To date, the USAF has supported four prototype implementations of the C3.ai Readiness application to more than 920 aircraft, including the E-3 Sentry, C-5 Galaxy, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II. This latest award represents the next stage in scaling C3.ai’s predictive maintenance solution across the defense enterprise.
C3.ai Demonstrates Readiness Results
In its Annual Report 20191, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) cited how recent implementations of C3.ai Readiness for the USAF demonstrated the potential for a 3 percent to 6 percent improvement in mission capability, as well as up to a 35 percent reduction of base-level occurrences of aircraft sitting on the ground awaiting parts, and up to a 40 percent reduction in unscheduled maintenance events. The prototype also revealed minimal impact to component part supply chains and identified 80 to 90 parts out of more than 1,000 that are responsible for 90 percent of total aircraft downtime. When fully implemented across all DoD aircraft, DIU states that predictive maintenance has the potential to save the Department up to $5bn annually.
C3.ai’s core technology is the C3 AI Suite – a scalable, production-ready enterprise AI platform that enables organizations to rapidly design, develop, and deploy enterprise-scale AI applications on any public or private cloud environment. The C3 AI Suite platform allows the USAF to integrate and unify large, fragmented data sets from disparate data stores and sensors, making those data available for use by machine learning algorithms for insights that improve operations and provide situational awareness. Its applications are configurable for a variety of capabilities beyond predictive maintenance, including AI-based intelligence data fusion, clearance adjudication, insider threat, improved logistics, supply network risk identification, and operational support.
In addition to building bespoke applications and extending C3.ai Readiness using the C3 AI Suite platform‚ RSO will work to customize and extend the functionality of current pre-built applications such as its CBM+ analytics tools using C3.ai’s portfolio. C3.ai and RSO will also establish a Center of Excellence to train RSO data scientists‚ developers‚ and business analysts to implement AI applications‚ ensuring fast time to value.
Learn about how C3.ai is improving mission capability with AI-driven maintenance operations at https://c3.ai/products/c3-ai-readiness/.
C3.ai is a leading AI software provider for accelerating digital transformation. C3.ai delivers the C3 AI Suite for developing, deploying, and operating large-scale AI, predictive analytics, and IoT applications, in addition to an increasingly broad portfolio of turnkey AI applications. The core of the C3.ai offering is a revolutionary, model-driven AI architecture that dramatically enhances data science and application development. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
02 Sep 20. France Enhances Theatre-Level SIGINT. The ADLA received its first King Air 350 Vador ISR aircraft in July. A further seven are expected to follow by 2030.
On 31st July the Armée de l’Air (ADLA/French Air Force) took delivery of the first of eight Beechcraft King Air-350 Vader turboprops configured for ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance).
Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to conclude in 2030 according to reports. The aircraft are being procured under the auspices of France’s DGA (Direction générale de l’Armement/General Armaments Directorate) defence procurement agency’s Avion Léger de Surveillance et de Reconnaissance (ALSR/Light Surveillance and Reconnaissance Aircraft) initiative. The aircraft can collect Imagery and Signals Intelligence (IMINT/SIGINT). It was announced in 2016 that the DGA had contracted Thales to provide the ALSR mission systems, Beechcraft to supply the aircraft and Sabena Technics to perform the systems integration.
The planes have two tasks: Firstly, to collect intelligence on behalf of the Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM/French Military Intelligence) and the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE/Foreign Intelligence Service). Secondly, the aircraft will initially serve as a stop-gap supporting the ADLA’s ageing fleet of two C-160G Gabriel SIGINT collection aircraft, prior to the service entry of the ADLA’s three new Dassault Falcon-7X Epicure SIGINT planes. These will replace the C-160Gs from 2023.
Although not revealed by the French government the Vaders could be tasked with collecting operational/tactical level SIGINT, principally Communications Intelligence (COMINT), while the C-160Gs collect operational/strategic level SIGINT. The new planes have two attributes that lend themselves well to this task: They can operate from austere locations thanks to their small logistical footprint, and they can gather SIGINT over an area of 517,847 square kilometres (199,942 square miles). This makes them ideal for theatre-level reconnaissance gathering.
It is not surprising that the DRM and DGSE will be customers for the intelligence collected by the Vaders. Ongoing counter-insurgency efforts such as Operation Barkhane involving a large French deployment is being waged in the Sahel against a hodgepodge of Islamist insurgents. Intelligence gathered by these aircraft could be of interest to the DGSE helping it to prevent attacks by Islamist cadres in France and elsewhere. The aircraft are expected to continue providing operational/theatre level intelligence once the Falcon-7X Epicure jets enter service.
Thales has developed the SIGINT capabilities for the ALSR. Although there are no details in the public domain, the aircraft’s signals intelligence gathering attributes are believed to be focused on Communications Intelligence (COMINT). The COMINT aspect is probably confined to detecting, identifying, locating and analysing a wide array of Very/Ultra High Frequency (V/UHF: 30 megahertz to three gigahertz) emissions from military and civilian telecommunications in support of the ground commander and scheme of manoeuvre. The aircraft may include the wherewithal to analyse the COMINT onboard or transmit it to offboard analysts via standard datalinks. Thales’ Airborne COMINT Solution (ACS) may form the basis for the Vader’s COMINT payload.
The arrival of these aircraft in ADLA service forms part of a larger overhaul of France’s SIGINT posture. Beyond the Falcon-7X Epicure the DGA is forging ahead with the (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatial/Space Electromagnetic Intelligence Capability) SIGINT satellite constellation, the first of which is expected to be launched in 2021. Meanwhile, the Armée de Terre (French Army) could replace the electronic warfare variants of its Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (Armoured Vanguard Vehicles) over the coming decade. (Source: Armada)
02 Sep 20. Canadian Army EW Project Moves Forward. The Canadian Army use several LAV-III/IV Bison armoured vehicles configured for electronic warfare believed to be equipped with the AN/MRD-505 AERIES system.
The Canadian Army is joining several NATO and allied nations overhauling their land forces electronic warfare capabilities.
The Canadian Forces Land Electronic Warfare Modernisation (CFLEWM) project kicked off in January 2019. It will modernise the Canadian Army’s Electronic Warfare (EW) systems and electronic support measures. These capabilities will support land forces at brigade and below levels. They will also support Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy assets, according to official documents seen by Armada. The Canadian government expects to spend between $190m to $379m on the CFLEWM.
Industry responded to a letter of interest sent to prospective suppliers in February 2019 by Canada’s Public Services and Procurement office. A written statement supplied to Armada by the Canadian Department of National Defence stated that a Request for Information (RFI) was subsequently sent to industry in May 2020. Meetings then took place this July with several unnamed suppliers “to inform the project’s possible solutions and related costs.” The CFLEWM will enter a definition phase in 2021/2022 and an implementation phase in 2024/2025 when the department expects the contract award to be made. An initial operational capability for the CFLEWM is expected between 2026 and 2027, with the full operational Capability following by 2031.
21st Electronic Warfare Regiment
In the Canadian Army EW is the preserve of the 21st Electronic Warfare Regiment headquartered in Kingston, Ontario. The regiment comprises the 211th, 212th and 215th EW Squadrons, the reserve 214th EW Squadron, the 218th Combat Service Support Squadron and the regimental headquarters. The Canadian Army’s land EW doctrine states that a squadron will typically provide EW support for a single division or two brigade-sized formations.
EW platforms and systems operated by the regiment include General Dynamics LAV-III/IV Bison eight-wheel drive armoured personnel carriers configured for Very/Ultra High Frequency (30 megahertz/MHz to three gigahertz) Communications Intelligence (COMINT) collection and electronic attack. One of these vehicles supports each EW Squadron. They are thought to be equipped with the AN/MRD-505 Advanced Electronic Reconnaissance Intelligence Evaluation System (AERIES). Official documents state that six examples of this equipment entered service in 1995. The equipment is primarily used for the collection of COMINT across wavebands of 20 megahertz/MHz to 500MHz at ranges of up to 25 kilometres (16 miles). Given the age of the AN/MRD-505 it would not be surprising if the replacement of this equipment is a major priority for the CFLEMW undertaking.
In each squadron the LAV-III/IV Bison vehicles are tasked with supporting ‘heavy’ EW missions, for example, supporting armoured manoeuvre. They are complemented in this role by a single AM General High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) also tasked with HF COMINT and electronic attack in support of heavy EW. The ‘light’ component of each EW Squadron includes one Iveco VM-90 LSVW support vehicle believed to be configured for High Frequency (HF: three megahertz/MHz to 30MHz) COMINT gathering and electronic attack. Other light EW assets in each squadron include a second HMMWV configured for V/UHF COMINT collection and electronic attack. (Source: Armada)
01 Sep 20. Pentagon’s central AI office wants to standardize its acquisition process. The Pentagon’s top artificial intelligence office released a request for information Aug. 28 outlining interest in establishing a new acquisition approach for standardizing the development and procurement process for AI tools.
According to the solicitation, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is “considering” starting a competition for a 501(c) nonprofit manager or managers of its prototype “Artificial Intelligence Acquisition Business Model” that looks to use other transaction authorities to more quickly purchase AI products.
The JAIC’s prototype business model could deliver “AI capabilities through meaningful market research/front-end collaboration and optimal teaming arrangements of both traditional and non-traditional companies for AI product procurement,” the RFI said. If the plan moves forward, the JAIC would also “explore the possibilities of using the model to enable agile AI acquisition processes to the DoD at scale.”
The JAIC is the Defense Department’s main hub for artificial intelligence and is responsible for increasing adoption of AI across the department. It works with the services and combatant commands to develop AI tools that have practical use.
To meet the military’s needs, the JAIC uses the traditional government contracting process, known as Federal Acquisition Regulation-based contracts, and works with the General Services Administration, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Innovation Unit. The traditional acquisition strategy currently being used is unlikely sufficient enough to help the JAIC carry out its mission, the RFI stated.
“To scale this strategy to other DoD service requirements or respond to emergent requirements such as COVID-19 is challenging and may not be the most efficient use of acquisition tools,” the RFI read. “The JAIC will therefore prototype a new AI Acquisition Business Model to assess the potential for non-FAR-based contracts mixed with FAR-based contracts to meet JAIC requirements.”
JAIC’s goals are to streamline awards while maintaining flexibility between FAR and non-FAR awards, and to maximize competition while minimizing restrictions, the RFI explained.
The JAIC recently awarded major contracts through DISA and GSA. In May, it awarded a five-year contract with an $800m ceiling to Booz Allen Hamilton through the GSA for its new joint war-fighting national mission initiative, though JAIC officials have continuously noted that the value of the contract won’t hit $800m.
The JAIC also announced a $106m contract award to the consulting firm Deloitte for its Joint Common Foundation, a critical element for sharing datasets and AI tools across Department of Defense components.
The JAIC has said for several months that it needs its own acquisition authority to be effective. Before he retired in June from his position as JAIC director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan called on Congress to give the center its own acquisition authority. He said on a webinar in late May that the center’s lack of acquisition tools will hinder the organization’s ability to increase AI use across the DoD.
“It’s not going to be fast enough as we start putting more and more money into this capability development,” Shanahan said, speaking on a webinar hosted by the AFCEA Washington, D.C., chapter. “We need our own acquisition authority. We have to move faster.”
The solicitation outlined six “high-level goals” for the prototype AI Acquisition Business Model.
- “Maximize outreach to non-traditional (e.g.., small business) industry and academic partners.
- “Create an acquisition model that is utilized by the Services and DoD agencies.
- “Maximize use of automated processes (e.g., online portal for requirements definition, collaboration, source selection, and performance monitoring).
- “Facilitate integration and transition to Acquisition programs of record (PoR) using agile and DevSecOps practices.
- “Increase use of agile methods for training, tools, and policy development.
- “Maximize utilization of the JAIC’s Joint Common Foundation (JCF) AI Development Platform.”
Responses are due Sept. 16.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
01 Sep 20. NNSY installs Yagi Passive Antenna System on USS San Francisco. A team from Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) has developed and installed a Yagi Passive Antenna System on the attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711). The system will make sure communication lines are always open aboard the submarine with the help of a strong radio frequency signal.
During emergency situations, communication plays a key role to relay the information between the pier or drydock and the responders.
Installation of the system follows the new fire safety requirement coming into effect, which needed the submarine to use a specific radio type in the situational response deployment.
The NNSY team worked to develop a solution that would meet the requirements of the San Francisco Project.
After the designs were finalised, the antenna was fabricated by the Electronics Shop (Code 950, Shop 67).
Electrical Engineering Division (Code 275) electrical engineering technician Aaron Taylor said: “The Yagi Passive Antenna System is a receiver and transmitter used to extend a radio frequency signal.
“The purpose of it is to boost the signal of Enterprise Land Mobile Radios (ELMR) used by first responders during an incident inside a submarine.
“Before we utilised this new system, the fire department had to deploy their own antenna system from their first responder vehicles down the hatch of the ships during an emergency to be able to communicate from inside the ship to the pier.
“This system, now installed on the San Francisco Project, will take care of that communication step, which could sometimes be forgotten in an emergency. It will ensure clear communication remains a priority throughout the vessel.”
In May, Isotropic Systems secured an antenna evaluation and development contract with the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to test the ability of its multi-beam antennas for naval communications. (Source: naval-technology.com)
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