Sponsored by Spectra Group
18 Sep 20. DOD Seeks Industry Input Into Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. The Department of Defense issued a request Sept. 18 for industry to develop information papers on dynamic spectrum sharing. This request for information, or RFI, seeks insight into innovative solutions and technologies for dynamic sharing of the department’s current spectrum allocation to accelerate spectrum sharing and 5G deployment. The intent is to ensure the greatest effective and efficient use of the Department of Defense’s spectrum for training, readiness, and lethality.
“We hope our industry partners will come forward with innovative ideas to address the questions in this RFI,” said DOD Chief Information Officer, Honorable Dana Deasy. “DOD’s partnership with industry is imperative in this extremely technical and competitive field. What we learn in this effort has potential to benefit the entire nation and keep the U.S. as the global leader of 5G technology for many years to come.”
The scope of the effort, according to the RFI, is to have vendors look at the “broad range of spectrum DOD currently uses in order to understand both the art of the possible, as well as current industry trends in spectrum utilization.” The scope is intended to cover all approaches to spectrum management, including the best methods for sharing spectrum with both military and civilian users.
DOD looks forward to industry’s input on this important topic. Responses are due on Oct. 19. (Source: US DoD)
17 Sep 20. DOD Works to Increase Cybersecurity for U.S., Allies. Open and reliable access to the Internet is essential for global security and prosperity. However, growing cyber threats from state and non-state actors threaten those values, the Defense Department’s principal director for Cyber Policy said. Madeline Mortelmans, spoke today at an event hosted by the Association of European Journalists in Madrid, Spain.
Adversaries China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are increasingly taking malicious cyber activities in the gray zone, which is below the threshold of armed conflict, to undermine U.S. and allies’ security, she said.
China is using cyber espionage for military and economic advantages, Mortelmans said. In 2018, the Justice Department estimated that more than 90% of economic espionage cases involved China and more than two-thirds of the cases involved in the theft of trade secrets were connected to China; this in spite of their 2015 pledge not to use espionage for their economic benefit.
In January 2019, the DOJ announced criminal indictments against malicious cyber actors associated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security for conducting a global campaign to compromise service providers to facilitate their cyber theft for economic gain, she said.
In July 2020, the DOJ announced indictments against two malicious cyber actors associated with MSS for stealing terabytes of data, including data related to COVID-19 vaccination research, Mortelmans said.
Russia is conducting cyber espionage that has the potential to disrupt critical infrastructure and erode confidence in America’s democratic system, she said. For example, they’ve made attempts to interfere in the 2016, 2018 and now 2020 U.S. elections, as well as elections of allies and partners.
North Korea has hacked financial networks and cryptocurrency to generate funds to support their weapons development program, she said.
Iran has conducted disruptive cyberattacks against U.S. and allies’ companies, along with information operations to push their own narrative across the Middle East, Mortelmans said.
Violent extremist organizations use cyber to recruit terrorists, raise funds, direct attacks and distribute gruesome propaganda online, she mentioned.
There are also cyber criminals who pose a growing threat from their use of ransomware to extort money from local and state governments as well as the commercial sector, she said.
In response to these threats, U.S. Cyber Command has taken a comprehensive and proactive approach, she said, that involves being able to defend forward anywhere in the world, in order to respond to cyber and other threats before they reach the homeland, Mortelmans said.
Defending forward includes understanding what adversaries are trying to do and what the threat looks like. This effort includes working with allies and partners, she noted.
Besides having an understanding of adversaries’ intention, Cybercom has the tools and expertise to conduct defensive and offensive cyber operations, she said.
A cyber operation can constitute an act of war or use of force, she pointed out. An attack is based on the effects that are caused, rather than the means by which they are achieved. An example would be an attack on critical infrastructure such as the power grid.
A cyberattack does not necessarily require a cyber response, she added. (Source: US DoD)
17 Sep 20. AFA 2020: AFRL rethinking strategy for Golden Horde networked collaborative weapons programme. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is rethinking its approach to the Golden Horde networked collaborative weapons programme and the lab’s commander has a meeting with a key stakeholder on 17 September to determine the path forward.
Golden Horde, one of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) top science and technology (S&T) priorities, had a demonstration previously scheduled for late 2020. Golden Horde is a group of technologies the service is evaluating for networked collaborative autonomous capabilities within existing weapon systems.
The service was to experiment with how to have a group of weapons talk and interact with one another and pass data back and forth into a network. This would allow them to better prosecute targets and better prioritise.
Chris Ristich, director of the USAF transformational capabilities office and director of the strategic development planning and experimentation office, told reporters on 16 September during the Air Force Association’s (AFA’s) annual conference that the USAF is debating two things.
These are whether the USAF is looking at simply transitioning a single capability to a single weapon, or how to get Golden Horde into its entire ecosystem of weapons development and make it a foundational element of all of its future weapons. This, he said, could create a robust ability to design, experiment, and test through a software integration lab.
“That is, again, what is shifting milestones and deliverables around,” Ristich said. “To get that right and get Dr (Will) Roper’s buy-in to the acquisition strategy.” (Source: Jane’s)
16 Sep 20. AMPS-M Upgrade. The Czech Air Force’s Mi-17 helicopters are having their AMPS self-protection systems upgraded as a result of lessons learned during operational deployments. Bird Aerosystems will upgrade the AMPS self-protection system equipping the Czech Air Force’s Mi-17s. The company announced in a press release on 11th September that it would upgrade the Airborne Missile Protection Systems (AMPSs) equipping the Mil Mi-17 (NATO reporting name Hip) series medium-lift utility helicopters flown by the Vzdušné Síly Armády České Republiky (Czech Air Force/CAF).
Bird Aerosystems began the installation of the AMPS-M variant of the AMPS installed on the CAF Mi-17s towards the end of last decade. The AMPS-M uses ultraviolet optronics to detect the hot exhaust of incoming missiles. It protects aircraft against infrared (IR) guided surface-to-air missiles fired from Man-Portable Air Defence Systems. Once detected the crew are alerted, IR countermeasures are launched and evasive manoeuvres performed to defeat the threat.
Provision will also be made for the future installation of Bird Aerosystem’s Missile Approach Confirmation Sensor (MACS). MACS provides additional confirmation of incoming threats to reduce false alarm rates using a Ka-band (33.4 gigahertz/GHz to 36GHz) radar.
Shaul Mazor, Bird Aerosystems’ vice president of marketing, told Armada that work would start on the upgrade in the coming weeks. He expects the upgrade to be completed by the end of 2020 with the aircraft returning to operational missions by 2021.
Work is to be performed in the Czech Republic and in Israel: “We have a challenge of completing the program on-time with all the COVID-19 flight restrictions. We will try to minimize the number of people who will travel to the Czech Republic and alternatively send as much of the equipment as will be possible to Israel,” Mr. Mazor emphasised.
The CAF flies 19 Mi-17 series helicopters. While details on the exact number of aircraft to receive the upgrade remain confidential, Mr. Mazor did say that the majority of these aircraft will benefit from the improvements. (Source: Armada)
16 Sep 20. UK warns of Chinese global cyber attacks. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemns continued Chinese cyber attacks on telecoms, tech and governments. Following announcements by the US Department of Justice and Malaysian law enforcement today (Wednesday 16 September) of criminal charges against Chinese nationals and arrests of Malaysian nationals relating to malicious cyber attacks, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:
Today we have another example of the Chinese using malicious cyber activity for criminal ends. We condemn the attempted attacks against governments and businesses. This kind of opportunistic and reckless behaviour in cyberspace is wholly unacceptable.
The UK will continue to counter those conducting such cyber attacks, and work with our allies to hold perpetrators to account.
- the criminal charges indicate that Chinese linked actors are targeting super computers, communications companies and systems that allow home working, in countries around the world
- the Foreign Secretary raised concern over evidence that China is engaged in malicious cyber attacks against commercial, medical and academic institutions on 22 July 2020
- the UK announced on 20 December 2018 that actors on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security carried out a malicious cyber campaign targeting intellectual property and sensitive commercial data in Europe, Asia and the US
- the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has produced practical advice for individuals and organisations on protecting against the threats outlined in the indictment, including:
- mitigating malware and ransomware attacks
- phishing attacks: defending your organisation
- multi-factor authentication for online services
- setting up two-factor authentication (2FA)
- supply chain security guidance
- introduction to logging for security purposes
- 10 steps to cyber security
- preventing lateral movement
- End User Device (EUD) security guidance
- (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
17 Sep 20. New pilot program to protect Aussies from cyber criminals. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert have announced a collaboration between Telstra, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and Services Australia that is boosting Australia’s cyber resilience.
The new pilot program will identify and reject illegitimate phishing text messages that are impersonating myGov and Centrelink before they reach Telstra customers.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the ACSC’s unique insights into the trade-craft and motivations of cyber criminals has been a key contribution to this pilot.
“Cyber security is a whole of community effort. This pilot program, which will eventually lead to industry-wide solutions, demonstrates how government and industry can work together to better protect Australians from cyber threats,” Minister Reynolds said.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said protecting all Australians from cyber crime is a key priority of the Morrison government.
“The government’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 contains initiatives to address the scourge of cyber crime. I welcome this pilot as an illustration of what government and industry can do working together to stop cyber criminals ripping-off innocent Australians,” Minister Dutton said.
Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said it is more important than ever to protect Services Australia customers who may not be able to recognise a genuine communication from a scam.
“In the 2019-20 financial year, almost 920 Services Australia customers reported scam losses totalling more than $6.4m — an increase of $500,000 from the previous year, with SMS in the top five methods that scammers used,” Minister Robert said.
Telstra CEO Andy Penn said it is more important than ever to protect its customers, “Cyber criminals continue to target Australians through SMS phishing campaigns by sending them text messages that attempt to redirect them to malicious websites. Being able to stop these scammers in their tracks will go a long way to protecting our customers,” he said.
Expanding on this, Penn added, “This work also aligns with Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy and the recommendations from the Industry Advisory Panel, which we look forward to helping implement in conjunction with the government, business and the community.”
Telstra is already supporting this objective through its Cleaner Pipes initiative announced in May, and is incorporating the same technology across its own network, to help filter out malicious text messages impersonating Telstra that are being sent to its own customers. (Source: Defence Connect)
16 Sep 20. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) played a central role in U.S. Air Force’s (USAF’s) Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) On-ramp demonstration held September 1-3, 2020. The goal of the demonstration was to prove emerging ABMS technologies in support of USNORTHCOM and USSPACECOM homeland defense priorities. GA-ASI flew two of its capital Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and two manned aircraft to support the ABMS demonstration, in addition to a USAF 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron MQ-9 RPA that was flown as a kinetic airbase defense asset.
All four GA-ASI aircraft passed their targeting data to the ABMS cloud architecture fulfilling a key ABMS demonstration objective of linking distributed sensors to Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) elements and strike aircraft.
“GA-ASI is committed to fulfilling the USAF’s ABMS and JADC2 vision,” said GA-ASI President Dave Alexander. “We were proud to support this exercise using our aircraft and sensor technologies, openly sharing our data through the cloud with all the other assets to dramatically shorten Commanders’ decision-making time. In addition, our engineers supported the combined Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Detachment 3, 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron, and 26th Weapons Squadron sortie in which an MQ-9 launched an AIM-9X air-to-air weapon against a surrogate cruise missile, which validated the MQ-9’s airbase defense credentials.”
The first RPA, flying at White Sands Missile Range, was a GA-ASI-owned MQ-9 configured with a Rosetta Echo Advanced Payload (REAP) gateway communications pod. The REAP pod has been developed under contract from the Air National Guard and demonstrated a communications relay capability for both Link-16 and the Silvus mesh network providing seamless connectivity between air and ground participants in the demonstration area. Additionally, the MQ-9’s Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) found, tracked and passed targeting data for a simulated Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) vehicle.
The second RPA, flying at the Yuma Proving Grounds, was a GA-ASI-owned Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) that was configured for Multi-Domain Operations and provided stand-off and stand-in surveillance, as well as targeting data. Utilizing its standoff Electronic Support Measure (ESM) openInt sensing capabilities and Eagle Eye long-range SAR, the aircraft searched for representative threat systems. Once detected and precisely located, the GE-ER launched and controlled an Area-I Altius-600 attritable Air Launched Effect (ALE) to positively identify the threat.
Finally, GA-ASI flew two of its King Air aircraft equipped with the Lynx SAR payload as part of the exercise. One of the King Air aircraft operated in the Gulf of Mexico and employed the maritime wide area surveillance mode to search for and provide tracking data on a simulated sea vessel carrying a cruise missile. The second King Air was part of the White Sands exercise and was equipped with the MQ-9’s Lynx Video SAR capability. It demonstrated the ability to maintain all-weather custody of mobile targets. The MQ-9 fed its sensor data to on-board Visual Artificial Intelligence edge processors provided by Chooch AI and distributed networking software provided by Anduril Industries that autonomously identified, classified and disseminated the surveilled targets to other military systems, demonstrating edge and smart technology. This was unique to the exercise and in line with GA-ASI’s philosophy to host third party ABMS technologies.
16 Sep 20. USAF looking at how to defend JADC2 systems. As the Air Force works on the new architecture and way of war dubbed Joint All-Domain Command and Control, leaders are beginning to think about how this networked system must be protected from digital threats.
JADC2 is the ambitious undertaking by the Department of Defense to connect all sensors on the battlefield to warfighters, enabling faster — in some cases, real-time — transfer of data, information, intelligence and communications across platforms and services. It is part of a more holistic joint approach for a new way of war under the umbrella of Joint All-Domain Operations.
The Air Force has been selected to lead the JADC2 effort for all the services as part of Joint All-Domain Operations. Their solution to do this is ABMS, or Advanced Battle Management System.
Officials surmise that in a future conflict against a technologically superior adversary such as Russia or China, information must travel faster and the services must be more integrated.
Given the high reliance on networks to enable this architecture to work, top Air Force officials have begun discussing the prospect of defending it.
“The only way we’re going to be able to really conduct JADC2 is through a defended, resilient, fully capable fabric, warfighting communication fabric,” Brig. Gen. Bradley Pyburn, deputy commander of 16th Air Force/Air Forces Cyber, the Air Force’s information warfare command, said Sept. 15th during a virtual event hosted by AFCEA’s Alamo chapter. “We’re going to have to not just enable that and design it and operate it, we’re going to have to defend it because the adversary is going to try to take that away from us.”
The foundation of ABMS is the data that is brought in and stored in the cloud.
“[The] things that we’ve seen as enormous steps forward for us have been CloudOne, PlatformOne and RepoOne. Those areas are really allowing us to be able to consolidate our data, run analytics, but also enable DevSecOps,” Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force said Sept. 15 as part of the Virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference.
CloudOne is a multi-cloud environment. PlatformOne is an enterprise solution that is a software development platform host a range of components. RepoOne is a central repository for the source code to create containers.
The new capability will be a “game changer,” the service’s chief software officer said.
“In competition, we’ve got to be able to move data. In some cases that’s being able to secure our networks … Being able to get our data into those clouds is a foundational component of our strategy for JADC2 and ABMS,” Haugh said Sept. 9 as part of the virtual Billington Cybersecurity Summit. “We want to be drawing all of our data that our Air Force is using whether that’s business systems or operational data, we want that inside our fence line, ideally inside of CloudONE so that we can increasingly move to zero trust in a much more accelerated fashion.”
Haugh also noted that as the cyber component for the Air Force, 16th Air Force is tied to JADC2 helping underpin the ability to move data, adding “we’re accelerating some of our cybersecurity activities and being able to move out at a much more aggressive way to change how we’re approaching technology in this information environment.”
Pyburn, in a cryptic fashion due in large part to the sensitivity, explained that there was a cyber narrative signed recently by top Air Force leadership. The narrative acknowledges that JADC2 is underpinned by a defended and resilient network.
“There’s also broad acknowledgement,” he said, “that as an Air and Space Force, there are unique platforms and accesses to capabilities that we have that no one else has.”
“Just imagine every platform has apertures, every aperture can collect and receive and generate signals and think about the opportunities there and how we will … leverage CYBERCOM authorities or other combatant command authorities where appropriate is pretty exciting,” he continued.
Recent congressional action has authorized defensive cyber personnel to operate outside U.S. networks, a development that officials claim creates greater cyber defense. Offensive teams have always had the authority to conduct operations outside U.S. networks, but now, through what U.S. Cyber Command calls “hunt forward” missions, cyber protection teams, at the invitation of host nations, can assist them in defensive cyber on their own networks. This allows Cyber Command to get a sense of the types of malware enemies are using and the types of operations they might be planning against U.S. networks allowing them a leg up on adversaries.
On the defensive side, the Air Force had been readying to officially formalize what they are calling Mission Defense Teams. These are specialized defensive cyber teams organic to the Air Force separate from the cyber mission force that will protect critical Air Force missions and installations. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
16 Sep 20. What to look for in DOD’s coming spectrum strategy. DOD has been prepping a electromagnetic spectrum strategy over the past year, evaluating its workforce needs and looking to better incorporate electronic warfare operations and manage the airwaves and explosion of devices used to enhance communications and military intelligence.
“The joint force is critically dependent on [the electromagnetic spectrum] across our joint functions and our domains, yet often it is viewed as a commodity. It’s viewed as a utility, and it is assumed that it can be accessed at will,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Lance Landrum, the deputy director for requirements and capability development in the Joint Staff’s force structure, resource and assessment directorate, said in May.
A DOD spokesperson told FCW the Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy is expected to be signed in September as it makes its way through senior leadership approval.
The Defense Department has an EMS strategy that was put in place in 2013. But a lot has changed in seven years, between the explosion of the internet of things and efforts by telecoms to amass spectrum for 5G services. In recent years, DOD has been working with civilian side telecommunications regulators and Congress to develop ways to relocate spectrum activities from commercially desirable swathes of spectrum or share spectrum with other users while taking into account baseline military needs such as satellite communications, air traffic control and other capabilities such as electronic warfare operations.
“If you look across all domains, what’s pervasive throughout all of them is basically that control and dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum is really required,” Anthony Nigara, L3Harris’ director of mission solutions for electronic warfare, told FCW.
“Satellites are just space junk without control of the spectrum,” Nigara said. “If you don’t have command and control and communications, and proper comms with them, they’re really useless.”
Operating in contested environments also poses challenges for spectrum based operations. That was a major issue during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars where an effort to jam signals to prevent improvised explosive device casualties also halted the U.S. military’s communications.
“We didn’t talk across the services and talk across industry. So what we ended up doing is putting in the field these jammers that stopped the bombs from going off but they also prevented us from communicating because they were all working within the same frequency,” said Steve Tourangeau, the vice president for electronic warfare strategy for Warrior Support Solutions, a research and analysis consulting firm.
“How do we both operate within the same portion of the spectrum without interfering with each other?” said Tourangeau, who was previously the chief of standardization and evaluation for the 21st Air Force and CTO for the now-shuttered Air Mobility Battlelab.
“This is something that we’re really going to have to figure out in the not-too-distant future because there just isn’t that much of the spectrum available, and the more and more people that jump in on it, the more congested it is, and the more difficult it is to work within it. We all end up interfering with each other,” Tourangeau said.
A push from Congress
Congress has been concerned that DOD’s electronic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum efforts weren’t cohesive enough to secure dominance of the space. The legislative branch has made that clear in the 2019 and 2020 National Defense Authorization Acts, requiring DOD to assess its electromagnetic spectrum use and electronic warfare policies and capabilities. The 2019 bill mandated DOD create a strategy to more comprehensively employ electronic warfare, from operations to budgeting and planning.
DOD adopted an electronic warfare strategy updated in late 2019, FCW confirmed, but the EMS strategy, which was intended to absorb the EW strategy into a singular policy guidance, still needs to be signed before its tenets are adopted.
The strategy comes as DOD is ramping up investments in electronic warfare. Administration requests for research funding for unclassified electronic warfare capabilities have increased from $4.9bn in fiscal 2019 to $5.5bn for 2021, according to a Congressional Research Service report released April 16. Procurement dollars have also gone up.
But as the military uses more apps, devices, and connected ships, ground and aerial vehicles, manned and unmanned, and as cyber and electronic effects become more commonplace on the battlefield, the more congested the airwaves and more opportunities for disruption.
A traffic cop for spectrum
For Tourangeau, the creation of a new governance body to help orchestrate the military’s spectrum use tops the list.
“Everybody’s got a piece of [the spectrum] but nobody’s looking at how all those pieces fit together or whether each service is working on the right piece,” Tourangeau said.
The hope is that the new strategy calls for an organizational construct (with the responsibilities, authority, and budget to back it up) that gives the defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff influence over how the services work in the spectrum, almost like thoughtfully directing and planning traffic.
“No operation can happen in any domain without secured access to the spectrum.,” Tourangeau said, “it needs more than a single service to manage it.”
The concern is that DOD has consistently assumed spectrum access to be available.
“We have not been battling against another force that has challenged us in the spectrum in a generation or more,” Tourangeau said. “”So we’ve got to find much better ways of command and control of all of our capabilities that use the electromagnetic spectrum. And it’s that is where the strategy is going and why we need a new strategy,” he said. “We’re looking global, not regional.”
All of the different systems produced and maintained by each of the services use the spectrum, Tourangeau said, but there hasn’t been anyone directing or coordinating how they fit with each other.
Nigara is also looking for increased teaming with industry in the strategy so defense companies can point out limitations, potential procurement issues especially with timelines.
“The more we can move open standards to the electromagnetic spectrum the better. Today we can talk about it in terms of physical connections and physical boxes being open and defining those interfaces. We need to apply the same thinking to command and control for the spectrum,” Nigara said, adding that he also expects a consortium to form with representatives from private companies and government, to help develop standards for operating within the spectrum.
“We spend a lot of time on individual widgets and designs for systems and capabilities,” Nigara said. “But how do we thread all of them together? How do we give operators and users positive control and feedback of that environment? Where is that done, not only physically but by whom? Who is going to be the traffic cop for the spectrum when it comes to DOD operations?”
That governance piece will be inevitably linked to the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative, which looks to connect and integrate sensors, weapons and data systems across platforms and across the military services.
“You probably cannot talk about electromagnetic spectrum command and control without talking about JADC2; they can’t be parallel roads either, they have to come together,” Nigara said.
For Tourangeau, the increased data and spectrum sharing expected and required of JADC2 puts more stress on spectrum use and proper coordination with industry and allied partners.
“So now we’re looking at moving a lot more information, a lot faster through the same piece of spectrum that our peer or near peer anniversaries intend to deny us, or try to deny us. It’s a smaller portion of the spectrum because we can’t interfere with commercial industry,” domestically and abroad, he said. (Source: Defense Systems)
14 Sep 20. Trenton Systems partners with Star Lab, a Wind River company, to provide cyber-secure, mission-critical systems for the tactical edge. Computer hardware manufacturer Trenton Systems is joining forces with security software company Star Lab, a Wind River company, to develop ruggedized, fully hardened, USA-made military computers for defense systems operating in hostile environments and running demanding mission-critical applications at the tactical edge.
Computer hardware manufacturer Trenton Systems and security software company Star Lab are joining forces to develop ruggedized, fully hardened, edge-focused military computers.
Combining Trenton Systems’ high-performance rugged computers and Star Lab’s Titanium Security Suite and Crucible Embedded Hypervisor poise these mission-critical systems to be some of the most formidable and resilient defense computing platforms available on the market today.
“The combination of Star Labs’ validated and certified cybersecurity, anti-tamper, and data at rest software products with Trenton Systems’ ruggedized, high-performance computing platforms gives our aerospace and defense customers U.S.-built, trusted, and cyber-secure mission-critical servers for the tactical edge,” said Irby Thompson, Founder and General Manager of Star Lab.
Michael Bowling, CEO of Trenton Systems, said he’s excited about the partnership with Star Lab and hopes to continue making cybersecurity an integral part of the systems equation from the very beginning.
“Cybersecurity cannot be a bolt-on or an afterthought with mission-critical applications,” Bowling said. “Security, when done correctly, is baked into every aspect of the architecture. From the chip-level hardware and firmware design to the OS and hypervisor-level encryption and protection, the trusted combination of Trenton Systems’ and Star Lab’s U.S.-based design, manufacturing, and support teams is ready to tackle your most hostile operating environments.”
The companies’ robust edge computers, certified to MIL-STD-810, DO-160, MIL-S-901, and other leading military standards, will be fully capable of meeting a variety of advanced, real-time computing needs, operating seamlessly at the tactical edge and amid the world’s harshest environments, satisfying multiple advanced security requirements, enhancing system integrity and upgradability, and effortlessly powering the most compute-intensive applications deployed by the defense and aerospace industries.
“As more devices are connected to these networks, a more systems-level approach to securing those devices is now required,” said Sean Campbell, Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development at Trenton Systems. “There is a rising interest in applying best DevSecOps processes to the development of internet of things (IoT) applications. This means thinking about application and infrastructure security from the start when buying hardware systems. Trenton Systems and our Star Lab collaboration provides that capability via Star Lab’s Titanium Security Suite. The biggest issue organizations are encountering now is an urgency to address cybersecurity as each device is connected to the network, rather than pursuing a more comprehensive approach to IoT and network security at scale. As awareness of these issues rise, IT decision makers are getting more involved in IoT platform decisions and buying hardware from trusted providers like Trenton Systems and Star Lab.”
The systems are the tangible result of a months-long collaboration between Trenton Systems and Star Lab. Both companies bring unique design and technological expertise to the table.
Trenton Systems is known for not only designing, manufacturing, assembling, integrating, and supporting its industry-trusted rugged computers in the United States, but also for ruggedizing and stress-testing its systems beyond standard requirements, incorporating numerous PCIe slots onto its motherboards and backplanes, customizing BIOSes and adhering to SWaP-C requirements, providing strict revision control, boasting an 11-year computer life cycle, and offering a risk-free 45-day loaner program for all of its custom and commercial-off-the-shelf rugged servers, workstations, blade servers, mini PCs, storage systems, processor boards, chassis, and backplanes. In addition, the company performs MIL-STD-810, DO-160, and other compliance testing both in-house and locally in the great state of Georgia.
Star Lab’s Titanium Security Suite, comprised of Titanium Linux, Titanium Secure Hypervisor (Crucible), and Titanium Secure Boot (TrueBoot), boasts the most robust Linux operating system-hardening and security capabilities available on the market for operationally deployed embedded systems. Designed using a threat model that assumes an attacker has already gained root or administrative access to a system, the Titanium Security Suite still maintains the integrity and confidentiality of critical applications, data, and configurations while assuring field and operational success. The products are highly performant and enable combat systems to survive and operate through cyberattacks by utilizing advanced isolation, attack surface minimization, and cyber resilient capabilities.
Together, the ruggedized hardware and hardened software technologies pioneered by Trenton Systems and Star Lab, respectively, will not only form the advanced edge computers that power defense and aerospace applications for years to come, but also change the face of the entire high-performance computing industry. (Source: PR Newswire)
11 Sep 20. Advanced Battle Management System Faces Headwinds. The US Air Force — known for developing cutting edge aircraft such as stealth bombers and fighter jets — is now focused on digital bits and bytes as it works to create a network of interconnected platforms that can rapidly shoot off information to warfighters.
This vast network — an “internet of things” for the military — will not only connect the Air Force and Space Force’s platforms, but also those of the other services through a concept called joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2.
Underpinning the Air Force’s approach to JADC2 is what is known as the Advanced Battle Management System, or ABMS. Service leadership has made the development of the technology — which is meant to replace the capabilities of the Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS — a top priority. It has requested hundreds of millions of dollars for developing the new capability. More than 50 industry partners are involved, and the service has already held a high-profile demonstration with more on the docket.
The next big milestone for the ABMS program is what Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, called a “mega-event” with every service participating and assets coming from the space, air, land and sea domains.
The two high-profile demonstrations — or technology “on-ramps” — are slated to take place sequentially beginning in late August and September. The first will be led by the commanders of Space Command and Northern Command. The second will be headed by Indo-Pacific Command.
An initial demo of the technology took place last December at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, which focused on defending the homeland. The next event had originally been slated for April but was postponed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduled for August.
During the Spacecom- and Northcom-led demo, ABMS systems will connect sensors and weapons from ships, submarines, ground troops, aircraft and commercial satellites to take down simulated enemy bombers, cruise missiles and unmanned vehicles, according to the service.
During the Indo-Pacific Command event, systems will be used to enable location- and platform-agnostic command and control and information sharing in the Pacific.
The main focus of the events will be to prove that ABMS can enable the service to move at internet speeds as well as share machine-to-machine data through the cloud, Roper said during a briefing with reporters in August.
For most people, that type of connectivity is ubiquitous and already available, he said.
“Your data on your phone is shared machine-to-machine going through the cloud but that is not how our military works,” he said. “Most of the data that we share is via radios — people talking with each other and classified chat capabilities.”
Although some observers are skeptical, Roper said the service’s vision for ABMS is not pie in the sky.
“It’s been done. The internet has been built and it didn’t need one iota of help from the Pentagon,” he said. “If we had tried to build it, we would have turned it into a Future Combat Systems type program that would have failed under its own weight,” he added, referring to an infamous Army program that was eventually canceled in 2009 due to swelling cost overruns and schedule delays.
Roper said: “It is a shame that people come into our service connected to almost everything in their personal lives, and they come work in a military where they’re connected to almost nothing.”
But the work that the service is doing with ABMS aims to change that.
So far, the service has brought on dozens of companies to develop, test and integrate new capabilities through indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts where vendors receive anywhere from $1,000 to $950m in total over the next five years for work in up to seven different ABMS categories. It hopes this will enable more rapid competition.
During the first ABMS “on-ramp” event, the Air Force was able to demonstrate it could use a combat cloud to share information, including classified and unclassified data, without chat functions or human-to-human radio calls, Roper said.
“We now need to show that we can do that on a broader scale and start putting data analytics and artificial intelligence in the cloud,” he said.
The service hopes to bring AI capabilities created under Project Maven — which developed machine learning systems to analyze reams of drone footage — to bear so data can be fed into algorithms during the exercises, he said.
Roper compared the technology to algorithms that can suggest a cat video to a civilian to watch on their smartphone based on their preferences and what other people are viewing.
“If you have that for cat videos, then shame on us if we can’t provide that for life-and-death situations on the battlefield,” he said. “I’m looking for that at this next on-ramp.”
The service also wants to prove that the technology can be successful across domains, and not just between the Air Force and Space Force, Roper said. While every service has unique needs, they all share a requirement to have information at machine speeds. That means not just raw data from a sensor, but actionable information that has been synthesized and processed.
The fact that the services “have specialized needs should not drive us to higher costs or higher development times,” he said.
Roper noted that a successful ABMS program does not depend on every piece of technology working as hoped.
“If we succeed in everything we try to do, we’re not taking enough risk,” he said. “My hope for ABMS is that we have about a 50/50 pass rate.”
Meanwhile, the program is facing some criticism. In April, the Government Accountability Office released a report that said the Air Force began the ABMS program without key elements of a business case including firm requirements, a plan to attain mature technologies, a cost estimate and an affordability analysis.
“GAO’s previous work has shown that weapon systems without a sound business case are at greater risk for schedule delays, cost growth and integration issues,” said the watchdog in the report titled, “Action Is Needed to Provide Clarity and Mitigate Risks of the Air Force’s Planned Advanced Battle Management System.”
The GAO recommended that Congress hold more briefings with the service to address these issues.
While the service has taken steps to create an ABMS management structure, the authorities of Air Force offices to plan and execute the program’s efforts are not fully defined, according to GAO.
“Unless addressed, the unclear decision-making authorities will hinder the Air Force’s ability to effectively execute and assess ABMS development across multiple organizations,” the report said.
In April, then-Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein — who retired in August and was replaced by Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. — pushed back on the watchdog’s assessment.
Goldfein noted that the GAO was not able to attend the ABMS demo that took place in December. “They didn’t actually have anybody there that was seeing real time what we’re connecting,” he said during a media briefing organized by George Washington University’s Project for Media and National Security.
Additionally, Goldfein said the GAO had not seen the program’s classified work.
“That makes it challenging because if the technology that you’re moving forward, if a lot of it is in the classified realm … and the GAO doesn’t have access or clearance to be able to look at it, then the report is going to be on just a very small portion of what Advanced Battle Management System really is,” he said.
Marie Mak, director of the GAO’s contracting and national security acquisitions division, said her office has not been left in the dark.
“Although we did not attend the December demo, we did request and received information related to that demo, as well as incorporating the appropriate unclassified reference to the demo into our draft report,” she said in an email to National Defense. “We included information on this effort through March and the report issued this past April.”
Mak said she believes the GAO has a full understanding of past and ongoing ABMS efforts.
“Even before that December exercise, we coordinated quite often with the Air Force on the classified side and my staff and I participated in numerous classified discussions,” she added. “Those discussions did not change our finding that the Air Force still does not have an overall plan for ABMS, a point which they openly acknowledged and in fact concurred with our recommendation.”
The fact that some ABMS work is classified did not impact GAO’s review of overall program planning efforts, she said.
“The Air Force still needs to develop an overall plan, to include preliminary costs and schedule,” she said. “Without some type of overall plan in place, it will be difficult for the Air Force to prioritize this program among the acquisition efforts within the Air Force.”
Capitol Hill has also expressed concerns about the program. In President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request, the Air Force asked for $302m to fund ABMS.
However, House legislators are pushing back on that number. They recommended a reduction of $50m toward the program in fiscal year 2021 and directed the service to not spend more than $25m total on “on-ramp” exercises in 2021.
The Air Force’s total requested funding for ABMS in 2021 is more than double the level for 2020, and the program is projected to grow to $1.09bn by 2024 in the current future years defense plan, lawmakers noted in the House Appropriations defense subcommittee’s version of the fiscal year 2021 defense appropriations bill.
“While the committee acknowledges the need for a robust and agile ‘sensor-to-shooter’ network to meet the challenges of future operating environments, and supports broad principles of the ABMS approach such as open architecture and the avoidance of ‘vendor lock,’ the committee currently lacks enough confidence in the Air Force’s structuring and execution of ABMS to support the rate of budget growth beginning with the fiscal year 2021 request,” lawmakers said.
Members of the subcommittee said there are several weaknesses within the current ABMS program that must be addressed before they can agree to the budget growth for the program envisioned in the future years defense plan.
These include the “absence of firm requirements, acquisition strategy, or cost estimate, as well as the unclear definition of responsibilities of the chief architect of the Air Force and other offices involved in executing the ABMS program,” they said.
The Air Force needs to articulate a strategy for transitioning technologies that are developed by the program into existing weapon systems, the subcommittee said.
“It is unclear how the costs of fully integrating elements of the ABMS family of systems will be accounted for through their lifecycles across multiple programs without simply being handed down as unfunded mandates to individual program managers,” the subcommittee added.
Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said while the Air Force has been making progress on ABMS, it needs to firm up the program’s requirements.
“You don’t want to start pulling money into something to then just keep changing the requirements, changing the acquisition strategy, changing the expectations for what kind of capabilities it’s going to provide,” he said.
The service needs to solidify what the Advanced Battle Management System will be in terms of platforms, sensors, payload and communication links sooner rather than later, he said. Not doing so could spark Congress’ ire.
“When the Air Force canceled the JSTARS recapitalization program it was … based on a promise that they really did have a plan,” Harrison said of the move that occurred in December 2018. “It was going to be ABMS and they were serious about it. … Part of keeping goodwill with lawmakers is showing real progress” toward that.
One challenge the program faces is getting the other services to buy into the Air Force’s vision of joint all-domain command and control, said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
“The question is, where are the other services? Because this is not something that only the Air Force is going to benefit from,” he said. “There needs to be top-down emphasis not in telling the services how to suck eggs, but buying into the overarching concept of ubiquitous and seamless sharing of information.”
If the other services don’t get onboard with JADC2 and the Advanced Battle Management System, there is a risk they won’t be able to connect together in the future, he noted.
A future challenge for ABMS may be funding, Harrison said. The Air Force has a number of high-priced modernization efforts including the F-35 joint strike fighter, KC-46 tanker, B-21 bomber and others at a time when budgets are projected to be under pressure.
“How is ABMS going to effectively compete for funding over the next five or 10 years?” he asked.
Retired Air Force Col. Mark Gunzinger, director for government programs and wargaming at the Mitchell Institute, said he believes ABMS is a high enough priority for the Air Force that it should be able to move forward.
However, “it will probably suffer from a downturn in defense spending, flat defense budgets … similar to just about every other program,” he said.
Significant delays or funding reductions to the program would be detrimental. Gunzinger noted that peer competitors such as Russia and China are not slowing down in their military modernization efforts.
ABMS will be critical to countering China which has fully embraced “informationized warfare,” he said.
“It is the core of their warfighting strategy to gain an advantage in terms of their ability to influence the decision-making of U.S. leaders at the strategic, operational and tactical level,” he said. “The way we can counter that is through our own capabilities — call them ABMS, JADC2, and so forth — that will allow us to maintain an advantage in terms of information.” (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
11 Sep 20. Ligado Exemplifies Broken US Spectrum Management: Industry Experts.
“There’s a lot of inefficiencies in the process. But it’s basically a fight, with each community pressing its case to its own regulatory body,” says Jennifer Warren, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for technology, policy and regulation.
FCC’s controversial decision to let Ligado proceed with its 5G wireless network over fierce DoD objections is just one more example of the broken state of the US regime for managing spectrum, industry experts say.
“There’s a lot of inefficiencies in the process. But it’s basically a fight, with each community pressing its case to its own regulatory body,” Jennifer Warren, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for technology, policy and regulation, told the Secure World Foundation (SWF) Summit for Space Sustainability this morning.
This has led a little-known but highly influential government advisory panel to recommend a series of options for overhauling the US regulatory system — including the creation of a new agency — to empower a single entity to decide how to balance skyrocketing demands for bandwidth as availability dwindles.
“[T]he United States’ current approach for managing the use of spectrum is no longer effectively serving the needs of the entire stakeholder community and would benefit from reform,” the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) says in a recent report. “Moreover, with the increased use of spectrum by all stakeholders, we agree that issues around allocations, spectrum-sharing and band adjacencies will need to be handled with both speed and skill to ensure that the US is making the most of its critical national resources.”
CSMAC, created by the Commerce Department in 2004, comprises spectrum policy experts outside the government.
The report, said Warren, who was one of the authors, was designed to kick start what many in industry see as an urgent debate about how US spectrum policies can accommodate a rapidly changing technological environment — particularly the emergence of 5G networking, which has the potential to revolutionize global communications.
Currently, two different US government bodies have regulatory control of spectrum by different users with very different priorities. The FCC governs use of spectrum by the commercial telecommunications industry (both terrestrial and space-based). The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) governs access to bandwidth for government agencies, including DoD. This bifurcation was established by the 1934 Communications Act and remains in place despite massive upheaval in technology and spectrum use since then.
The Ligado case underscores that, despite a 2003 memorandum of understanding between FCC and NTIA that pledges them to coordinate, there is no requirement that they reach consensus, Warren explained. Indeed, there isn’t even a requirement that a disputed decision by the FCC, such as on Ligado, must be escalated for adjudication. Instead, the FCC has “unilateral decision-making power.”
Indeed, the CMSAC report stresses that: “There are no statutory federal or non-federal bands. All such federal, non-federal, and shared band allocations result from agreements between NTIA and the FCC.”
As Breaking D has reported extensively, DoD, the Intelligence Community, the Transportation Department, the FAA and even the Agriculture Department — not to mention congressional defense committee leaders — have charged that the Ligado plan will create serious interference to GPS receivers used both by commercial/civil users and US troops. Those concerns have been echoed by a number of commercial users groups, from airline pilots to construction workers to farmers.
Not only does the current regulatory system block rational decisions on spectrum sharing among types of users, it also creates problems for the United States in its negotiations with other countries on spectrum usage at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Kimberly Baum, vice president of regulatory affairs at Echostar Corp., told SWF.
The ITU is responsible for setting rules about how spectrum is used by whom at the international level via its Radio Regulations and frequency allocation tables — something that particularly affects satellites that usually serve more than one nation. Every three to four years, ITU holds a World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), the next of which is scheduled for 2023, where the 193 member nations propose changes to spectrum usage. The State Department is charged with bringing the US position on changes, developed by the FCC and NTIA, to Geneva.
Baum, who also is co-chair of the Satellite Industry Association’s (SIA) regulatory working group, explained that because the NTIA and FCC each works with its own constituents, sometimes for years, to craft those WRC proposals, differences between them are not resolved until the last minute — if at all. And this loses the time the US needs to try to convince other countries to back its views.
(Indeed, as Breaking D readers know, a number of US lawmakers and policy experts are worried that internal US disarray on spectrum management rules for 5G is effectively ceding power at the ITU to China.)
“I would love to see a concerted effort to make decisions that meaningfully accommodate multiple services and technologies in a more fair, thoughtful way,” Baum said.
Any changes to the current regulatory system would require congressional action to rewrite the Communications Act, and re-allocate statutory authorities, said Warren. A next step, she said, might be for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to do a study of the issues and make recommendations to Congress. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
11 Sep 20. The USAF’s ‘Connect Everything’ Project Just Had a Big Success. The simulated cruise missile intercept harnessed widely dispersed systems — all supervised by tablets in a flight-line hangar.
The Air Force’s ambitious second demonstration of its network-everything effort linked sensors, satellites, and a big experimental projectile to blow up a simulated cruise missile. But the star of the show, service officials said, was the data collecting and transferring that went on behind the pyrotechnics.
Some participants gathered for the Sept. 2 experiment in a conference room at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. “They’re getting to see all the different combatant commanders all coordinating inside one common operating picture that is living on a cloud,” Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics said in a statement.
Then they were herded onto buses and taken out to a hangar on the flight line.
“We put a bunch of devices in their hands and, after they came up, the exact same command and control, the exact same toolset, with the exact same access, all of the power that they had in the command center was now in their hands as a tablet,” Roper said. “They could do command and control anywhere. We’ve never done that before.”
That entailed giving commanders access to both classified and unclassified information together on one device, moving information that was once only available in a command center to a thin, handheld computer, he said.
With a fuller picture of the incoming threat and a higher confidence provided by AI analysis of the incoming data, the commanders successfully tested a hypervelocity gun, which uses a projectile that can be shot out of the Army’s 55mm howitzers or the 5-inch guns aboard Navy destroyers.
“Hypervelocity gun weapons systems are precisely the very mobile, scalable, high-density defense with a low-cost per kill that can help us here in the homeland or could help defend a base and a forward operating location far from home against a similar threat,” said Roper.
All this made this second demonstration of the Advanced Battle Management System more ambitious than the first, which was staged last December to show that the Air Force’s fifth-generation F-22 and F-35 could better share data.
This second experiment brought in U.S. Space Command, Northern Command, and Strategic Command to test whether different sensors could quickly collect data on an incoming cruise missile, store that data centrally, run artificial intelligence or machine learning on it, and then send it for decision and action to commanders in headquarters and in the field.
Unlike the first experiment, the second occurred in an environment where a near-peer adversary like China or Russia was relentlessly hitting U.S. satellite communications and sensors.
“We simulated an adversary aggressively and kinetically attacking in the space domain and so our focus really was on taking Space Force systems and integrating them with other services to provide a Joint common operating picture,” an Air Force spokesperson told Defense One in an email.
A Northrop Grumman target drone played the part of the cruise missile.
“Obviously, cruise missile timelines are very stressing so you’d like to have your tool box working quickly. But the goal is to be adaptable so we can push software quickly against evolving threats,” Adil Karim, the chief engineer of architecture initiatives at the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, said in an AFCEA event on Thursday.
The sensors transferred data on the incoming threat to CloudONE, the Air Force’s boutique Amazon- and Microsoft-powered cloud. From there, it went to a variety of devices, including PC tablets in commanders’ hands.
“The ability to take in information in a timely manner, process that data, and then push it out to decision-makers and warfighters is crucial to competing and defeating a peer adversary. And this is being done at machine speeds, so not hours and days of pouring through PowerPoint briefs…We witnessed AI and machine learning digesting information and providing a higher degree of confidence to decision makers on how to defeat threats,” said the spokesperson
A lot of different pieces go into collecting, automatically analyzing, and then distributing that data including a cellular or satellite, mobile adhoc network, or MANET, provided by Persistent Systems; cruise missile defense sentry towers from Anduril that autonomously fuse onboard radar and optical sensor feeds, and Anduril’s Lattice system, which the company describes as “an open and extensible software platform that automates sensor fusion, network management, and distributed command and control.”
But the most important technology on display during the demonstration was the CloudONE system, Roper said.
“The star of the show was the data that enabled its kill chain to take effect…enabled by data going into a cloud, being transported over 4G and 5G communications at machine speeds to culminate in a kill chain that took seconds, not minutes or hours to complete,” he said.
ABMS is the Air Force’s contribution to the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, an effort to fully link the devices, sensors, weapons, and service members of the military together in a sort of fully functioning digital battle web, to better defeat high-tech adversaries such as Russia and China. (Source: Defense One)
10 Sep 20. US Army launching new PNT Modernization Office and Open Innovation Lab. The U.S. Army is opening a new office and laboratory to develop agile position, navigation and timing solutions in an attempt to reduce soldiers’ dependence on GPS.
“We are standing up a new product office called PNT Modernization. So this will be the newest PM shop in the Army,” said Col. Nickolas Kioutas, program manager for position, navigation and timing within the Army’s Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.
The Army is keen to develop and deploy solutions that can keep soldiers operating in areas where the GPS signal has been denied, degraded or spoofed. The PNT Modernization Office — which will open Oct. 8 — will lead the Army’s efforts to develop solutions using an open-systems architecture.
As it stands up, the PNT Modernization Office will launch a new Open Innovation Lab, a space where commercial entities can work with the Army to develop PNT solutions. Within OIL, the Army has set aside space for the CMOSS [C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards] Lab and the Network Cross-Functional Team’s Orion Forge. Located at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the lab will be physically separated from the more classified areas of the site to encourage more engagement with industry, said Kioutas.
“We’re opening the doors, so to speak, for being a host of vendors — anyone smart on the technologies that we’re looking at,” he said. “And we’re looking at a whole host of technologies.”
Those technologies include radio frequency systems, GPS, Alt-Nav, chip-scale atomic clocks, other timing technologies and celestial navigation, among others. The point is to break the Army’s dependency on GPS. Most importantly, these technologies need to be fielded fast, so rather than spending a decade developing technologies that are meant to last 20 years, the Army wants to release new solutions every five years, ensuring soldiers can always overmatch adversaries’ capabilities.
“We’re looking at a continual rolling upgrade of our technologies,” Kioutas said.
“It’s all about getting our agile-iterations-speed-of-technology development up,” he explained. “We’ve got threats out there that we are trying to pace — to keep ahead of these threats or outpace them — so we need industry’s help to keep inventing new technologies in order to maintain that speed of relevance.”
Of course, implementing that vision isn’t easy. Take for example the Army’s Mounted Assured Position Navigation and Timing System. While a version of that technology could help war fighters continue operating in GPS-denied environments, installing it on existing platforms has proven difficult.
“It can take two or three years to even take what we’ve got and implement it onto different weapon systems platforms such as Bradley [Fighting Vehicles] or Abrams tanks,” Kioutas said.
That’s too slow for the service. Instead of having to custom install each capability upgrade, the Army wants a plug-and-play system that allows it to quickly and easily install the latest capabilities. The key technology at the center of that effort is the C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards, or CMOSS.
With CMOSS, the Army is building a common bus or chassis that can be installed on Army systems. In turn, this box hosts a variety of cards that are plugged in to provide different capabilities. Now, instead of replacing the whole box every time the Army wants to upgrade a capability, all it needs to do is swap out the relevant cards.
The Army recently tested the CMOSS capability at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The CMOSS chassis was installed on a Stryker vehicle with a PNT card and an integrated anti-jam antenna. While the Army is still assessing that test, Kioutas said so far it appears to have performed as expected.
Industry partners will work within the Army’s recently released PNT reference architecture and other open standards to develop solutions that are compatible with CMOSS cards and this plug-and-play approach, said Kioutas.
“We’re going to enter an environment where it’s not a one-vender-take-all environment. We’re gonna open it up to all kinds of industry to allow us to really take the best-of-breed technologies and optimize solutions on whatever cards we develop,” he said. “We’ll leverage whatever industry brings.
“The Army never wants to fail another program. Failure in the past happened because it took 10, 15 years to get the capability out. By the time it got out, it was failed technology and the soldiers maybe didn’t like it.”
The PNT Modernization Office will launch a new website Oct. 29, with an industry day slated for Nov. 17. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.