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24 Sep 20. Bowman Out Of Service Date delayed? Sources close to BATTLSPACE suggest that the Bowman Out Of Service Date has now been extended by several years due to budget restrictions due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and the pending Defence & Security Review. The result of the bids for the Bowman and then Morpheus support contract currently with GDUK was expected last month. Babcock, Leonardo and GDUK are the bidders.
24 Sep 20. Northrop Grumman Delivers New Capabilities to Deployed Global Hawk Autonomous Aircraft. New MS-177 and upgraded AN/ASQ-230 sensors will enhance multi-spectral image and signals intelligence collection for the United States Air Force and Geographic Combatant Commands.
SAN DIEGO – Sept. 24, 2020 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered a pair of sensors to enhance the capability of its Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance autonomous aircraft system. Enhancements include the deployment of the MS-177 multi-spectral camera system to provide additional high resolution imaging capability for operational users. The second new capability is the first fielding of the increment 1 upgraded AN/ASQ-230 system on Global Hawk to meet expanded electronic threats.
The MS-177 camera system provides multiple channels of intelligence collection in visible and infrared bands and provides a dramatic increase in multi-spectral imaging capacity. When paired with a Global Hawk platform, the MS-177 provides collection coverage in areas that cannot easily be reached by other means. Fielding of the AN/ASQ-230 increment 1 enhances Global Hawk’s support against electronic threats.
“Ongoing improvements to Global Hawk underscore Northrop Grumman’s commitment to the United States Air Force’s ISR mission and reducing costs through agile development and leveraged solutions,” said Leslie Smith, vice president, Global Hawk, Northrop Grumman. “New and improved payloads flying on our young, yet proven fleet of aircraft will allow our partners to deploy high value, networked assets to monitor adversaries while not risking the lives of military personnel well into the 2040s.”
Global Hawk’s combination of autonomy, range, endurance and payload, and an average aircraft age of under nine years, make Global Hawk a valuable asset for domestic and international customers with critical ISR collection requirements. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments recently published a report highlighting the key role systems like Global Hawk play around the globe.
In the future, Global Hawk is uniquely positioned for additional missions that connect the joint force as one, including persistent high capacity backbone, pseudo-satellite communications coverage, and joint all-domain command and control.
22 Sep 20. JEDI fight will stretch into 2021. Within hours of the Defense Department’s Sept. 4 announcement that it would again award the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to Microsoft, Amazon Web Services announced it would continue to protest the procurement. A Sept. 15 government filing with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims now confirms AWS’ plan.
JEDI is two years behind schedule and has yet to be implemented — three years after DOD first unveiled the project and almost a full year after Microsoft was first awarded the contract. Work on the contract has been paused until February 2021 under a current injunction that was imposed earlier this year.
Next in the overall JEDI saga comes DOD’s post-award debriefings to explain to both companies why the ultimate outcome remains the same. After that: a series of more filings by AWS and the government under a schedule outlined in the status update they all agreed upon.
AWS must file an amended complaint by Oct. 9 and a renewed motion for further discovery by Oct. 23. The government must also submit a renewed motion of its own by Oct. 23, and the judge overseeing the case us due to resolve all of those motions and others from both parties by Dec. 4.
Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith’s ruling on the discovery motion will likely in part determine if AWS can seek depositions from current and former DOD officials, plus President Donald Trump, who AWS claims improperly swung the JEDI award to Microsoft.
Campbell-Smith has not evaluated that aspect of AWS’ complaint, but she did previously give the company one favorable ruling over evaluation errors by DOD during its initial source selection last year. The judge granted the current injunction to pause work on the current contract.
If she rules that AWS can get at least some the depositions it wants, then the timeline as described earlier gets shaken up and becomes very much TBD. That would add many more months to the case beyond February 2021.
A ruling against all of AWS’ discovery requests means the company has to file its motion for judgment on the administrative record by Dec. 23.
Lawyers representing the government then have to file their own motion against AWS by Jan. 5, and all responses are anticipated to last until at least Feb. 5. (Source: Defense Systems)
24 Sep 20. How the USMC want to provide information on demand. The USMC wants to provide information on demand. However, sensing, harnessing and acting upon the vast amounts of data produced daily is an enormous challenge and now the Corps is turning to its 2019 blueprint for the information environment.
“If you were building a house, you would never just hire plumbers, framers, roofers and say build me a house,” Jennifer Edgin, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Information, said Sept. 22 during a virtual panel as part of Modern Day Marine.
Rather, she noted, most would start with the design of the house and how things connect.
“That’s how we began with our journey in the Marine Corps Information Environment Enterprise, by publishing a blueprint. That outlined our future state vision, our case for change and the major muscle movements that we were tackling with that,” she said.
Published in March 2019 and classified as “controlled unclassified information,” the blueprint is a unified technical, physical and business model that documents the design of the Marine Corps Information Environment, Edgin told C4ISRNET in written responses to questions. It connects users with data to support a mission and codifies the policies, standards, services, infrastructure, technical design and architectural elements required to deliver capabilities to Marines.
Extremely technical in nature, the blueprint is meant to guide the development and employment of capabilities needed and provides acquisition officers guidance and constraints while also conveying a common language. The first iteration covers five key areas to include digital transformation, governance, transitioning to the cloud, standardization and information dominance.
“The future state of warfare requires the Marine Corps to think differently, encourage innovation, and embrace new business models for change that focus on enhancing the access, capabilities, and user experience throughout the Information Environment,” Edgin said. “This blueprint unites and aligns efforts to digitally equip Marines for the future … The benefit of the blueprint is that it articulates information that cannot easily be visualized. For example, it is very easy to see physical assets like trucks or planes however, it is difficult to articulate information technology assets and visualize how they are employed.”
Edgin noted yesterday that the Marine Corps Enterprise Network modernization plan followed the blueprint, taking the blueprint and breaking it down into action plans.
Taken together, both documents are meant to guide a transformation the office of the Deputy Commandant for Information is seeking to realize, one that provides secure information on demand leveraging technologies such as cloud computing, resilient mesh networks and emerging technology such as machine learning.
“Information doesn’t have a geographic boundary,” she said, “you’re seeing more of that cross functional team, cross functional approaches where we can really harness all of the best and brightest of authorities and ideas so that we can provide that information on demand.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
24 Sep 20. SCORPION: notification of the 2020 order from JAGUAR and GRIFFON. Nexter, Arquus and Thales, members of the temporary grouping of companies EBMR (Engins Blindés Multi-Rôles), were notified on 15 September by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) of the second production phase of the contract to build the GRIFFON and JAGUAR engines for the SCORPION program. The DGA thus confirms the delivery of 42 JAGUAR and 271 GRIFFON engines for the years 2022 and 2023, as scheduled in the 2019-2025 military programming law. Among the new features, this tranche includes the delivery of the first GRIFFON Artillery Observation Vehicles (VOA) and GRIFFON Sanitary (SAN), which will join the Troop Transport Vehicle (TTV) and Command Post Vehicle (CPV) versions.These new deliveries will contribute to the Army’s ramp-up of the SCORPION program. The arrival of this new equipment, with the highest levels of protection and mobility, will provide users with new operational capabilities. Collaborative combat, for example, consists in connecting all the SCORPION program’s info-enhanced vehicles in real time. The firing start detectors, telemetry tools and the many sensors integrated on the GRIFFON and JAGUAR communicate together to contribute to the decision making of the vehicle commander. The JAGUAR’s highly integrated and digitized turret and its innovative weapons, such as the CTA40 40 mm telescopic gun, the MMP medium-range missile and the Hornet remotely-operated turrets, considerably broaden their field of action. In short, these latest-generation vehicles benefit from the latest technologies and innovations in the land-based field.
The notification of this order comes in the third quarter of a year 2020 marked by the health crisis. Despite the events and constraints, the three companies have met their commitments, with 51 GRIFFON already delivered this year, joining the 92 GRIFFON delivered in 2019. Nexter, Arquus and Thales have made the necessary investments in the development and industrial qualification of the vehicles, and in parallel are continuing to recruit, notably engineers specialized in digital technologies.
As Stéphane Mayer points out, on behalf of the three companies, Arquus, Thales and Nexter (of which he is CEO),
“the program partners are very satisfied that this order, which is included in the last military programming law, is being strictly respected. We are fully engaged to meet our commitments to the French Ministry of Defence by developing, delivering and supporting the high-performance equipment that is expected”.
By placing this order, the DGA also guarantees the continuity of production for many of the program’s suppliers. The production of the GRIFFON and JAGUAR will generate nearly 2,000 highly qualified jobs each year, spread over 5 employment pools, for 3 years. Thus, the defense industry confirms its driving role in the economic recovery and contributes to the sustainability of industrial activity in France.
23 Sep 20. TrellisWare Announces Completion of Field Demonstrations for HMS Operational Test Risk Reduction and New Warrior Robust Enhanced Networking (WREN) Narrowband (WREN NB) Waveform. TrellisWare Technologies, Inc. is leading the development and deployment of the next generation waveforms for the US Army. TrellisWare recently completed successful execution of two field demonstrations that show the continued advancement of Army communication capabilities.
First Field Demonstration –TSM Waveform
The first field demonstration was of the TSM™ waveform on all four Product Manager (PdM) Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit (HMS) Program of Record (PoR) radios forming a single interoperable TSM network that supports the Army’s voice, data and Position Location Information (PLI) Concept of Operations (CONOPS). By collaborating with all of the platform vendors – Collins Aerospace for the AN/PRC-162, L3Harris for the AN/PRC-158 and AN/PRC-163, and Thales Defense & Security (TDSI) for the AN/PRC-148C – TrellisWare proved that a Software Defined Radio (SDR) based waveform can be deployed on existing Army platforms to bring new networking capabilities to the Army’s toolset.
In addition, TrellisWare worked closely with Program Manager Tactical Radios (PM TR) and the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR (Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) to show that the TSM waveform can seamlessly support key Army systems, namely the Nett Warrior End User Device (EUD) and the Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P).
As a result, the network that TrellisWare demonstrated was a system of systems representation of the PdM HMS Integrated Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) test scheduled for early 2021. The success of the demonstration is a significant risk reduction for the PdM HMS IOT&E, an event that will influence full rate production of the PoR radios.
TrellisWare will continue collaborative efforts with PM TR and the platform vendors to demonstrate a Secret and Below (SAB) TSM capability that leverages the Warrior Robust Enhanced Networking (WREN) security specification.
Second Field Demonstration – WREN Narrowband
The second capstone field demonstration was for the WREN Narrowband (WREN NB) waveform, a new Mobile Ad-hoc Network (MANET) waveform developed by TrellisWare. The new WREN NB waveform represents the modernization of resilient long-range narrowband communications.
The WREN NB waveform is a fast frequency hopping narrowband waveform that is Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM) capable. It provides simultaneous voice, PLI, and Command and Control (C2) data in a single network of 250+ nodes; operates in VHF, UHF, and L-band frequencies; supports Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS); and is portable to the PoR Manpack and Handheld Leader Radios. The WREN NB waveform represents a new technological capability for the Army to operate in congested and contested environments and is planned for inclusion in their future Capability Set.
In this field demonstration, TrellisWare was able to show the WREN NB waveform operating on both the TDSI AN/PRC-148C and Collins AN/PRC-162 platforms. Simultaneous voice, PLI and data communications were shown in a multi-hop network topology. PLI and chat messages were exchanged using Nett Warrior EUDs, and a JBC-P system was used to view a Common Operational Picture (COP). “The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Spectrum Access Research and Development Program (SARDP) has afforded the Army the opportunity to add this modernized capability into our toolbox,” said Herald Beljour, CIV US Army CCDC C5ISR. “This coming fiscal year we will transition this waveform to PM TR, and we will continue to put this capability through its paces.”
“TrellisWare is leading the development and fielding of scalable and resilient waveforms for the US Army,” said Metin Bayram, president and CEO of TrellisWare. “Our TSM waveform is already a key component of the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) that scales to support an entire battalion. With the completion of WREN NB, TrellisWare is further enabling the Army with resilient communications for operations in congested and contested environments.”
About TrellisWare Technologies, Inc.
TrellisWare Technologies, Inc. is a worldwide leader in highly advanced algorithms, waveforms, and communications systems that range from small form factor radio products to fully integrated solutions. Our TSM™ waveform is incorporated into a wide range of systems, including TrellisWare radios and trusted industry partner radios, as well as multiple government and commercial solutions. TrellisWare is delivering the next generation of communications for military and commercial markets When Nothing Else Works™. For more information on TrellisWare’s products and solutions, please visit www.trellisware.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
23 Sep 20. Hyten to issue new joint requirements on handling data. While the phrase “tsunami of data” seems to have exited everyday use by Defense Department officials, the problem remains the same: The Pentagon simply cannot exploit the sheer amount of information that comes in every day to its fullest.
It’s a challenge that will only get worse as more sources of information come online, with each branch having its own data sets, which often don’t talk to each other.
At the same time, the lack of ability to properly sort, catalog and exploit the data means the department cannot fully achieve its goals of using artificial intelligence to its fullest.
After almost a decade of talking about the problem, military leaders appear to have a target date for when the department will get its arms around the problem, according to Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
By 2030, the Pentagon expects handling data will no longer be an overwhelming challenge, Hyten said Monday during an event organized by the Defense Innovation Unit.
But, he added, the department is looking at any way to move that date closer, including by reworking how requirements are developed in the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, or JROC, a group chaired by Hyten, which serves as an oversight body on the development of new capabilities and acquisition efforts.
Currently, “a service develops the capability, it comes up through the various coordination boards in the JROC, eventually getting to the JROC where we validate a service concept and make sure it meets the joint interoperability requirement,” Hyten explained. “But what was intended is the JROC would develop joint requirements and push those out to the services and tell the services ‘you have to meet those joint requirements.’”
To get back to that top-down model, Hyten plans to push out a list of joint requirements for two major department priorities in all domain command and control and logistics for joint fires, which will have specific requirements for data and software.
“They’re not going to be the traditional requirements that you’ve looked at for years, capability description documents and capability production documents. They’re going to capabilities and attributes that programs have to have,” he said. “And if you don’t meet these, you don’t meet the joint requirements and therefore you don’t get through the gate, you don’t get money. That’s how we’re going to hold it.”
Hyten added that the goal is to have those data requirements out to the services around the end of the year, shortly after the expected publication of the new joint warfighting concept. That concept — which Hyten has previously described as essentially eliminating lines between units and services on the battlefield — inherently relies on the ability to combine data to be successful, he noted. (Source: Defense News)
22 Sep 20. The military renaissance in high frequency communications. Special operations commands across Europe are ramping up their capabilities with high-frequency communications to ensure connectivity on the battlefield. Leaders there are turning to high frequency communications as a way to optimize properties that provide a low probability of interception and detection.
Special forces in France, Germany, Poland and Ukraine continue to receive high-frequency, or HF, systems as a way to diversify communications plans, industry sources confirmed to C4ISRNET.
Some special operations organizations have selected L3Harris’ AN/PRC-160(V), industry sources said.
Enhancements in HF come at a time when NATO members and partner forces are suffering from a disruption of satellite communications, particularly along the alliance’s eastern flank where Russian armed forces continue to conduct electronic warfare.
In an online presentation to the Association of Old Crows on Aug. 6, Paul Denisowski, product management engineer at Rohde and Schwarz North America, described how communications satellites are vulnerable to antisatellite systems as well as ground-, air- and space-based “kill vehicles.”
“China, Russia and the U.S. have all carried out ASAT tests and many other countries are developing ASAT capabilities,” Denisowski said, using an acronym for anti-satellite. To boost resilience, some commands are turning to high-frequency communications.
During the presentations “Lost Art of HF” and the “Rebirth of Shortwave in a Digital World,” Denisowski explained that HF is making a comeback in local and global communications. This renaissance comes as the result of improvements in a range of fields, including antenna design, digital modulation schemes and improved understanding of propagation.
The market is also helped by reductions in size, weight and power requirements as well as the introduction of wideband data, enhanced encryption algorithms and interoperability with legacy HF sets, he said.
“This means end users are now benefiting from easier-to-use and cheaper solutions featuring improved data performance, audio quality, availability and operation. And because of a lack of infrastructure, HF is less expensive and relatively robust, although solar events may temporarily disrupt HF communications,” he said. Specific upgrades include “Adaptive HF,” which comprises automatic selection of frequency and the establishment of communication through automatic link establishment, or ALE, technology.
The latest technology of its type — 4G ALE — is capable of supporting wideband HF communications, or WBHF for short, providing end users with the ability to “negotiate bandwidth, modulation type, error correction and the number of sub-carriers,” Denisowski explained.
“ALE selects frequencies using link quality analysis, which allows it to listen and determine if a channel is in use and adapt if conditions change,” he said.
He added that HF can now support data rates up to 240 kilobytes per second on a 48-kilohertz channel, particularly useful for more robust communications in hostile environments.
“WBHF has already [been] used in military trials. It’s a technology which is most definitely here and now,” Denisowski said.
Similar sentiments from Europe were expressed to C4ISRNET, where armed forces continue to integrate HF technologies into existing and future communications plans. Examples include Germany’s Ministry of Defence, which is deciding whether to include an HF requirement as part of its wider Digital Land Based Operations communications program.
According to a report by JK Defence and Security, a partner of L3Harris Technologies in Germany, HF communications comprise a viable alternative to satellite communications tech available to European NATO partners.
The report explained how the U.S. Army and European NATO partners explored such scenarios during a series of joint exercises in 2019 and 2020. “A new need arrives for alternative communication skills, justified through the increasing vulnerability from SATCOM jamming as well as the potential failure of SATCOM as a result of attacks on spacecraft or through the use of anti-satellite surface-to-air missiles,” the report’s author, Jan Pätzold, told C4ISRNET. “The development of alternative skills is important to reduce dependence on SATCOM.”
According to Pätzold, so-called Skywave HF, which bounces signals off the ionosphere, enables beyond line-of-sight communications across “thousands of kilometers” without requirements. HF communications is also ideally suited to supporting local network coverage. “This offers advantages over SATCOM in urban areas, but also in mountainous areas or far north latitudes where no line of sight to existing satellites is possible,” Pätzold said (Source: Defense News)
22 Sep 20. PacStar Awarded U.S. Army Tactical Communications Contract to Support Expeditionary Warfare. PacStar 400-Series enables on-the-move warfighters operating in small, agile units to rapidly and reliably communicate.
PacStar®, a leading developer and supplier of advanced communications solutions for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), today announced that it has been awarded a tactical network communications contract by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).
Under the contract, PacStar will deliver its PacStar 400-Series platform for SCOUT (Scalable Class of Unified Terminals) in support of the U.S. Army Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) program. The ITN is a concept that incorporates the Army’s current tactical network environment with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and transport capabilities to enable communications in disconnected, intermittent and limited (DIL) bandwidth environments.
“As the U.S. Army and other DoD organizations continue to pursue expeditionary style warfare and engage more agile, smaller units, they must support on-the-move warfighters who often enter remote and mobile environments with limited communications equipment and uncertain infrastructure,” said Peggy J. Miller, CEO of PacStar. “PacStar offers a proven, and reliable tactical communications platform that demonstrated superior Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) capabilities during ITN tests, accelerating DoD modernization efforts.”
SCOUT provides small teams with expeditionary satellite capabilities for low bandwidth communications and exchange of secure and non-secure data, voice, and video. PacStar 400-Series solutions will be delivered to four Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) as part of the ITN Capability Set 21 rollout, delivering key capabilities optimized for small, agile units. This will enable:
- Improved agility for smaller units. The U.S. Army now operates with smaller teams such as Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), which require lightweight communications equipment that allow them to quickly maneuver. With PacStar 400-Series family of small form factor modular communication products, unmatched agility is now available, as it includes routing, switching, and advanced network services in lightweight packaging.
- Simplified training and deployment. With this modular and extensible platform, users can train once and operate multiple systems over time. By adopting PacStar 400-Series, the ITN program can ensure commonality of the platform across Infantry Brigade Combat Teams. Because expeditionary warfighters frequently rotate, taking their operating knowledge base with them, a common platform reduces overhead and training costs.
- Reliability. PacStar 400-Series is extensively tested by third party laboratories to meet demanding MIL-STD environmental requirements, and is field proven in multiple, large, DoD programs – ensuring maximum communications uptime even in austere environments.
PacStar also provides the baseband solution for the Army’s Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) program based on PacStar 400-Series. The T2C2 Program of Record is providing SCOUT in support of the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB). As a result of this contract, a SCOUT variant will be included in the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), providing commonality across platforms and reducing the unique hardware components in the Army network. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
22 Sep 20. ADF launches program to ‘close the gap’ of cyber capabilities. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has officially announced that the launch of the Australian Defence Force Cyber Gap Program is now underway, offering financial support, mentoring and Defence work experience opportunities for cyber students across Australia.
There are 48 students enrolled in this year’s pilot program, prior to a larger intake of 250 students in 2021.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the program, which is run in partnership with the Digital Transformation Agency, represents an important step in diversifying the Defence cyber workforce.
The current intake of students are participating in work experience with Defence this month. This includes a 40-hour self-paced online cyber skills challenge, run by Canberra-based cyber training company Fifth Domain.
Minister Reynolds said, “In a digital world, where connectivity extends to the battlefield, we want the best and brightest cyber operators defending our Defence networks and missions system.”
The program includes:
- Generous financial support paid by Defence to cover course fees, text books and allowances for study related-expenses;
- Two one-week work experience periods with Defence during the 12-month study period;
- Professional membership to the Australian Computer Society;
- Regular personalised cyber security career mentoring sessions; and
- Assistance preparing professional cyber job applications.
“While I hope some of the students will be inspired to apply their cyber skills and knowledge with the Navy, Army or Air Force when they complete their studies, I know the nation will benefit from their expertise no matter which path they choose,” Minister Reynolds added.
The program is open to Australian citizens who are already enrolled in or about to commence cyber-related studies that run for a minimum of 12 months.
The current intake of students are participating in work experience with Defence this month. This includes a 40-hour self-paced online cyber skills challenge, run by Canberra-based cyber training company Fifth Domain.
Enrolments for the 2021 intake will be open in September.
Delivery of this program closely aligns with Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, released in early August 2020, which commits $1.67bn investment over 10 years, and outlines a range of initiatives including the growth of the country’s cyber skills pipeline as one of its key recommendations. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Sep 20. ‘Improvised Mode’: The Army Network Evolves In Project Convergence. How do you get targeting data from satellite to howitzer in less than 20 seconds, on a tactical network that was never designed to do that? You improvise, Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher told me.
“This is definitely improvised mode,” the Army’s network modernization director told me. “A lot of these things that we’re experimenting with out here [in the Yuma Desert] probably had never been connected to anything, outside of a gigabit switch in their labs, up until we did it [for the first time] in June.”
Just three months later, Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher told me, the ad hoc network created for the Project Convergence exercises is moving more data, faster and further than the equipment was ever designed to do.
Information flows from intelligence satellites – none of them operated by the Army – down to Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State, which is acting as the equivalent of a theater headquarters for the exercise. Artificial intelligence software there processes the data and transmits vital updates to the frontline combat units at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, 1,300 miles south. How fast can this happen? Gallagher’s boss, Army Futures Command chief Gen. John Murray, has boasted that the timeline from a satellite spotting a target to artillery firing on it has dropped from “tens of minutes” in normal operations to “less than 20 seconds” in Project Convergence.
Making that happen, Gallagher and his staff told me, required finding functional surrogates for future systems that don’t exist yet and using available technology in ways its designers never envisioned. “The network underpins every single thing we’re trying to do” in Project Convergence, he said. “We have to be able to use waveforms and technology that works today, not necessarily what we’re going to have.”
Much of the network tech in use for Project Convergence won’t be fielded to regular units until 2021, but small quantities were already ready, or at least ready enough to use. But the 2021 upgrade package, aka Capability Set 21, was designed to improve existing communications among the ground troops within an infantry brigade – not transmit real-time targeting data over hundreds of miles from spy satellites, AI command hubs, or experimental mini-drones.
“We’re pushing them to limits that we never envisioned,” Gallagher told me. “It’s a mesh network solution with some advanced networking waveforms” – primarily TrellisWare’s TSM – “that significantly improves the warfighting capability of our maneuver brigades, but it was not fielded to do the things we’re doing.”
“We’re finding out that it works for many cases, and then it has to be augmented” in others, he said.
Since the CS21 systems are relatively short-ranged, Gallagher’s team are also using some tech that is still in development for the 2023 upgrade. That kit, called Capability Set 23, will upgrade long-range communications using commercial and military satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), which fly closer to earth than traditional Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) birds.
The problem? Very few of those satellites have actually been launched yet.
“For Low Earth Orbit, there’s just not enough satellites in the sky for us to get that kind of coverage,” Gallagher told me. The Army was able to try out a Mid-Earth Orbit link from McCord to Yuma during part of Project Convergence, he said, but the main high-bandwidth backbone for the satellite data is going through GEO.
To get that geosynchronous link to function on the scale required for Project Convergence, the Army deployed assets from a specialized support unit, the 50th Expeditionary Signal Battalion – Enhanced (ESB-E). That “Enhanced” designation means the unit has the latest upgraded communications equipment, stuff that’s not available to the vast majority of Army units.
But even the ESB-Enhanced doesn’t have one crucial link in the space-to-ground communications chain, a ground station the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, because TITAN is still in development. Instead, the Army is using a surrogate system called ADV, basically a prototype for some of TITAN’s key technologies. The Army’s Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance (ISR) Task Force has helped link this proto-TITAN into existing targeting systems like the inter-service JADOCS and Army artillery corps’ AFATDS.
Getting these and other technologies to work together can take a lot of coding and reconfiguration, creating new APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and software plugins. Gallagher said that a smartphone-based program called the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK)– widely used by frontline units — and its software development toolkit have proven a versatile and invaluable tool.
It also takes careful coordination to ensure fine-tuning any given system doesn’t create problems for other systems trying to connect to it, especially if they’ve never been connected before. “Scientists and lab rats… they love tinkering with stuff,” Gallagher said, but all too often, “they make a configuration change to solve a local problem, and they don’t realize they created a network-wide issue.
“It’s one thing to kind of shake it out in a big hangar [where] everybody can look each other in the eye,” as the Army did for the first time in June, Gallagher said. It’s another thing to get it all working across the vast Yuma Proving Ground, he said, where “the tyranny of distance in the desert, and the tyranny of heat, has an impact on both people and equipment.”
Even something as seemingly trivial as connecting to the wrong port can create wider problems, Gallagher said. And then there are the much bigger questions that the Army cannot answer yet, because the whole point of Project Convergence is to figure them out. How much data, about what, does any given commander really need to make the right call in combat? What data do some units need but not others? What unneeded information is just cluttering up the network?
“What we’re capturing here…is going to drive our design goals” for future systems,” Gallagher said. “It’s been a great forcing function to get all the labs working together.”
“It’s been painful,” the general said bluntly. “Some days have been better than others — [but] I couldn’t be more proud of my team.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
21 Sep 20. USAF revamps its teams for U.S. Cyber Command. The Air Force activated a new cyber operations group under U.S. Cyber Command, conducting operations in defense of the nation and for combatant commanders. (J.M. Eddins Jr./Air Force)
The Air Force formally changed the focus of some of the teams it provides to U.S. Cyber Command in a ceremony Friday morning in San Antonio, Texas.
The reorganization, which was eight years in the making, activated the 867th Cyberspace Operations Group, located at Fort Meade in Maryland, under the 67th Cyberspace Wing while rejiggering several other units.
Some units were deactivated, activated and reassigned from intelligence wings to the cyber wing. The redesignation took more than nine months of specific planning between the 67th and the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing. Over the coming months, intelligence personnel will be transferring from the ISR Wing to the cyber wing, the Air Force said.
The move aims to bring a more unified approach to cyberspace. It is also in line with the activation of 16th Air Force last October that merged the service’s cyber and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance numbered Air Force.
Many of the specifics surrounding the redesignation were detailed to C4ISRNET in July. While previously Air Forces Cyber was made up of the personnel from the cyber and intelligence numbered Air Forces, the arrangement created difficulties with command relationships and oversight of teams.
This redesignation and new structure seeks to marry cyber operators, developers and intelligence forces in the same room and read in on the same missions, which officials have said will provide a tighter mission thread.
“The activation and redesignation activities we will complete today will bring unity of command and unity of effort to our air force cyber mission forces an ultimately increase the lethality we can bring to bear against our adversaries,” Col. Jeffrey Phillips, commander of the 67th Cyberspace Wing, said Sept. 18 during the ceremony that was live streamed.
The 867th, the only full spectrum cyber wing in the Air Force, will now welcome to its ranks the 315th, 341st, 833rd and the 836th Cyberspace Operations Squadrons all of which serve Cyber Command’s Cyber National Mission Force, responsible for tracking specific nation state actors in cyber space in defense of the nation.
Moreover, the 659th ISR Group loses two intelligence units that will now be redesignated under the 867th. This includes the 41st Intelligence Squadron, which is now the 341st Cyberspace Operations Squadron, and the 75th Intelligence Squadron, which is now the 37th Cyberspace Operations Squadron.
The 41st previously supported the Cyber National Mission Force as well, particularly in its new hunt forward missions. These missions involve cyber personnel to partner nations to help them with defense of their networks, providing Cyber Command unique insights into adversary tools and tactics that can be used to defend against U.S. networks.
Those operations are in direct defense of the upcoming presidential election, the group’s commander said.
“Through the deployment of hunt forward missions, the squadron has changed the paradigm of intelligence support to DCO by establishing an approach of defending forward and persistent engagement for USCYBERCOM,” Col. Brian Garino, commander of the 659th ISR Group, said during the ceremony.
The 75th previously provided ISR support for cyber operations to combat mission teams, teams that conduct cyber operations on behalf of combatant commands mostly in the offensive sphere, and combat support teams, which conduct intelligence, mission planning and other necessary support work for combat mission teams.
Garino said the 75th, as part of a presidential directed mission, conducted operations during the defense of the 2018 mid term elections. While he didn’t offer additional specifics, President Trump has confirmed that he ordered the cyber operation against the Russian Internet Research Agency troll farm that limited its internet access.
The 75th also contributed to analysis of foreign financial targets that drove the Treasury Department to blacklist enemy assets, Garino said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
21 Sep 20. New US Army radios show anti-jam progress at network experiment. The U.S. Army is seeing improvements in anti-jam capabilities in new radios crucial to securing manned-unmanned communications at its annual Network Modernization Experiment.
At NetModX ’20, which runs from late July to early October at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s C5ISR Center — or Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center — is testing the resiliency of the new radios. The effort will help the service observe how they would perform in the field as the Army looks to partner humans and machines.
Initial data from the event suggests the two companies involved — Silvus and Persistent Systems — have improved their radio capabilities from last year, specifically in regard to anti-jam, according to Daniel Duvak, chief of the C5ISR Center’s Radio Frequency Communications division.
But one major challenge is making the radios less detectable as the Army’s tactical network team starts to focus on command post survivability — or reducing the electromagnetic signature of command post communications — while not sacrificing latency and throughput.
“If you want to make it less detectable, you know oftentimes you have to trade off the throughput or the range or one of those other products,” Duvak said. “So that’s the piece and the real technical challenge that they’re continuing to work on over the next few months. We’ve seen progress that they’ve made in those areas, but that’s the piece that they’re still working on.”
Robert Stevens, an electronics engineer at the Radio Frequency Communications division, told C4ISRNET that the radios are an important piece of the next-generation combat vehicle. And Duvak said the Army’s tactical network modernization team — made up of the Network Cross-Functional Team and Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical — wants to use the radios as a mid-tier radio solution.
The development and fielding of new science and technology projects can take more than five years; however, the Army wants to speed that up as it seeks to modernize systems in preparation for future conflicts with near-peer adversaries. At last year’s Network Modernization Experiment, the C5ISR Center tested several vendors’ radios to see where commercial technology stood.
Alternative contracting options, like broad agency announcements as well as cooperative research and development agreements, have proved critical to quickening radio development. Under the contracting mechanisms, vendors and the Army have more flexibility to experiment with radios and make iterative modifications as requirements change.
Duvak said this is different from how the Army did business years ago, when it would award yearslong contracts but eventually receive radios that no longer met current requirements.
“What we were able to do at this program was, in just about a year and a half of development time, take a couple of those products that we saw that were very promising and we were able to add and actually fund vendors to enhance those radios with those resiliency features that we were just talking about for the contested environment,” Duvak said. “Things like making them anti-jam, or more difficult for the adversary to jam, making them more difficult for the adversary to detect or intercept our communications.”
Duvak said the Army wants the new radio capabilities for Capability Set ’23, a collection of new tactical network tools to be fielded to soldiers in fiscal 2023. The resiliency of communications is critical as the tactical network modernization team pivots to reduce the electronic signature of the service’s command post under Capability Set ’23. The team is looking to increase bandwidth and reduce latency as part of that set of tools. Preliminary design review for Capability Set ’23 is scheduled for April next year. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
21 Sep 20. US Army mints new cyber research and development agreement with Estonia. The US Army has signed a cooperative research and development deal with Estonia focused on cyber defense and other technologies.
The Sept. 14th agreement, signed by the Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center and the ministry of defense, will establish a working group to identify new technologies mutually beneficial to each nation, mostly in the multidomain operations sphere.
“This is part of Army Futures Command’s’ mission: to discover and deliver technology. We’re reaching out to pretty much any source that we can find something innovative, whether it’s innovative thoughts and ways of doing business or if it’s potentially altering a product or modifying it for use by government and by the military,” Brian Lyttle, division chief for cybersecurity at the C5ISR Center, told C4ISRNET in an interview.
Under the agreement, the two nations will identify technological areas of mutual interest and share researchers to develop them, Robert Kimball, senior research scientist for cybersecurity at the C5ISR Center, told C4ISRNET. He noted the agreement is in preliminary stages and researchers haven’t identified specific projects yet.
Andri Rebane, director of the Cyber Defense Department at the Estonian Ministry of Defense, also told C4SIRNET in an emailed response that the joint working group will hold regular meetings to identify those technologies and explore experimentation on those they both agree to.
“The ambition is to develop long term research and development projects in cyber defense to encounter the threats from disruptive technologies,” he said.
Estonia is considered one of the most digitally connected nations in the world and has continued to up its game in the digital realm following a 2007 cyberattack, largely attributed to Russia.
The Army’s research and development community wants to chase new technology that can better serve soldiers.
“Our mission in the R&D area is to identify those technologies that will benefit the Army as a whole. Our ability to identify those technologies extends far beyond what’s available in our own government labs, in research institutions in the United States,” Kimball said. “We’re interested in new cyber technologies from wherever they exist. The Estonians have deep capabilities because of their past that they’ve spent a lot of time working on.”
Rebane explained this agreement is part of a larger partnership between the two NATO nations.
“In a more practical view the two parties can leverage their vast experience to invest into new research and development to mitigate cyber threats across the spectrum of conflict. In the long term this agreement will benefit also our other allies countering the threats emerging from the shared cyberspace,” he said.
Lyttle noted that the Army – and Department of Defense – will never fight alone and thus agreements like this help to foster greater interoperability with coalition partners. (Source: Defense News)
21 Sep 20. Pentagon fields early version of advanced AI development platform. The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is fielding early variants of the centre’s new AI capability development platform, with plans to host the cloud-capable programme on the department’s recently reaffirmed JEDI Cloud computing services system.
The development programme, dubbed the Joint Common Foundation (JCF), is still in the early prototype phase but centre officials have already deployed “early access” variants to internal customers, JAIC Director Nand Mulchandani said during a 10 September briefing at the Pentagon.
“We have [had] early access already,” in testing and fielding the early JCF variants, but JAIC officials “have, obviously, a huge amount of work that they’re doing on it as well in terms of deploying products and testing them,” he told reporters. “All of the work that our mission initiative [sections] are doing is being moved over to this early prototype,” Mulchandani added.
As defined, the JCF is a cloud-enabled AI platform that will accelerate the development, testing, and fielding of new AI capabilities, according to a JAIC fact sheet. Through the use of a common AI platform backed by “shared infrastructure resources” drawn from within the Pentagon and across the services, the JCF “ensures progress [this] AI initiative will build momentum across the entire [Department of Defense] enterprise,” it added. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Sep 20. ECS Announces Cloud Center of Excellence 2.0 Initiative Led By Dr. Imran Bashir. ECS, a leading provider of advanced technology, science, and engineering solutions announced the Cloud Center of Excellence (Cloud CoE) 2.0 Initiative. Building on the foundation of the Cloud CoE launched in 2013, this new initiative will enhance ECS’ programs and provide new value to customers by investing and driving innovation in cloud computing technology.
The Cloud CoE 2.0 will be spearheaded by Dr. Imran Bashir, ECS chief technical officer of cloud computing and vice president of emerging technologies. Dr. Bashir is an industry expert and thought leader in cloud technology with more than 25 years of hands-on experience with enterprise-level software systems, Big Data solutions, cloud computing, cloud economics, serverless computing, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) systems. He has managed complex data and application migration projects into cloud by establishing standards for system architecture and playbooks for cloud deployment and operations.
Dr. Bashir and his dedicated CoE team will provide cloud support across ECS, while the larger Cloud Community of Interest (Cloud CoI) will leverage Cloud CoE resources to benefit individual programs. As companies mature their cloud strategies, ECS will scale its approach to build solutions that meet enterprise cloud needs now and into the future, including:
- Governance at Scale—enabling companies to leverage the full benefit of cloud computing by defining, standardizing, and constantly improving strategies, processes, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) across all cloud engagements
- Security and Compliance—building a library of security compliant infrastructure as code, templates that establish a foundational network architecture customizable to specific projects
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning—leveraging the latest in AI and ML to drive innovation in cloud computing; deploying emerging technologies across ECS programs and customer engagements
ECS is an AWS Premier Partner and one of ten managed-service providers worldwide to maintain six AWS competencies. The company holds over 1000 certifications, accreditations, and awards across AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
“Companies are no longer adopting cloud for one or two projects, but across their entire enterprises,” said Dr. Bashir “The Cloud CoE 2.0 initiative combines expert data scientists, cloud architects, and engineers with the resources, knowledge base, and processes to guide ECS’ customers on their journeys to the cloud.”
“This initiative will create long-term value for ECS’ customers,” said George Wilson, president of ECS. “With Dr. Bashir’s leadership, the Cloud CoE will continue to help companies orchestrate their cloud initiatives and manage the cloud adoption lifecycle—from strategy, roadmap, design, migration, and application modernization to cybersecurity, compliance, and ongoing operations and support.”
ECS, a segment of ASGN, delivers advanced solutions in cloud, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), application and IT modernization, science, and engineering. The company solves critical, complex challenges for customers across the U.S. public sector, defense, intelligence, and commercial industries. ECS maintains partnerships with leading cloud, cybersecurity, and AI/ML providers and holds specialized certifications in their technologies. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, ECS has more than 3,000 employees throughout the United States. For more information, visit ECStech.com.
ASGN Incorporated (NYSE: ASGN) is one of the foremost providers of IT and professional services in the technology, digital, creative, engineering, and life sciences fields across commercial and government sectors. Operating through its Apex, Oxford, and ECS segments, ASGN helps leading corporate enterprises and government organizations develop, implement, and operate critical IT and business solutions through its integrated offering of professional staffing and IT solutions. Our mission is to be the most trusted partner for companies seeking highly skilled human capital and integrated solutions to fulfill their strategic and operational needs. For more information, visit us at asgn.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 Sep 20. CENTCOM looks to industry for data-centric network. U.S. Central Command needs industry’s help in designing a network infrastructure that provides improved secure information sharing with allies and partners, its top IT official said Sept. 17.
Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of command and control, communications, and computer systems at CENTCOM, said his team is working to establish a data-centric architecture that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to limit access to data based only on what a user needs.
“What I have the team looking at is working in that transport agnostic, looking at a data-centric connection, and then how can we then use attributes to then release information to that person who is trying to access the data. And so that’s where data centricity is at the end of the day trying to use machine learning and AI,” Rey said at the 2020 Intelligence and National Security Summit. “That’s where we need help from industry.”
Rey compared CENTCOM’s need to the service provided by banks, where a person logs in with credentials, and then the bank reaches into its massive database, pulling out only the information specific to that person.
CENTCOM, the largest combatant command, also has data and information sharing requirements with more than 50 nations, adding another degree of difficulty in developing a secure architecture where users can only access the necessary data.
“We here at CENTCOM are going to work with partners, and we need to share our information with them,” Rey said. “We need that help in order to display from a single document with multiple security measures … but release only that information on that document to that person by their credential.”
The need Rey described is similar to an architecture developed by the U.S. intelligence community for its data access needs. That platform, known as IC GovCloud, enabled users to store data in one place and the community to implement security measures to limit personnel access to what they “need to know,” said Greg Smithberger, chief information officer at the National Security Agency and director of the agency’s Capabilities Directorate.
“We built the GovCloud from the ground up with this thought in mind so that with the data comes knowledge of where it came from and what the rules are in terms of how it needs to be handled and who has the need to know. And the systems are enforcing that need to know, so that if the humans make a mistake, there’s a safety net there,” he said during the same webinar.
“When that’s designed the right way, you can actually turn the big-data analytics loose as long as they are compliant with this environment and, they can do their thing and still serve up only what people are authorized to see.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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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.
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Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.