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14 Oct 20. Viasat, AeroVironment Team to Develop Enhanced Type 1 Encrypted Communications Capabilities for U.S. Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, and AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced they will collaborate on a contract awarded under the U.S. Army Reconfigurable Communications for Small Unmanned Systems (RCSUS) initiative. The project will provide U.S. military customers flying small UAS platforms the ability to deploy a robust, on-demand, highly-secure communications network that will address the growing electronic warfare capabilities of peer and near-peer adversaries. Viasat is the prime contractor on the award and will work with AeroVironment to develop and demonstrate advanced, encrypted communications suitable for AeroVironment’s portable, hand-launched Puma AE™ tactical UAS. The two companies will seek to strengthen the communications and transmission security of AeroVironment’s Digital Data Link™ (DDL) radios currently used by the U.S. Army by converting them into a Type 1 crypto communication system for video and data transmission.

In addition, Viasat and AeroVironment will develop critical interoperability standards for enabling UAS to generate a secure, digitally encrypted communications network—for protecting classified data and improving waveform performance in jamming environments—via the embedded DDL waveform. They will also create a standardized communications architecture that will allow UAS to access spectrum quickly and easily, especially when operating in contested environments.

“Viasat’s robust military-grade cryptography and electronic countermeasure tactical waveform design will enable quick expansion of secure communications to a variety of small unmanned systems operating at the tactical edge,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “By collaborating with AeroVironment, an established leader in the tactical UAS sector, we can help the U.S. Army set new waveform standards that maximize connectivity and minimize the risk of signal intercept.”

Currently, tens of thousands of AeroVironment tactical unmanned aircraft are deployed around the world and are capable of serving as secure, digital network communication nodes for on-demand, mesh network applications in various operating environments.

“As U.S. forces plan for the potential of operating against peer and near-peer military adversaries possessing advanced electronic warfare capabilities, the need for even more secure communication capabilities is rapidly increasing,” said Scott Newbern, AeroVironment chief technology officer. “We will work with Viasat to provide customers requiring enhanced, secure communication capabilities with a portable, practical solution for maintaining secret-level communications via tactical unmanned aircraft systems operating at the battlefield’s edge.”

15 Oct 20. The US Navy’s ‘Manhattan Project’ has its leader. The US Navy’s top officer has tasked a former surface warfare officer turned engineering duty officer to create a powerful, all-connecting network service leaders believe they will need to fight and win against a high-end foe such as China.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday tasked Rear Adm. Douglas Small to lead an effort that will “develop networks, infrastructure, data architecture, tools, and analytics that support the operational and developmental environment that will enable our sustained maritime dominance.”

Calling the effort “Project Overmatch,” Gilday called it the Navy’s top priority after the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine.

“Beyond recapitalizing our undersea deterrent, there is no higher developmental priority in the U.S. Navy,” Gilday said. “All other efforts are supporting you. Your goal is to enable a Navy that swarms the sea, delivering synchronized lethal and non-lethal effects from near-and-far, every axis, and every domain.”

In the past, Gilday has referred to the effort to field a powerful network as its “Manhattan Project,” harkening back to the rapid development of the atomic bomb in the 1940s. The urgency behind the effort to create this network highlights the growing sense of unease the Navy has around its position in the world as China builds towards its goal of achieving first-rate military power status by 2049.

“The Navy’s ability to establish and sustain sea control in the future is at risk,” Gilday said in his letter. “I am confident that closing this risk is dependent on enhancing Distributed Maritime Operations through a teamed manned/unmanned force that exploits artificial intelligence and machine learning. I am not confident we are building the Naval Operational Architecture connecting and enabling this future force as quickly as we must.”

The network is to connect with the Air Force’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control effort, which the services are all lining up behind.

Small started his career as a surface warfare officer but became an engineering duty officer in 1997. He has a background in electronic warfare and above-water sensors, as well as work at the Missile Defense Agency. In the Oct. 1 memo, Gilday has tasked him to report after 60 days, then every 90 days after that.

In a separate memo to Vice Adm. James Kilby, the Navy’s top warfighting requirements officer, Gilday said he wanted the Navy to develop both a concept of operations and a coherent kill chain based on an “any-sensor, any-shooter,” construct, an idea that would mean that any track obtained by any sensor can be passed to any ship or platform with a missile with which to kill it, something that would be enabled by Small’s network.

‘We don’t have and adequate net’

In comments last year, Gilday said the Navy needed to move out with urgency to create a powerful network.

“The biggest challenge for us is to join all the main command and control,” Gilday said. “We’re building netted weapons, netted platforms, and netted [command-and-control] nodes, but we don’t have an adequate net, and that’s a critical piece.”

The Navy has been working toward a concept of operations that links its ships, aircraft and unmanned platforms by way of communications relay nodes — such as small drones — or whole ships — such as the future frigate or high-tech aircraft like the E-2D Hawkeye.

The idea is to spread the force out over a wide area, as opposed to clustered around a carrier, to put a maximum burden on Chinese intelligence and reconnaissance assets. This spread-out, networked force would connect the various shooters so that if any individual node in the network sees something to kill, any Navy or Air Force asset with weapons within range can kill it.

This has led to a push for ever-longer-range missiles. But to make it work, all the pieces must be linked on a reliable communications network. The current architecture, according to the Navy, is insufficient for the job, given Chinese and Russian investments in electronic warfare that can interfere with communications. (Source: Defense News)

15 Oct 20. AUSA 2020: Service leaders tackle ‘deception’ attacks on AI algorithms. US Army information technology and artificial intelligence (AI) experts are working to address potential vulnerabilities in how the service develops and protects AI algorithms from potential infiltration, internal manipulation, and outright cyber attacks by adversaries.

“This is a hot topic of conversation … because [infiltration] is something we have to think a lot about” as more and more military platforms leverage AI capabilities, said Jean Vettel, chief scientist of the US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC). Vettel, who also leads US Army Futures Command’s technology incubator dubbed ‘Team Ignite,’ said the team has directed a large portion of its advanced capabilities work “in the deception space” as it relates to AI algorithm development and fielding.

“If you start thinking about the future battlefield, you start having algorithms … that can rapidly process sensor data,” Vettel said on 14 Oct. “There is a huge component of that, once things get moved to algorithms, that the idea of spoofing the data, or having infiltration into the network that actually modifies the algorithm” becomes a real concern, she told reporters during a briefing at the Association of the US Army’s annual symposium.

Such a spoofing attack would entail an adversary introducing some form of malware to modify the algorithm, where it stops learning from gathered or inputted data and “learns in a negative way” that makes the algorithm and associated platforms malfunction. (Source: Jane’s)

15 Oct 20. The US Army wants to trade network for compute, but why? The U.S. Army is working to improve its network at a rapid pace, increasing bandwidth, lowering latency and making it more robust for the future fight. So why does it want to send less data over that network?

At the virtual Association of the U.S. Army conference this week, officials emphasized that in order to get sensor data to weapons systems even faster, they need to push computing to the edge. And to hit deep-lying, protected targets, the Army needs to see farther to sense potential threats, create targeting data and send a solution to the best fires system for rapid response.

The concept is more frequently referred to as the sensor-to-shooter timeline, and the Army is putting vast amounts of effort into shortening that timeline as much as possible so it can respond to threats effectively. Part of that effort will involve shifting the processing step from the command post to the sensor, Army officials said.

This is known as edge processing.

“Edge processing is something that we’re very interested in for a number of reasons. And what I mean by that is having smart sensors that can not only detect the enemy, [but] identify, characterize and locate, and do all those tasks at the sensor processing,” said John Strycula, the director of the Army’s task force focused on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Processing at the sensor provides two major benefits. First, artificial intelligence will process that data faster than a human could. Second, if data is processed at the edge, the sensor doesn’t have to take up massive bandwidth to send all of the raw data it’s collecting back through the network; it just needs to send its final product.

“If I only have to send back a simple message from the sensor that says the target is here ― here’s the location and here’s what I saw and here’s my percent confidence ― versus sending back the whole image across the network, it reduces those bandwidth requirements,” Strycula said.

“We are trading network for compute in a lot of areas, and what I mean by that is we are adding compute to places it was never meant to be ― never envisioned to be ― such as on the sensor itself or on the platform co-located with the sensor,” said Alexander Miller, senior G-2 science and technology adviser. “By trading that compute for the networking time, we don’t have to leverage so much of the network to move those data.”

But that trade-off involves risk, Miller noted. Commanders and operators won’t get the full picture they might receive from more raw data. That means they will need to trust the AI systems to send them the accurate data they need.

The Army was able to demonstrate some of those burgeoning artificial intelligence capabilities at Project Convergence, the service’s campaign of learning to integrate new AI, sensing and network capabilities, in September.

Take the Dead Center payload, for example. Once installed on a Gray Eagle drone, the AI system processed all of the sensor data collected by the drone. Rather than having the Gray Eagle send that raw data to a command post for processing, only to send it back to the drone, Dead Center was able to automatically detect threats and create targeting data.

“One of the key takeaways [of Project Convergence] is we need to get out of the business of just pushing data,” said Douglas Matty, director of AI capabilities at Army Futures Command.

The Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or TITAN — a new scalable, portable ground station under development — and its AI counterpart, Prometheus, are being built to perform a similar task. At Project Convergence, a TITAN surrogate was able to take imagery from satellites, turn it into targeting data and then send that solution over satellite communications to operators. That process drastically reduced the amount of bandwidth used in the sensor-to-shooter chain.

Using AI at Project Convergence, the Army was able to reduce the sensor-to-shooter timeline from 20 minutes to 20 seconds.

“What we realized there is that with the advances in what some call algorithmic warfare, you no longer have to push all of the data to all of the nodes,” Matty explained. “You can process and have requisite compute and storage at location to handle the data at point of need, and then share that information to facilitate the collaboration.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

15 Oct 20. US Army’s tactical network team tests new unified data fabric in Yuma. The U.S. Army has tested a new data fabric it wants to deliver in its next iteration of new network tools — a critical step in the service’s network modernization effort.

The Army’s tactical network team ran the test during a massive sensor-to-shooter experiment in Arizona last month. The capability, dubbed a common data fabric, will help the service develop a common operating environment that would allow users across the battlefield to share a view of the threat.

The service plans to field the common data fabric as part of Capability Set ’23, the next iteration of new network tools set to be delivered to soldiers in fiscal 2023.

At Yuma Proving Ground in the Arizona desert, the Network Cross-Functional Team experimented with its current architecture, made up of a combination of commercial off-the-shelf systems and tools the Army developed itself. Portia Crowe, the chief data officer of the Network CFT, said that during the experiment the team looked at how best to ingest data from disparate sources and then synchronize, correlate and distribute that data “more timely and more effectively than we do today.”

“We were able to tweak both on in a scenario where we could throttle back the bandwidth and really see how the common data fabric works in a disconnected, intermittent … environment,” Crowe said on an Oct. 13 webinar hosted by C4ISRNET during the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting.

It also evaluated data packet loss — or when data packets don’t reach their final destination — and latency in a harsh environment.

“Part of that is really making sure that we get richer, contextualized data so that we can [run artificial intelligence] off of that data,” Crowe said.

The Network CFT also wanted to know what is simple and intuitive for soldiers, as the team moves toward fielding tools to soldiers. Soldier feedback is a critical part of the capability set process, and Army leaders recently found that while the new network tools they are delivering to soldiers work well, the training regime for the technology must improve.

The recent experiment is another step forward for the common data fabric efforts before preliminary design review for Capability Set ’23, set for April next year. Capability Set ’23, on which the Network CFT works alongside Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, is focused on increasing capacity and resiliency of the Army’s tactical network.

The Network CFT now plans to continue using other transaction authorities to involve vendors and to experiment with their products in the service’s labs, she said. She added that the next steps include ensuring the fabric has the correct combination of commercial and government off-the-shelf products, as well as the right acquisition plans as the team looks to field these tools to soldiers.

“After we’re done … doing the experimentations, this moves over to PEO C3T, who’s our acquisition partner in this and, and they’ve got to do the harder part, which is really, you know, making sure we have the right investments in the architecture and then fielding that out,” Crowe said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

12 Oct 20. Three communication bands in one package make Sat-Com’s Leopard radio unique. Namibian communications specialist Sat-Com’s wideband manpack size Leopard radio is relatively unique in the global military radio market as it offers HF, VHF and UHF communication in a single package – military radios usually operate in one band as communication requirements are usually limited.

Whereas other high frequency radio manufactures will only cover up to 30 or 60 MHz frequency, the Leopard covers a frequency range from 1.6 MHz up to 512 MHz. The Leopard also offers Blue Force tracking capabilities and can transmit data as well as digital voice, which prevent eavesdropping – the standard internal modem allows for encrypted data transfer up to 2 400 bps. Optional modems can transfer between 19 200 and 96 000 bps.

The software-defined Leopard 1 multi-band, multi-role radio was designed to simplify modern-day military missions, Sat-Com said. By allowing frequency-hopping communications in the HF, VHF, and UHF bands, the Leopard 1 means soldiers do not have to carry multiple radio sets, thus saving weight and space.

“Now I have to carry only this one radio and manage all my communications. It is less weight and I am much more confident that I can reach and be reached,” a soldier said of the 3.2 kg device.

By carrying a Leopard 1 manpack radio, a soldier can communicate with other forces (land, sea and air) over medium and short distances through voice, text, data and e-mail with situational awareness in COMSEC (communications security), TRANSEC (transmission security) and LINKING modes.

“It is very comforting to know that when my men need air support or evacuation, they can communicate directly ground to air on AM, when they move out of range, they can communicate on SSB, otherwise VHF covers well – this is a great advantage,” one commander said.

Sat-Com said the radio was designed to address the common concerns of commanders, such as durability, simplicity, security, Blue Force tracking and the ability to send data. For commanders, operational planning is simplified by reducing the number of communication radios, resulting in fewer batteries, fewer chargers and a smaller logistic footprint. The quartermasters only need to stock and issue one radio for a mission. Training of signallers is also simplified, as are maintenance requirements.

The logistic footprint is further reduced by the Leopard 1 requiring fewer batteries. The radio can last up to three days on one charge. The embedded battery charger in every radio enables operators to recharge on the go from any scavenged DC supply to extend the mission time beyond the norm.

As the Leopard 1 is a software-defined radio, operators can communicate in various ways with voice, text, data and e-mails while remaining invisible through COMSEC (encrypted) and TRANSEC (hopping) modes. The radio can hop frequencies up to 600 times a second for end-to-end encryption. With ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) operators can successfully put through text, file transfer or a voice call in full secure modes, remaining invisible and immune against interference.

Another feature Sat-Com said is appreciated by commanders is the Blue Force tracking capability of the radio (which features an integrated GPS receiver), along with Red Forces identification and Points of Interest notifications from command centres.

The Leopard 1’s transceiver is the building block for higher-power applications – by adding the Leopard 1 to a rack with any one of Sat-Com’s family of Afracal Power Amplifiers, a Medium Powered Mobile, Medium Power Base or a High-Powered Base station can be created.

The Leopard is in service with the Namibian Defence Force (NDF). It is also compatible with Sat-Com’s Cheetah 3 VHF/UHF manpack radio and interoperable with all other radios conforming to standards. Numerous waveforms that conform to NATO and US military standards are supported by the standard internal and optional advanced data modem allowing interoperability with other systems.

The Cheetah is Sat-Com’s other flagship, which is in service with the NDF as well. This lightweight portable wideband VHF/UHF radio has integrated GNSS receivers. Features include fast frequency hopping, encryption, electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities and a data modem/texting capability. The latest Cheetah software-defined radio features data transmission for text and file transfer and blue force tracking capability.

With these two radios, Sat-Com said it covers the entire range of military requirements, including ground, air and naval communications. Sat-Com is promoting these products on the international market, after having cornered the Namibian market.

Read more about the Leopard 1: https://www.sat.com.na/product/leopard-i/

Read more about Sat-Com: https://www.sat.com.na/ (Source: Armada)

14 Oct 20. US Navy Chief Demands Network Linking All Ships ‘This Decade.’ The Navy isn’t part of an Army/Air Force project to build a new tactical network, though the CNO said he wants the Navy’s version to “plug into JADC2” once it’s up and running.

The Navy is moving fast to figure out how to connect crewed ships, submarines, and aircraft with the hundreds of new unmanned ships it plans to build, and the Chief of Naval Operations calling for a plan by December.

“Beyond recapitalizing our undersea deterrent, there is no higher developmental priority in the U.S. Navy,” than linking those manned assets to the fleet allowing them to share intelligence and targeting information, Gilday wrote in an Oct. 1 memo obtained by Breaking Defense.

The order came from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday to the admiral tasked with spearheading the effort, dubbed Project Overmatch. It comes as the service prepares to unveil a new shipbuilding plan. That plan could include more than 200 unmanned ships armed with precision weapons and advanced sensor systems.

The work comes in parallel to a similar push by the Air Force and Army, who have teamed up to develop systems to push data between the two services.

Gilday’s memo to Rear Adm. Douglas Small, head of the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, came one day before the Army and Air Force announced their own collaboration to build a tactical network, dubbed CJADC2, for Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The plan is to combine data pulled from land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace to coordinate military operations across all those actors and arenas.

The Navy isn’t part of that agreement, though Gilday said during a virtual talk Tuesday that he wants the Navy’s version to “plug into JADC2” once it’s up and running.

Navy officials have said that they want to develop their own networking plan for connecting everything from subsurface assets to rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft before they join with the other services in adding land assets into the mix.

The plans goes much deeper than looking for new ways to run cables or set up software links. The Navy has said little about JADC2 up to this point, but Gilday’s memo informed Small, “your goal is to enable a Navy that swarms the sea, delivering synchronized lethal and non-lethal effects from near-and-far, every axis, and every domain. Specifically, you are to develop the networks, infrastructure, data architecture, tools, and analytics that support the operational and developmental environment that will enable our sustained maritime dominance.”

During his comments at a DefenseOne event Tuesday, Gilday acknowledged the importance of being able to move information from submarines to aircraft together on one network, and the challenge of getting it done quickly. “In terms of warfighting capability, it’s something that we absolutely have to have,” he said.

A few years ago, before China kicked its military modernization into high gear and the Pentagon began to say it was serious about developing unmanned ships on a large scale, a network project like this could remain mired in development for well over a decade, Gilday said, but looking at the world today, “we need it in this decade to deliver unmanned in the fleet.”

The redoubled effort to build out a network for unmanned ships reflects the speed at which things are changing for the Navy. In March, Defense Secretary Mark Esper took control over the service’s modernization plans after finding the Navy’s plans to grow to 355 ships in the coming decades was too conservative, and not in line with budget projections.

The Pentagon worked though a number of scenarios over the ensuing seven months, and has reached a rough consensus on what the share the fleet should take, and is now waiting on signoff from the Office of Management and Budget. Esper and Navy leadership have suggested in recent days the new plan calls for a fleet of over 500 ships, with 200-plus unmanned ships making up a big chunk of that force.

The plan would begin being funded next year in the 2022 budget, making the Navy’s work on this new network critical for how those new ships exercise command and control from manned platforms — or shore — hundreds or thousands of miles away.

That command architecture is critical when considering the missions these unmanned ships will undertake. The Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel is expected to focus on gathering intelligence and acting as a remote sensor, while the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) will fill the role of a forward-deployed missile launcher, bristling with missile tubes and other weapons, Navy planners have said.

Linking together such disparate assets “is not a new concept, but the Joint Force hasn’t perfected that yet,” Gilday said Tuesday. “The Navy needs to perfect it in order to maximize what we want to get out of long range precision weapons, in numbers.”

Small’s work in developing this network falls under the eye of Navy acquisition and development head James Geurts.

Speaking with reporters last month about the service’s overall unmanned ship plan, Geurts said, “we’re not only looking at LUSV as a thing, we’re looking at that thing in a larger context amongst all the other unmanned activity we’ve got going. A key piece of that is, how are we going to command and control all these assets, and what’s the network that they’re all going to rely on?”

His spokesman, Capt. Danny Hernandez, emailed me today that Geurts “is working closely with the CNO and [Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger] to accelerate the fielding of an optimized operational network architecture, leveraging technical experts and best practices across the Navy and Marine Corps.”

Given the Navy’s unhappy history of building new classes of ships on time and on budget following years-long problems developing the Littoral Combat Ship, Zumwalt destroyer, and Ford class carriers, Congress has moved in to slow the service’s surge into the world of unmanned ships, a move that many give the Navy some more time to develop this new network.

In July, the House Armed Services Committee voted 56-0 to send its version of the 2021 Pentagon policy bill to the entire House, a document which boosts Congressional oversight over the LUSV. The House’s skepticism was shared by the Senate, which is looking to fence off money for the effort until the Navy demonstrates it understands the technologies involved. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

14 Oct 20. US Army wants to converge through the electromagnetic spectrum. The U.S. Army has honed in on the electromagnetic spectrum as the center of its multidomain operations success, according to a top officer at the heart of the effort.

The Army’s new Management Office-Strategic Operations (DAMO-SO), stood up in January within its operations and plans directorate, is the office now in charge of cyber, electronic warfare, information operations, space, enterprise IT networks, tactical communications networks, data architectures and artificial intelligence.

The organization’s goal is to integrate, synchronize and prioritize critical elements of warfighter transformation and develop multidomain data enabled warfighting systems, its director, Brig. Gen. Martin Klein, said during a virtual presentation Oct. 14 as part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting.

But, “the main thrust of our directorate is really to look within the electromagnetic spectrum and to ensure that the capabilities that will provide our Army with those decisive advantages in the new contemporary environment,” he explained.

“We’re certainly striving to build data and digital transformation as a core competency within our Army. As we look at navigating through the electromagnetic spectrum, we do that with a very intimate understanding that the electromagnetic spectrum touches all domains, but it touches the land domain probably more than any other.”

Klein has previously said his office will serve as the Army point of contact for joint initiatives with the other services, namely Joint All-Domain Command and Control. That effort aims to link sensors and shooters for faster command and control and battlefield effects. The Army and Air Force have recently signed an agreement to move forward with what they are calling Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2), which folds in partner nations.

DAMO-SO’s chief of staff, Col. Yi Se Gwon, added that spectrum is the baseline medium for which the current and future force will be dependent upon.

That dependence runs from the enterprise data systems to the warfighting networks that are going to form the infrastructure for CJADC2, Gwon said, which both units and capabilities will ultimately need to be able to execute non-kinetic maneuver in contested battlefields.

DAMO-SO is also keyed in on the Army’s three tenets of multidomain operations, which include convergence, calibrated force posture and multidomain formations.

Klein’s presentation noted that CJADC2 is fundamental to these tenets, particularly convergence, which a chart outlined as linking the right artificial intelligence sensors to the best “shooters” — meaning either a platform or capability — as well as the right command and control node to create near real time joint kill webs.

“For the Army, convergence is really rapidly and continuously integrating capabilities throughout multiple domains, not only within Army platforms, but within joint platforms,” Klein said. “These sensors are not only sensors that sense and detect enemy formations with our intelligence capability, but it’s also sensing the right logistics, having predictable logistics.

“Having the ability for commanders to develop certain technical means to get after developing courses of action, but really tying the thread, closing that very important kill chain, enabling a commander to understand, act and decide faster than the adversary within the appropriate authorities.”

Drilling even deeper, officials have discussed something they’re calling “layered convergence,” a pattern which would feature include cyber capabilities that stimulate the environment, space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance targeting, electronic warfare degradation of radars and other systems, long rang precision fires striking targets from far distances and space-based ISR conducting the battle damage assessment.

“This layered convergence means that the ability of cyberspace operations forces to use the [electromagnetic spectrum] to deliver effects is going to be time phased, with high altitude ISR including capabilities like our [Multifunctional Electronic Warfare] Air capability to both sense the adversary, apply effects and geolocate to be able to simultaneously bring your non-lethal capabilities and your lethal capabilities to bear to generate effects on the battlefield,” Adam Nucci, deputy director of DAMO-SO, said during a virtual presentation as part of the Sept. 29 Association of Old Crows conference.

In order to realize these effects for CJADC2, a transformational shift in culture is going to be required to ensure success.

“Our activities during competition, how we develop targets, our approach to how we integrate non-lethal fires, theater ISR, information, joint airspace, is really going to require transformation from the way we’re currently doing business,” Gwon said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

14 Oct 20. Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a contract to provide advanced situational awareness hardware and software for an allied Middle Eastern customer. The total fixed-price contract is worth $44m.

Under the contract, the Leonardo DRS Land Electronics business unit will provide a significant number of tactical mission systems to be installed into a wide range of tactical vehicles and across a number of brigades. At the core of the architecture is the latest version of the Leonardo DRS tactical voice, data and video tactical server, data distribution unit – block 4 (DDU-4), an upgraded digital vehicle intercom system and new rugged multi-touch commander’s display.

The new Leonardo DRS DDU-4 at the heart of the system provides class-leading processing capability, an integrated router, LTE and GPS along with communications cross-banding together with video and voice management. These new products share much of their DNA with the Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS) II tactical computing products being delivered to the U.S. Army and other allies.

“We are honored to be selected to deliver a world-class tactical C4i capability to support our allies in the Middle East,” said Bill Guyan, senior vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Electronics business. “Our solutions leverage many of the same technologies used in our products for the U.S. Army’s Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFOCS) II program. We are proud to be the world’s leading supplier of mission-critical tactical computing and display solutions – a legacy that continues with this important contract award.” he said.

The tactical mission systems are designed to provide an ultra-reliable on-the-move computing capability with the latest cyber secure COTS technologies for mission-critical applications in harsh environments. In addition, the technology will deliver compatibility with other allied militaries using similar systems, including the United States.

Work on the systems will be completed in Melbourne, Florida. Delivery has commenced and will be completed during 2021.

13 Oct 20. Vendors Pitch Army On Hybrid Clouds Beyond JEDI. “Relying on one public cloud alone locks you in, locks into only one company’s innovation,” said IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at the 2020 Association of the United States Army conference. “It’s a monocloud.”

IBM, General Dynamics, and BAE Systems encouraged the Army consider flexible, supplier-agnostic cloud infrastructure. In an era of cloud contracting defined by the $10bn gorilla that is the JEDI cloud contract, smaller players in the cloud space see a secondary market built for resiliency, with cloud-based services that can be moved from system to system.

“Relying on one public cloud alone locks you in, locks into only one company’s innovation,” said IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at the 2020 Association of the United States Army conference. “It’s a monocloud.”

Krishna’s pitch specifically was about the unique features comparative Davids can offer the Army, while still working alongside the Goliaths. Part of IBM’s bid for cloud relevance was the ability to incorporate Watson, its famously Jeopardy-winning AI platform, as a kind of analytical tool that can work within the infrastructure of other clouds by other vendors. Hosting and relying on data in an IBM cloud, then, means the whole package could move between the major players, like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

One way to ensure that information, uploaded to the cloud, remains useful as it is ported across services is to code the user interface into that same cloud package.

“Without infrastructure as code, you have to log in to a provider User Interface, click around, configure it, use their cloud resources,” said Peter Virador, Chief Cloud Architect for General Dynamics. “Great, if just starting, but best practice in terms of speed of deployment is to declare to the cloud via its API what you want the environment to look like, describe the environment by code.”

IBM and General Dynamics both devoted exhibitor webinars to their cloud offerings. BAE Systems opted instead for a virtual booth, highlighting the company’s Federated Secure Cloud. All three are Hybrid Cloud services, where the main service and features are offered by the primary contractor, while the cloud itself plays nice by storing that specific data within other, larger cloud services.

Among BAE’s specific offerings are the ability to customize a cloud that can work with authorized classified networks, while still supporting unclassified work.

This hybrid cloud market is an acknowledgement that, for the most part, the physical material of the cloud, the connected servers and data centers operated by the giants in the field, are an infrastructure on which the rest of the cloud market is built. This is true even among the giants, as Microsoft acknowledged when announcing that its Azure Orbital service also used cloud servers provided by Amazon Web Services.

For the smaller players, what they aim to offer is valuable, portable experiences within those larger clouds. Here their smaller size is especially useful, because it gives the companies experience porting data between services, and offering tools without having to build those features into hardware. As the military writ large looks to commercial innovation for its data management needs, these vendors are hoping it is drawn towards the models of the cloud already built for resiliency.

“Every organization will become an AI organization, not because they can, but because they must,” said Krishna. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

13 Oct 20. Klas Government’s Enhanced Tactical Radio Integration Kit Now Supports Over 25 Radios. Enhancements to the Voyager Tactical Radio Integration Kit (TRIK) will enable seamless collaboration between the U.S. Military and coalition partners like never before.

Intelligence on the battlefield is crucial to our Troops and quick reaction to ever-changing environments enables them to be in the right location with the right firepower to effectively engage the enemy.  Communication and sharing of this intelligence using radios has traditionally been disjointed.  As a response, Klas created the Voyager TRIK in 2016 to enable seamless sharing of information and communications over a variety of radio networks.  Klas has integrated radios into the Voyager 8 chassis through the use of innovative, custom-designed radio brackets that fit securely in an IP67 rated enclosure that’s backed by AC, DC and battery power.

Traditionally, integrating radio comms has been challenging and cumbersome. Until now… Introducing Voyager TRIK, the most powerful Tactical Radio Integration Kit there is. The Manpack Radios fit. Over 25 different handheld radios supported too. Battery backed power, wide range AC/DC all built in, so it works every time, everywhere. Connect as many radio networks as you need. Partners who couldn’t communicate before, now can. Quickly, simply, and seamlessly.

The Voyager Tactical Radio Integration Kit (TRIK) is configurable based on mission requirements.

The use of radio brackets allows easy integration of traditional radio network data into tactical networks used by military communicators. Since the initial release of the Voyager TRIK, Klas Government has made enhancements to the classic Voyager 8 and has released a new battery-backed chassis and case, the Voyager 8 Plus, in order to support the increasing demand of integrating commonly used manpack and handheld tactical radios with higher power requirements. Klas has also integrated CISTECH Solutions’ software on the VoyagerEMm to complete a small form factor and rugged Radio over IP capability that’s compatible with the system. Some examples of commonly used tactical radios that can be integrated into the Voyager TRIK include:

  • Silvus StreamCaster 4200
  • Viasat BATS-D AN/PRC-161
  • Persistent Systems MPU5
  • L3Harris Falcon III AN/PRC-152A
  • TrellisWare TW-950
  • Thales AN/PRC-148 JEM

MajGen (Ret.) Mark Clark, USMC said, “Communications on the battlefield are critical to mission success across the spectrum from near peer competition, to gray zone conflict and humanitarian operations. The Voyager TRIK gives commanders better and more reliable communications.  It gives units the size, weight power, simplicity, scalability and expeditionary requirements they seek and need, not only in a joint environment but in coalition and other governmental agencies as well.  No mission or condition is too difficult for the Voyager TRIK.”

Tactical radios that are compatible with the Voyager TRIK fall into several categories:

  • UHF/VHF radios from L3Harris and Thales
  • Public Safety radios from Motorola
  • MANET radios from Persistent Systems, Trellisware & Silvus
  • ISR devices that include video feeds and Tactical Data Link from L3Harris, Viasat and Collins Aerospace

By incorporating each type of tactical radio into the Voyager TRIK, users can ingest data from disparate networks, analyze the data using Voyager network modules, and disseminate that data over Beyond Line-of-Sight and Line-of-Sight networks. This model has been recently adopted by PEO C3T in order to accomplish the ITN construct within Capability Set 21 and is being evaluated by all branches of the U.S. Military along with public safety organizations.

For the full list of radios supported in the Voyager TRIK and to learn more about our products and solutions, please contact sales@klasgov.com.

About Klas Government

Klas Government provides rugged, low size, weight and power (SWaP) deployable communications solutions to meet the needs of government and military communicators in any operational environment. The company enables customers to communicate in extreme environments by delivering tactical and executive communications systems specifically designed for ultimate flexibility, scalability and portability. (Source: PR Newswire)

13 Oct 20. US Army demonstrates a first in electronic warfare. The U.S. Army has demonstrated the ability to remotely control electronic warfare sensors through an over-the-air data link and feed the information back to a central battle management tool.

Previously, sensors were connected to the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool. The tool — a command-and-control planning capability that allows forces to visualize the potential effects of electronic warfare in the field and chart courses of action to prevent jammed capabilities — was connected through a wired link.

During Cyber Quest 20 — a prototyping assessment of capability needs involving industry, which took place in September — Army officials tested new capabilities for the tool.

“Up until Cyber Quest 20, we had basically connected the senor with a wired link to Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool,” Col. Daniel Holland, Army capabilities manager for electronic warfare, told reporters in late September. “We successfully demonstrated the ability to pass data over a tactical radio network.”

Holland clarified to C4ISRNET that at last year’s Cyber Blitz, the service was able to share data over the air, but this year was the first time it remotely controlled a sensor with the EWPMT mission command software.

“The EWPMT control demonstration was the first time a remote sensor was tasked and re-tasked by EWPMT over the air across a tactical network,” Holland said.

This is important and significant, according to EWPMT vendor Raytheon, because electronic warfare officers often aren’t near the sensors they manage. To be effective, users must have the ability to remotely control and manage the sensors.

“Doing this over the air ensures rapid delivery of real-time information, even when sensors are far away, so that Commanders can have a better understanding of the spectrum and make fast and informed decisions,” the company said in an emailed statement to C4ISRNET.

Holland said this is a big deal, as it furthers a capability the service wants to deliver to the so-called brain of the Multidomain Task Force in the Pacific — the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space (I2CEWS) detachment. The task force is one of the Army’s key priorities.

I2CEWS first received EWPMT last year during Cyber Blitz, an event focused on risk reduction for emerging technologies in the cyber and electromagnetic space. Cyber Blitz will now be transferred into something bigger.

During the event last year, the I2CEWS in the Pacific linked with forces in New Jersey to pass information back-and-forth using EWPMT. Holland told C4ISRNET that all echelons, to include I2CEWS, will soon standardize on the same EWPMT software for data sharing.

At Cyber Quest this year, the units that conducted the test included the 82nd Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division. Holland said I2CEWS didn’t directly participate, but the results are relevant to its operations. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

12 Oct 20. US Army works on prototypes to improve network transport for armor brigades. The U.S. Army’s tactical network modernization team has started a prototyping effort to improve its armor brigades’ connection to the network while on the move.

The capability, called Tactical Network Transport-On the Move, allows for improved connectivity in tactical environments and is currently being fielded to infantry and Stryker brigades. On-the-move tactical connectivity for armor brigade combat teams, which includes tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, are critical because these formations must continually move to avoid becoming a target.

The effort to better equip armor brigades is another piece of the Army’s work delivering new tools to its tactical network every two years, known as Capability Sets, to increase connectivity and resiliency as it prepares for future wars against advanced adversaries. These tools are being developed through a partnership between the Army Network Cross-Functional Team and Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.

“As the Army faces increasingly capable adversaries, on-the-move tactical network connectivity for armor formations is becoming critically important to enable more effective and less predictable armor offensive and defensive operations,” said Paul Mehney, PEO C3T communications director.

PEO C3T’s Project Manager Tactical Networks and the Network-CFT are working with the Army’s science and technology community, capability managers and industry, including SATCOM providers, radio vendors and application developers to integrate three design options as it works to inform network design for armor brigades. The Defense Department awarded a $29.9m contract to General Dynamics Mission Systems for the pilot program on Sept. 30. Mehney said that the company will support integration, engineering and fielding services for the ABCT experimentation effort.

“Together this team-of-teams will implement a ‘buy, try, decide’ acquisition approach, emphasizing innovation to improve network connectivity, resiliency and protection for ABCTs,” Mehney said.

The specific needs of the armor brigades came from feedback from observer/controllers at the National Training Center. During these feedback events, Mehney told C4ISRNET, program managers learned that armor formation leaders wanted complex network systems to be left out of the fighting vehicles so they could focus on the fight. This feedback led to a decision to increase capability increases to command post vehicles that support armor formations.

He also said formation commanders told program managers they need more robust and resilient on-the-move voice communications. That way, “when a unit stops to set up the command post, voice and data links are already in place to execute the [command post] mission,” Mehney said.

The armor brigade combat team pilot efforts are funded by Congress’ inclusion of a $71m increase for the Army’s Tactical Network Technology Modernization In Service to support prototype efforts for on-the-move capabilities for armor formations.

Experimentation will take place in fiscal 2021 and 2022, he said, adding that the work will inform Capability Set ’23 armor brigade network design prototyping efforts. That work will lead to fielding in Capability Set ’25. Mehney said that fielding to Stryker and infantry brigades will be completed by the end of fiscal 2021. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

12 Oct 20. How the US Army integrated a USMC F-35 jet into its tactical network. During a recent U.S. Army exercise, the service was able to link a Marine Corps F-35B into its developmental networks, enabling the jet to both receive targeting data from satellites and send it to ground-based shooters.

Not only did that connection show the flexibility of the Army’s evolving tactical network, but it demonstrated the success the armed services can have as they connect different platforms.

“In some cases — I’m hesitant to use the word but I’ll use it — I think in some cases it was unprecedented,” said Willie Nelson, director of Army Futures Command’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team.

The connection occurred during Project Convergence, a massive Army exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, that wrapped up at the end of September. During the so-called campaign of learning, the Army put its most cutting-edge technology to the test. It connected sensors from multiple domains to various fires capabilities, fused data and cut down the sensor-to-shooter timeline from 20 minutes to 20 seconds.

The Army clearly had big plans for Project Convergence, though none of them involved F-35s.

But location can be everything. Over the course of the exercises, the Marine Corps offered the Army an F-35 to borrow.

“Because we’re in Yuma, right across the highway is the Marine Corps air base with many, many F-35s,” explained Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, who oversaw Project Convergence. “Due to the incredible relationships that were developed, the Marines provided F-35 time.”

“Why I was a Yuma fan and pushed for it is the opportunities that exist,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said, referencing the use of the F-35B during Project Convergence. “And they worked it out over a handshake. Once that F-35 is airborne, it’s over the target. It’s right across the street.”

Nelson’s sensor-to-shooter team adapted to the opportunity. That team was at the heart of what Project Convergence was all about — connecting any sensor in any domain to the best possible shooter.

“And at the time the sensor-to-shooter team was up and operating, we had the emitters on and we were working back and forth. You know, every time we just felt that we were running the test,” Nelson said. “When the F-35B came on, there was a discussion of how could we work together in real time in the middle of that exercise and kind of put what we were doing down and do some direct support and targeting with that airframe.”

Connecting capabilities

During Project Convergence, the Army demonstrated it could use targeting data from an F-35′s sensors to deliver ground-based fires. The service also used on-orbit sensors and artificial intelligence capabilities to synthesize targeting data, then provide it to the F-35.

Sensor fusion — the ability to take data from the F-35′s sensors and radar and combine it with information from other F-35s — is considered one of the hallmarks of fifth-generation fighters, and a strength of the Lockheed Martin-made Joint Strike Fighter in particular. However, the U.S. military has only begun to experiment with using the F-35 to sync data among multiple platforms owned and operated by different services.

The capability is seen as important in multidomain operations for detecting threats that are tough for ground-based sensors alone to pick up.

The Army brought its sensor fusion capabilities to bear. On-orbit sensors collected images of the simulated battlefield before sending them to a TITAN ground station surrogate located in Washington state. From there, the images were run through an artificial intelligence system called Prometheus, which scanned and fused those images to detect threats and create targeting data. That targeting data was then sent to Yuma Proving Ground over tactical satellite communications. Then the data was sent to the F-35B over the Link 16 tactical data link. The threats could then be populated on the jet’s onboard weapons systems, allowing the pilot to respond to the new threat.

In short, operators were able to use tactical networks to give a Marine Corps F-35B pilot targeting data created from commercial satellite images using Army-owned AI.

“We’re not aware that’s even been done before,” Nelson said. “We’re excited as can be.”

Nelson said the exercise took place a few times in the brief period the service had access to the Marine Corps’ F-35B.

In that example, the F-35 was used as the shooter in the critical sensor-to-shooter chain. But the Army was also able to use the jet as a sensor, passing along targeting data to another shooter.

Fusing the data generated by the jet’s onboard electronic sensor, the F-35B identified a potential threat and passed that information through Link 16. From there, Army operators could use the FIRESTORM system to find the best possible shooter to fire at the target. (FIRESTORM is the FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-domain Operations. It’s an AI capability being built for the Army that recommends the best available shooter to respond to a given threat.)

In this scenario, the Army used an Extended Range Cannon Artillery platform to shoot at the beyond-line-of-sight threat picked up by the F-35.

“They played around a lot with data passing back-and-forth between, again, a joint partner — in this case, the Marine Corps and an F-35B — to ground,” Nelson said. “So really when you think space to an aviation platform, aviation platform to ground platform, and our ability to pass targeting data back-and-forth between those different communities, it was just wonderful.

“It just goes to show … what happens when you put very capable and smart engineers in the field along with operators who are technically capable and understand the weapon system, and you’re able to really crack that open and work on those problems together and achieve, to some extent, entirely new outcomes that you hadn’t planned to at the beginning.”

The Marine Corps’ participation has far reaching implications as the Army seeks to involve the joint force for the next iteration of Project Convergence in 2021.

“The excitement for me is that you can bring in a massive amount of other assets from the other services and continue to work through just how we would be able to package information to then prosecute targets with the best capability,” McCarthy said.

The Army’s use of an F-35B is just the latest development in the Defense Department’s efforts to connect the advanced fighter jet with other platforms.

While the Army experiments with using Link 16 to share data between its own platforms and the F-35, the Air Force is testing the Advanced Battle Management System to assess technologies that may enable the F-35 and F-22 to send data across their unique, stealthy data links.

Although information cannot currently be shared across the F-35′s Multifunction Advanced Data Link and the F-22′s Intra-Flight Data Link, the Air Force in December successfully demonstrated a radio interpreter that would allow some data to be passed between the aircraft. The service plans to conduct an airborne test of the interpreter sometime this year. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)


Spectra Group Plc

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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.


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