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30 Oct 20. UK MALI Contingent MRX With Slingshot, T7 UGV And D40 Drone. Light Dragoons and Royal Anglians have completed an MRX (Mission Rehearsal Exercise) ahead of their UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Images and video rushes released today by UK MoD, taken on Salisbury Plain and Stanford Training Areas, show the British Army contingent bound for United Nations MINUSMA duties in Mali on a pre-deployment MRX using new equipment including:-
* Spectra Group Slingshot
* Harris T7 EOD UGV
* DefendTex D40 UGL-launched Drone
* Avinc Puma AE UAV
The 300-strong UK Task Group destined for Mali have completed their Mission Rehearsal Exercise ahead of their upcoming deployment to support the UN. There they will help to promote peace and counter instability in the region.
Having completed integration training in July of this year, the soldiers of the UK Task Group donned the famous blue UN beret on Thetford and Salisbury Plain training areas in October as they underwent final assessment by the Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre. The troops were put through a range of realistic scenarios that they may encounter in Mali while supporting the UN, from engaging with locals in a complex social landscape to conducting patrols and dealing with suspected IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).
Commanding Officer Lt Col Robinson said: “The UN mission is all about stabilising Mali, attempting to deliver that political reconciliation and protecting the people from the consequences of violence.
“No one in Africa or indeed Europe wants a failed state in North Africa, spreading instability throughout the region, so our mission is just a part of that wider mission in order to prevent that from happening.” (Source: joint-forces.com)
05 Nov 20. General Dynamics teams with Klas Telecom, DTech Labs on expeditionary networks. Data and network encryption programme engineers at General Dynamics are teaming up with Klas Telecom and DTech Labs in support of their expeditionary networking platforms, partnerships that potentially could result in a new satellite communication (satcom) suite for the US Army’s Expeditionary Signals Battalion-Enhanced (ESB-E) units.
Beginning in May 2019, General Dynamics collaborated with Cubic Mission Solutions‘ DTECH Labs to team up its TACLANE-Nano 175N data encryptor with the family of DTECH M3X network module stacks, enabling the man-packable module stack to receive and transmit data at the top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI) level. The TACLANE-Nano is a smaller, ruggedised variant of the TACLANE-ES10, and supports asymmetric data transfers at up to 200 megabits per second (Mb/s) of aggregate throughput.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) certified the TACLANE-Nano for transmission of Type 1 TS/SCI data and communications in October 2019. The system was also High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor (HAIPE) v.4.2.5 compliant, while also including selective adoption of open architecture standards. The TACLANE-Nano’s predecessor, the TACLANE-Micro 175D, “is probably the most widely used network encryptor in the US”, with 125,000 units currently fielded with US armed forces, said Dave King, chief technical officer for Cyber at General Dynamics Mission Systems. “The 175D [variant] … is 200 [Mb/s] but it is a quarter of its size,” he said of the TACLANE-Nano’s data transmission capabilities, given its size, weight, and power requirements. (Source: Jane’s
02 Nov 20. Lightweight and portable: The Cheetah 3 battlefield radio. Namibian radio specialist Sat-Com has been selling its Cheetah lightweight and portable wideband VHF/UHF radio for many years now, with the radio currently in its third iteration.
The Cheetah, in service with the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) is ideal for missions that require a small, portable yet capable radio. The 2.4 kg manpack radio offers continuous communication from 30 Mhz up to 512 Mhz in all modes. Voice communication is available through a standard headset or the integrated microphone and saker. The radio includes numerous standard waveforms that conforms to NATO and U.S. military standards, allowing interoperability with other systems.
To cater for increased mobility the modem and GPS receiver are incorporated in the radio. The integrated GPS receiver and antenna provides the user and commander time and position information which can be viewed in the field for enhanced situational awareness. The GPS position transmission can be encrypted to protect whereabouts and locations.
Like other Sat-Com radios, the Cheetah 3 features encryption and frequency hopping (up to 600 hops per second) for secure communications. With the optional enhanced internal modem, Secure Digital Voice with customer own generated AES256 Key will ensure highest levels of communication security. The modem allows secure military tactical messaging, chat, email and situational awareness over the radio link. Depending on the waveform selected, data rates of up to 96 kbps can be obtained.
With the MessagePoint or CommandPoint application, tactical chat between all radios is possible using the radio keypad, data terminal or any Windows operating tablet, PC or laptop.
Weighing just 2.4 kg, the Cheetah is one of the lightest wideband handheld radios on the market today. It is also rugged, complying to MIL-STD-810G specifications. It is milled from high-grade aluminium and covered with an epoxy coat, with the ability to withstand immersion in three metres of water. The standard battery offers an operational time of more than 50 hours.
The Cheetah 3 radio is suitable for portable, mobile, base station and repeater applications. When cross connected to either another Cheetah 3 or a Leopard 1 radio it becomes the VHF/UHF side of the repeater for very large coverage areas of up to 50 km.
With the Cheetah 3 and Leopard 1 radios, Sat-Com covers the entire range of military requirements, including ground, air and naval communications. The manpack Leopard, which is in service with the Namibian Defence Force, offers frequency-hopping communications in the HF, VHF, and UHF bands, an unusual feature in a military radio. Other HF radio manufactures will only cover up to 30 or 60 MHz frequency, whereas the Leopard covers a frequency range from 1.6 MHz up to 512 MHz. The Leopard can transmit data as well as digital voice, which prevent eavesdropping, and also offers blue force tracking capabilities. Requiring only one radio to communicate from ground to air is unique, whereas the competitors need three radios to do the same.
Sat-Com does not just provide radios; its product range includes base stations, amplifiers, antennas etc. Its main market has been the Namibia Defence Force, but has been selling more radios outside the country and is looking to further increase exports. It envisions the international market growing, with increasing demand for modern radio communications replacing old outdated inventory. Sat-Com recently had three Africa tenders come its way and another three tenders from the Far East.
Sat-Com can help customers develop or co-develop their own communications products and supply the necessary hardware and software – technology transfer and co-development/production options are available.
Read more about the Cheetah 3: https://www.sat.com.na/product/cheetah/
Read more about Sat-Com: https://www.sat.com.na/ (Source: Armada)
04 Nov 20. Military leaps ahead with Commercially Developed Waveforms. Formerly known as the Soldier Radio Waveform-Narrowband, the Warrior Robust Enhanced Network-Narrowband waveform is designed to be spectrally efficient, jamming resistant and greater range.
Waveforms are the software that dictate the behaviour of all software defined radios within the confines of what the hardware can do. Armed forces are increasingly reliant on waveforms that have been developed for commercial purposes, particularly in satellite communications, or are proprietary pieces of software created and owned by companies that develop tactical radios.
Clearly, therefore, these companies are as critical to nations’ defence capabilities as other privately owned developers of military equipment, as they tend to own the intellectual property and employ the human talent behind it.
While those waveforms developed purely fr commercial use don’t have to contend with the variety and intensity of threats employed by military adversaries to disrupt each other’s communications, they do have to be able to fend off hacking attempts and avoid natural and human made interference and be secure enough to safeguard commercially sensitive information. Furthermore, military users can encrypt more highly classified information before it is fed into the Satcom system, so long as the intended recipients have the right keys. Their use is expanding as an inevitable consequence of the same need for capacity and bandwidth beyond what dedicated, government owned military communication systems can provide. Privately developed military waveforms are just that – dedicated military waveforms with all the required military security built in.
Both continue to evolve, expanding the number and variety of capabilities offered to users at the tactical edge.
Handheld VDL waveforms
In October of last year, Kratos RT Logic licensed its Common Data Link (CDL) waveforms to what is now L3Harris for use in the latter’s nanoSVDL radios that it is providing to the US Air Force under a five year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract. The service is buying them as part of an effort to develop Hand Held Video Data Link (HH-VDL) radios supporting video data links and real-time ISR communications in tactical environments where the spectrum is both crowded and contested by adversaries.
With built-in data protection and jamming resistance, Kratos’ new CDL waveforms enable mobile networks to connect ground, airborne and naval forces via multiple tactical host platforms, says the company. The family of waveforms licensed under the agreement include the Bandwidth Efficient Common Data Link (BE CDL), Standard CDL, Vortex Native Waveform (VNW), Tactical Data Link (TDL), 466-Extended Range (ER) and other tactical waveforms.
BE CDL is a government specified waveform that, as the name suggests, is optimised to minimise the amount of bandwidth it need to transmit a given amount of information and has been shown to work on small UAVs weighing less than 13.6kg (30lb).
L3Harris picked Kratos as a partner because they demonstrated the operational use of the BE-CDL waveform as part of the US Marines’ Secure CDL ISR radio and their work on waveform verification for all CDL radios with their CDL test set for a number of years. Users should be getting a Next Generation Handheld Mission Module and a standalone Video Data Link radio within months.
In February, L3Harris announced improvements to the TNW-75 international and coalition variant of the Tactical Networking Waveform, which creates a self-forming and self-healing network and provides a common operating picture with a range of up to 30km.(18.6m) The improvements include a doubling of the number of nodes in the network and adds advanced situational awareness and defensive electronic warfare capabilities. The developer emphasises that the increase from 64 to 128 nodes enables diverse company-and-below networks to be ‘flattened’ into a single 75kHz network. The advantages of this include better operational understanding, elimination of points of failure at radio-to-radio interconnections, and 25 percent reductions in the number of radios and the amount of spectrum they need.
Cognitive networking waveform
Defensive capabilities have also been programmed in to Silvus’ latest improvements to its StreamCaster Mobile Ad-hoc Networks (MANETs), using cognitive radio techniques to allow the networks to operate successfully despite hostile jamming and other sources of electromagnetic interference. Announced in January, the new feature is known as MANET Interference Avoidance (MAN-IA), and it is available as a a software upgrade to any SC4200 or SC4400 radio.
Silvus Technologies’ MAN-IA waveform incorporates some cognitive capabilities including spectrum sensing to allow it to avoid interference and jamming automatically.
Silvus explains that MAN-IA constantly monitors frequencies and channels on all the radios in the network to assess network quality. If it detects the onset electromagnetic interference in the current channel anywhere on the network, it rapidly switches all the radios on the network to a more suitable band or channel to maintain connectivity. In a video surveillance application, for example, MAN-IA can react respond fast enough to a jammer threat to ensure that the network maintains a glitch free video stream, according to the company. This capability comes without significantly reducing network throughput, the company emphasises.
It also allows operators to configure it for specific applications through the StreamScape interface, defining channels within chosen bands and providing autonomous frequency agility over several GHz of frequency range. Additionally the interface provides the operator with a graphical representation of performance at each radio on each channel on the network, enabling sources of jamming and interference to be localised.
Inherently scalable, MAN-IA has no practical limitation in the number of nodes or the physical distance covered by the network, says the company.
Mitigation of intentional jamming and unintentional interference is also a feature of the new Warrior Robust Enhanced Network-Narrowband (WREN-NB) waveform, the development of which TrellisWare is leading for the US Army, the company announced in April. Formerly known as the Soldier Radio Waveform-Narrowband (SRW-NB), the WREN-NB is intended to be both efficient in terms of spectrum use and resilient while providing secure integrated tactical IP networking in rapidly changing environments and longer range for air and ground operations. Other key attributes are to include wide frequency coverage, massive scalability and interoperability between different radio platforms.
Single-frequency transmit & receive
Operating in crowded and contested RF environments and mitigating bandwidth limitations may be perennial problems, but they are bringing forth creative solutions, one of which is the ability to transmit and receive on the same frequency at the same time reliably. Known as Single Frequency-Simultaneous Transmit and Receive (SF-STAR), this will be a core capability of the Military Full Duplex Radio (MFDR), of which TrellisWare is also leading the development.
The company is to demonstrate two SF-STAR systems under the programme, one fixed and one mobile, it announced on 18 July. Critical to the technology is Self Interference Suppression (SIS), which is the ability to stop the relatively weak received signal from being swamped by the much more powerful transmitted signal. TrellisWare says that it aims to integrate all components and subsystems from the antenna to the modem processing to achieve 130-150 dB SIS performance for effective SF-STAR operations, and to enable the system to function between 225–2300MHz in operational environments, boosting spectral efficiency. The system is currently in field test.
Introducing such a capability into existing networks will likely require the radio to run existing waveforms, but new or adapted waveforms will probably be required to make the most of it in future. (Source: Armada)
04 Nov 20. US Army’s tactical network modernization team requests industry pitches for future capabilities. The U.S. Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team released a solicitation outlining capabilities it’s interested in acquiring as part of future tactical network tools.
The broad agency announcement was posted last week on beta.sam.gov. It lays out future research areas the Army’s tactical network modernization team made up of the NetworkCFT and Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, wants to explore as part of future capability sets — new network tools it’s delivering every two years.
“The Network-CFT is focused on integration of tactical network efforts and ensures disciplined innovation as it works with speed and precision,” the announcement read. “The Network-CFT is conducting experimentations and demonstrations of proven joint and special operations solutions, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology, and Non-developmental items (NDIs) with operational units to inform future requirements.”
The tactical network modernization team is seeking technology that aligns with its four lines of effort for upgrading the network: unified network; common operating environment; joint interoperability/coalition accessible; and command post mobility and survivability.
All proposed technologies must be at a technology readiness level of six, the announcement read, meaning they’re ready to be demonstrated as a prototype in an environment similar to the field.
For the unified network effort, the Network CFT-PEO C3T team are seeking “available, reliable and resilient network that ensures seamless connectivity in any operationally contested environment.” Capability Set ’23, the next iteration of tactical network tools, is focused on increasing network capacity and reducing latency. Unified network includes capabilities such as advanced waveforms to improve resiliency.
The common operating environment line of effort “is interested in the means of ensuring a simple and intuitive single-mission command suite that is easily operated and maintained by Soldier.”
The joint interoperability/coalition accessible team is looking for tools that can “more effectively” interact, both technically and operationally, with joint and coalition partners.
The final line of effort, command post mobility and survivability, is interested in means of improving the “deployability, reliability, mobility and survivability” of command posts. The Army’s current vision for future command posts are those that can be quickly set up and torn down, while also having low electromagnetic signatures to avoid detection by adversaries.
“Certainly, any time that you adopt a lot of commercial technologies you start to look at how your signature is on the battlespace, so I really look to industry and how they can bring some of their best ideas and technologies for how we can potentially do spectrum obscuration, as well as decoys so we can minimize our footprint on the battlefield,” said Brig. Gen. Rob Collins, commanding general of PEO C3T. The Army’s announcement is valid through the end of October 2025. (Source: Defense News)
04 Nov 20. 5G Experiments In US Pave Way To Battlefields Abroad. Having awarded $600m for 5G pilots at five bases in the US, the Pentagon will formally solicit for seven more in the coming months. But will 5G work in war zones?
Upcoming experiments at a dozen bases will inform not only how the Pentagon adopts 5G networks on US territory, but how the military modifies civilian 5G tech for battlefield use around the world.
The rapid global spread of 5G networks gives US forces much faster ways to communicate, not only with each other, but with foreign allies — potentially enabling a future international meta-network known as Combined Joint All-Domain Command & Control.
“It’s certainly easier for our allies and partners to get access to 5G equipment — much easier than tactical radio systems,” Joseph Evans, technical director for 5G in the undersecretariat of defense for research & engineering, said.
But operational deployments on foreign soil – let alone to active war zones – raise questions of security, resiliency, and range that civilian-grade 5G may not answer. The solution, Evans said, may be to adopt commercial tech wholesale for use on US bases, but cherry-pick components to incorporate into military tactical networks abroad.
“Working in the continental US or US [territories], we can certainly use 5G technology pretty much off-the-shelf,” Evans told an ACT-IAC conference this afternoon. “We may want to have specific configurations or use specific protocols…but really, it’s commercial 5G.”
“As we get closer to the tactical edge, and either in parts of the world where the infrastructure is … not necessarily trustworthy… or actually in a contested tactical environment against a peer adversary, that’s where we think that there’s some challenges,” Evans said. “That’s where we have to start looking at … what bits and pieces of 5G we can use.”
“There’s mixes and matches of some of the underlying technologies that we think will be useful in the tactical environment,” he continued. In the pilot projects now getting underway, he said, “we… are exploring, as part of some of these initial efforts, what the limits are and how far we can push to 5G technology to the tactical edge.”
The Defense Department has requested $449 million for 5G work in 2021. It has already announced two waves or “tranches” of pilot projects.
“Being able to take out 10 targets in rapid succession…that’s very exciting. It’s awesome,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Groen. “But it’s not enough.”
Some $600m of Tranche 1 awards were announced Oct. 8. That covers one year of setup and two years of experimentation.
The first wave, said Evans, already involves “over three dozen contracts [with] prime contractors [and] over 100 total companies, over half of them non-traditional” – that is, commercial tech companies rather than longstanding defense contractors. At least one more major award is coming soon.
Tranche 1 covers six projects at five bases belonging to four armed services:
- Hill Air Force Base: Nokia will build a testbed for five other companies to try out alternative approaches to dynamically sharing spectrum between military radars and 5G communications, two radically different uses. (Historically, radar pulses are so powerful they simply drown out any wireless signals on the same band). Finding a way to share frequencies with civilian users, instead of just handing them over entirely to private firms, is crucial to military operations as civilian demands eat up ever more of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord (Army & Air Force): Four firms will build 5G networks for virtual reality and augmented reality training at both McChord proper and the nearby Yakima training range, which can accommodate a fully Army brigade at a time. Using AR/VR for training, mission planning, and even tactical updates in combat is a major emphasis for Army modernization.
- Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany: This pilot will experiment with applying commercial “smart warehouse” systems to heavy Marine Corps vehicles, for example electronically monitoring the maintenance status and “health” of each truck.
- Naval Base San Diego: A second smart warehouse initiative, focused on Navy supplies being packaged for delivery to the fleet.
- Nellis Air Force Base: Nellis, announced later than the others, will host two experiments, arguably the most ambitious.
One Nellis project seeks to apply 5G technology to the internal networks at a command center, allowing large HQs to downsize and decentralize to multiple, smaller, harder-to-target sites. “You split up a Combined Air Operation Center and disperse it and then make it increasingly nomadic” – i.e. able to relocate – “then potentially increasingly mobile,” i.e. able to function on the move, Evans said. This experiment will use a commercial technology called Cell On Light Truck (COLT), which looks and functions somewhat like a TV news van.
The second Nellis project add various “network enhancements” to the 5G testbed. Evans said the winning contractors for this one would be selected “within the next couple of weeks.”
In June, the Pentagon announced seven more sites, Tranche 2. Details for these are sparser:
- Naval Station Norfolk: 5G networks for both ship-to-pier coordination and internal communication within the ship.
- Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (Navy & Air Force): “aircraft mission readiness.” This probably means digital tracking – and perhaps even predicting – the maintenance needs of each plane.
- Joint Base San Antonio (Air Force and Army): Two projects, one “to evaluate augmented reality support of maintenance and training,” the other to “evaluate DOD’s 5G core security experimentation network.”
- Tinker Air Force Base: “bidirectional spectrum sharing, both in DOD and the commercial sector.” That sounds like another application of the same kind of technology being tested out at Hill AFB in Utah.
- Fort Hood; National Training Center/Fort Irwin; and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton: All three sites will explore “wireless connectivity for forward operating bases and tactical operations centers.” That sounds very similar to the work being done at Nellis on shrinking and splitting up HQs. However, here the focus is on frontline tactical units, not on theater command centers. This is an even more challenging environment for the civilian tech.
Formal calls for white-paper proposals have already gone out for the three Navy and Marine Corps sites, Norfolk, Pearl Harbor, and Camp Pendleton. Here, the Pentagon is working with industry through a public-private consortium called the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP), which held an industry day for interested vendors last month.
The deadline to submit the white papers is still officially Nov. 15, Evans said, but enough companies have requested an extension that “we anticipate extending that … a little further, probably into December.”
Once the government has reviewed the papers, it will use that industry feedback to refine its plans and put out a final solicitation in January or February, Evans said, with contract awards expected in the spring.
Contracts for the remaining four bases – the Army and Air Force sites: San Antonio, Tinker, Ft. Hood, and the NTC at Ft. Irwin – will be awarded through the National Spectrum Consortium. “Hopefully,” said Evans, “we’ll see solicitations there in probably late December or early January.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
04 Nov 20. C-GEM Shines at Euronaval. C-GEM (Rafael Advanced Defence Systems) – Although having only recently entered production, Rafael is planning to update the C-GEM active RF decoy with new hardware and software during its service life.
The migration of the 2020 Euronaval exhibition into cyberspace did not stop Rafael showcasing recent innovations in their naval electronic warfare stable.
The firm was keen to highlight recent innovations for its two flagship (excuse the pun) naval EW products; the C-GEM active Radio Frequency (RF) decoy and SEWS-DV naval electronic warfare syst.
Active RF decoys are increasingly popular in the naval domain. Highly responsive, decoys provide an extra layer of protection against radar-guided Anti-Ship Missiles (AShMs). They can be added to the tactical mix characterising a warship’s reaction to an incoming AShM. These include the use of chaff and Radar Corner Reflectors (RCRs) to confuse and seduce the missile, jamming and hard-kill measures like close-in wapons systems Decoys can transmit conventional jamming or discreet jamming waveforms. Usefully, C-GEM can be ejected from standard 110mm and 150mm countermeasures launchers routinely equipping surface combatants.
Specific details are not been revealed but it is thought that C-GEM can attack AShM radars transmitting on X-band (8.5 gigahertz/GHz to 10.68GHz) frequencies up to Ka-band (33.4GHz to 36GHz); the lion’s share of frequencies used by AShM radars. Rafael officials told the author in the past that the decoy can be pre-loaded with a customer’s own jamming waveforms and algorithms. C-GEM uses an active electronically-scanned array aiding the interception of multiple targets and providing 360-degrees of coverage. During Euronaval, Rafael officials shared with Armada that the firm is planning to modernise the decoy. Although C-GEM only recently began full-scale manufacture the upgrade path will focus on regular hardware and software refreshes. As well as adorning new decoys, officials said that these improvements can be retrofitted on existing ones.
SEWS-DV is also having a makeover. Its Electronic Support Measure (ESM) element covers frequencies of 500 megahertz to 40 gigahertz detecting threats below -65 decibel/milliwatt (dBmi). This is particularly useful for detecting radars using low probability of detection/interception waveforms. The SEWS-DV’s baseline electronic countermeasure component can transmit jamming waveforms against targets emitting in frequencies of two gigahertz to 18GHz, blasting out over 75dBmi worth of effective radiated power.
Company officials disclosed that the ECM has received an upgrade in the form of Gallium Nitride antenna technology. This will increase the power levels the jammer can transmit. Frequencies covered by the jammer have also been extended up to 40GHz. This is a prudent step: AShM radar seekers are migrating into millimetric bands due to the high level of detail such radar frequencies can gather helping to increase missile accuracy. The GAN front end and frequency extensions will be available to existing SEWS-DV customers as upgrades and will (Source: Armada)be standard on new-build systems.
04 Nov 20. The Drone that fell to Earth. Drone Shootdown (RT) – The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has seen several drones shot down, some of which have reportedly been jammed by Russian electronic warfare equipment. Every conflict brings lessons learned. The recent flare-up in tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is no exception.
It is not the first time the two nations in the Caucuses have locked horns. Since 1989 they have fought almost continually over the predominantly Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, situated inside Azerbaijan. The latest spat kicked off in late September. As of late October an uneasy and lax ceasefire replete with continuing kirmishes had settled over the theatre.
From an electronic warfare perspective, one interesting observation of the conflict was the reported vulnerability of Azeri Baykar Aerospace Industries Bayraktar TB-2 Uninhabited Aeriaehicles (UAV) to Russian electronic warfare systems. The Russian Army maintains a base in western Armenia at Gyumri. The army reportedly deployed an unspecified number of electronic jamming platforms to help protect the base.
Russian EW Systems
No specific details were given on the identity of these systems. It is possible that they included KRET IL269 Krasukha-2 jammers routinely deployed with the EW battalions equipping Russia’s military districts at the tactical/operational levels. If this is indeed the case, these systems could be from the Southern Military District’s 504th Independent EW Battalion.
Open literature states that the IL269 covers a waveband of at least one gigahertz to two gigahertz. This could render the system capable of jamming some standard Ground Control Station-UAV Radio Frequency (RF) links. As well as jamming the UAV-GCS RF links, this may allow the IL269 to block GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) transmissions between 1.1GHz to 1.6GHz. UAVs routinely rely on GNSS signals for navigation.
On 21st October, the Russian military claimed that it had shot down nine Bayraktar TB-2 UAVs flying in the vicinity of Gyumri. The reports stated that the IL269’s sister system, KRET’s IRL257 Krasukha-4, was the platform used for the attacks. As the latter is thought to cover frequencies of 8.5GHz to 18GHz, this seems unlikely. It is uncertain that the IRL257 can engage frequencies as low as those routinely used by UAV-GCS RF links typically frequencies of 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz, or GNSS signals. Without independent verification it is all but impossible to say with any certainty which EW system the Russian Army deployed to protect this base.
If the Russian Army has indeed been successful in electronically attacking the Bayraktar TB-2 UAVs this raises questions regarding the transmission and communications security protocols used by these aircraft and their ground control stations.
Two scenarios present themselves: Firstly, the RF link between the aircraft and the GCS is unencrypted and does not use additional transmission security like frequency-hopping waveforms. Secondly, the UAV-GCS RF link may use transmission security protocols but the Russian Army has been successful in overcoming these.
The problem for Azerbaijan and by default the UAV’s Turkish manufacturer is that either of these scenarios presents a potentially serious shortcoming to the UAV’s design. The loss of the aircraft also raises questions about the integrity of the UAV’s GNSS link. Photographs of wrecked Bayraktar TB-2 do not seem to indicate that the aircraft was destroyed kinetically. Instead it appears that the aircraft, like David Bowie, simply ‘fell to Earth’. This is another potentially serious shortcoming. Usually UAVs are designed to land if one or more of their RF links are broken. Alternatively, they may try to land safely, although this is more difficult for a UAV like the Bayraktar TB-2 which needs a runway.
Worryingly, the manner of the aircraft’s loss may indicate that Russian electronic warfare experts were able to take control of the UAV and then crash it. Once again, the ability to hack into the aircraft and precipitate such a course of action is another worry. Much detail remains unknown concerning the loss of these aircraft. If the UAVs were the victim of Russian jamming it raises questions about the capabilities of the latter and the vulnerabilities of the former. (Source: Armada)
03 Nov 20. New Spectrum Strategy Reveals DOD’s Plan to Master Airwaves. Short of face-to-face conversation, wired internet or telephone land lines — a mystery to many young Americans — nearly every form of communication the Defense Department uses today, especially on the battlefield, is wireless. Some U.S. adversaries are working very hard to cut off that form of communication.
Last week, the Defense Department released the “2020 Department of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy.” This document not only lays out how the military will guarantee its continued and unfettered access to the airwaves, or spectrum, which facilitates GPS, radio, satellite and cell phone communications. This document also shows how the military plans to master that spectrum while on the battlefield.
“The rise of mobile systems and digital technology across the globe has placed enormous strain on the available spectrum for DOD’s command, control and communication needs,” said Dana Deasy, the department’s chief information officer. “This strategy will help set the conditions needed to ensure our warfighters have freedom of action within the electromagnetic spectrum to successfully conduct operations and training in congested, contested and constrained multi-domain environments across the globe.”
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of radiation frequencies that are used to transmit information wirelessly. While frequencies above 300GHz make up infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, and x-rays, frequencies at 300GHz and below are used to transmit information for cell phones, television, radio, satellite communications, GPS, hand-held two-way radios and even key fobs that lock and unlock cars.
Those who want to transmit information over those communication frequencies typically apply to the federal government for a license. This ensures that only one entity is attempting to use a frequency at a time.
There are hundreds of locations on the electromagnetic spectrum blocked out by the U.S. federal government — and by governments globally — for specific applications by specific users in every part of the world.
The Defense Department is, perhaps, the biggest user of spectrum in the United States, said Frederick D. Moorefield, the deputy chief information officer for command, control and communications.
“DOD uses spectrum for almost everything wireless, everything from tactical radios that the soldier uses in the field, or in operations, to satellite communications, to radar that we use to track objects and devices,” he said. “We use it for everything wireless.”
The department’s evolution in the EMS is necessary for the U.S. military’s ability to effectively sense, command, control, communicate, test, train, protect and project force.”
Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment
For a long time, Moorefield said, DOD was uncontested in its use of the spectrum. That means either stateside or abroad, wherever the U.S. military went, it was able to use whatever portion of the spectrum it wanted to facilitate its own communications. Other nations weren’t technologically capable of using spectrum. But that is no longer the case.
Now, due to the low-cost of entry into spectrum use and ubiquity of wireless communications equipment, any adversary, not just peer and near-peer competitors, has as much access to the spectrum as the Defense Department. That means that in any conflict, any adversary may be using spectrum crucial to the department and preventing the military from being able to use it. Adversaries may also use jamming techniques to actively block DOD from using portions of the spectrum.
“Technologies evolved and our peer competitors have improved and watched us over the years and have gotten smart,” Moorefield said. “We’re getting jammed on everything from GPS to our [unmanned aircraft systems.] That’s why we have our counter-UAS program out there. Everything’s getting interfered with. That is a contested environment. Everything’s getting jammed.”
It’s not just on the battlefield where the U.S. can be jammed either, Moorefield said. Jamming is happening while doing training overseas and in other places as well.
“Just during our training and exercises, we’re getting jammed,” he said. “Stuff is going on — GPS is getting denied and jammed all the time in different countries. Our UASs are getting jammed and spoofed.”
Even stateside, Moorefield said, the department finds itself in competition in the electromagnetic spectrum with industries and communities around military bases.
“It is getting more and more crowded,” he said. “At some of our bases we used to be able to go out and do training and testing and exercises — just go out and do whatever we wanted to do. But now, the surrounding neighborhoods and the surrounding communities are just getting more and more crowded using wireless. So that access that we used to use, and freedom that we used to have using the spectrum on those bases is diminishing as the communities are growing.”
The department’s electromagnetic spectrum superiority strategy is driven by three “C’s,” Moorefield said: a contested environment, spectrum congestion and spectrum constraint.
A contested environment, he said, means adversaries have gotten smarter in how they jam the spectrum. Even if an adversary isn’t using a portion of the spectrum, he said, they can prevent the U.S. from using it through jamming.
“We have to figure out how to be smarter than them and develop capabilities to allow us to be able to get access to the spectrum whenever we need it, and however we need it and to also be able to deny the enemy the same access,” Moorefield said. “We call that ‘freedom of maneuver’ within the electromagnetic spectrum.”
The congested environment, he said, means there’s simply more people wanting to use spectrum. That might mean stateside or abroad, in actual warfare or in training, the department will find that there’s just a lot more users now of the electromagnetic spectrum than there have been.
“The spectrum space is getting more and more crowded,” Moorefield said. “That includes 5G, the next G coming, SATCOM, tactical radios, commercial and federal — everybody’s using spectrum more and more. So, we have a congestion problem, everything is crowded.”
Finally, he said, there is constraint. Whereas the department in the past had more freedom to move about the spectrum when it needed to, domestic and international regulations have decreased the amount of spectrum available for military access.
“We don’t have that big access and use that we used to have. DOD used to use a spectrum any way they wanted to. Those days are over,” he said. “That constraint is limiting us in our ability to train as we fight.”
To ensure that in the future the U.S. military has the ability to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum, the department has developed the “2020 Department of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy.”
“Superiority means being able to access the spectrum, use any frequency you want to, be able to maneuver … and deny the enemy access to the spectrum at the same time,” said Moorefield.
The strategy includes five goals to help the department attain that superiority:
- Develop superior EMS capabilities.?
- Evolve to an agile, fully integrated EMS architecture.?
- Pursue total force EMS readiness.?
- Secure enduring partnerships for EMS advantage.?
- Establish effective EMS governance.?
For the U.S. military to attain that superiority, there will need to be modernization and reform, new policies put in place, and new gear — all of that is spelled out in the strategy.
“The department’s evolution in the EMS is necessary for the U.S. military’s ability to effectively sense, command, control, communicate, test, train, protect and project force,” said Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. “Modernizing to maintain competitive advantage over near-peer adversaries will enable DOD to assert EMS superiority and mitigate risks to U.S. national and economic security.”
One part of reform, said Moorefield, is a change in the way spectrum is managed today.
“Today, spectrum is managed by static frequency assignments and licenses. We have to get dynamic, flexible and cognitive to be dynamic enough to be able to move around at different frequency bands.”
Also involved, and part of the strategy, is development of spectrum sharing capability. That means acknowledging that there are other users of a segment of spectrum the DOD wants access to, that there are benefits to U.S. commerce if the private sector or even other federal agencies have access to that spectrum, and then developing a system whereby more than one entity can take turns using that part of the spectrum when needed. That’s not happened in the past, but it’s happening now, Moorefield said.
Implementing the EMS Superiority Strategy enables us to take that bold action so we are able to dominate the spectrum in all domains and, if challenged, win against our enemies.”
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
EMS superiority will also involve new kinds of technology that are able to determine on their own what frequency they ought to be on at any time, Moorefield said. That technology will be able to assess the environment to see what else is using spectrum, and what part of it, and then find the best available portion of the spectrum to use to accomplish the communications it needs to accomplish — all without the assistance of users.
“We’re trying to get to autonomous kinds of operations, meaning machine-to-machine,” he said. “You’ve got the machines talking to each other. You won’t have to have segregated allocations. You’ll have the machine built to be able to tune across a variety of different frequency bands. It’ll listen within the environment. And it’ll be talking to another machine and say I’m using this frequency; you move to another frequency.”
Policy changes are needed, as well. The department’s acquisition elements must be allowed to obtain the right kind of equipment to attain spectrum superiority, he said.
“We have to be able to reform acquisition [policies] so that they know that they can build capability to do that — to be able to be dynamic,” he said. “Today we can’t do that. The regulations don’t support it. We have to reform the regulations to allow dynamic spectrum operations. We have to inform acquisition so they can now acquire those kinds of capabilities. We need to inform research and engineering so they can do the research and development, so that acquisition can purchase it.”
There’s a lot of equipment in the department’s inventory today that was designed to operate in the EMS. But that equipment was built to operate in clearly-defined areas of the spectrum. Eventually, all that gear will need to be replaced with new gear that can operate more freely in the spectrum, and share spectrum with other pieces of gear. That’s going to take several years to make the transition, Moorefield said. But along the way, new gear will be cognizant of the older equipment on the battlefield, and will be able to work alongside it.
“We’ve got old stuff out there, we’ve got medium stuff and we’ve got new stuff,” he said. “As you do your tech refresh, and you implement the policies into the acquisition reform, to be able to build dynamic spectrum stuff, that new capability will be able to cohabitate around the old stuff because it now has that dynamic flexible operation. So it’s not sitting on a single frequency. I don’t care what your old stuff is doing, I’m going to operate around you. And when that old thing expires, then they’re going to tech refresh and become dynamic. Over time, we’ll get there. But it’s going to take us time to do that.”
Another big part of the superiority strategy is the blending of the electromagnetic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum management communities into one “electromagnetic spectrum operations” or EMSO community, Moorefield said.
“In the past, the electronic warfare community kind of did their own thing,” he said. “They’re out there doing jamming, electronic attack and the protect mission without any regard to the other communication equipment in the battlefield.”
The result of that, he said, sometimes created spectrum “fratricide” on the battlefield, where blue force use of the spectrum to damage enemy forces also hurt other blue force operators.
“The guys on the ground were getting blasted — they couldn’t even talk on their radios anymore because you got a big platform flying through and he’s just blasting out, jamming the entire battlefield,” Moorefield said.
The merging of the existing electronic warfare and EMSM communities into an EMSO community, he said, can fix this.
“This now blends this all together and forces us as a department to be able to orchestrate this battlefield,” he said. “Now you have EW, you got all your other comms — whether it’s tactical radios, radars, EW, all being orchestrated in the environment. Our goal is to develop a common operating spectrum picture so that the commander can see what those operations look like and he can command and control those operations, based on that spectrum picture.”
The strategy doesn’t lay out a timeline for how the Defense Department will get mastery of the EMS. Instead, Moorefield said, the strategy sets a “broad vision of where we go and how we get there.”
What’s clearer, he said, is the consequences of not achieving spectrum superiority.
“If we don’t figure out how to dominate the spectrum space we’re going to be at the mercy of our peer competitors,” he said.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the 2020 Department of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy is what the Defense Department needs to ensure U.S. warfighters continue to have freedom of action wherever they are asked to fight.
“The department is dedicated to a unified, holistic electromagnetic spectrum operations approach which ensures our freedom of action in the EMS at the time and place of our choosing,” Hyten said. “We cannot expect military success in any domain if we fail to take bold action to ensure that the United States and its allies have freedom to act in the spectrum. Implementing the EMS Superiority Strategy enables us to take that bold action so we are able to dominate the spectrum in all domains and, if challenged, win against our enemies.” (Source: US DoD)
02 Nov 20. Deployment completes phase one of Joint Tactical Ground Station modernization, improves space-based sensor capabilities. The U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) have deployed enhanced Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) capabilities in South Korea, advancing battlespace awareness and missile defense in the region.
This deployment marks the completion of phase one of the JTAGS modernization program. The system was first fielded in tactical shelters in 1997 to provide in-theater missile warning using data directly from satellite sensors.
“This is a tremendous milestone in our decades-long mission of delivering missile warning and defense capabilities to protect our joint warfighters and allies,” said Kenn Todorov, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. “JTAGS is vital to warfighters and of growing importance as we create true Joint All-Domain Command and Control systems, especially as we find new ways to integrate and leverage space-based assets.”
JTAGS receives and processes data directly down-linked from the Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) constellation of satellites, including Defense Support Program and Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) sensors, and other infrared satellite sensors. JTAGS then disseminates near-real-time warning, alerting and cueing information on ballistic missile launches and other tactical events of interest throughout the theater using multiple communications networks.
Under the phase one modernization effort, Northrop Grumman and the Army installed JTAGS Block II in permanent facilities in Japan, Qatar, Italy and the Republic of Korea, with updates to hardware, software and communication systems, and enhancements to cyber-security and the soldier-machine interface. The deployments included soldier training and exercise support capabilities.
Northrop Grumman is already executing phase two of the JTAGS Pre-planned Product improvement (P3I) modernization program, delivering additional sensor processing capabilities and updating software architecture.
Under the direction of the JTAGS Product Office, Integrated Fires Mission Command (IFMC) Project Office, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Northrop Grumman has been the JTAGS prime contractor since 1994, responsible for developing, fielding, maintaining and enhancing the system worldwide.
03 Nov 20. Leonardo DRS Facility Selected as an AI Center of Excellence within Network of “Leonardo Labs.” Leonardo DRS Inc. announced today that its Cypress, California, facility has been chosen as an Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Center of Excellence within the network of the Leonardo Labs, the high-tech laboratories established by parent company Leonardo SpA.
The Leonardo DRS Cypress team works with academia and industry partners, as the company’s Electro-Optical & Infrared Systems business Advanced Engineering Center of Excellence, to develop and produce cutting-edge technologies for the U.S. military and government agencies. Their expertise ranges across multi-domains from space to airborne applications and for terrestrial platforms.
“Our research and development in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can provide a sustained competitive advantage for our customers and some of the very best universities across America,” said Chief Operating Officer John Baylouny. “The selection of our Cypress facility in the Leonardo Labs network, to advance research in AI and Machine Learning, both essential to our national security, is a reflection of the great people and technology of Leonardo DRS.”
Leonardo launched the laboratory initiative as part of the company’s 2030 Master Plan to create a unique international network of corporate research and development facilities. The selection of the Leonardo DRS lab for inclusion in the network is the first outside of Italy. The labs are recruiting 68 new Research Fellows across Leonardo SpA in fields applicable to their areas of focus. The Leonardo DRS Cypress facility will include PhD. researchers specialized in the fields of the High Performance AI and Contextual Reasoning AI.
The Leonardo Laboratories initiative has six focus areas in high-performance computing and AI, aircraft and rotorcraft technologies, materials and space technologies, and electronics and sensing. Each laboratory is dedicated to a specific application area and will include research in broader areas such as high-performance calculation and simulation, big data, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, quantum computing, electric mobility and materials and structures.
“The Leonardo Labs program stems from our desire to be on the cutting edge of advanced innovation, the future and beyond while at the same time improving the products and services we offer to our customers even today,” said Roberto Cingolani, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at Leonardo SpA.
03 Nov 20. NEXEYA France, a HENSOLDT Company, now integrates the NATO Link 22 tactical datalink into its embedded naval surveillance and defence combat management system (CMS) LYNCEA. It enables the sharing and the monitoring of the tactical picture with other platforms using on-board sensors such as: radar, optronic devices, sonar, electronic warfare, AIS, ADS-B, NATO or non-NATO data link. Designed with a modular architecture, LYNCEA is offering the capacity to evolve and be adapted to all ship types. It also ensures the management of weapons and facilitates decision-making, using powerful graphics tools combined with an intuitive, ergonomic and easy-to-use interface.
LYNCEA is especially suitable for state action missions at sea, such as the surveillance of maritime zones, fight against trafficking, public service missions, search & rescue and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW). It uses the latest signal processing technologies in order to increase the detection distance of small targets. Thanks to Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) secured communication, NATO Link 22 can reach up to 300NM. NATO Link 22 tactical datalink offers a complete interoperability of allied forces and allows the exchange of tactical data with all sea surface, subsea, airborne, land and space platforms. Link 22 also gives access to the Electronic Warfare domain, Command & Control (C2) orders and Free Text. Among its greatest benefits are a BLOS communication, and that a retrofit solution of existing combat units is available, allowing existing platforms to be in service for a longer period of time. Link 22 ‘ELFIN’ replaces the Link 11 ‘ALLIGATOR’. An industrial partner of the defence industry for more than 30 years, NEXEYA supplies products and solutions to OEMs, as well as their equipment manufacturers. The company is involved in all stages of development and life cycle, from the design, validation, and production to maintenance activities such as obsolescence management. Complementary with HENSOLDT France, which develops IFF identification systems and data links for the Defence market, NEXEYA designs naval and airborne mission management systems. NEXEYA is also a strong player in the renewable energy market, developing and manufacturing hydrogen-based energy storage and supply stations.
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.