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18 Nov 20. New Ally in the Mission-Driven Movement to Make the World a Safer Place. Australian chapters of the Common Mission Project, Hacking for National Security launch BMNT Inc. and its nonprofit arm, the Common Mission Project today announce the expansion of their global effort to foster mission-driven entrepreneurship with the launch of The Common Mission Project – Australia and plans to launch the Hacking for National Security (H4NS) academic program next year at the University of New South Wales.
With this move, Australia joins a growing movement under way in the United States and the UK to use modern innovation tools and techniques to make the world a safer place. Under the auspices of Jamie Watson, CMP Australia director and director of BMNT Australia,
CMP Australia will work to educate, connect, inspire and advocate for mission-driven entrepreneurs, including through its flagship academic program, Hacking for National Security.
This global program is engaging a new generation of mission-driven entrepreneurs in solving the critical problems of our time.
“The complexity of the world today and the speed at which technology is changing demands that allies work even more closely together to deploy capabilities that will ensure our collective national security. We’ve long been fans of Jamie Watson’s defence technology work and his
experience as an entrepreneur within the Australian government. We are absolutely delighted to have him leading this new partnership!” said Peter Newell, CEO of BMNT; Chairman of the Board of CMP; and co-creator of the Hacking for Defense® (H4D) program on which H4NS is based.
Watson has spent more than three decades within the Defence and National Security sector. In addition to operational experience, he has held key positions within the Defence Science and Technology Group in Australia and the United States.
“Our vision is to scale the Hacking for National Security platform across the Australian university sector. We are glad to be launching the class at the University of New South Wales in the spring and are open to all that are interested in partnering with us,” he said. H4NS teaches teams of university students how to apply entrepreneurial processes such as the
Lean Startup methodology and Problem Curation techniques to quickly solve critical national security and intelligence community problems.
In the process, the course exposes students to defence and national security issue areas; establishes unique, expert networks around critical defence and national security problems; delivers validated problems and viable solution pathways; and helps to build a national security
David Burt, UNSW’s Director of Entrepreneurship, said of offering the course, “UNSW is thrilled to partner with the Common Mission Project to bring H4NS to Australia. The H4NS program has
a proven ability to bring together a powerful coalition of government, industry, and university representatives to confront and solve real national security issues. Through hosting H4NS at UNSW, we bridge our students into the deep links of the existing US and UK Common Mission
H4D®, the program on which H4NS is based, was created in the U.S. in 2016 by Steve Blank, founder of the Lean Startup movement; Joe Felter, a retired U.S. Army Colonel (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia); and Newell, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Director of the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force.
In the class students address a wide variety of defence and national security problem areas. Past examples include safely evacuating special forces under fire, powering radios for downed
pilots, developing applications to track and manage mass casualty triage in the field, detecting and countering drones, protecting IoT devices, developing innovative applications for artificial intelligence, and predicting and preventing cyber threats. The course is currently taught at 40 leading universities in the U.S. and seven in the UK, and has helped create a national security innovation pipeline in both countries. Learn more about the program during a virtual event CMP Australia will host Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10 am AEDT featuring Watson, Newell, Burt, and Blank discussing how the course is changing the future of defence innovation. (Source: Rumour Control)
19 Nov 20. Honeywell And Nozomi Networks Announce Partnership To Significantly Strengthen Operational Technology Cybersecurity. Offering includes security solutions from Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity and Nozomi to deliver industry’s most comprehensive vendor-neutral cybersecurity portfolio to better protect OT environments, detect threats and reduce cyber risk. Honeywell (NYSE: HON) and Nozomi Networks have announced a cybersecurity partnership today to deliver more comprehensive, end-to-end cybersecurity for Operational Technology (OT) environments. The partnership combines Nozomi Networks’ industry-leading OT & Internet of Things (IoT) security and visibility capabilities with the strengths of Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity software, professional consulting and managed security services from Honeywell. The partnership will offer comprehensive solutions to manage cybersecurity compliance and reduce the risk of downtime due to cyberattacks.
“Our partnership with Nozomi Networks will enable us to provide customers with a one-stop shop for best-in-breed cybersecurity products and services,” said Jeff Zindel, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Connected Enterprise Cybersecurity. “With the continued rise of cyber threats facing asset owners around the world, including critical infrastructure, customers are looking for better and more efficient ways to protect operating environments and reduce cybersecurity risk. Our partnership delivers the industry’s most complete, vendor-neutral OT cybersecurity portfolio, strengthened by Honeywell global professional and managed security services.”
With Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity software, customers access a single dashboard to centralize security operations and asset security management for Honeywell and non-Honeywell assets. The software helps simplify, strengthen and scale security operations for asset-intensive businesses facing evolving cybersecurity threats. It can improve performance at a single site or across an enterprise by increasing cyber risk visibility while also decreasing cybersecurity management inefficiencies. This software is complemented by a broad portfolio of Honeywell cybersecurity professional services delivered by certified OT cybersecurity experts with extensive industry domain expertise in Honeywell and non-Honeywell environments. Nozomi Networks’ OT & IoT threat and anomaly detection complements the Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity portfolio to help customers identify and respond to cyber threats before they penetrate their OT network. In addition, vulnerability assessment capabilities help customers identify OT devices that can be exploited in cyberattacks. Asset discovery capabilities from Nozomi Networks combine active and passive techniques to safely identify OT and IoT assets.
“Amid escalating cybersecurity threats to industrial targets, our partnership with Honeywell delivers a more complete and vendor-neutral cybersecurity offering that OT environments require,” said Nozomi Networks CEO Edgard Capdevielle. “The offering delivers robust remote access security and patch management with rich network visibility and security capabilities from Nozomi Networks. We’re thrilled to team with Honeywell to give customers a fully-integrated solution that supports the most stringent security risk and compliance requirements.”
Customers can have Nozomi Networks’ software solutions installed directly by Honeywell as either a stand-alone offering or as part of a more comprehensive Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity solution. For those who might not have the resources to support day-to-day cybersecurity operations, the Nozomi Networks’ solution can also be accessed through Honeywell Forge Managed Security Services.
Learn more about the partnership at hwll.co/Nozomi.
Nozomi Networks is the leader in OT and IoT security and visibility. We accelerate digital transformation by unifying cybersecurity visibility for the largest critical infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, mining, transportation, building automation and other OT sites around the world. Our innovation and research make it possible to tackle escalating cyber risks through exceptional network visibility, threat detection and operational insight. www.nozominetworks.com (Source: PR Newswire)
19 Nov 20. F-15EX, KC-46A to lead USAF rollout of AMBS ‘Internet of Things.’ The Boeing F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft and KC-46A Pegasus tanker are the first platforms earmarked by the US Air Force (USAF) for the roll-out of its developmental Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) Internet of Things (IoT) capability.
Speaking under the Chatham House Rule on 18 November, an official with knowledge of the service’s plans said that the soon-to-be-introduced F-15EX and the recently received KC-46A will spearhead the USAF’s efforts to connect all the US armed forces through the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept.
“An example that we have [of our JADC2 effort] is our new F-15EX buy that will be replacing our F-15C models. It is going to be one of our first platforms that we will be bringing in some of the ABMS enhanced gateway capabilities on, we think. That, plus the [KC-46A] tanker”, the official said at the virtual Defence iQ International Fighter conference.
According to Janes C4ISR & Mission Systems: Joint & Common Equipment, the ABMS IoT will be designed to allow the USAF to co-ordinate with and direct joint operations with the US Navy (USN), US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Army. The ABMS is a ‘family of systems’ that includes both hardware and software, enabling the USAF to contribute to and link with their older JADC2. The ABMS is a C4ISR maximiser and is designed to improve the military’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) management. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Nov 20. BlackBerry Achieves NSA Approval for BlackBerry UEM. BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) today announced that its BlackBerry® Unified Endpoint Manager (UEM) software has achieved National Security Agency (NSA) Commercial Solutions for Classified Program (CSfC) approval.
The NSA protects the United States’ most critical information and systems against cyberattacks. The CSfC is an important part of the NSA’s strategy, ensuring that the U.S. government can leverage the industry’s most secure and innovative cybersecurity technologies to accomplish their mission objectives.
“BlackBerry and the NSA share a common mission to help make the nation safer,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman & CEO, BlackBerry. “We are honored to receive approval from the NSA for BlackBerry UEM to be used to protect classified information. This adds to the portfolio of U.S. government certifications BlackBerry has received for UEM, including NIAP, DoDIN APL and FedRAMP.”
For more information on BlackBerry certifications, including NIAP, DoDIN APL, FedRAMP and FIPS 140-2, visit BlackBerry.com/Certifications. (Source: PR Newswire)
18 Nov 20. Top intel official warns of bias in military algorithms. Artificial intelligence is all the rage within the military right now, with the services working to integrate machine learning algorithms into its processes to automate tasks and operate at machine speed. But even as military leaders express hope that AI can give their forces the edge on the battlefield, there’s growing recognition that these algorithms can potentially introduce unintended biases into military systems.
“If that automated processes that we create are limited in scope or scale or rely on bad sets of data, then we’re introducing bias to that limited perspective,” Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations, said during a Nov. 17 virtual presentation hosted by AFCEA’s Alamo chapter.
Machine learning algorithms work by ingesting massive amounts of training data. If that data is flawed or isn’t representative of the full spectrum of information the algorithm needs to work properly, that training process can introduce unintended biases.
The commercial world is full of examples. O’Brien pointed to the often frustrating customer service voice recognition software. Citing studies looking at the medical and automotive field, she explained that voice recognition algorithms generate more errors for women and those that speak English as a second language than men. This is because during the software development and training of the algorithm, typically male voices are used resulting in a bias against higher pitched voice.
In a national security context, the consequences could be dire. For example, what if the military builds an intelligence algorithm that is unintentionally biased toward Russian intrusion methods versus Chinese or Iranian, asked O’Brien. What if the military builds an algorithm to locate ballistic missiles, but developers only used North Korean imagery data to train it? Will it be able to accurately locate ballistic missiles originating from other adversaries?
“Will it be able to respond quickly enough? Or will we fail to predict our adversary’s actions in time to preserve the maneuver space that we need to defend ourselves,” O’Brien said. “It’s a critical way to thing about this challenge, but as we move into the competition, we have to be cognitive how we build in these decision calculus tools … to ensure we’re competing with the right tools that we need.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Nov 20. US Army tactical network acquisition office releases $850m solicitation for encryption device. The U.S. Army’s tactical network acquisition office released a solicitation Nov. 16 for an $850m contract for its new encryption device to protect the joint network.
The Army expects the 10-year contract for the Next Generation Load Device-Medium (NGLD-M) will be awarded to multiple vendors and will delivery the strongest NSA-certified cryptographic keys on the tactical, strategic, and enterprise network systems from the Secret level and higher. The RFP was release by the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.
According to the PEO C3T news release, modern cryptographic algorithms will be transferred using the NGLD-M device to counter cyber and electronic warfare threats.
The release was delayed in June after the service adjusted the acquisition strategy competition.
“Based on market research conducted earlier this year, the program adjusted some aspects of the strategy to help increase multi-vendor competition, enable rapid software integration options, leverage mature Non-Developmental Item (NDI) potential solutions, and accelerate NSA certification,” said Paul Mehney, director of communications for PEO C3T, in a news release.
“The NGLD-M replaces the fleet of legacy fill devices including the aging Simple Key Loader (SKL), which the Army began procuring fifteen years ago,” said Mike Badger product manager for the NGLD-M effort. “The NGLD-M will be an NSA Type 1 certified, ruggedized, battery-powered, hand-held device used to manage and transfer cryptographic key material and mission planning data.”
The NGLD-M device allows network managers “to reconfigure cryptographic products, perform Over-The-Network-Keying, conduct remote software downloads, and improve operational environment awareness,” according to a PEO C3T news release.
The device will be used by all command echelons, other government agencies and foreign military partners, the release said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Nov 20. Elettronica S.p.A sign contract with ADMI. Elettronica announced the appointment of ADMI as its international PR consultancy with immediate effect. Under this contract ADMI will provide integrated marketing and communications services with a particular focus on press office and public relations concerning international Media
Based on the agreement ADMI will make market announcements on behalf of Elettronica showcasing new products and capabilities and enhance awareness of Elettronica’s reputation and brand.
Established in 1951, Elettronica is a world leader in Electronic Warfare, Homeland Security and Cyber EW Intelligence. The company can offer a complete portfolio of state-of-the-art solutions to satisfy the most challenging requirements of modern operational scenarios.
Elettronica have been at the cutting edge of Electronic Warfare for almost 70 years, supplying Armed Forces and Governments of 30 countries with more than 3000 high technology systems. Elettronica’s systems are deployed for a variety of key operational missions, from Strategic Surveillance, to Self-Protection, Sigint, Electronic Defence and Operational Support for airborne, naval and ground applications.
The company boasts a strong record of successful domestic and international collaborations on key modern military platforms such as Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon, NFH-90 helicopter, the Italian PPA platform, the Italian Navy’s Horizon and FREMM class, and a wide range of projects in several countries all over the world.
The Group is composed of two other companies: CY4GATE, listed at the Italian AIM Market specializing in Cyber EW, Cyber Security and Intelligence and Elettronica GmbH, the German subsidiary specializing in EW signal processing design and production and Homeland Security solutions. The company has several offices in the Gulf and South East Asia.
17 Nov 20. BAE Receives Certification for F-22 Identification Friend-or-foe Capability. Our IFF transponder has been certified for the F-22 aircraft. BAE Systems has received certification for its Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponder for the F-22 Raptor from the Department of Defense AIMS program office. The IFF transponder waveform integration is part of a U.S. Navy contract to upgrade the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) terminal for the U.S. Air Force.
BAE Systems’ F-22 IFF transponder is integrated with a multi-channel subsystem, which is compliant with the new Mode 5 cryptographic standard and programmable with software rather than hardware. It is also compatible with the aircraft’s avionics equipment, which uses Link 16 and tactical air navigation system waveforms.
“This is BAE Systems’ first IFF system on a fifth-generation fighter jet,” said Donna Linke-Klein, director of Tactical Systems at BAE Systems. “This certification is an important milestone for our MIDS JTRS offering and an incredible achievement for our employees and customers.”
Certifying Mode 5 Level 2 capability in this transponder is a necessary step on the path to platform-level AIMS and Federal Aviation Administration certification. The AIMS program office ensures interoperability of IFF systems used by the U.S. and allied forces.
The MIDS JTRS terminal with IFF transponder is in production and undergoing ground and flight testing on-board the F-22 aircraft in preparation for platform-level certification. Operational release to the fleet is planned for 2021.
With more than 75 years of IFF experience, BAE Systems has delivered more than 15,500 transponders, 1,500 interrogators, and 6,000 combined interrogator/transponder systems. IFF products enable warfighters to identify friendly forces and make informed decisions in a variety of threat environments. They can be used on existing, new, and emerging platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles, ships, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters.
The MIDS JTRS terminal is a Data Link Solutions product produced through a joint venture of BAE Systems and Collins Aerospace. MIDS JTRS is a four-channel radio that runs the complex Link 16 waveform plus up to three more communication protocols, including the Tactical Targeting Network Technology. The terminal can also host and provide computer processing to run routing and platform-specific applications, lowering the costs of integration. (Source: ASD Network)
18 Nov 20. Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Has Substantially Grown To Aid The Warfighter. It was just two years ago when the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center was created to grab the transformative potential of artificial intelligence technology for the benefit of America’s national security, and it has grown substantially from humble beginnings.
Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s chief information officer, and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, the director of the JAIC, virtually discussed from the Pentagon the growth and goals of JAIC at a FedTalks event during National AI Week.
”One of the things we’ve wanted to keep in our DNA is this idea that we want to hire a lot of diversity of thought into [JAIC],” Deasy said, ”but yet do that in a way where that diversity of thought coalesces around a couple of really important themes.”
When JAIC began, it needed to grab hold of some projects that can show people that it can be nimble, agile, and it has the talent to give something that is meaningful back to the Defense Department, he noted.
So JAIC started in a variety of different places, Deasy said. ”But now as we’ve matured, … we really need to focus on what was the core mission … for JAIC. And that was, we have to figure out what the role is that AI plays in enabling the warfighter. And I’ve always said that JAIC should be central to any and all future discussions in that place,” the CIO said.
”Transformation is our vision,” Groen said.
”So, it’s a big job. We discovered pretty quickly that seeding the environment with lots of small AI projects was not transformational in and of itself. We knew we had to do more. And so, what we’re calling JAIC 2.0 is a focused transition in a couple of ways. [For example], we’re going to continue to build AI products, because the talent in the JAIC is just superb,” the JAIC director said.
Groen noted that the JAIC is thinking about solution spaces for a broad base of customers, which really gets it focused.
”There are, you know, the application, and the utilization of AI across the department [that] is very uneven. We have places that are really good. And there, some of the services are just doing fantastic things. And we have some places, large-scale enterprises with fantastic use cases [that] really could use AI, but they don’t know where to start. So, we’re going to shift from a transformational perspective to start looking at that broad base of customers and enable them,” he said.
JAIC is going to continue to work with the military services on the cutting edge of AI and AI application, especially in the integration space, where JAIC is bringing together intelligence or intelligence of maneuver, Groen said, ”The warfighting functions have superb stovepipes. But now we need to bring those stovepipes together and integrate them through AI,” he added.
The history books of the future will say JAIC was about joint common foundation, Deasy said. ”JAIC could never do all of the AI initiatives with the Department of Defense, nor was it ever created to do that. But what we did say was that people who are going to roll up [their] sleeves, and seriously start trying to leverage AI to help the warfighter every day. … at the core of JAIC’s success has got to be this joint common foundation,” he noted.
Deasy noted that the JAIC was powerful and very real.
Into next year, he added, JAIC will have some basic services. And then it’s a minimum viable product approach, where JAIC is building some basic services, a lot of native services from cloud providers, but then adding services to that.
”And where we hope to grow the technical platform is a place where people can bring their data, places where we can offer data services, data conditioning, maybe table data labeling and we can start curating data,” Deasy projected. ”One of the things we’d really like to be able to do for the department is start cataloging and storing algorithms and data. So now we’ll have an environment so we can share training data, for example, across programs.”
The modernized software foundation now gives JAIC a platform so it can build AI, Groen said, adding AI has to be a conscious application layer that’s applied, leveraging the platform and the things that digital modernization provides.
”But when you think of it that way, holy cow, what a platform to operate from,” he said.
So now JAIC will really have a have a place where the joint force can effectively operate, he said, adding that the JAIC can now start integrating intel in fires, intel in a maneuver command and control, the logistics enterprise, the combat logistics enterprise and sort of the broad support enterprise, Groen noted.
”You can’t do any of that without a platform, and you can’t do any of that without those digital modernization tenets,” the JAIC director said.
If JAIC is going to have the whole force operating at the speed of machines, then it has to start bringing these artificial intelligence applications together into an ecosystem, Groen said, noting that it has to be a trusted ecosystem, meaning “we actually have to know, if we’re going to bring data into a capability, we have to know that’s good data.”
”So how do we build an ecosystem so that we can know the provenance of data, and we can ensure that the algorithms are tested to set in a satisfactory way that we can comfortably and safely integrate data and decision making across warfighting functions,” the JAIC director asked. ”That’s the kind of stuff that I think it’s really exciting, because that’s the real transformation that we’re after.” (Source: US DoD)
17 Nov 20. USAF sets sights on new spectrum warfare wing. The U.S. Air Force plans to create a new wing focused on electromagnetic spectrum warfare come springtime. While plans for the new wing — the 355th Spectrum Warfare Wing — have previously been discussed, officials Tuesday provided the most in-depth details regarding its creation, functions and timeline.
The wing, which is tentatively set to activate in March 2021, will enable “fielded forces to continually contest and on demand attack adversary [command, control, communication, computers and intelligence] functional structures controlling their key processes,” Lt. Gen. Chris Weggeman, deputy commander Air Combat Command, said during a virtual conference Nov. 17 hosted by AFCEA’s Alamo chapter.
“Their mission is to execute the U.S. version of Chinese nodal warfare,” the officer explained.
The wing will fall under the purview of the Air Force Warfare Center — which performs operational test and evaluation, tactics development, and advanced training — instead of the new information warfare command, 16th Air Force, which has operational control of electronic warfare.
The wing is a direct outgrowth of the Air Force’s yearlong study on electronic warfare, called the Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team, that was briefed to service leadership in January 2019. Specifically, two items identified in the study that led to the wing’s creation is that the Air Force’s electromagnetic spectrum capabilities atrophied over the past decades and there will need to be greater reliance on the spectrum in the future, according to Brig. Gen. Marty Reynolds, vice commander of the Air Force Warfare Center, who spoke during the same conference.
Spectrum is an enabler, he said. “If we believe that and we understand how important data is — that the computing and sensing at the edge is going to be informant going forward — then we have to make sure that we protect the transport of that data and that we can aggregate the data so we can make predictions to the analysis,” he added.
Other electromagnetic spectrum changes made within the Air Force recently include the realignment of its electromagnetic spectrum management office from Air Combat Command to the Headquarters Air Force staff under the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations, or A2/6.
Weggeman noted that the new wing will develop, host, integrate, test and distribute electronic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum mission “ware,” while also assist in electromagnetic battle management support and be an agile software pipeline for Air Force platforms.
The wing will be a clearing house for electromagnetic spectrum professionals who focus on electronic protection (measures taken to protect friendly communications and systems) and electronic attack (jamming) linked and improved through software and cognitive abilities, Reynolds explained.
He added that platforms should be able to connect and share data so a platform conducting electronic support can rapidly reprogram information and share it to an electronic attack platform.
The commander of the new wing will be Col. William Young, who previously commanded the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Nov 20. USAF prepares for its first information warfare exercise. The U.S. Air Force is gearing up for its first information warfare-focused exercise next year.
At a newly created information warfare training facility in Playas, New Mexico, the Air Force is planning what it calls an information warfare flag in spring 2021, Lt. Gen. Chris Weggeman, deputy commander of Air Combat Command, said during a virtual conference Nov. 17 hosted by AFCEA’s Alamo chapter.
The Air Force’s training events are called flags; Red Flag is its premier air-to-air training exercise.
In October 2019, the service created 16th Air Force, its first information warfare-focused entity, combining capabilities from numbered Air Forces to fuse capabilities related to cyberspace, electromagnetic spectrum operations, information operations, intelligence gathering and weather.
Weggeman said the information warfare flag will involve “live fire and live fly.” The new training facility will also provide these live services and will aim to refine information warfare tactics, such as honing cyber electronic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum capabilities.
Meanwhile, 16th Air Force plans to hold its first information warfare weapons and tactics conference, Weggeman said, which will emulate the Combat Air Force Weapons and Tactics Conference.
“They’ll focus mission-area working groups of pressing IW problems and challenges, and focus on developing on tactics, techniques and procedures for optimizing IW forces and capabilities integration to deliver those required mission outcomes that we need for our component and combatant commanders,” he said.
Critical to the success of the Air Force in the information environment will be developing experts in this converged area. The Air Force realizes it needs personnel that “can think about the information environment, that can think about perceptions and behaviors and sentiments of different audiences around the world and really incorporate that kind of an understanding to how we plan and execute and assess everything that we are doing,” according to Sandeep Mulgund, an adviser for Headquarters Air Force.
But accomplishing this is a challenge, Mulgund said at the conference. “We really need to build up a cadre of people that have that really unique expertise, thinking about the operational environment in that way.”
Adversaries have thought about these issues differently — to include warfare on a continuum as opposed to the more Western binary approach of peace and conflict — which can constrain actions against malign action.
The U.S. sees space and cyberspace as domains of warfare, but China and Russia also view them as theaters of operations for information activities, explained Brig. Gen. Gregory Gagnon, the director for intelligence at U.S. Space Command.
“They don’t constrain themselves so much to domain thinking, which can be a little constricting for us Westerners. They become more expansive in their thinking and really work to integrate the two because everything done in space is done through cyberspace,” he said at the conference.
Similarly, Mulgund said that intelligence typically focuses on an adversary’s physical capabilities, but the U.S. military needs to be able to think about the information environment.
They have to understand “how is information flowing, who’s talking to whom using what channels, what are they talking about, what do we think they think, and how do we incorporate that understanding into how we plan and access,” he said.
“Developing that group of folks, a really deep bench of folks that can think that way, will be a big part of where the Air Force wants to go from here.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Nov 20. Project Rainmaker: Army Weaves ‘Data Fabric’ To Link Joint Networks. The Pentagon’s grand plans for Joint All Domain Command & Control require translating masses of data across incompatible systems. “Unless you get the underpinnings of a foundational data fabric,” Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher told me, “it will never happen.”
A low-key Army project known as Rainmaker is quietly developing common standards to let combat networks share data for everything from targeting smart weapons to training AIs.
The technology was developed by the Army’s C5ISR Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground and field-tested this fall on the sidelines of the Army’s Project Convergence wargames. Two contractors, Palantir and General Dynamics, are now helping develop full-up prototypes. The Army aims to start fielding an early version of Rainmaker to its combat brigades in 2023 and hopes to share it with the other services and foreign allies as well.
It’s unglamorous but essential work. All too often, in command posts around the world, the easiest way to get data from one system to another is still to scrawl it on a sticky note. That technique doesn’t scale up all that well to the masses of detailed data required to coordinate complex combat operations.
Even when today’s systems are nominally capable of communicating, they often can’t send full, detailed reports, just summaries and other metadata, pared down to fit in low-bandwidth messaging formats created in the 1990s. For the recipient, that’s a lot like getting all your news from the headlines in your Facebook feed, without ever actually clicking on an article.
“Those standards are limited in terms of how much information we can put in there,” said Upesh Patel, a senior engineer at the C5ISR Center. “You can easily put ‘a tank’ into a targeting message [today, but] what we did with Rainmaker is we were able to add … ‘Hey, look, this is a tank, and it has active protection countermeasures, or it’s up-armored, or it has X, Y, and Z capabilities.’ That information is critical to the weapons systems that we use to target those systems.”
If you can’t share that kind of detailed data – a lot of it, and fast – then you can’t swiftly unleash salvos of precision-guided weapons or train machine-learning algorithms to automate staff work and advise commanders. You can’t realize the Pentagon’s grand vision of a mega-network linking friendly forces across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, called Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).
For the first-ever Project Convergence exercise this year, Army Futures Command kludged together a good-enough network to pass precision targeting data from Intelligence Community satellites and Marine Corps F-35s to Army aircraft, artillery and ground vehicles. But that was a limited, one-off solution linking small numbers of selected systems.
The military is still far away from the JADC2 vision of linking “every sensor” to “any shooter.” “That’s aspirational,” said Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, network modernization director at Army Futures Command. “Unless you get the underpinnings of a foundational data fabric, it will never happen.”
What is a data fabric, anyway? When I asked the Army, Gallagher and some of his leading technical experts called me to explain. In essence, a data fabric is a set of common technical standards and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that enable otherwise incompatible systems to share data.
That means sharing all their data, not just summaries and other metadata that lack the nitty-gritty detail required to feed AI algorithms or target precision weapons. It means sharing data directly and automatically from machine to machine, without a human having to manually reenter data – a time-consuming and error-prone process. It means sharing data with users holding different levels of security clearances, allowing lesser credentials to access less sensitive data rather than locking them out of entire databases. It means sharing data all the way from satellites and central databases to individual aircraft, vehicles and frontline troops – and the Army has thousands more such low-bandwidth “edge users” than any other service.
“Everybody, every decision-maker on [every] echelon, we want [to] give them the data they need to make the decisions they need, at speed,” Gallagher told me, “all the way down to that that infantry squad.”
That’s not how it works today. Even within the Army, there are multiple systems – some for logistics, some for artillery, some for aviation, and so on and on and on – that share data only grudgingly. These legacy systems require extensive custom tailoring and troubleshooting to connect to any new technology.
Over the years, “I went out to numerous NIE [Network Integration Evaluation] exercises and I saw all the pain points that soldiers were going through [and vendors] struggling to integrate their capability into the existing Army infrastructure,” engineer Patel told me. “It wasn’t the vendors’ fault, it’s just how the Army systems were designed.”
With Rainmaker, he said, “we wanted to provide a mechanism… to seamlessly pull and push information without having to go through all these transformations and translations.”
The first incarnation of Rainmaker was a CONEX container full of computers, a cloud computing hub you could deploy to a war zone. Rainmaker got into the data fabric business with seed money from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, which was working on a Common Data Fabric for intel. But the Army’s C5ISR Center found itself tackling the most challenging piece of the problem: moving masses of data swiftly to forward command posts and frontline units with limited bandwidth and erratic connections.
“We basically started focusing more on the tactical aspects,” said Patel. The Intelligence Community often focuses on reports for generals, admirals, and high-level headquarters. But as part of the Project Convergence exercises this fall, a Rainmaker proof-of-concept passed detailed targeting data from a simulated brigade Tactical Operations Center at Fort Lewis, Wash. to a battalion TOC at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.
Now, in the inaugural Project Convergence held this fall, the Rainmaker data wasn’t used to target live weapons, Gallagher emphasized; that was handled by other systems. “Next year,” he said, “it will be fully incorporated into Project Convergence 21.”
To plan beyond that test, Gallagher’s Network Cross Functional Team is already working with Army procurement organizations, the Program Executive Officers for Command, Control, & Communications – Tactical (PEO-C3T) and the PEO for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors (PEO-IEWS). The service plans to roll out network upgrade packages every two years, starting with Capability Set 2021 next year. Rainmaker won’t be ready for operational units then, but the plan is to include at least a “1.0” version in the next round in 2023.
“We’re actually comparing the work that the C5ISR center has been doing with Rainmaker with a couple of other vendor solutions,” Gallagher said. The Army called for white papers and then held a “Shark Tank”-style pitch day before awarding Palantir and General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS) Other Transaction Authority contracts, worth about $2m each, to develop prototype data fabrics. If either or both prototypes prove promising, the Army can then fund field experiments with actual soldiers.
“Rainmaker’s really exploring commercial technologies, because there is a lot in industry in terms of [developing] common data fabric,” said Gallagher’s chief data officer, Portia Crowe. “Rainmaker takes the unique solutions that we need within the Army and couples that with a commercial solution.”
Using widely available commercial technology, rather than developing bespoke systems exclusively for the Army, should make it easier to find common technical ground with the other services and foreign allies.
“In terms of JADC2 and working with our joint partners, especially with what we’re doing with the Air Force right now, [we’re] looking at how do we utilize the common data fabric across the services,” Crowe said.
Joint data sharing – that is, between the US services – will be a major focus for Project Convergence 2021. Then Convergence 2022 will bring in forces from Britain, Australia and potentially other allies.
“We have struggled, in the past, with trying to share information with our coalition partners, just because [of] the way the data is managed…transmitted and received,” said Alan Hansen, head of intelligence systems processing at the C5ISR Center. (He’s Patel’s boss). The data fabric will include “cell-based security”: Whereas current systems often deny a given user access to an entire file if they’re not authorized to see everything in it, Rainmaker will intelligently redact the report and only block them from seeing the specific pieces of data (or cells) that they’re not cleared for.
The Rainmaker data fabric doesn’t just bridge the gap between the Army, the other services, and US allies: It also bridges the gap between past and future. It’ll take decades to replace all the Army’s existing electronics with new technologies that are built to be compatible from the start. So as the service fields new systems, it’ll rely on Rainmaker to let them talk to the old ones.
“The systems that have been there around, they’re going to be around for another 10 years, let’s say,” Hansen told me. “But at the same time, we, the Army, have to grow into the next generation, [and] Rainmaker…allows us to bridge legacy with next generation.”
That next generation will include artificial intelligence that can’t run properly on the current, limited stream of data. The Rainmaker data fabric will be the foundation on which the Army – and others – can build a wide array of AI services.
On the intelligence side, Hansen said, “I’ve got to collect data, I’ve got to fuse the data, I’ve got to administrate the data, I have to then maybe package it up for targeting purposes and then send it over to a targeteers.” Once Rainmaker’s in place, he told me, “I [can] come up with a really slick new, next-generation analytics tools and capabilities that we can give to the warfighter.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Nov 20. Spanish Army selected Elbit Systems to supply software-defined radios. Israeli firm Elbit Systems will provide E-LynX software-defined radios to the Spanish Army after the service awarded a contract to Elbit’s partner Telefonica, according to a report in Spain confirmed by Elbit. Elbit said it could not refer directly to the contract’s details, but a company spokesperson did say in a statement: “We do acknowledge the media report that the Spanish Ministry of Defense selected the E-Lynx Software Defined Radio in handheld and vehicular configurations as the solution for the Spanish Army.”
According to the Nov. 10 report by Infodefensa, the contract was awarded in October by the General Directorate for Armament and Material for €6.5m (U.S. $7.7m).
“Telefonica explained in a presentation that a part of the components of the E-Lynx radio will be produced and integrated in Spain by the company with the support of other companies such as Aicox, while other equipment will come from Elbit’s facilities in Israel,” the report read. Aicox is a telecommunications and technology company in Spain.
The contract award comes after other recent orders of Elbit radios in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.
In July 2020, the Swedish Army chose Elbit to supply 1,000 additional systems after an initial contract in 2018. In October 2019, Switzerland’s Federal Office for Defence Procurement ordered the same radio for the country’s military.
In June 2019, the German Defence Ministry chose Elbit’s subsidiary in the country to provide the radios in hand-held and vehicular configurations for platoons and company levels of the Army. Local manufacturing of the radios would facilitate “further extensions and capabilities,” the company said at the time.
The popularity in software-defined radios has attracted the attention of other Israeli companies, such as Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which has been competing in Europe and sees opportunities across the continent. In Spain, Rafael teamed with Technobit for the Spanish Army contract. The Spanish program required industry competitors partner with a local company. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
16 Nov 20. Lockheed Martin’s battlespace management impresses at AWE 20. Lockheed Martin UK’s battlespace management and command and control tools impressed senior defence figures at the British Army’s Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) 20, with the systems demonstrating the potential to feed into the army’s plans for a future ‘digital backbone.’
At the annual event, Lockheed Martin UK – which is also working other programmes including the British Army’s Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) – showcased SkyKeeper, a Battle Management Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (BMC4I) solution, as well as the THEIA Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR)/Situational Awareness (SA) system designed to give personnel on the ground a real-time Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) service.
The company said both systems were well received at AWE 20, earning the attention of the most senior levels of British Army as it looks to connect all of its systems into a ‘digital backbone’ moving forward. Lockheed Martin also showcased Indago, an in-production quadcopter uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV).
At the event, Lockheed Martin saw interest from senior-level Ministry of Defence (MOD) officials in SkyKeeper and THEIA. Lockheed Martin was selected from among the suppliers on show to brief senior decision-makers within the department on its THEIA and SkyKeeper capabilities.
Lockheed Martin’s business development manager for SkyKeeper (UK) and Deep Fires Ben Cottenden told Army Technology: “In terms of digitalisation, the digital backbone, they [senior officials] were looking at how SkyKeeper could be part of that and facilitate some of that.
“That was really good and positive. It looks as though there’s going to be future opportunities for us to demonstrate and show the capability to the army and to wider audiences off the back of that.”
This was echoed by Lockheed Martin UK’s programme manager for THEIA Becci Broome who added: “It was really reassuring around THEIA, Indago and the whole complementary suite of services all the way through to SkyKeeper.” With senior officials telling Lockheed Martin that the tools were ‘exactly what we [the army] need’. (Source: army-technology.com)
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