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11 Feb 21. AI-Powered Tools for Commanders Are a Top Priority for ‘Connect-Everything’ Effort. DoD’s artificial-intelligence efforts are moving beyond just helping analysts spot things in video.
Artificial intelligence-powered decision tools to help commanders better make calls on the battlefield will be among the first things the Pentagon data office invests in as part of the military’s effort to link together all the different services across the domains of air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
These tools can be built only after much work to gather and standardize data and create “appropriate models for descriptive behaviors of what’s going on,” Clark Cully, acting deputy chief data officer at the Defense Department, said at an AFCEA webinar on Tuesday.
But they’re a good example of the coming usefulness of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, networking effort and of how AI in the Defense Department is moving beyond tools to help over-burdened analysts to ones that assist commanders in crucial decisions.
Cully said that the decision support tools will have to include “executive analytics” similar to the predictive analytics that Fortune 500 companies use to understand supply, demand, sales, and logistics. The Defense Department is already experimenting with machine learning for understanding accruing cost and what projects might go over schedule, as well as for things like predictive maintenance. Says Cully: “that same methodology also works on the operational side and I’m confident that we’re going to take a measured approach where we gain experience with what the boundaries are [as well as] with what the fragile elements in some of these predictive algorithms that manifest themselves under what conditions they’re well-validated.”
But there’s a lot of work for the Pentagon’s data office to do first. The list includes identifying and combining key data sources across departments, ensuring that data is standardized and machine readable, and connecting the various analytic software tools used by different parts of the Department and the military.
Finally, all of that has to come together into “a data fabric that will allow us to sense, make sense and act according to the JADC2 strategy,” Cully said. That will require working across the services to show that AI can help with specific missions and then “prioritize [ing] the gaps between these platforms that have been developed by specific organizations.”
He says that the role of the chief data officer “is to help adjudicate whether we need some glue code or whether we need hardware, tailored black boxes [as in more advanced but less explainable AI forms like neural nets], different processes or maybe training and education to synthesize and connect these platforms.”
He said that will take up much of this year and the next.
As part of their development, decision aids will have to be tested in as realistic scenarios as possible, including getting them into the hands of operators in controlled environments. One “great thing” about algorithms and AI, he said, is that “you can barrage them with synthetic training data and really robustly map out the perimeters in which they perform in known and constructive ways and develop [tactics, techniques, and procedures] rules of use for these capabilities that respect those boundaries.”
For the military, those AI testing challenges are a lot bigger than the sorts that tech companies encounter dealing with customers or users, Jane Pinelis, the head of AI testing and evaluation at the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC, said during Tuesday’s event.
Pinelis said that the JAIC last year spent a lot of time figuring out just what it wanted to test for.
“We now have at least written down all of the facets that we care about evaluating on a particular system, starting from the AI tools to the model and algorithm by itself, system integration, human machine teaming, through operational test and then post-deployment run time modeling and, of course, robustness and security checks and checks for adherence to DOD [artificial intelligence] ethics,” said Pinelis. Even though the Defense Department’s testing concerns are bigger and more complex than, well, anybody else’s, partnering with innovators in the private sector is a must, she said. “DOD has to be a customer in some cases of what is already being developed and innovated in academia and industry.”
In coming weeks, JAIC will begin seeking partners in the private sector to help with testing and evaluation, she said. (Source: Defense One)
10 Feb 21. KHI to develop EW aircraft for JASDF with stand-off jamming capability. The Japan Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) has awarded Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) a JPY15bn (USD143.1m) contract for the development of an aircraft for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) capable of conducting electronic warfare (EW) operations at stand-off ranges.
Documents obtained by Janes on 10 February show that the development contract for the platform, which the MoD refers to as the “stand-off electronic warfare aircraft”, was signed in December 2020.
A conceptual computer-generated image from the Japanese MoD of a new EW aircraft for the JASDF. Japan’s ATLA recently awarded KHI a contract for the development of an aircraft capable of conducting EW operations at stand-off ranges. (Via Japanese MoD)
The platform is expected to be capable of degrading the effectiveness of enemy radar and radio systems, although no details were provided about the maximum range at which the aircraft would be capable of effectively conducting jamming operations.
The new aircraft will be equipped with signals intelligence and electronic attack equipment to support Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) operations, said the MoD without providing further details.
The JASDF earmarked JPY15bn for fiscal year (FY) 2020 and JPY10bn for FY 2021 for this development, which is set to take place in two stages. Under the first stage, KHI is to design and build the first two prototypes and complete initial trials by the end of FY 2026. Under the second stage, the third and fourth prototypes are set to be built, with final tests set to be completed by FY 2032.
ATLA estimates that the first development stage will cost about JPY46.5bn. The price of a single series-produced aircraft will be about JPY48bn, with a life-cycle cost of about JPY614bn, according to the agency. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Feb 21. Thales and Airbus selected by DGA to upgrade France’s joint electronic warfare capabilities. The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded Thales and Airbus a contract for the new joint tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT) system to upgrade the French forces’ critical signals monitoring, direction finding and spectrum analysis capabilities. The 10-year contract will equip the three armed forces with a common information system and set of sensors and is designated a high-impact programme (PEM), alongside CONTACT and SCORPION, under France’s defence spending plan. This joint tactical SIGINT system will provide French armed forces command with an expanded tactical electronic support measures (ESM) capability.
The tactical SIGINT programme will upgrade the electronic warfare capabilities of front-line units, providing a set of high-performance portable or vehicle-mounted assets compatible with the latest communications technologies. The new system to monitor and localise enemy communications will support tactical manoeuvres in the theatre of operations, helping to keep our forces safe and secure. It will equip the electronic support vehicles of the French Army’s 54th Signals Regiment (SCORPION programme), the French Navy’s front-line warships and the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, and could be deployed to protect air bases on military operations overseas.
The system will be the only one of its kind in service with the French forces. All three armed forces will rely on the same logistics infrastructure to simplify training of specialist operators and optimise through-life support delivery.
The programme will benefit from the combined experience of co-contractors Thales and Airbus.
Thales will draw on the SIGINT expertise developed by the Group on several legacy programmes: COHORTE (the current French Army tactical SIGINT system), MINREM (French Navy SIGINT system), ARCHANGE (French Air Force new-generation SIGINT aircraft) and CLOVIS (strategic interministerial communications localisation project). Thales will also build on its capabilities in end-to-end communications, radio communications and communications security.
Airbus will provide its expertise in strategic ELINT systems, drawing on its experience on programmes such as RAMSES (strategic radio and satellite communications information system) and PARADOS (radio signal acquisition sensor). These systems are currently in operational service with France’s defence intelligence agency (DRM), the French Army, the French Air and Space Force, and the French Navy. Airbus will also draw on its complex-systems integration and security know-how.
The first phase of the programme will provide the three armed forces with an initial operational capability for signals monitoring, with subsequent optional tranches to significantly increase the number of units in service. New functions (new data analytics functions for the information system, expanded detection and technical analysis capabilities, etc.) will be added incrementally over the term of the contract to provide the French armed forces with a set of state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems and capabilities.
“As risks evolve and expand, reliable intelligence is an essential element of sovereignty and a strategic asset for operational decision-making, force protection, territorial integrity and civil security. We are proud to be taking part in this programme to upgrade France’s intelligence capabilities in support of front-line forces across all environments and to be helping to keep them safe and effective on their crucial missions” said Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales
“Our armed forces face an increasing number of threats and need to rely on ever expanding volumes of data,” added François Lombard, Director of Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space. “Combined with aerial and satellite imagery and other sources, these new electronic intelligence capabilities will make it possible to identify these threats, and above all to characterise them with significantly greater precision.”
1 PEM: Programme à Effet Majeur
2 MINREM: Moyen Interarmées Navalisé de Renseignement d’origine Electro Magnétique
3 ARCHANGE: Avion de Renseignement à CHArge utile de Nouvelle GEnération
4 CLOVIS: Capacité de LOcalisation à Vocation Interministérielle et Stratégique
5 DRM: Direction du Renseignement Militaire
11 Feb 21. Lookout, Inc., the leader in mobile security, today announced the discovery of two novel Android surveillanceware, Hornbill and SunBird. The Lookout Threat Intelligence team believes these campaigns are connected to the Confucius APT, a well-known pro-India state-sponsored advanced persistent threat group. Hornbill and SunBird have sophisticated capabilities to exfiltrate SMS message content, encrypted messaging app content, geolocation, contact information, call logs, as well as file and directory listings. The surveillanceware targets personnel linked to Pakistan’s military and nuclear authorities and Indian election officials in Kashmir. The Confucius group was previously reported to have first leveraged mobile malware in 2017 with ChatSpy. However, based on this new discovery, Lookout researchers found that Confucius may have been spying on mobile users for up to a year prior to ChatSpy with SunBird. SunBird campaigns were first detected by Lookout researchers in 2017 but no longer seem to be active. The APT’s latest malware, Hornbill, is still actively in use and Lookout researchers have observed new samples as recently as December 2020.
“One characteristic of Hornbill and SunBird that stands out is their intense focus on exfiltrating a target’s communications via WhatsApp,” said Apurva Kumar, Staff Security Intelligence Engineer at Lookout. “In both cases, the surveillanceware abused the Android accessibility services in a variety of ways to exfiltrate communications without the need for root access. SunBird can also record calls made through WhatsApp’s VoIP service, exfiltrate data on applications such as BlackBerry Messenger and imo, as well as execute attacker-specified commands on an infected device.”
Both Hornbill and SunBird appear to be evolved versions of commercial Android surveillance tooling. Hornbill was likely derived from the same code base as an earlier commercial surveillance product known as MobileSpy. Meanwhile, SunBird can be linked back to the Indian developers responsible for BuzzOut, an older commercial spyware tool. The Lookout researchers’ theory that SunBird’s roots also lay in stalkerware is supported by content found in the exfiltrated data that they uncovered on the malware’s infrastructure in 2018. The data uncovered includes information about the stalkerware victims and campaigns targeting Pakistani nationals in their home country as well as those traveling abroad in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India.
Mobile devices are a treasure trove of private data, making them the prime target for cybercriminals to socially engineer successful attacks. Lookout secures consumers and enterprise users from these threats. Lookout Threat Advisory Services customers have already been notified and provided with in-depth intelligence on Hornbill and SunBird.
10 Feb 21. Nucleus Cyber launches enhanced information security offering. The archTIS subsidiary has rolled out the latest version of its flagship product, designed to simplify its security offering for Microsoft Teams. Nucleus Cyber, a global information protection business acquired by Canberra-based cyber security firm archTIS late last year, has announced the latest release of its NC Protect product.
The updated product has been designed to simplify security for Microsoft Teams, helping to ensure secure collaboration as teams and channels are provisioned by users.
The updated service enables team owners to leverage default rule sets to prevent accidental sharing, data loss and misuse, while also facilitating secure guest access and sharing.
Specifically, the key features of NC Protect’s latest version include:
- Integration with the Microsoft Teams UI — enabling a team’s owner to select and apply default information protection rule sets to the team or channel from the NC Protect tab;
- Information protection — enabling users to select from default policies to control access to content and add additional protection to documents;
- Channel security — enabling users to control whether a channel inherits the security policies from the team, or its policies are set individually;
- Guest access — enabling users to control guest access to a team or channel and apply additional security features, including forced viewing of sensitive information in a read only secure web reader and watermarks;
- Privacy settings – enabling users to apply additional privacy controls to a team or channel to control access; and
- Customisation – eEnabling users to customise default rules sets to meet an organisation’s individual security needs and policies.
“User managed tools like Microsoft Teams make it difficult to keep track of data and ensure that an organisation’s information security, sharing and usage policies are being followed as new teams and channels can quickly be spun up by users, not IT,” Kurt Mueffelmann, global COO of Nucleus Cyber and archTIS said.
“With that in mind we set out to make it easy for NC Protect users to secure new teams and channels using default security policies without involving IT.
“NC Protect now includes built-in default rule sets which allow team owners to set security from within the Microsoft Teams app itself with just a few clicks, without any IT knowledge or skills to ensure internal and external users can collaborate securely.”
The new release comes just weeks after the Department of Defence renewed a software subscription licence for Nucleus Cyber’s NC Protect product, valued at $148,866 per year. This marked the archTIS group’s second software license contract with the Department of Defence over the 2021 financial year (FY21). The group recently secured a $4.2m contract to lead risk reduction activities relating to cross-domain classified information sharing, which included $750,000 annual licences for Kojensi (archTIS’ secure information sharing platform for classified information). (Source: Defence Connect)
09 Feb 21. Axon And Cellebrite Partner to Help Manage and Safeguard Digital Intelligence. Data collected and reviewed with Cellebrite Solutions now seamlessly unified in Axon Evidence, allowing investigators to reshape how digital evidence is managed Axon (Nasdaq: AXON), the global leader in connected public safety technologies, today announced a joint partnership with Cellebrite, the global leader in Digital Intelligence, to streamline investigative workflows for investigators. With this partnership, the digital data collected, analyzed and reviewed by Cellebrite’s platform will now integrate seamlessly with Axon’s digital evidence management solution, Axon Evidence, providing law enforcement with one place to manage, review and safeguard all digital evidence.
In today’s connected world, crimes are becoming more complex and influenced by technology. Collecting digital evidence has become critical to law enforcement in criminal investigations, while agencies are dealing with an ever-growing backlog of data. As leaders in the fields of evidence management and Digital Intelligence analysis, Axon and Cellebrite are enabling agencies and investigators to collectively review, share and obtain insights from complex data involved in investigations.
“We are excited to be expanding our digital evidence management ecosystem and bring Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence capabilities to our Axon Evidence customers,” says Axon Chief Product Officer and EVP of Software, Jeff Kunins. “This partnership will be a great asset in offering agencies and investigators an array of innovative solutions to gain a comprehensive and objective picture during an investigation to help solve and close cases faster than ever.”
“This partnership is about streamlining the investigative workflow to keep communities safe,” added Leeor Ben-Peretz, Chief Strategy Officer at Cellebrite. “Many agencies rely on Axon and Cellebrite to fight crime and accelerate justice. By enabling our solutions to work seamlessly together, we empower investigations with one point of evidentiary management, delivering industry-leading tools that agencies can use to securely manage, analyze and review data, and build prosecution-ready single-case files. This new partnership is another step in our commitment to provide law enforcement with cutting edge technology.”
Axon and Cellebrite plan to make the integration available for joint customers in mid 2021.
Cellebrite is the global leader in partnering with public and private organizations to transform how they manage digital intelligence in investigations to accelerate justice and ensure data privacy. Cellebrite aids organizations in mastering the complexities of legally sanctioned digital investigations with an award-winning software suite and services to unify investigative workflows and manage digital intelligence. Cellebrite works with industry leaders to help them protect the public and safeguard assets with efficiency and transparency. Trusted by thousands of leading agencies and companies in more than 150 countries, Cellebrite is helping customers fulfill the joint mission of protecting and saving lives. To learn more visit us at www.cellebrite.com or follow us on Twitter @Cellebrite_UFED.
Axon is a network of devices, apps and people that helps public safety personnel become smarter and safer. With a mission of protecting life, our technologies give customers the confidence, focus and time they need to keep their communities safe. Our products impact every aspect of a public safety officer’s day-to-day experience with the goal of helping everyone get home safe.
We work hard for those who put themselves in harm’s way for all of us. To date, more than 244,000 lives and countless dollars have been saved with the Axon network of devices, apps and people. Learn more at www.axon.com or by calling (800) 978-2737. Axon is a global company with headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. and global software engineering hub in Seattle, Wash., as well as additional offices in Australia, Canada, Finland, Vietnam, the UK and the Netherlands. (Source: PR Newswire)
09 Feb 21. USMC seek new intel tool for public info online. The US Marine Corps is developing an intelligence tool to analyze online public information about threats and asked industry to help pinpoint the right technology for these increasingly important open source reviews.
The Corps seeks to identify companies that provide the capability and discover if existing contacts or partnerships could streamline delivery of a system, according to a “sources sought” notice on a federal contracting website Feb. 8. The service wants to determine if its requirements are in line with best available commercial technology.
The Corps is modernizing its forces and formations to better posture itself to fight in the information sphere, trying to keep pace with adversaries that use the burgeoning amount of publicly shared information to their advantage for intelligence collection, information operations and cyber operations, the notice from the Corps stated.
With the proliferation of information available online, the military is trying to exploit open source intelligence more for what the Marine Corps calls operations in the information environment.
Currently, the Corps uses a system called Integrated Intelligence Platform, which provides an open source intelligence and a cyber common operational picture by rapidly surveying datasets, identifying hidden trends and producing intelligence.
The Marines are looking more holistically at the information environment through the lens of the Information Environment Enterprise, its blueprint for information environment. As the Corps reviewed needed modernizations, it realized that subordinate units such as Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command lack an agile, user-friendly platform to provide accurate, timely, cost-effective interoperability with joint forces ― to include the Integrated Intelligence Platform.
Now, the Corps is reaching out to industry for assistance.
The service wants the new system ― dubbed with the slightly different name of the Integrated Information Intelligence Platform ― to handle planning and direction, collection and processing, production and dissemination of publicly available information, and open source intelligence, according to the request to industry.
Specific desired capabilities for the platform include, attribution, edge analytics, commercial threat intelligence, geospatial selector discovery, graph analytics, dark web monitoring, social/media analytics, intelligence orchestration and dissemination, publicly available information data mining, and battlespace awareness and deployable functionality.
The platform isn’t intended to directly counter these capabilities, documents suggest, but will provide analytics and intelligence that in aggregate will help prevent effectiveness of adversary actions.
The system must also adhere to U.S. Cyber Command’s Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, which guides how the command develops its capabilities. Given that Cyber Command employs joint teams that conduct operations and intelligence within the larger information environment, the Corps stated the platform must be compatible with the command’s systems. Responses to the request for information are due Feb. 19, with an in-person industry day at Quantico planned for Feb. 23. (Source: Defense News)
09 Feb 21. Vitavox Innovations Supporting The British Army. Vitavox have supported the Light Dragoons as they modernise and transform using new and innovative technology on OP CABRIT in Poland. Deployed in support of enhance Forward Presence NATO (eFP NATO), the Light Dragoons operated Vitavox’s range of communications products and systems, both on-the-man and the platform. Supplying and demonstrating a new ecosystem of products, Vitavox’s innovation concept demonstrators included Outacom and ViTac PCS.
Outacom® Tactical Communications System
Already in service on all variants of the British Army’s AJAX armoured fighting vehicle, Outacom is the only military spec Tactical Vehicle Public Address System available. Being a platform agnostic ‘plug and play’ system allows the crew to safely command and control an area from the safety of the platform, especially where civilians and local nationals are present. Ideally suited when used to INFLUENCE, INFORM, CONTROL and DETER.
Vitavic 400C Tactical Intercom System
A vehicle communications harness system. The system allows for multiple radios to be connected and controlled, as well as intercom for the crew. Vitavic 400C is a compact version of the Vitavic 400 that removes the physical aspect of selecting and controlling multiple radios when used in conjunction with the ViTac™ Personal Communication System.
ViTac™ Personal Communications System
Personal Communication System (PCS) – comprising of a Headset, Noise Reduction Filters (NRF) and Personal Communications Control Unit (PCCU). The PCS provides the user with the ability to control multiple radios on the vehicle, intercom, with vastly improved hearing protection and increased situational awareness. The system allows for the user to seamlessly transit between Mounted and Dismounted operations without the requirement to change or remove component parts, a critical advantage in the increasingly cluttered digital battlefield.
08 Feb 21. US Army Creates Quantum Sensor That Detects Entire Radio-Frequency Spectrum. Breakthrough could help the military fight in the electronic spectrum.
A new sensor that can detect the entire radio spectrum could play a big role in the future of electromagnetic warfare and communications.
In January, David Meyer, Paul Kunz, and Kevin Cox with the Army Research Lab published a new paper describing how they used atoms in a quantum state called a Rydberg state to detect electromagnetic emissions up to 20 GHz. That includes the frequencies that carry Bluetooth, WiFi, and other communication methods.
In their experiments, a laser excites rubidium atoms in a vacuum chamber, forcing them into a Rydberg state.
“Rydberg states are highly sensitive to fluctuating electric fields that make up the radio waves. So when radio waves are present, the quantum states themselves fluctuate,” Cox told Defense One in an email. “The device collects input radio waves into a microwave circuit board, and uses a special technique to hone in and boost the sensitivity to targeted regions of the [radio-frequency] spectrum.”
A super-sensitive radio sensor could better help protect communications equipment from jamming or other forms of electromagnetic interference or possibly help operators find devices using the radio spectrum to communicate. But the Army Research Lab sensor is still too big and power-hungry to be deployed, says Cox, so more work is needed to shrink it and improve performance.
The sensor is an example of how quantum science will create new tools for the military. Perhaps the best-known is quantum computing, which may one day permit vastly better communications, codemaking, and codebreaking. In the nearer term are applications being studied by the Army Research Lab, including sensing and atomic clocks for precise navigation and timing without GPS.
Cox said these applications take advantage of a different aspect of quantum science that he called “identicalness.”
“Quantum identicalness is the attribute that quantum particles are all fundamentally identical. This phenomenon enables quantum detectors and sensing devices, like our Rydberg sensor,” said Cox. “The full frontier of quantum technology is still largely unexplored. We look forward to more paradigm-shifting breakthroughs in the near future.” (Source: Defense One)
08 Feb 21. BAE Systems Debuts Groundbreaking AI Products on AWS GovCloud (US). BAE Systems announced today it is offering a suite of groundbreaking artificial intelligence capabilities and a new data labeling service offering on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace for GovCloud (US) to support critical national security missions. As an innovator in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data science services, the company is making available to U.S. government agencies a suite of AI tools to help analysts sift through large quantities of data, signals, and imagery. Additionally, the company is launching its Data Labeling as a Service (DLaaS) on the AWS Marketplace for GovCloud (US) to support those customers seeking a service to perform data preparation applying structured data methodologies, automation, and AI tools.
“Those on the front lines protecting our nation need the latest AI-enhanced information technology and advanced analytics to enable data-driven decision-making,” said Peder Jungck, Vice President and General Manager of BAE Systems’ Intelligence Solutions business. “Our agile and accelerated go-to-market strategy enables our U.S. government customers to rapidly scale the employment of AI across a wide array of missions.”
BAE Systems developed this first suite of innovative AI products as an outgrowth of the company’s work on research and development programs across the U.S. Department of Defense. Offering these capabilities on the AWS Marketplace for GovCloud (US) forms the foundation needed to accelerate the rapid hosting of additional capabilities developed by BAE Systems or its partners. The marketplace also affords customers a rapid way to acquire and leverage AI capabilities aligned to the volume and velocity data scientists need to operate.
“AWS is committed to providing our government customers with the most innovative, efficient, and effective AI solutions,” said Dave Levy, Vice President for U.S. Government, Nonprofit and Healthcare Businesses for AWS. “By making BAE Systems’ AI capabilities available on AWS Marketplace for GovCloud (US), government customers have increased access to on-demand, scalable data analysis to support their missions.”
Developing data pipelines to leverage new AI capabilities and applying the appropriate data labeling can be challenging for government agencies to establish at scale or costly to do at small scale. As a result, to complement these capability offerings, BAE Systems is also offering Data Labeling as a Service (DLaaS), which delivers on-demand data labeling for training AI/ML algorithms for mission use cases.
“The AWS Marketplace is an essential element of our AI/ML transition framework to help our customers facilitate the adoption of emerging technologies from across BAE Systems and select partners,” said Dr. Don Widener, Director of BAE Systems’ Advanced Analytics Lab. “We’re accelerating technologies from the lab to operations and making our software available via the AWS Marketplace to assist our government customer’s developers and data scientists in meeting their mission needs.”
Data Labeling as a Service (DLaaS)
With over 18 years of experience in the production of high-quality, high-volume training datasets for AI and ML projects, BAE Systems is the industry leader in data labeling for computer models. This broad expertise can support unique data labeling requirements. BAE Systems’ DLaaS includes categorization, bounding box, key point annotation, semantic segmentation, and various annotation services. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
08 Feb 21. French military orders first sigint suite to work across all services. France is to acquire its first joint tactical signals intelligence system from Thales and Airbus, the DGA procurement agency announced Feb. 8.
The €160m (U.S. $193m) contract was signed with the two companies Dec. 31, 2020, according to a DGA statement. Early capabilities of the new system will be delivered in 2023 and full capabilities by 2025.
The system will consist of a series of combinable sensors adapted to the needs of a given theater of operation and whatever environment — land, naval or air — in which it is to be operated.
Signals intelligence involves using an adversary’s signals — either communication (such as radio) or electronic (such as radar) — to gather data. “This information is necessary to safeguard the forces engaged, to determine the enemy’s intention and to be able to independently assess the situation. It contributes to the freedom of action of forces in a theater of operations,” the DGA said in a statement.
The French armed forces’ current tactical sigint capabilities were developed to meet the specific needs of each service. The purpose of the joint system is to provide the three services with a homogeneous system, using as many common bricks as possible to guarantee operational continuity and joint use of the information collected.
The new system will modernize and complete the current tactical sigint capabilities, taking into consideration new communications technologies used by adversaries — whether these are detecting emissions, characterizing and localizing transmitters, or intercepting communications on different frequency ranges — according to the procurement agency.
In the Army, the new capability will be used by the 54th Signal Regiment on Scorpion vehicles. It will also equip the Navy’s capital ships and the Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft, replacing and complementing the current systems. Members of the Air and Space Force will use the system as deployable ground equipment to protect air bases. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Feb 21. Leonardo and O2 test 5G private networks for defence and security sector. O2 will provide a secure 5G private network and a range of Industry 4.0 applications in order to evaluate how they could be used in the digital transformation of business and the end-to-end manufacturing process.
Leonardo’s Edinburgh-based Innovation and Technology Incubator Centre has announced that it will partner with O2 (Telefónica UK) to investigate several innovative applications of private 5G technology in the defence and security industry. Proposed uses of secure, high-bandwidth mobile data include facilitating next-generation ‘future factory’ manufacturing capabilities and providing high speed and secure information services, both of which will be needed to deliver high-pace programmes such as Tempest, which is seeing the UK, Italy and Sweden collaborating to develop future combat air capabilities.
Founded with the mission of ‘bringing ideas to reality’, Leonardo’s Innovation and Technology Incubator Centre offers those with alternative business ideas and disruptive technology an opportunity to partner with one of Britain’s biggest technology and engineering firms and one of the principal suppliers of equipment to the UK Ministry of Defence.
Leonardo and O2 believe there is huge potential for 5G technology which can meet the high security standards demanded by the defence sector and provide security assurance within companies’ digital infrastructure.
Norman Bone, Chair and Managing Director of Leonardo UK said “5G will be an important tool for the UK’s aerospace, defence and security industry as we look to stay competitive in the global market and continue to export products and services from the UK. This partnership with O2 will inform the roll-out of this technology within Leonardo and study its wider potential across our industry and customer base.”
One such initiative will trial the potential for wirelessly delivering mission, support and maintenance data updates to aircraft, such as the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter. This could speed up turnaround times between missions and improve platform reliability whilst meeting the stringent security requirements necessary for front line military systems.
Another joint project will investigate how Leonardo’s manufacturing facilities could use 5G-enabled technology to support ‘future factory’ techniques such as digital manufacturing and intelligent infrastructure. By using a private, highly-secure 5G network, Leonardo can adopt such game-changing Industry 4.0 approaches while continuing to meet the security obligations expected by its government and military customers. This will be critical in delivering programmes such as Tempest, the next-generation combat air system, which is being designed to be manufactured significantly faster and at lower cost than previous generation combat aircraft.
As well as understanding the possibilities of 5G in the delivery of Leonardo’s manufacturing and service provision, the project will also consider the potential benefits Leonardo could offer to its own customers by delivering 5G private networks as a capability.
Jo Bertram, MD of Business at O2, said, “The partnership will explore how we can use 5G private networks in the wider defence sector, demonstrating their capability to help digitally transform a business and leveraging our ability to draw from a deep and rich application ecosystem. It’s great to be working on such an exciting programme, to leverage the technical capabilities of both businesses that’ll have real positive impacts on network solutions, mobility and security.”
Other use cases of the technology from O2 include: enabling ‘Remote Expert’ training and Health & Safety solutions; Asset Tracking to ensure complete control of distribution and logistics; remote camera solutions via drones for increased security purposes; and high level security of data. (Source: Google/https://www.totaltele.com/)
09 Feb 21. New UK Cyber Security Council to be official governing body on training and standards.
The government has set up a new independent body to boost career opportunities and professional standards for the UK’s booming cyber security sector.
- Government funds new independent body to set standards and define career and learning paths for the cyber security sector
- UK Cyber Security Council to be a simple one-stop shop for information for people looking to enter or further their career
- The Council will actively pursue opportunities to attract more talent and increase diversity in the cyber security workforce
The new DCMS-funded UK Cyber Security Council will provide a single governing voice for the industry to establish the knowledge, skills and experience required for a range of cyber security jobs, bringing it in line with other professions such as law, medicine and engineering.
The Council will boost skilled job prospects around the country by giving budding and existing workers a clear roadmap for building a career in cyber security and focus on increasing the number and diversity of people entering the profession.
The body will work with training providers to accredit courses and qualifications, and give employers the information and confidence they need to recruit effectively to ensure their cyber capability.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman makes the announcement on Safer Internet Day which promotes more responsible use of online technology around the world and comes as the £8.3bn cyber security sector continues to grow despite the pandemic and with it the demand for more talent, particularly from underrepresented groups.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said, “The fact we are launching an independent professional body for cyber security shows just how vital this area has become – it makes a huge contribution to our thriving digital economy by safeguarding our critical national infrastructure, commerce and other online spaces. The UK Cyber Security Council will ensure anyone interested in an exciting career tackling online threats has access to world-class training and guidance. It will also champion diversity and inclusion, driving up standards while helping the nation to build back better and safer. This latest move comes after a feedback from a 2018 DCMS public consultation looking at the issues facing the profession, which showed overwhelming support for a new body.”
Working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the Council will strongly support the Government’s £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.
Chris Ensor, the NCSC’s Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said, “Cyber security is a growing industry in the UK and it’s vital for high standards of practice and technical expertise to be at the heart of the profession as it develops. We look forward to working with the Council to help ensure that future generations of cyber security professionals have the skills and support they need to thrive and make the UK the safest place to live and work online.”
The council has appointed its inaugural Board of Trustees to guide the organisation as it establishes itself over the coming years. This includes:
- Chair: Dr. Claudia Natanson – a Global Cyber Security expert who was previously CSO at DWP, MD at BT Secure Business Service and CISO at Diageo Plc
- Vice-Chair: Jessica Figueras – Tech market strategist, Chair of NCT, previously Chief Analyst at GlobalData
- Trustee: Carla Baker – Senior Director, Policy & Government Affairs UK & Ireland, Palo Alto Networks
- Treasurer: Mike Watson – Chief Financial Officer, Marston Holdings, previously with Dell, HP and BAE Systems cyber security division
UK Cyber Security Council Chair Dr. Claudia Natanson said, “Having spent many years in cyber security, I’m very aware of the excellent work done by many varied organisations – but I’m also conscious that the time for an umbrella organisation has come in order to drive the profession forward in a unified way. It’s a privilege and a challenge to be part of the leadership of the Council, knowing that the future security and prosperity of the UK depends in part on the Council succeeding in its mission to develop the profession.”
The Council will be formally launched on March 31. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 Feb 21. RAAF should eye AI integration to beef up capability. The RAAF should proactively explore the benefits of integrating AI technology, which could shape the future of airpower, one analyst observes. According to Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), artificial intelligence could be the most critical development in airpower technology over the coming years.
Davis notes the US Air Force’s recent demonstration of AI capability during a test flight in December, in which a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft carrying a single crew member leveraged an AI algorithm as a ‘virtual backseater.’
The ‘ARTUµ’ system was tasked with identifying adversary missile launchers, employing sensors and tactical navigation, while the human pilot identified enemy aircraft.
“The flight demonstrated human-machine teaming at a new level and points to the potential to integrate AI backseaters into current fighters like the F-35 and future air combat aircraft such as the US Next Generation Air Dominance platform, or NGAD,” Davis writes.
“The F-35 has room for just one person in the cockpit, but with AI, the pilot gets a backseater that can manage the complex process of integrating data from a multitude of onboard and offboard sensors and other information sources, freeing up the pilot to fly and fight.
Davis says AI could also be used to manage human-machine teaming between the F-35 and autonomous systems, including the Boeing-built ‘Loyal Wingman’ autonomous platform.
“AI dramatically reduces the aircrew’s workload and can process data and information faster than a human pilot, including rapidly assessing threats,” Davis continues.
“But it also boosts the operational potential of autonomous platforms in crewed-uncrewed teaming because it can ensure greater oversight and control – ‘on the loop’ for the autonomous platform – while giving the human pilot the big picture of tactical operations.
“That eases rules-of-engagement constraints on using autonomous systems, including future lethal autonomous weapons platforms.”
The ASPI analyst said AI technology would provide benefits to lighter, faster aircraft (like the F-35) by enhancing manoeuvrability while also supporting slower, heavier aircraft (like the E-7A Wedgetail and the P-8A Poseidon) by enhancing operating efficiency through the use of offboard sensor technology.
“AI can manage a diverse network of sensors and platforms and take the lead in transforming the flood of data gathered over the future battlespace into a knowledge edge – the key to getting the information advantage that’s critical for success,” Davis observes.
As such, Davis argues that the RAAF should explore AI innovations to ensure it is equipped with superior capability.
“The role of AI in the cockpit gives us a glimpse into the future of airpower. The Royal Australian Air Force needs to be thinking about where airpower goes next, even as the F-35 achieved initial operational capability in December and moves to final operational capability in 2023.
“That future is almost certain to be a mix of crewed and autonomous systems, working together in teams to deliver a range of effects as a system of systems.”
Davis argues that Defence should not wait until the late 2030s for a sixth-generation platform to emerge to replace the fifth-generation F-35s.
“It would be a mistake to delay consideration of future air combat capability by maintaining a traditional acquisitions mindset,” he says.
“Yet, the 2020 Force Structure Plan pushes back the start of the F-35 replacement process to the mid-2030s.
“Given the pace of technological change and the rapid deterioration in our strategic environment, that notional timeline needs to be challenged and capability acquisition needs to happen faster.”
Davis urges the RAAF to be “forward-looking and proactive” in accelerating the acquisition of the next generation of air combat capabilities, which “should incorporate the broad application of AI”.
The ASPI analyst acknowledges the risks of premature adoption, with AI remaining a relatively new technology.
Davis notes that considerations of AI integration would require significant investment in software development, supported by research facilities and the training of personnel.
“It will require a substantial boost in digital high-speed communications bandwidth to work. That’s likely to require investment in other technology areas – notably, satellite-based laser-optical communications and quantum technologies,” he says.
Davis concludes: “Meeting all of those challenges will take time, money and skilled personnel.
“The US Air Force’s U-2 demonstration of ARTUµ is one step down a path towards tomorrow’s airpower, and Australia needs to proceed with determination to achieve success.” (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Feb 21. Pentagon urged to work with industry on 5G network development. When the U.S. Defense Department asked industry last year how it could develop 5G networks domestically, people grew concerned that the department was trying to compete with private companies or nationalize 5G.
A single question in the request for information made some lawmakers, defense businesses and interest groups worried that the Pentagon would stifle billions in commercial investment in a rush to build 5G to support advanced military technology that requires fast, reliable wireless connections — such as improved radar to help on the battlefield.
The Pentagon said that wasn’t the case, but newly released responses to the department’s 5G market research inquiry show the reaction from companies and interest groups ranging from Lockheed Martin and other primes to telecom giants to interest groups. Many tried to head off any hint of an interest in the idea of a nationalized 5G network, saying it’s a bad idea because the government wouldn’t use the full capacity of an exclusive network to make the sizeable investment worth it.
A federal-only 5G network is still not in the department’s plans, according to a recent statement to C4ISRNET.
“DoD does not plan to own or operate a national 5G network,” said Frederick D. Moorefield Jr., deputy CIO for command, control, communications and computers and for information infrastructure capabilities.
Many respondents argued the Pentagon can save money by pairing its ownership of midband spectrum, desired by commercial companies, with private-sector technologies and hardware. The DoD could still have priority access while making the most use of the spectrum, a finite resource, while allowing for commercial development of 5G networks.
But they also outlined security challenges that the Pentagon must address to keep the nation safe. For example, dynamic spectrum sharing could interfere with radars or reveal the location of military assets.
Other 5G-supported capabilities the Pentagon is exploring include smart warehouses to improve logistics speeds and augmented and virtual reality goggles for mission planning, training and operations. It’s also working on spectrum sharing with commercial partners at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Moorefield told C4ISRNET that the Pentagon had reviewed the responses and provided recommendations to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which regulates the electromagnetic spectrum.
“The RFI enabled us to ‘explore the art of the possible’ in terms of dynamic spectrum sharing, which, as noted, will inform NTIA efforts at the national level,” Moorefield wrote, adding the department doesn’t have a timeline for future actions on the RFI. “The DoD remains committed to ensuring mission effectiveness as well as close partnership with civil organizations, like NTIA and the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], to ensure the U.S. can be a leader with 5G technologies for both commercial as well as government/military uses.”
While many respondents wrote that they didn’t interpret the DoD’s question as trying to build a 5G network, several still warned the DoD that owning a 5G network would suppress U.S. development of 5G capabilities and be an inefficient use of department funds.
For example, Raytheon wrote that while total ownership would allow the department to ensure that the 5G systems “conform to all security and cyber requirements,” several other factors would make that ownership difficult to maintain.
“At the same time, total ownership creates the need for a highly-trained workforce and makes it difficult to provide a rapid technology upgrade path especially at the system level,” Raytheon responded. “In addition, each location may have unique requirements making a general DoD purchase more difficult.”
Instead, the department should work with industry, the respondents said.
“Such a network would provide DoD priority access to network bandwidth but also lever commercial volumes in semiconductors, equipment, devices and services to deliver to DoD a cost-effective service, as well as safeguarding adequate investment to keep it updated and globally competitive over the long run,” Google wrote.
Media reports from October suggested that one company, Rivada Networks, a company with ties to top Republican operatives, was lobbying for a contract. However, Rivada wrote in its reply to DoD that a nationalized network “would almost certainly be an inefficient use of spectrum, network and resulting broadband capacity.”
“The superior alternative is a network built to commercial scale and with private capital, while being shared with commercial users who are subject to preemption by DoD,” Rivada’s response read. “Because such a network would cover more ground and provide more capacity than a standalone, exclusive-use network, DoD would not lose anything from having to share: Total capacity and coverage would far exceed DoD’s needs.”
But dynamic spectrum sharing has its own national security concerns, which the Pentagon asked industry to identify. Companies listed interference with radars, operational security and cybersecurity as top concerns.
“If commercial 5G shares the same spectrum as DoD systems in the same vicinity and same time without mitigation, the former can interfere with DoD systems by desensing radar systems and reducing effectiveness,” wrote TrellisWare, a network technology company that has developed advanced waveforms for the Army.
Sharing spectrum with commercial providers could also allow adversaries to locate U.S. military assets, several companies warned. Operational security concerns include “generating accurate geolocation information as the positions and tracks of aircraft operating radars or other primary military users,” wrote Booz Allen Hamilton.
“Alternately, an adversary may be able to infer an aircraft’s location by monitoring the orchestration traffic managing the response of the 5G network as it adapts to protect the primary user,” the company wrote.
Iron Bow Technologies and other companies including Lockheed Martin warned of supply chain and cybersecurity risks involved with third-party vendors, a risk that’s taken on prominence recently after a major software supplier of the federal government was breached by Russian hackers and reportedly Chinese hackers.
“National security concerns are real but also manageable. So long as no national security information is passing to the commercial side, and as long as national security systems have access to the spectrum that they need, the fundamental concerns are satisfied,” Iron Bow wrote. “Where commercial databases are in use, attention must be paid to their security to prevent the databases from being misused, but this also is a known problem for which security solutions exist.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Feb 21. BAE Systems, CryoClock tapped to enhance JORN capability. Defence has awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to the firms for the development of ultra-high-precision Sapphire Clock technology for the JORN system. BAE Systems Australia and CryoClock have secured a $4.8m contract to enhance the performance of Australia’s Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN).
The firms have been tasked with developing ultra-high-precision Sapphire Clock technology, capable of improving detection capability.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the contract forms part of the federal government’s commitment to bolstering opportunities for local industry.
“[The] announcement demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to providing Australian companies greater opportunity to win work in high-value, high-tech projects that support the development of Australia’s sovereign defence industrial base,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The Sapphire Clock is more precise than current available commercial timing systems. When used within a radar system like the JORN, it has the potential to improve detection performance across Australia’s northern approaches.”
CryoClock’s technology can also be leveraged by other industries, including advanced computing and scientific research sectors.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Emeritus Professor David Blair, an Australian physicist who invented the first Sapphire Clock in 1984, during a visit to the OzGrav-UWA centre in Gingin, Western Australia, last week,” Minister Reynolds continued.
“It is fascinating that this extremely precise timepiece, which was designed for improving clocks, radars and measuring systems, has the potential to be used in radar systems such as JORN.”
JORN operates as a strategic defence-wide area surveillance system that surveys the northern air and sea approaches of Australia out to a range of 3,000 kilometres.
The radar system is remotely operated from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, with three radar sites located in Longreach (Queensland), Laverton (WA) and Alice Springs (NT).
“This contract is part of this government’s $270bn investment in defence capability over the next decade which is creating new jobs and delivering more opportunities for small businesses to thrive,” Minister Reynolds said.
“If successful, follow-on work is expected which will see a production and integration contract for the incorporation of the technology into JORN under Defence’s AIR 2025 Phase 6 upgrade project.”
CryoClock’s selection to support the program comes amid the firm’s relocation into South Australia’s innovation precinct at LOT 14, alongside the Australian Space Agency and other advanced technology companies. (Source: Defence Connect)
07 Feb 21. DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (“DroneShield” or the “Company”) announced the rollout of its first fully Machine Learning/AI based detection and classification software to all of its existing customer systems.
DroneShield utilises its proprietary techniques in signal processing and Machine Learning/AI to do near-real time detection and identification of unmanned robotic systems and, more broadly, other potential threats in the Electronic Warfare fields. The result is a dramatic increase in detection responsiveness, lower false positives and a significant increase in the speed at which new threats are detected, classified and tracked by the DroneShield systems.
One of the key achievements that sets DroneShield’s technology substantially ahead of the existing technologies globally, is a very lightweight machine learning architecture designed to run on low power FPGA (Field-Programable Gate Array) hardware. This enables the system to be deployed for long term periods in power scarce, air-gapped environments.
The software is designed to run on all DroneShield platforms including RfPatrolTM, DroneSentryTM and DroneSentry-XTM. Future device software updates will build on this system architecture and increase performance and the number of detectable threats.
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.