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17 Feb 21. DARPA Builds AI To Avoid Army, AF Fratricide. “ASTARTE helps solve the problem how to decide where physically to move [air assets] to conduct operations … even when it is an incredibly complex battlespace,” says Tim Grayson, head of DARPA’s Strategic Technologies Office. DARPA’s planned AI tool to help de-conflict joint fires in All Domain Operations will undergo live testing in the first half of 2024, says program manager Paul Zablocky.
DoD’s future-tech agency recently awarded two contracts for Phase 1 of the Air Space Total Awareness for Rapid Tactical Execution (ASTARTE) project: one last week to Raytheon for $7.6m; another to Systems and Technology Research (STR) on Dec. 29 for $8.3 m.
“The program kicked off in January 2021,” Zablocky said in an email today. “There are 3 phases to the program. Phase 1 is component technology development. It is 14 months in duration. Phase 2 is virtual experimentation. It is also 14 months. Phase 3 is live experimentation. It is 18 months. Phases run sequentially.”
ASTARTE is part of DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare program to create next-generation systems to support and expand Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).
The Mosaic Warfare concept envisions the individual capabilities needed to fight an all-domain battle — sensors, shooters, command and control networks, etc. — as mix and match “tiles” that can be used to build a “mosaic” battle plan, according to DARPA’s website. Think “kill webs,” not kill chains. Instead of exquisite platforms like the B-2 bomber, think exquisite functional technology nodes (such as an advanced infrared sensor) configured on the fly using AI tools. Think building a LEGO spaceship not from a kit with a blueprint, but free-form from a drawer of jumbled pieces.
Grayson said that Mosaic Warfare can be thought of as “Wave 2 of JADC2;” or vice versa, JADC2 can be thought of as Wave 1 of Mosaic Warfare.
“JADC2 and Mosaic are essentially the same thing at the conceptual level,” he said. “They are both about being able to deliver war-winning effects by enabling the warfighter to use the best capabilities for the mission, regardless of what Service or domain they come from. This leads to a system-of-systems (SoS), kill chain-centric view of warfighting.”
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One of the messy potential inter-service conflicts JADC2 will need to navigate is how to ensure that Air Force and Army weapon systems developed for long-range, precision fires are not redundant and/or incompatible — and that the use of those weapons in high-speed battles is coordinated to ensure against gaps in targeting, or worse, fratricide. Tensions between the two services already have led to public sparring, and support by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown for DoD and Congress to consider a roles and missions review.
“The goal of the ASTARTE Program is to provide real-time, low-risk de-confliction between airspace users and joint fires to enable support to tactical units and build a resilient air picture under an Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) bubble while conducting JADC2 operations,” according to DARPA’s original special notice to industry published last April. The Army and Air Force both are supporting the effort, according to DARPA documentation.
ASTARTE’s larger aim is to help warfighters rapidly sort through the deluge of data they will need to run operations linking all sensors and shooters across the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains, Tim Grayson, head of DARPA’s Strategic Technologies Office (STO), explained in an email today.
“We have a portfolio of programs that are the toolkit to help the warfighter build the mosaic,” he said. “We have those supporting mosaic technologies divided into three functional areas: The first set of programs is to Plan the mosaic. The second set, which includes all the comms and networking technology, allows the tiles to Interoperate. ASTARTE is in the third functional area, how does the operator Execute using the mosaic without being overwhelmed by its complexity.”
In other words, the “tiles” in the battle “mosaic” to be managed by ASTARTE’s AI algorithms are things that will fly through the air, including air- and land-launched long-range strike weapons, and their support systems.
“ASTARTE helps solve the problem how to decide where physically to move the air tiles to conduct operations … even when it is an incredibly complex battlespace, and the person or organization tasking the air asset doesn’t ‘own’ it organically nor know that much about it,” Grayson said. “The tiles themselves are all the more traditional systems that actually do a warfighting functions, the weapons, sensors, and platforms.”
“ASTARTE will support JADC2 operations,” said Raytheon Technologies spokesperson Kevin Donovan in an email. “The program develops a dynamic airspace management capability to coordinate airspace users and joint fires. It does this by combining an Artificial Intelligence Engine with a Layered Sensor Network combining traditional and non-traditional sensors. The system is to be developed and tested using a Virtual Lab Testbed that virtualizes Legacy C2 Systems and interfaces.”
DARPA’s special notice elaborates: “”ASTARTE will develop a virtual and live testbed for airspace management systems, a series of algorithms for airspace planning and operations, and a sensor network for delivering real-time spatial and temporal tracking of airborne platforms.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
11 Feb 21. Biden taps former NSA cyber director to lead SolarWinds response. The White House has tapped Anne Neuberger, a career intelligence veteran and former senior cybersecurity official at the National Security Agency, to lead the government’s response to the SolarWinds hack, according to two senators.
“The federal government’s response to date to the SolarWinds breach has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, so it is welcome news that the Biden administration has selected Anne Neuberger to lead the response,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a February 10 statement.
Warner and Rubio, the top senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, earlier this week published a letter to the White House asking the administration to name a single official responsible for overseeing the government’s response.
Emily Horne, spokesperson for the National Security Council, told multiple media outlets that Neuberger’s leadership on the breach is nothing new.
“Since Day 1, she has been running an interagency process on SolarWinds.”
Neuberger formerly served as the director of the NSA’s cybersecurity division and was tapped by the White House to be the deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology at the National Security Council.
In one of her first public engagements in that role, Neuberger told a federal advisory committee yesterday that “President Biden has immediately shown leadership with saying we’ve got to get a handle on the SolarWinds incident.”
She also told that group, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, that the White House would include several of its recommendations into “our new national cyber strategy.” Those recommendations include accelerating the adoption of cybersecurity guidelines, promoting software and supply chain assurance, and “a whole-of-nation approach to ensuring U.S. leadership in key emerging technologies.”
Until now, a group of intelligence agencies and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had been jointly responsible for the federal government’s response to the SolarWinds hack. (Source: Defense Systems)
17 Feb 21. Pentagon watchdog flags cyber issues in DEOS, JRSS. The Defense Department’s testing and evaluation body has serious cybersecurity concerns when it comes to using commercial cloud offerings.
The Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) wrote in its annual report for fiscal 2020 that it was “concerned with the cyber survivability” of the Defense Department’s digital modernization strategy initiatives, such as the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS), a $4.4bn contract for Microsoft Office 365 services with GDIT.
“DOT&E is concerned with the cyber survivability of DMS initiatives and less so with their operational effectiveness and suitability,” the report states, adding that DOD would need to do comprehensive cyber testing for commercial cloud platforms.
“Because the DEOS program plans to use commercial cloud platforms to store classified and unclassified data, it will be critical for the DOD to conduct threat-representative cybersecurity testing on the commercial cloud and its hosting infrastructure.”
The report detailed six recommendations for the Defense Department’s digital modernization initiatives, including a “thorough cybersecurity operational testing” and “threat-representative testing of the commercial cloud capabilities employing current cybersecurity testing guidance and policy.”
The report also called for an update to DEOS’ testing and evaluation master plan for classified and unclassified networks.
Cybersecurity worries also extend to the embattles Joint Regional Security Stacks initiative, which has endured reliability and latency woes, seen drops in funding and increased scrutiny from Congress.
DOT&E raised concerns about JRSS’ cyber vulnerabilities in 2019, recommending the program be paused until they could be resolved. This year, they issued 11 recommendations, noting that the program had continued despite prior warnings, but the message was pretty much the same: DOD needs to look for JRSS alternatives.
“The DOD CIO and the DOD components should…continue developing more effective cybersecurity alternatives to JRSS, such as the ongoing pilot work…on implementing zero trust architectures and increased focus on developing and maintaining a skilled and trained defensive cyber workforce,” the report states.
The report also recommends completely suspending classified JRSS operations “if the zero trust architectures prove viable” and halting migrations of new users until the system is proven capable of “helping network defenders to detect and respond to operationally realistic cyberattacks.” (Source: Defense Systems)
16 Feb 21. Australian Findings from review into ethical AI use in Defence released. The Department of Defence has published findings from a workshop on the ethics of AI use in the sector.
A report detailing the findings from a workshop into the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) has been published by Defence in a bid to support science and technical considerations for the potential development of Defence policy, doctrine, research and project management.
The 2019 workshop was attended by over 100 representatives from Defence, other Australian government agencies, industry, academia, international organisations and media.
Participants contributed evidence-based hypotheses to discussions with a view to developing a report with suggestions as a starting point for principles, topics and methods relevant to Defence contexts for AI and autonomous systems to inform military leadership and ethics.
The report, titled A Method for Ethical AI in Defence, summarises the discussions from the workshop, and outlines a ‘Practical Methodology for Ethical AI in Defence’ to serve as a guide for future AI integration projects.
Three tools put forward by participants to assist Defence and Industry in developing AI systems included:
- an ‘AI Checklist’ for the development of ethical AI systems;
- an ‘Ethical AI Risk Matrix’ to describe identified risks and proposed treatment; and
- a data item descriptor (DID) for contractors of larger programs to develop a formal Legal, Ethical and Assurance Program Plan (LEAPP) to be included in project documentation for AI programs where an ethical risk assessment is above a certain threshold.
“Upfront engagement on AI technologies, and consideration of ethical aspects needs to occur in parallel with technology development,” Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro said.
The Science, Technology and Research (STaR) Shots from the More, together: Defence Science and Technology Strategy 2030 are currently exploring the potential for AI adoption to meeting the needs of the national security science and technology priorities.
“Defence research incorporating AI and human-autonomy teaming continues to drive innovation, such as work on the Allied IMPACT (AIM) Command and Control (C2) System demonstrated at Autonomous Warrior 2018 and the establishment of the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence CRC,” Professor Monro added.
Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, Head of Air Force Capability, said artificial intelligence and human-machine teaming would play a pivotal role for air and space power into the future.
“We need to ensure that ethical and legal issues are resolved at the same pace that the technology is developed,” she said.
“This paper is useful in suggesting consideration of ethical issues that may arise to ensure responsibility for AI systems within traceable systems of control.
“Practical application of these tools into projects such as the Loyal Wingman will assist Defence to explore autonomy, AI, and teaming concepts in an iterative, learning and collaborative way.” (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Feb 21. Viasat First-to-Certify its High-Speed Network Encryption Device with the New National Security Agency Cryptographic Interoperability Standard. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced its recently upgraded high-speed network encryptor, the Viasat KG-142, is the first device certified and fielded to meet a new, critical National Security Agency (NSA) standard—the Ethernet Data Encryptor Cryptographic Interoperability Specification (EDE-CIS).
The KG-142 encryptor is the first Type 1 MACsec 200 Gbps (aggregate) Ethernet encryptor to protect any classification of data up to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) where very high-bandwidth and low latency are critical—such as cloud computing, transport networks, big data processing and archive/disaster recovery. The device is available in 20/40/80/200 Gbps aggregate speed configurations, and is able to deliver reliable, network-efficient protection for Layer 2 Ethernet communications.
“Network encryption is essential in protecting the integrity of sensitive information transported by our U.S. government, military and Five Eye (FVEY) coalition forces. As mission-critical applications—such as machine learning and artificial intelligence—migrate to cloud-centric networks, they will require more bandwidth, better processing speeds and greater network encryption with advanced security features,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Combining decades of experience protecting classified government data with proven innovation in broadband networking, Viasat’s KG-142 encryptor sets the new standard in delivering high-availability security to protect the integrity of applications from cyber threats associated with the evolving cloud-based battlespace.”
Delivering more advanced cryptographic capabilities
The EDE-CIS-compliant KG-142 now offers built-in modern and advanced cybersecurity protection through Advanced Cryptographic Capability (ACC) compatibility. This upgrade also provides optional access to NSA’s Key Management Infrastructure (KMI), to help end-users defend against advanced cyber threats by supporting multiple KMI keying options, which provides improved device management, monitoring and status reporting.
The KG-142 encryptor also conforms to NSA Ethernet Security Specification (ESS) and IEEE Std 802.1AE MACsec to ensure backward interoperability across government networks.
10x faster data processing
With more data processing, storage and domain information shifting to cloud-based networks, network managers must upgrade their transport systems from slower Layer 3 networks using HAIPE (High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor) Type 1 encryption devices to higher bandwidth Layer 2 networks using EDE devices.
HAIPE devices are only able to reach 20 Gbps aggregate throughput. The upgraded KG-142 EDE gives high-speed cloud and transport network operators greater throughput support by operating at multiple speeds, 20 Gbps to 200 Gbps (aggregate)—making the processing power of the new KG-142 encryptor 10 times faster than the fastest HAIPE encryptor available today.
18 Feb 21. Record year for UK’s £8.9bn cyber security sector. A new government report shows that the UK’s growing cyber industry attracted record investment last year, despite the global pandemic.
- New report shows almost 50,000 people are now employed in UK cyber security
- Number of active cyber security firms in the UK increased 21 per cent on last year
- Sector contributed more than £4bn to the economy, attracting £800m of investment
- Cyber firms have stepped up to help the NHS in the national fight against coronavirus by providing vital technical support
The UK’s growing cyber industry attracted record investment last year despite the global pandemic, according to a new government report.
With Covid-19 forcing more business and social activity online, the new figures reveal an increase in the number of cyber security companies and people working for them, as the government continues its drive to build back safer from the pandemic.
The DCMS Annual Cyber Sector Report, which tracks the UK’s cyber security industry across a range of indicators between April 2019 and December 2020, reveals a 21 per cent increase in firms operating in the field, bringing the total number to 1,483.
There was a nine per cent rise in employment in the industry with more than 3,800 new full time jobs created, bringing the total number of people working in the sector to 46,683.
The sector is now worth an estimated £8.9bn, with a record £800m of investment raised by firms.
Digital Minister Matt Warman will announce the findings at a CyberASAP event today, which gives UK researchers the opportunity to showcase their innovative new cyber security products to potential buyers.
Ahead of the virtual event, Digital Minister Matt Warman said, “The need for cutting-edge cyber security has never been greater and this resilient sector is growing, diversifying and solidifying its status as a jewel in the UK’s tech crown. With more than 3,800 new jobs created, firms – large and small – are doing vital work keeping people and businesses secure online so we can build back safer from the pandemic. I am committed to supporting the industry to reach new heights, create more jobs and lead new innovations in this field.”
The main findings from the report are:
- Despite the current economic climate, 2020 was a new record year for cyber security investment with UK cyber security businesses raising over £821m across 73 deals – more than twice that raised in 2019
- The sector’s total annual revenue has continued to rise (by 7 per cent), reaching £8.9bn within the most recent financial year
- The sector contributed more than £4bn to the economy – up 6 per cent in the last year, with mainly mature firms driving growth
- The majority (65 per cent) of the 46,683 cyber workforce are employed by large firms (250+ employees).
This year’s survey also suggests that more than half of firms (54 per cent) are now based outside of London and the South East, with cyber security clusters flourishing across the country in areas such as Scotland, Northern Ireland and North West England.
The most commonly provided cyber security products and services include cyber professional services, threat intelligence, monitoring, detection and analysis. The research highlights particular growth in firms offering solutions for industrial control systems and IoT security, demonstrating the sector’s ability to adapt and meet emerging challenges, such as the need to secure smart cities.
The data reveals that while nine in ten companies (89 per cent) felt Covid-19 had impacted their business, many of these firms have quickly adjusted and innovated within the current economic climate.
Despite some firms in the sector feeling the pressure, many have still found the capacity to offer vital technical support to the NHS, and other critical national services, sometimes on a pro-bono basis.
Edinburgh firm Quorum Cyber helped strengthen the cyber defences of the NHS and local councils during the pandemic and created a number of skilled jobs. Meanwhile SureCert, who have offices in London, Edinburgh and Belfast, helped ensure the rapid deployment of hundreds of Covid volunteers through its background check service.
Ian Savage, Founder and CEO of SureCert, said, “SureCert won one of the TechForce 19 competitions from NHSx in May. This competition provided funding for solutions that could find, background check and deploy hundreds of volunteers to support vulnerable people in communities across Scotland and Northern Ireland. SureCert focused on processing identity, reference and criminal record checks for volunteers, maximising trust during the pandemic.”
Federico Charosky, Managing Director of Quorum Cyber, said, “Quorum Cyber have been incredibly lucky to be in a position to help, both directly and indirectly. Whether it was through providing cyber security services to the public and private sector, including delivering Security Operation Centre and Incident Response capabilities to local authorities and the NHS, or by hiring well over 25 people since the beginning of lockdown, including taking three graduate apprentices. Quorum Cyber continues to pursue our mission: we want to help good people win.”
While the number of cyber security firms continued to grow despite the pandemic, the government recognises the importance of making sure small and medium-sized scale-ups can continue to access support to grow in the years ahead.
UK startup businesses driving innovation and development have been helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25bn government support package and the government has continued to back cyber security startups through programmes such as the LORCA cyber accelerator and the NCSC Accelerator to ensure early stage cyber businesses have the support they need to continue.
The DCMS-funded CyberASAP programme supports the commercialisation of cyber security research from UK universities. Its event today will see a fourth cohort of teams demonstrate their new products to an audience of potential customers, investors and other key figures in the cyber security sector.
Julian David, Chief Executive Officer, techUK said, “Reliable Cyber Security is essential for all organisations as they accelerate digital transformation in the wake of ongoing COVID-19 disruption and the UK industry is responding to that need. This research shows a sector going from strength to strength, with increasing investment in our growing cyber ecosystem and, perhaps most significantly, uptake of the technologies and services keeping UK citizens and business safe.”
One key finding is that 54% of cyber companies are now based outside London and the South-East, an encouraging change which will improve cyber resilience across all the nations and regions of the UK, as well as sharing the economic prosperity offered by this fast-growing sector. This regional development is one area which techUK will continue to actively partner with DCMS, through initiatives like Cyber Exchange, as Government and industry continue to strengthen the UK’s position as a leading cyber nation. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
18 Feb 21. Rohde & Schwarz at IDEX: System solutions for deployment on land, in the air and at sea. As a systems partner and integrator for secure communications architectures and monitoring networks, Rohde & Schwarz provides tactical and strategic intelligence as well as digital communications sovereignty. The privately-owned company is showcasing an innovative portfolio of interoperable, high-performance solutions for deployment on land, in the air and at sea.
Abu Dhabi, February 18, 2021 – At this year’s IDEX, taking place from February 21 to 25, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the Rohde & Schwarz booth (hall 7, booth B42) is showcasing the NAVICS integrated naval communications system, secure software defined radios of the SOVERON product family brand, cellular network analysis and intelligence solutions used by agencies and authorities worldwide, aerospace and defense test solutions, and endpoint security and network encryption systems.
Rohde & Schwarz is presenting aerospace and defense solutions that provide safety and efficiency in all fields. As a proven partner of local authorities, armed forces and the aerospace & defense industry, the independent company provides tactical and strategic intelligence and digital communications sovereignty with a comprehensive range of advanced technologies, high-performance products and reliable services.
Offering an innovative portfolio of interoperable, high-performance solutions for deployment on land, in the air and at sea and in a network centric environment, Rohde & Schwarz is a systems partner and integrator for planning, developing, manufacturing and implementing turnkey technologies.
The technology group’s innovative communications, information and security products help industry and government customers ensure a safer and connected world.
16 Feb 21. US Army pursues spectrum tool to help keep post locations secret. The U.S. Army is working on a new tool to provide a much needed visual of the signals that command posts and units leak into the electromagnetic spectrum, possibly giving away their location.
Demonstrations by sophisticated nation-states in recent years have made clear the detriment of big, static command posts or units with large electromagnetic spectrum footprints. Nation states have geolocated units based on their electromagnetic spectrum emissions alone and been either jammed or fired upon. The Russians demonstrated this to great effect in Ukraine.
Now, the Army is listening to its spectrum managers who have clamored for a program-of-record spectrum analyzer to improve situational awareness, said Col. Daniel Holland, Army capability manager for electronic warfare.
This spectrum analyzer capability, still in the concept phase, is expected to work through a portable, tablet-like piece of equipment, with sensors at tactical operations centers or mounted on vehicles to allow monitoring on the move, Holland said during a Feb. 16 virtual presentation during TechNet Augusta.
The tool will integrate with the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, a command-and-control capability that allows forces to visualize the potential effects of electronic warfare in the field and chart courses of action to prevent jammed capabilities. Integration of the two tools will provide a better operational picture of this invisible terrain in near real time.
“We believe that the combination of a spectrum analyzer with EWMPT allows the commander to visualize and plan network-enabled operations in the electromagnetic spectrum,” Holland said. “This planning and visualization is critical to winning on a multidomain battlefield teeming with many low-cost, but extremely capable adversary sensors.” (Source: PR Newswire)
15 Feb 21. US, European Fighters in Mideast Share ISR Data Well. While potential Rafale deals are likely for some Arab countries, how are the platforms currently in operation at sharing data? With potential French Rafale jet sales to Egypt and the UAE in the works, one crucial issue arises, especially in the face of the Iranian threat: can they share data with the American fighters that pervade so much of the region.
Some experts think that data sharing is quite challenging while others don’t see eye to eye.
Bilal Saab, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and former Pentagon official in charge of Middle Eastern security cooperation, says that the more platforms you operate, the harder integration and interoperability becomes with American systems.
“You can’t have three different platforms within your air power and pretend you want to be interoperable with the United States,” he said, adding that the Qataris have been warned by the U.S that “the more they diversify, the less they will be able to integrate these platforms together.”
However, Egypt has been operating European and American platforms in a coordinated manner since 1980. One main reason, Mahmoud Gamal, Egyptian defense and geopolitics observer explained, is the ease of sharing data through the E-2C Hawkeye, an upgraded model of the American-made tactical airborne early warning and control aircraft (AEW&C).
“The air force relies on its Rafale to link aircraft of different origins since it is equipped with Link-16 tactical data links or non-NATO solutions,” he said, in order “to operate with different platforms and assets.”
As for linking and integrating the whole air force fleet, including Russian aircraft, Egypt relies on its indigenous unified Radar Integration and Surveillance, C4I & C5I Command Control Network.
“The RISC is an integrated locally-made system that jointly undertakes the tasks of battle management, command and control of air defense and air force units as well as gathers, analyzes and shares data,” he explained.
The system, first showcased during Egypt’s International Defense Exhibition (EDEX 2018) in Cairo, includes command-and-control networks equipment including radars, monitoring sensors and flight scheduling tools.
Egypt is also improving its integrated ISR and communication means and launching satellites for military purposes. “Lately, we launched the Tiba-1 satellite serving both the military communications network and armed forces command and control network while facilitating the process of exchanging data for analysis,” Gamal explained.
For military expert and observer Waleed Sami, the concept of a joint and interoperable air force within Gulf states is a must, given the increased threats across the region.
“In the last few years, the UAE started focusing on equipping its F-16 fleet with interoperable systems like the MIDS-LVT/ LINK 16 terminals and associated equipment, helping the air force share information with other types of fighters within the fleet, allied fighters, and command centers,” he said.
“If the UAE gets hold of these jets, the American-European combo would be perfect for operation with their latest airborne early warning and control GlobalEye aircraft from Saab, which also uses the same communication standards,” he added.
This would also result in utilizing the same ammunitions and systems. “The UAE will then be able to use different types of American ammos including GBU-12 and GBU-24 as well as Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) systems on its Rafale fleet.”
For their part, the Saudis rely on their Typhoon and F-15 jets in operational scenarios. Using the same terminals, the Typhoon is fully compatible with existing western platforms in terms of comms and data exchange, an Italian Air Force (ITA) spokesman said. The Italians, of course, operate Typhoons in the Middle East.
“The platform is able to exchange data both with command and control centers/nodes and with other airborne platforms, thus enhancing aircrew situational awareness and increasing mission effectiveness,” the ITA source said.
This high level of integration achieved within the Typhoon Weapon System, they said, further boosts the valuable use of such system through a deep weapon system integration allowing task automation upon message reception, thus a reduced pilot workload and increased mission effectiveness.
To Boeing, customers of the F-15 and F/A-18 have options for encrypted communication link for data sharing and targeting with other aircraft and platforms from different origins.
“Through network-enabled data-fusion and its advanced capabilities, the Block III becomes the airborne leader to direct and coordinate the prosecution of air and surface targets providing complete interoperability with coalition forces,” Bernard Dunn, president Boeing Middle East, Turkey and Africa told me in an interview.
Potential Rafale Sales
With Egypt operating 24 Rafale jets, Gamal tells Breaking Defense that the country is looking at buying another 12 to 30 fighters.
“On one hand, Egypt is now upgrading its operational fleet to the F3-R standard and wants to double that number,” he said, adding that the deal “could see the light this year.”
The F3-R is an evolution of the Rafale F3 standard and enables both air force and navy aircraft to carry new weapons including MBDA’s Meteor long-range air-to-air missile, Thales’ Talios new-generation laser designator pod and the laser homing version of the Safran AASM air-to-ground modular weapon.
The UAE has yet to determine its replacement for its old Mirage 2000 fleet, while keeping a commitment to the European industry. Although it is still unclear whether the Gulf country is planning to upgrade its current Mirage fleet, sources tell Breaking D that negotiations on the Rafale deal re-surfaced again.
“The Emiratis were very close to sealing the deal years ago, but they turned it down because the price was too high,” said one military source who wished not to be named. “Today, they are potentially considering 36 to 60 units because the jet’s price became more competitive due to the spike of Rafale sales to the region and abroad.”
The UAE could be eying “the F4 version armed with SCALP and Meteor missiles,” he added, a standard that will notably improve the connectivity of the Rafale and its ability to operate as part of a any network.
Is U.S Losing Ground?
Not really, Zafer Alajmi, a retired Kuwaiti Air Force colonel told me.
“The demise of the Trump spring made the Gulf states realize that the new administration will act differently mainly due to the separate views that both administrations share of the balance in the Arab Gulf region,” he said, which in return “pushed the Gulf to look for a parallel market.”
According to him, this is mainly driven by the fact that Arab countries traditionally know their way around European markets: “The historical dimension plays its role here. We didn’t see them reach out to Russia nor China but instead to a market that they well know.”
Saab agrees. “They are so reliant on the U.S for technology — especially state-of-the-art platforms that require all sources of software and maintenance. They are tight to us to the hips,” he told me.
Yet, this is more political than anything else.
“It is as a message to the Americans that they could also purchase from the Europeans, Russians and Chinese if they were disappointed with anything they do politically,” Saab told me. “From a defense viewpoint however, it is more like shooting yourself in the foot. Diversifying makes sense only if there were serious tensions going on, but now that everything looks fine, having such a diverse portfolio remains absurd.”
For the industry, things look pretty fine.
Dunn told me that the Middle East has been and continues to be a very important market to Boeing, with a strong base of platforms and a growing services portfolio. “Boeing is working closely with Arab governments and defense forces to take a key role in enhancing safety and security in the region,” he told Breaking D.
Active competitions are ongoing in Canada, Finland, Switzerland and India for the F/A-18, “that may lead to an additional force of more than 400 Super Hornet Block III jets in operation in Europe and around the world,” Dunn told me.
Future plans for the F-15s call for as many as 144 aircraft, with deliveries to Qatar scheduled for 2022. The Gulf country and U.S government signed a letter of agreement to receive 36 Advanced F-15 Eagle attack aircraft and all their support elements. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Feb 21. Armour Comms continues strong y-on-y growth. Armour Comms maintains a strong focus to ensure we develop solutions that are highly intuitive as well as maintaining appropriate levels of security
Working from Home requirements and increased security awareness around the dangers of consumer-grade apps fuel demand for Armour Mobile. Armour Comms, the leading provider of specialist, secure communications solutions, has seen continued year-on-year growth during 2020. The company has achieved an increase in license revenue with annual recurring revenue (ARR) up 28%. Having secured its first round of outside investment of £2m from external investors in late 2019, Armour made a range of key appointments across the business to fast-track product development and address new markets. Revenue generated has been evenly spread across the regions with 30% from the UK, 33% from the Middle East, and 37% from the rest of the world.
David Holman, Director and co-founder of Armour Comms commented; “2020 has been a year of continued growth for Armour, despite the pandemic. In part this has been due to an increased awareness of the security shortcomings of using consumer-grade apps, particularly as people were forced to work from home. We have also invested in our expansion with an increase in head count of 20%, mainly in development, quality assurance and customer support. Armour Comms maintains a strong focus to ensure we develop solutions that are highly intuitive as well as maintaining appropriate levels of security.”
During 2020 Armour agreed terms with a number of new partners in key geographic regions and signed up several significant new customers, as well as expanding the Armour user-base in the military/defence and government sectors.
2020 also saw an increase in demand from enterprises in non-regulated industries for SigNet by Armour, a secure comms app based on Signal. SigNet, which uses AES-256 bit encryption, has been toughened with more enterprise-grade security features such as an on-premises option for total privacy (a cloud option is also available), no auditability, secure groups, allow listing features, and a much improved, highly intuitive user interface.
15 Feb 21. AI for security: Autonomous surveillance at Marine base has warzone potential. A few years ago, Marines had to patrol a remote side of Air Station Miramar in Southern California to watch for teens sneaking in to party in old buildings or for cyclists who wandered onto the property.
Today, that area still doesn’t have cell phone service, and unexploded ordinances remain from its time as a World War II mortar range, according Lt. Col. Gregory Rooker, provost marshal at MCAS Miramar in San Diego. That combination makes the property especially dangerous for outsiders.
But now, the base has installed an autonomous surveillance system to detect trespassers, a platform that may have a future in defending installations in wars. The technology uses artificial intelligence to crunch surveillance data to recognize possible threats, eliminating the time the Marines spent on regular in-person patrols — assignments that sometimes lasted for days.
“It was a heavy manpower intensive operation,” Rooker said in an interview with C4ISRNET. “But at the time we didn’t have anything better. So when we heard about this system … we thought it would be a great asset for us to put out there and use so that we could scale back and reallocate that manpower to some other things that needed to be looked at.”
The autonomous system from Anduril works like this: The company’s towers overlook remote areas of MCAS Miramar and feed information to the company’s Lattice AI system that identifies and classifies threats. The system notifies security personnel of suspicious activity, and the Marines can be sent to investigate. Some other bases that use the Anduril system deploy a drone to investigate.
“It’s an easy system to use. It’s on the computer, it can kind of run in the background, and when it alerts to something, it sends a ‘ding,’” said Gunnery Sgt. Melissa Polich, the administrative chief in the provost marshal’s office. “So then it’ll pop up, and the monitor will go to whatever it is.”
Of course, MCAS Miramar is not a forward operating base in a warzone. But Anduril CEO Brian Schimpf said some forward bases use the tool, though he declined to say where in an interview with C4ISRNET.
The company has done some initial pilots with the Air Force and had “early conversations” with the other services. To deploy the technology in combat areas, Schimpf said Anduril is developing more mobile systems.
“One of the biggest areas we’re working on is just how do I make this so that you can throw it on a trailer, drive it out, set it up, and then you instantly have a secure perimeter? You know, potentially combining that with a UAV doing patrol,” Schimpf said.
Declan Lynch, head of force protection and installation base defense at Anduril, said that the company is also focused on reducing the size, weight and power requirement to meet the Marines’ expeditionary needs. To prepare for near-peer fights of the future, the company is trying to reduce the electronic signature so adversaries can’t locate operational units in the field.
At the base, the security system frees up Marines to patrol busier areas and protects civilians who disregard federal property warning signs, sometimes disrupting training exercises. If a local entered the base and was hurt, the lack of cell coverage would make calling for help nearly impossible — a scenario that happened to a cyclist who crashed at Miramar.
And Marines still turn up mortar testing remnants, Rooker said, “They could never clear it 100%. Every so often we do find something out there,” he said. “So that’s another hazard that’s out there that someone could run across.”
In the future, Schimpf said Anduril wants to move beyond solely counter-intrusion capabilities for its AI system as the military prepares for joint war fighting. The company is expanding Lattice’s capabilities for air and sea operations and is adding small motion sensor-like devices that can be deployed in blind spots in the field.
“It’s kind of like a microcosm for how the broader JADC2 space overall is going to operate, which is much more about how do I have kind of this comprehensive connected systems, not these massively disaggregated things,” Schimpf said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
15 Feb 21. Former spy chief calls for military cyber attacks on ransomware hackers. The most serious ransomware groups should be the target of cyber attacks to disrupt their operations, Ciaran Martin has said. The state should launch military cyber attacks to shut down ransomware gangs that have extorted millions of pounds from British businesses, a former spy chief has said.
Ciaran Martin, who previously led the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, said the problem of criminal gangs locking and stealing files has become so serious that Government should now seek to disrupt the operations of prolific criminals.
Mr Martin said: “I actually think that disruption of infrastructure, what you might call a cyber attack, is justified.”
GCHQ or the military could use their own hacking abilities to shut down the servers and tools used by the most determined and damaging criminal groups, Mr Martin said.
The plans would mark a major change of tack for the UK authorities, who have long downplayed the idea they could routinely use offensive hacking as well as cyber defence.
Mr Martin, who now teaches at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School, said: “If you can have confidence that you can execute a disruption operation that would decrease their ability to operate and you can do that safely, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t do it.”
A Government spokesman confirmed that cyber attacks are an option for the Government but said they should only be deployed if “proportionate and necessary”.
Ransomware attacks, where criminals paralyse computer systems and demand a ransom which could reach millions of pounds to unlock them, have become an increasing issue for British business. Around 48pc of UK organisations have been affected, according to cyber security firm Sophos.
Currency exchange company Travelex collapsed into administration last year, months after the business reportedly paid a $2.3m (£1.6m) ransom to hackers who had paralysed its networks and forced it to temporarily stop exchanging money.
Last year the Government announced the formation of a new National Cyber Force that will employ 3,000 people and bring together the hacking abilities of GCHQ, the Ministry of Defence and the intelligence services.
The use of cyber attacks should not be the Government’s initial response to ransomware incidents, Mr Martin said, but should be considered if other options have failed.
He said: “The use of disruptive attacks against ransomware is for the really big scale operations, the ones you just can’t take down.
“You won’t be able to do it on every ransomware gang and if you did you’d probably start making mistakes. You’d probably start hitting innocent people.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
15 Feb 21. Northrop Grumman Demonstrates C2 Success in Multinational NATO Exercise. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) UK team successfully demonstrated its innovative command and control (C2) system in a denied satellite communications (SATCOM) environment during NATO’s Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXercise (CWIX 2020). The fully distributed virtual event connected force labs in the UK and the U.S. across the classified Combined Federated Battle Laboratories Network to test tactics and technology in a range of scenarios and SATCOM-denied environments.
As the industry lead for this task supporting CWIX 2020, Northrop Grumman UK teamed with Dstl and Thales UK to create a simulated network environment. Northrop Grumman installed its Interoperable C4I Services (ICS) product, to deliver track management capabilities on this simulated alternative beyond-line-of-sight communications network.
“The successful experiment, delivered under the Serapis framework, included a military track management capability applicable to both the maritime and land domains,” said Ben Palmer, group director, Northrop Grumman. “Northrop Grumman’s UK team demonstrated their ability to deliver, integrate and operate systems for NATO forces to fully test SATCOM operations in advanced, real-life scenarios.”
SATCOM remains essential to Joint, All Domain, Command and Control (JADC2) but faces challenges in a denied, degraded or disrupted space environment. When disruptions occur, joint forces must maintain the ability to share time-sensitive information such as a common operating picture on alternative beyond-line-of-sight communications networks, despite their lower bandwidth, higher-latency and inconsistent quality-of-service compared to communications satellites.
Northrop Grumman’s ICS is used by over 3,000 customers globally and is based on the Common Operating Environment (COE) software on which systems such as the Global Command and Control System are built. ICS ensures interoperability with other COE-based systems and allows additional third-party applications to be incorporated for customers with mission-specific service requirements.
15 Feb 21. USAF EMSO strategy due later this year. US Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General Charles Brown is pressing the service’s top brass to complete a new overarching battle plan for electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO), electronic warfare (EW), and information warfare by this northern spring, which will influence the air service’s budget investments for EMSO in the coming fiscal years.
“I am putting pressure on [air] staff to make sure we deliver, because that strategy is going to lay out … where we are headed and where we are taking the air force, including in the electromagnetic spectrum and the operations we need to do in that arena,” Gen Brown said of the spring 2021 deadline for the new EMSO plan. The general declined to comment on the specifics of the burgeoning strategic plan but did note the service’s efforts would likely be reflected in the air force’s spending blueprint for fiscal year (FY) 2023.
“I really see that [FY] 2023 will really give us more opportunity [in EMSO] … and we are going to have to make some tough choices,” he said. “In some cases, operating in the electromagnetic spectrum can be cheaper that some of the other things we can be doing, and that is the balance we have to make,” Gen Brown added, noting the USAF’s investment roadmap for EMSO and other air force priorities for FY 2022 have been finalised, but could be amended at the request of President Joe Biden’s administration.
That said, one of the major thrusts of the air force’s new internal EMSO strategy will be to shift the enterprise away from stove-piped, legacy systems into more integrated and technologically agile solutions, he said. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Feb 21. Australian Cyber security innovation grants to help industry growth. The Defence Science Institute reports that Commonwealth government has established a new $25.6m fund to deliver innovative projects to improve the quality or availability of cyber security professionals in Australia. The Cyber Security Skills Partnerships Innovation Fund provides industry and academia with funding to deliver innovative projects to keep Australians secure online and to to underpin government and industry capability and capacity. Grants available from $25,0000 up to $3m to fund 50% of eligible project expenditure.
Closing date: 1700 AEDT, 11 Match 2021. To learn more go to the DSI web site: https://defencescienceinstitute.com/news/initiatives/funding-opportunity-cyber-security-skills-partnership-innovation-fund (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
28 Jan 21. US Soldiers Rely on Thales for Tactical Command and Control Communications. Thales introduces the Javelin Combat Net Radio to its family of tactical communications products in response to evolving Warfighter needs. This new, rugged, single-channel, small form factor, Mobile Ad-Hoc Network (MANET) radio provides tactical command and control communications into the formations to further enable mission essential capabilities at the tactical edge.
Thales is offering the cost-effective Javelin radio as a Non-Developmental Item that will go into production in 2021 and further supports the U.S. Army’s agile acquisition approach and Capability Set fielding process. The Javelin radio was developed in less than one year to meet U.S. Army network modernization requirements, and is well suited to expand reliable and affordable voice, data connectivity and streaming video to the tactical edge.
Javelin proved itself as a highly capable radio during a variety of Soldier events in 2020, to include the Advanced Expeditionary Warfighting Experiment (AEWE) and Ft. Bragg user evaluations. During the AEWE at Ft. Benning, Ga, Javelin was used in a force-on-force evaluation for U.S. Army tactical maneuver operations where it proved its high reliability, ease of use and exceptional battery life to become the communications centerpiece for the individual Soldier at the event. Javelin provided Soldier support on all missions, and maintained solid network connectivity across multiple environments and operational scenarios. With the Javelin radio, Soldiers were able to network into the U.S. Army’s Integrated Tactical Network infrastructure and seamlessly connect them to key exercise leaders expanding situational awareness and combat effectiveness.
Javelin uses the TSM waveform to make it interoperable with other radios running the TSM waveform, including the Thales 2-Channel AN/PRC-148C/D systems. This makes the radio capable of maintaining reliable network connectivity in remote, dense, urban, and subterranean environments. Javelin also ensures seamless integration to the U.S. Army’s Nett Warrior system and is interoperable with a variety of End User Devices and C2 applications such as Android or Windows Tactical Assault Kit systems.
“The introduction of Javelin continues Thales’ tradition of being responsive to emerging needs in support of the Warfighter. In the hands of US Soldiers since February 2020, the Javelin radio embraces the Non-Developmental Item approach to delivering capabilities into the Army architecture, and ensures voice and data networking connectivity to the tactical edge. Designed with Soldier systems in mind, Javelin is easily integrated into the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network and can be leveraged to support the Army’s emerging Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems architecture.” Mike Sheehan, President & CEO, Thales Defense & Security, Inc. (Source: ASD Network)
21 Feb 21. ELETTRONICA at IDEX 2021 – Three Decades Of Commitment To The UAE’S Peace And Wellbeing. Amid regional security challenges and defence modernisation, Elettronica emphasises its commitment to the United Arab Emirates.
2021 is a year of anniversaries for Elettronica. The company is celebrating its 70th birthday and it is three decades since Elettronica began its partnership with the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) armed forces. The company began providing the UAE with Electronic Warfare (EW) equipment in the early 1990s. This started an enduring partnership which has helped the Emirati armed forces develop some of the most sophisticated EW capabilities in the region.
The last three decades has seen the UAE face its share of security challenges. Elettronica has worked hard with its Emirati counterparts to ensure that personnel, ships, vehicles and aircraft are strongly protected by state-of-the-art EW systems that save lives and protect platforms.
Over the years, the company has been involved in a myriad of major acquisitions in the UAE contributing not only products but EW expertise: “We are honoured to have worked with the armed forces of the UAE in developing their electronic warfare capabilities for over 30 years,” said Enzo Benigni, Elettronica’s President and CEO: “We are looking forward to deepening this partnership in the future as the country faces tomorrow’s challenges.”
Elettronica is far more than its products. The firm is a solutions provider across the artificial intelligence, machine learning and cyber fields, leveraging these technologies and providing state-of-the-art solutions to our customers in the UAE, the region and beyond.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has not reduced the company’s commitment. Elettronica will be exhibiting a host of services and products during this year’s eagerly awaited IDEX exhibition held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre between 21st and 25th February.
Visitors can learn more about the long history of Elettronica’s involvement with the UAE on the company’s stand (06-B15) and discover the world-beating capabilities Elettronica provides to meet today’s and tomorrow’s defence and security challenges.
The firm is helping countries in the region leading the fight against unauthorised drone use and will showcase its ADRIAN counter drone system. Mindful of the maritime security challenges faced by the
UAE and other regional actors, the company is exhibiting its naval electronic warfare capabilities and services, along with its EDGE escort jammer protecting aircraft and strike packages from the advanced air defence threats proliferating throughout the region.
The long and successful partnership enjoyed by the UAE and Elettronica is testament to the quality of the company’s ITAR-free and competitively priced solutions, services and products. Elettronica is looking forward to further deepening its partnership with the UAE in the future.
Elettronica Group based in Rome, has been on the cutting edge of Electronic Warfare for more than 70 years, supplying strategic surveillance capabilities, self-defence and electronic attack systems for naval, airborne and ground use to the Armed Forces and Governments of 30 Countries. The Group is composed by Elettronica S.p.A, headquarter leader in full EW capabilities, CY4GATE, specialised in Cyber EW, Cyber Security and Intelligence, and Elettronica GmbH, the German subsidiary specialised in EW signal processing design and production and Homeland Security solutions.
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.