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31 Jul 21. Indra and Thales design the Battlefield Management System digital brain that will ensure the Spanish Army’s control of the battlefield. Indra, a leading global technology and consulting company and one of the main players in the global defence technology industry, and Thales, a global technology player in the defence, aerospace, security and digital identity and transport markets, have completed the development of the new release of the Battlefield Management System (BMS). It is the most advanced and effective tactical command and control solution on the market and with which the Spanish Army ensures superiority in deployments on the ground.
A unit of Spanish Army paratroopers on a fictitious international peacekeeping mission is deployed in to control a confirmed threat: hostile forces have taken positions in two neighbourhoods of an important city. All the air-launchable vehicles in which unit move are fitted with Indra and Thales’ BMS tactical command and control system that enables them to display the exact position of each member of the group in real time as they advance towards the objective. There are also infantry taking part in the exercise and they advance in silence, using text messaging for coordination without needing to use their voices. They each carry a ruggedised tablet connected to their tactical radios by Wi-Fi and communicates with the command chain and collaterals. The whole group simultaneously receives orders updated with the mission plan together with images and videos of the objective.
They hear shots and a soldier gets out of the vehicle to inspect the area. She marks the position of a sniper on the digital map on the screen to warn the other units of the hazard. At the same time, she receives an alert that another unit has detected a home-made bomb in a nearby street. The unit requests support to deactivate the explosives and the commanding officer orders a group of sappers to join the mission along with the rest of the deployed forces. Mission command follows all the events in real time from the base and prepare supporting fire in automatic coordination with the artillery.
This is just one of the use cases that the 6th ‘Almogávares’ Paratrooper Brigade, from the ‘Príncipe’ Base in Paracuellos de Jarama near Madrid, has recreated in the exercises carried out recently to test the new release of the BMS system.
This new version provides unique capabilities to operate in demanding bandwidths such as those usually available for tactical communications. This ensures that the system works effectively in the most complex scenarios in which communications are difficult and hostile forces are constantly trying to prevent them. The system is equipped with the capacity to exchange not only text messages and images, but also direct video in real time.
The BMS also integrates perfectly with NATO standards which makes it interoperable with other allied countries’ systems. It also enables the commanding officers who direct the operation to make changes to the order of battle on the spot, reacting instantly to any unforeseen events. Indra and Thales’ BMS is also integrated with the Army logistics management system (SIGLE) to streamline and automate inventory management and with other Army systems through the standard IDT interface for exchange of tactical data.
During the exercise, the SYNAPS radio was also tested. This high capacity tactical radio, with ESSOR SCA architecture, is a bi-band (VHF / UHF) and bi-channel radio specifically designed for collaborative combat and continuity of the chain of command. The SYNAPS capabilities allow the integration of the units through interoperability with the current PR4G combat radios of the Army and the ability to scale new functional features and services that can be integrated into the BMS-ET in the future, preserving security, integrity, confidentiality and resilience of communications. At the same time, it offers Brigade 2035 the possibility of reducing its logistics footprint by covering, with a single radio station instead of three, the communication needs with the upper and lower echelons with a single VHF channel and simultaneously having the high bandwidth performance provided by the UHF channel. At the Command Post, integrated into the BMS-ET, a real-time video was shown transmitted by an observation unit located more than 10 kilometres away.
The Army has already been deployed in real missions abroad with the earlier version of the BMS system that has provided excellent results in facilitating coordination and interoperability with the rest of the allied forces. The increasing digitisation of the battlefield has made data a decisive factor for any army to prevail over its adversaries. The Spanish Army has been working with Indra and Thales on this advanced system for years; an experience that has helped to positioned it at the forefront of European command and control technologies.
In a world in which the future of defence is increasingly complex, with more and more diverse scenarios and ubiquitous sensors in constant motion, the Army’s centre of gravity continues to be the combatants who, however, require technologies that enable them to carry out their missions in collaboration with their allies and also provide data for better and faster decision-making. Consequently, the BMS has become a key tool that provides and manages all the required information in the shortest time possible to ensure the success of the mission. It could be said that this system is the embryo of the future combat cloud in which all systems and platforms, manned or not, will be interconnected, constituting a complex adaptive system in which the key factors are agile operation and the seamless exchange of information.
The degree of technological development that the Spanish Army has reached enables the country to lead the most ambitious European initiatives and address development of the next generation of strategic operational command and control systems at levels higher than the tactical tier already covered by the BMS. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
08 Jul 21. Atos and IBM to Collaborate to Build a Secured Infrastructure for the Dutch Ministry of Defense. New Infrastructure to become the Digital Backbone for the Dutch Ministry as Armed Forces Transforms into an Information-Driven Organization. Atos and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced their plans to collaborate to build a new, highly-advanced digital infrastructure for the Dutch Ministry of Defense. The Dutch Ministry of Defense plans to use advanced technologies, infrastructure services, and expertise from Atos and IBM Global Technology Services to construct new data centers, safeguard its IT system, and build a proprietary broadband mobile network to help ensure classified government information remains protected.
“Our work on Groundbreaking IT (GrIT) marks our continued commitment to building secure infrastructures that help global customers accelerate their digital transformations,” said Peter `t Jong, Head of Atos in The Netherlands. “By collaborating with IBM, a world-class partner with deep experience in helping government organizations across the globe modernize with advanced technology, we will help enable the Ministry to build an agile organization based on a reliable, secured, future-ready and flexible digital infrastructure.”
Atos and IBM announced the expansion of their strategic global alliance in January 2021 with the goal of transforming digital acceleration, increased productivity, and reduced operating costs for their customers. Today’s announcement reinforces the companies’ collaboration and mutual commitment to helping customers use open hybrid cloud and AI to accelerate digital transformation.
“Collaborating on GrIT with Atos, one of our sustainability-focused global ecosystem partners, reinforces our mission to build secure infrastructures using open hybrid cloud to help customers make their organizations future ready,” said Evaristus Mainsah, GM, IBM Hybrid Cloud and Edge Ecosystem. “Together, we’re helping customers, like the Dutch Ministry of Defense, accelerate their digital transformations by streamlining operations and increasing productivity in a most secured environment.”
27 Jul 21. US Cyber Command touts acquisition advancements. During a forum to present capability needs to industry, U.S. Cyber Command leaders gave their take on how the operation has improved its acquisition practices and structures over the last few years.
Cyber Command, still relatively young and continuing to mature in many ways, received limited acquisition authority just five years ago.
Congress capped the command’s buying power at $75m, under a so-called crawl, walk, run approach to determine whether the command could execute the authority.
In the last annual defense policy law, Congress lifted that cap, and the command is hopeful it can mature further to procure necessary capabilities in a dynamic environment.
“We also wanted to request that we eliminate the procurement ceiling all together so the command has the flexibility and the agility to respond to the procurement needs the command has based on the operational requirement,” Sharothi Pikar, command acquisition executive told over 300 attendees at the Cyber Command virtual industry forum July 27. “For example, in 2020, when we [were] supporting the defending of the election … we were able to get after our needs and requirements in an agile fashion without having to worry about if we’re by mistake going over our ceiling that the Congress has given us.”
Other officials said removing this cap will allow Cyber Command to perform its own work on contracts and conduct more creative acquisition strategies, rather than having to piggyback on the contract vehicles of other agencies across the government, which is how the command currently operates.
Officials explained that the industry forum provides a venue for the command to forecast to industry what it needs and provide an open dialogue to encourage greater competition among a vast network of partners from larger companies to small businesses.
“We have a strong partnership already, but we want to make sure that we’re forward and out with what we need and getting the best tools and capabilities for the war fighter [and] also to grow our small businesses, and also we want to make sure that we are increasing competition for coming acquisitions,” Quentin McCoy, head of contracting activities at Cyber Command, told reporters. “That really is the reason why we’re here today is to talk about those command dollars that are being procured internally and to make sure industry understands what those programs are and how we can better partner to execute those programs successfully.”
Cyber Command recently created a new Program Executive Office Cyber within its J9, or advanced concepts and technology directorate, which oversees programs using command dollars.
This includes the money that Cyber Command has for command-specific programs of record, to support ongoing operations, and for capabilities for the cyber national mission force, which is responsible for tracking and disrupting specific nation-state actors in foreign cyberspace in defense of the nation. That force is separate from teams that support specific combatant commands. The command funds and the PEO are not associated with the programs that service executive agents procure as part of the Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, which was created in 2019 to better align the commands’ programs and resources.
The new PEO has close contact with the Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture Joint Integration Office, which helps coordinate how the individual services work together on their specific programs, to help ensure integrated solutions without duplication.
Officials noted that they don’t see the executive agents going away in the future, noting they don’t see the need to replace that mechanism, but the creation of the PEO signifies an ability to execute larger efforts.
“Prior to being called the PEO, this was a division that was doing program management on a fairly small scale,” Lisa Wheeler, acting PEO Cyber, told reporters. “At becoming the PEO and now looking at where we’re headed, what I see the division doing is establishing program management offices against programs of larger scale … Instead of just running a set of programs on a smaller scale, we’ll be able to take on maybe larger efforts but then in no way, shape or form will be replacing, say, the Air Force in doing what they do for the cyber world.”
For the industry formum, Cyber Command highlighted primary mission areas it has carved out for acquisition management:
- The aforementioned PEO Cyber.
- The aforementioned Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture Integration Office.
- A rapid development and innovation division that works on organic tool and capability development for the cyber mission force but primarily the cyber national mission force.
- A cyber procurement office responsible for organic procurement and overseeing contracts or agreements entered into with other agencies.
- A business operations and analysis division, created to fill a gap the command lacked in providing needed support to the whole community. A key accomplishment of the office in the last year was the creation of a tool to allow officials to track items they’re working on in an automated fashion, including data that feeds into future spending plans. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Jul 21. Hyten: Combat cloud would bolster collaboration with allies, partners. Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that the lack of an enterprise cloud is impeding the U.S. from collaborating with its closest allies.
“Even our closest allies, they can’t get onto our basic secret system, SIPRNET,” Hyten said, during the launch event of the National Defense Industry Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute on July 26.
“Friends are our biggest advantage but not being able to take full advantage…is just wrong.”
Hyten said building a combat cloud with correctly tagged data would allow service members, allies, and partners alike to login from anywhere with their credentials and biometrics so the U.S. can take full advantage of the capabilities they have to offer.
The Defense Department doesn’t have that cloud capability yet – it recently canceled and re-scoped its troubled $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative program — it’s also struggling to prepare for such a connected fight and modeling scenarios with capabilities from allies and partners.
“We have a pretty good capability to model air, land, and sea. But we can’t model air, land, sea, space, and cyber. We can’t model air, land, sea, space, cyber, and the electromagnetic spectrum that covers all those domains. We can’t pull those in, so when we actually fight or look at a whole campaign, you have to make so many assumptions about what is happening in the other domains,” the general said.
DOD has not made its war gaming more realistic, but the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) recently published a requirements document for integrated modeling and simulation capabilities in all domains as part of four Strategic Directives that instruct the services on what to do when developing new capabilities around contested logistics, joint fires, information advantage, and Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).
“The goal is to be fully connected to a combat cloud that has all the information that you can access at any time and any place. You can pull it all together with all domain command and control, figure out the best data and be able to act quickly on that,” he said, when describing the directives.
“Aggregating to fire, disaggregating to survive. That’s the way it’s going to be in data, that’s the way it’s going to be across the board,” Hyten said.
As a result, the JROC is working with the Cost, Assessment, and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, he said to “look at the entire force and make sure we understand how things play together, and to be able to turn it quickly and do hundreds and hundreds maybe even millions of runs in the time it takes us to do one war game with 200 people.” (Source: Defense Systems)
27 Jul 21. HENSOLDT demonstrates airborne SIGINT capabilities. Technologies and deployment modes of airborne signal intelligence (SIGINT) have been successfully demonstrated by sensor solution provider HENSOLDT during a test flight campaign at Hohn Air Base in Schleswig-Holstein. The aim of the six test flights carried out together with GFD GmbH on a Learjet was to give representatives of the German customer an overview of available technologies and their growth potential. The findings are to be incorporated into the planning of future SIGINT capability on a wide variety of flying platforms.
In a so-called “expansion stage 1” of the demonstration, which was financed from company funds, the localisation, bearing, tracking and recording of signals was demonstrated, which located and tracked transmitters with frequencies in the communications range in scenarios of tactical signal reconnaissance. For the demonstration, a system concept was developed and realised that achieved a maximum of bearing accuracy and speed.
A later planned “expansion stage 2” of the demo campaign will highlight monitoring and pattern recognition procedures, possibly using AI techniques. Among other things, the findings are to be incorporated into the further development of the modular HENSOLDT product family KALÆTRON Integral® for the realisation of the future scalable ELINT reconnaissance container, which can be used on various platform types – including drones.
HENSOLDT has been active in the electronic reconnaissance market for decades. The company has developed COMINT and ELINT sensors for the German Armed Forces and other NATO forces, among others, and integrates them into EW systems for the Air Force, Army and Navy.
26 Jul 21. USAF declares initial operational capability for TACP MCS Block 2 system. The TACP-MCS Block 2 is a programme managed by the AFLCMC’s Battlespace Communications Branch at Hanscom AFB.
The US Air Force’s (USF) Air Combat Command has declared the initial operational capability (IOC) for the tactical air control party mobile communications system (TACP-MCS) Block 2 system.
The system combines multi-channel communications equipment into M1165 high-mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs), also known as Humvees. This integration provides voice, data, and video capabilities to TACP Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs).
MCS Block 2 will be used by the JTACs to execute close air support and command and control (C2) missions. It showcased the required combat capability for voice and video communications to achieve the IOC. The system also had Required Assets Available (RAA) for logistics support and fielding. The TACP-MCS Block 2 is a programme managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) Battlespace Communications Branch at Hanscom Air Force Base (AFB) in Massachusetts.
It was started with a two-year integration and test phase to suit the ‘mostly off-the-shelf and non-developmental equipment kit and software’ into the M1165 vehicle.
iGov Technologies is the prime contractor of the MCS Block 2 system.
The system was designed and built at iGov Technologies’ facility in Tampa, Florida. In September 2018, the USAF awarded an $85.1m Block 2 delivery order to iGov Technologies for the TACP-MCS.
Special Operations Forces and Personnel Recovery Division senior materiel leader and chief colonel Joel Luker said: “All too often we only hear about acquisition programs that are well behind schedule and/or over-budget.
“For our combined AFLCMC-ACC-iGov team to deliver this vital capability to our front-line forces five months early, and in the middle of a pandemic, no less, was a monumental accomplishment.”
AFLCMC noted that the Battlespace Communications Branch worked with ACC to define the programme’s needs and plan accordingly for fielding and training.
Furthermore, the Branch provided contracting support through the Platform Engineering and Integration for Tactical and Strategic Systems (PEITSS) IDIQ contract.
Further kit installations and training are expected to be performed at TACP squadrons until 2023. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
23 Jul 21. Israel pushes military digital transformation in the age of ‘artificial intelligence war.’ Israel has sought to increase its operational success on the battlefield through a major push for digitization in the Israel Defense Forces. The importance of this transformation was apparent in the recent conflict in Gaza that Israeli officials have called the first “artificial intelligence war.”
Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi has made employing digital potential a central feature of his command, according to Col. Eli Birenbaum, head of the IDF Digital Transformation Division’s Architecture Department.
“The IDF had a few shortcomings to increase our lethality on the battlefield,” said Birenbaum in an interview. While the IDF looks like one organization from the outside, for years its different services, including the air force, navy and ground forces, were balkanized in their use of their own networks for data services, he said.
For years “no one looked at the IDF in its entirety from an operational perspective, [asking] how can we take each capability the services [have] and combine them with other capabilities developed in different services to make a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts,” he said. Enabling rapid digital processes, such as making it possible for a platoon commander to exploit the data gathered by a helicopter flying several kilometers away, is key to the IDF’s transformation.
Nati Cohen, the former IDF chief communications and C4 officer and later the director general in the Ministry of Communications, said this process began 15 years ago. After units had difficulty communicating with one another during the 2006 Lebanon war, the IDF understood that intelligence and air force units were using data well but that they couldn’t connect to the ground forces. “The idea was to take the data to the ground forces, and the command of the land forces officers decided to start a big project and they understood data and connectivity and software is like another weapon you give to the soldiers,” said Cohen, who is now chairman of CyberIL cybersecurity company.
By 2010 the ground forces had better connectivity, and the IDF created its J6 and Cyber Defense Directorate, which is responsible for cyber defense, communication, wireless transmission and computerization. The IDF focused on the importance of data and connectivity among forces, Cohen said. The challenge was overcoming the different systems and even different companies supplying various data services. “The challenge was one net, one data, and one internet for the whole IDF.”
Cohen said that the 2014 war dubbed Operation Protective Edge was Israel’s first “digital” war, a contrast with the May 2021 “first AI” conflict.
Birenbaum noted that this challenge meant doing away with situations like every C2 unit having its own mapping database, with the intelligence directorate instead establishing a central mapping database for entire IDF. The IDF identified these kinds of “common building blocks” to create a common language across the “digital battlespace.”
The IDF realized it was “not using data as much as we like, we collect a lot of data from sensors on places like the borders, and most of it was not stored or fused with different sensors,” said Birenbaum. There was a gap from the rapid changes in technology in the civilian world. “We knew it had a potential to increase lethality by a factor, if we could shorten time and analyze situational awareness for commanders, we can increase lethality and effectiveness more widely.”
Another hurdle is a cultural challenge of getting buy-in from older senior officers who did not grow up in the digital era. In 2019, as Israel rolled out its multiyear restructuring plan called Momentum, Kochavi established the digital transformation division and tasked it with bringing common digital infrastructure to the units. “My job is to make sure every new project the IDF is building is being done to common standards, whether mapping or everything in the digital battlespace, so that every application is cloud native and new system is spectral efficient,” Birenbaum said.
Using data and artificial intelligence, the IDF seeks to turn this technology to an advantage on the battlefield by fusing information including visual and signals intelligence. Lethality could increase by a factor of 10 to 100, Birenbaum said.
A series of new units are at the forefront of this attempt to transform. This includes the multidimensional Ghost unit that came from Israel’s Paratroopers Brigade and used drone swarms and AI in the May conflict in Gaza. “We have a lot more to improve, we have basic capabilities nowadays, and we invest a lot of resources into that vector to bring new capabilities in the foreseeable future,” Birenbaum said. The IDF relies on Israel’s numerous startups and high-tech advances by companies including Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. Elbit’s Digital Army Program 750, called Torch-X, is one part of this system. It is designed to increase situational awareness and make operations faster to shorten the sensor-to-shooter cycle.
Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems foresees its BNET software-defined radio playing a leading role in competition for armies in Europe and Asia as they increasingly look to digitize and revamp communications systems. (Rafael)
Other systems, such as unmanned ground vehicles patrolling borders and fusing sensors from these various technology, are part of the IDF vision for changes in the next several years. The challenge for militaries, Birenbaum noted, is that civilian technology outpaced military procurement. Militaries can’t just uninstall an app that doesn’t work because if you don’t rigorously test a new technology it could “launch a bomb,” he said.
Cohen credited Kochavi with pushing digital transformation, noting that his experience as an intelligence officer and in the Paratroopers helps him understand how intelligence needs to be pushed down to lower unit commanders. “It was our challenge to push the data to the forces,” recalled Cohen. That meant utilizing information collected by units like the IDF’s 8200, the military intelligence directorate, to put it in commanders’ hands.
The change helps the military be more effective, lethal and precise, seeking out targets faster, Cohen said. “It used to take days, now with digital precision it takes several hours.” (Source: Defense News)
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.