Sponsored by Spectra Group
11 Oct 18. Harris showed the Editor the new PRC-163 radio during AUSA. In September Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS) received orders for 1,540 AN/PRC-163 two-channel handheld radios and related equipment and services as part of the U.S. Army’s two-channel Leader radio IDIQ contract.
The versatile AN/PRC-163 enables users to send information up and down the chain of command as well as across the battlefield network backbone. It incorporates secure two-channel connectivity in a lightweight, easy to use, handheld rugged form factor. The radio can simultaneously transmit voice, data and situational awareness through Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking applications, VHF/UHF line-of-sight, and legacy SATCOM while offering a path to future software-only updates for MUOS, SATURN and other emerging waveforms.
The award further extends Harris’ leadership in software-defined tactical communications and builds upon the company’s proven ability to engineer and deliver two-channel, next-generation handheld, manpack and vehicular radios. Harris previously was awarded contracts by the U.S. Special Operations Command for next-generation handheld and manpack radios and was awarded a position on the Army’s HMS Manpack IDIQ with its two-channel AN/PRC-158 manpack radio.
“The AN/PRC-163 is the most advanced software-defined handheld radio in the world today and will provide our warfighters and commanders with unprecedented capabilities, including enhanced levels of command and control, and situational awareness,” said Dana Mehnert, President, Harris Communication Systems. “The award of the two-channel Leader radio contract is an important milestone in the modernization of the Army’s tactical network and Harris is honored to be part of it.”
Harris AN/PRC-163 Army Radio Multi-Channel Handheld
The Harris AN/PRC-163 Army Radio provides simultaneous dual-channel operations and superior crossbanding to support networked voice, data and video up and down echelon. This versatile radio offers a lower-SWaP solution for operators on the move, satisfying multiple mission needs without having to carry several pieces of equipment.
Dual-Channel Tactical Handheld with Advanced ISR
Each of the radio’s two channels delivers seamless Line-Of-Sight, high-speed networking, and Beyond-Line-Of Sight SATCOM communications. An expansion slot with an option for an ISR Full-Motion Video mission module provides a real-time operational picture, powered by industry-leading technologies.
Designed for ease of use, the AN/PRC-163 Army Radio’s double-height display screen gives warfighters information at a glance. The familiar Falcon® interface reduces training time and speeds mission response. This dual-channel radio is future-proof with a powerful software-defined architecture supporting fast, in-field upgrades to emerging capabilities including MUOS, as they become available.
- Simultaneous two-channel voice, video and data
- Twice the power with lower SWaP
- Secure high-speed networking, SATCOM support and narrowband Interoperability on both channels
- ISR module expansion capabilities, additional options for Signals-based Threat Warning and advanced MANET
- Enhanced two-channel user interface
- Built-in MUOS support for future software-only upgrades
09 Oct 18. Alion Unveils New Capabilities in Artificial Intelligence. Advancing Human-Machine Teaming for Defense Through Deep Learning and Autonomy. With artificial intelligence (Ai) emerging as a technological game-changer, Alion Science and Technology, headquartered in McLean, Va., has unveiled robust capabilities in applying Ai to help revolutionize U.S. defense and security systems.
“Since its inception, Alion has been at the forefront of engineering innovation,” said Alion CEO Steve Schorer. “At its core, Ai is engineering, so it should come as no surprise that we are now working to help our clients integrate this technology in secure ways while also weaving Ai into every corner of our own business.”
The company’s focus is on the application of machine and deep learning to advance the nation’s defense through improved human-machine teaming across the full spectrum of military action. As curators of commercial technology and trusted partners to the federal government, Alion will use its proven agile engineering practices to support fast, low-risk iteration and implementation of new Ai solutions.
“We want to break through the hype to help government leaders apply this revolutionary technology in ways that make sense for their missions,” said Todd Borkey, Alion’s Chief Technology Officer. “Our focus is less on pushing the magic of Ai and more about engineering machine and deep learning to improve everything from logistics to ISR. Those sorts of advancements offer real possibilities for better systems and operations that can be felt in tangible ways by our warfighters.”
This announcement comes shortly after Alion’s acquisition of MacAulay-Brown, Inc., which includes Enlighten IT Consulting, LLC, known for applying Ai and deep learning for cyber and cloud through tools like its Rapid Analytic Deployment and Management Framework (RADMF). With this expertise — as well as deep operational experience in sensors, weapons, platforms, processing, and C5ISR — Alion brings complete Ai solutions to its federal government clients. (Source: ASD Network)
11 Oct 18. Leornardo DRS showed the Editor their new iSWave™-family Software Defined Radio (SDR), named the Hand Held Evolution (HH-E). Designed to bring commercial smartphone size and weight characteristics to military-qualified battlefield radio equipment, the SWave™ HH-E weighes less than 550 grams and measures just 155mm x 70mm x 40mm. The HH-E is the latest in Selex ES’s SWave™ software defined radio family, which offer reconfigurable secure data and wideband networking capabilities in addition to standard voice communication. Like the other radios in the family, the HH-E is compliant to the US SCA 2.2.2 and European ESSOR architectures. This means that the radios can be upgraded new waveforms as they become available. The radio has been launched with the Soldier Broadband Waveform (SBW) with a narrow-band waveform available from early 2016. As well as featuring a compact, light and lower-power-consumption design, the SWave™ HH-E is secure and military qualified. The HH-E make innovative re-use of previous SWave™ technology, building on its proven in-service reliability and performance. Through its ability to host both legacy and new waveforms, the HH-E can interoperate with fielded radios and C4I systems and is fully upgradable, providing a versatile and flexible soldier radio solution at a low cost of ownership. The Selex ES SWave™ SDR family includes the latest single channel hand-held SDR (HH-E), a 2 channel manpack SDR (MB1), a 2 channel vehicular SDR (VB1) and a 4 channel vehicular SDR (VQ1). An earlier variant of the SWave™ HH-E, the SWave™ HH, is currently in-service with the Italian Army. A naval SWave™ SDR product is also in development.
The SWave VQ1 is a four-channel software defined vehicular radio that provides wideband secure voice/data services for current and future tactical communications needs. Compliant with the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) and the ESSOR architecture, it can support both legacy and emerging waveforms, supporting enhanced interoperability in NATO and coalition environments, for communications up to EU/NATO SECRET.
Both radios use the ESSOR European waveband.
11 Oct 18. Bill Guyan of Leonardo DRS gave the Editor an update of ESSOR. The main scope of this project is to provide architecture of Software Defined Radio (SDR) for military purposes and a military High Data Waveform (HDR WF) compliant with such architecture, thus offering the normative referential required for development and production of software radios in Europe. In addition, the project will deliver guidelines which are related to the validation and verification of waveform portability and platform re-configurability, setting up a common security basis to increase interoperability between European Forces.
The ESSOR products are based on Software Communication Architecture (SCA) developed originally in the United States in the Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS) programme.
ESSOR national champions
Each of the six ESSOR nations has put forward an indigenous telecommunications industry leader to develop the SDR architecture, known as the ‘national champion’:
A global developer of advanced technology that specialises in embedded software and hardware solutions for the automotive industry and wireless technologies, Elektrobit (EB) has worked on several SDR-based communications solutions for defensive forces, leading technology vendors and system integrators.
A global supplier of advanced communication, navigation and identification solutions for governmental, military and civil customers, SELEX Communications represents the convergence of all of Finmeccanica’s manufacturing activities in the telecommunications sector.
The largest manufacturer of VHF/UHF radio communication equipment in Poland, Radmor has over 55 years of industry experience, and produces handheld, mobile and stationary radio-telephones, radio modems and data transmission modules, as well as a range of military radio communication systems.
Thales developed the PR4G communication system for the French Army, and now exports 150,000 radios to 40 countries. The company is recognised as a global technology leader for the defence and security, and aerospace and transportation industries.
The firm behind terminal radio software (TERSO), which Spain has designated as the ESSOR national SDR platform, Indra is the country’s largest technology multinational. In addition to defence and security, the company is involved in energy, financial services, public administration, healthcare, telecoms and media, and transport and traffic.
Sweden: Saab AB
Replacing the Ericsson Group on the ESSOR programme when it acquired Ericsson Microwave Systems, Saab AB serves the global market with products and services aimed at both military defence and civil security. Its operations are divided into five categories: aeronautics, dynamics, electronic defence systems, security and defence solutions, and support and services.
In 2018 Bittium, Leonardo, and Thales, along with the Finnish Defence Forces have demonstrated the capabilities and functionalities of the High Data Rate Waveform (HDRWF) developed in the European ESSOR programme (European Secure Software defined Radio) in battlefield conditions and with a 15 radio node configuration. The activity was carried out using three different radio platforms from the three participating ESSOR Companies to demonstrate how the land forces of different European countries can communicate seamlessly with each other in joint operations, linking up via a common waveform regardless of the radio platforms they use.
The capabilities of the waveform were showcased by operating different applications, such as Command and Control (C2), Situational Awareness, Video streaming, and VoIP (Voice over IP), in mobility, demonstrating the ad-hoc capability of the ESSOR HDRWF, with fast and robust network building and reforming.
The radio platforms used for the demonstration were the Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network (TAC WIN) system, the Leonardo SWave vehicular 4-channels SDR, and the Thales SYNAPS Software Definced Radio (SDR) vehicular platform. Thanks to this event, the maturity and stability of the ESSOR HDRWF for battlefield use was proven; this was the first time the ESSOR HDRWF was demonstrated with such an extensive radio configuration in battlefield conditions and operated by the Finnish Defence Forces, confirming its ability to provide interoperability communications and services among diverse coalition armed forces on the field.
“The successful demonstration indicated that the ESSOR HDR Waveform on its significant part redeems the expectations set for SDRs,” Colonel Eero Valkola, Assistant Chief of Staff G6, Finnish Army, stated. “Now for the first time it was possible to validate with field demonstrations that radios from different manufacturers and countries can efficiently form a data communications network and offer the needed interoperability also for the needs of the land forces. Additionally, the waveform was proven to be just as capable as its specification has required it to be.”
The demonstration was part of the Finnish Defence Forces’ program for testing the national waveform implementation; the nations of Italy and France were invited to participate in order to further prove the interoperability results.
Bittium, Leonardo, and Thales had previously demonstrated part of the interoperability capabilities and the functionalities of the waveform at the Eurosatory defense exhibition in June 2016.
The aim of the ESSOR programme is to develop the European SDR technology in order to improve the capabilities for cooperation in coalition operations. The program was established under the umbrella of the European Defense Agency (EDA), sponsored by the governments of Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden, and it was awarded by the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR) to the dedicated joint venture Alliance for ESSOR (a4ESSOR S.A.S.) to be in charge of managing the industrial consortium. Besides Bittium, the other companies involved in the first phase of the ESSOR – which was successfully completed in 2015 – were Indra from Spain, Leonardo from Italy, Radmor from Poland, Saab from Sweden, and Thales from France. In addition to the European High Data Rate Waveform, the first phase of the program produced and validated the definition for the European Software Defined Radio Architecture which was ported and qualified on six different European platforms. The parties are currently negotiating the second phase of the program, which will add even more operational capabilities to the ESSOR system.
Leonardo SWAve SDR
Leonardo was one of the first companies in the world to invest in Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology, having developed the systems since early 2000. The company has also benefitted from its experience in a major Italian SDR programme, largely funded by the Italian Defence Forces, through the Italian defence procurement organization (SEGREDIFESA/DNA – The Secretariat General of Defence / National Armaments Directorate and its technical directorates), which saw the technology as key to fulfilling a wide range of demanding requirements. A road-map was created for SDR technology covering deployed soldiers, vehicular use, naval use and infrastructure applications. This has led to a complete range of products under the Swave family name, which includes handheld, man pack and vehicular tactical radio systems. These products host a wide range of waveform applications, covering all of a potential customer’s operational needs. Radio platforms used for the demonstration were the Leonardo SwaveTM vehicular 4 channels, able to host 4 active communications at the same time in a frequency range spanning from 2 MHz to 2 GHz, with an embedded power of 50 Watts per channel. This has allowed a seamless installation on the hosting vehicles, without any additional device or ancillary.
Thales SYNAPS SDR
Thales has launched SYNAPS, its new broadband tactical software-defined radio family for collaborative combat which will run the ESSOR HDRWF. The new radio communication systems are designed for international markets and all branches of the armed forces. SYNAPS radio communication systems provide commanders with information superiority, because of their unparalleled range performance, and offer the optimum combination of data rates, security and connectivity. SYNAPS is based on CONTACT, Europe’s largest software radio programme, which is contracted by the French Defence Procurement and Technology Agency (DGA) and will equip the French armed forces from 2019.
10 Oct 18. IBM files JEDI protest. IBM is protesting the Defense Department’s $10bn, 10-year cloud solicitation, saying the plan is anti-competitive and technologically flawed. Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal, said in an Oct. 10 blog post that the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure solicitation was flawed because its single-cloud mandate “denies America’s warfighters access to the best technology available across multiple vendors, complicates the integration of legacy applications and walls off access to future innovations.”
Gordy also complained that JEDI as currently constituted would give cyber adversaries a single point of attack to bring down the defense IT backbone. While large institutions adopt multi-cloud strategies for reasons of security, Gordy said, “the Pentagon is moving in precisely the opposite direction.”
IBM also sees the deal as anti-competitive, and tilted in favor of a particular vendor – unnamed but most likely Amazon Web Services. In his post, Gordy notes that the requirements “arbitrarily narrow the field of bidders.”
IBM will submit a bid for the JEDI contract, one that “provides our warfighters as much flexibility and innovation as possible within the scope of the JEDI solicitation,” Gordy wrote. However, IBM is hoping its bid protest with the Government Accountability Office will succeed in changing the scope of the JEDI requirements.
IBM isn’t alone in objecting to JEDI. Oracle is protestingthe deal as well. Google recently announced it was bowing out of the bidding, citing possible ethical objections to lethal AI and a set of requirements that Google could not currently meet – presumably approval to host secret and top secret data.
Microsoft announced on Oct. 9 that it planned to launch its first “secret region” on its Azure cloud to host classified government data in the first quarter of 2019, and planned to launch a top secret offering as well. This suggests that Microsoft, as expected, is planning to bid on the JEDI contract. Amazon is seen as the likely frontrunner for the award, in part because of its work supporting classified activities for the CIA and the intelligence community (Source: Defense Systems)
09 Oct 18. So Patriot and THAAD will talk. What does that really mean? The Army decided earlier this year to drastically accelerate its plans to get the Patriot medium-range air-and-missile defense system and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to communicate. The service has since seen an influx of cash in its fiscal 2018 and 2019 budgets approved by Congress to move forward with the effort. But what does it really mean for Patriot and THAAD to be interoperable, and why is it seen as an urgent need on the Korean peninsula?
The Army announced in March, through its Air-and-Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team, formed to bring forward AMD modernization efforts rapidly under Army Futures Command, that it was planning to tie its two most critical AMD systems together within two years, which is key to establishing a more effective, layered approach to AMD.
Getting THAAD and Patriot to talk to each other is extremely important in building better operational capability and a better picture of incoming threats, Brig. Gen. Randall McIntire, who leads the Air-and-Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team, said at the time.
Driving the effort are the forces in South Korea, where both THAAD and Patriot are deployed, so funding coming in for the accelerated project is categorized in the FY18 AND FY19 appropriations bills as a joint urgent operational need for U.S. Forces-Korea.
THAAD is also deployed on Guam, while Patriot units are spread wider around the world. Patriot deployments are considered to be among the most taxing and lengthy ones in the Army.
“We’ve got THAAD and Patriot on the peninsula of Korea working side by side,” McIntire said, so “how do we leverage those two systems so we can have better use of each one of those systems, missiles, and taking advantage of the great [AN/TPY-2] radar that is part of THAAD to increase the battlespace of Patriot?”
So, how is the service doing that alongside Patriot’s manufacturer Raytheon and THAAD’s developer Lockheed Martin?
While some of the effort is classified, THAAD and Patriot integration will enhance the use of radars and interceptors on each system, McIntire said in a recent interview with Defense News.
One line of effort is to take what the THAAD radar can see, which is a much greater distance than the Patriot radar is capable, and get that information to Patriot units, McIntire said, “which will give us a lot more time to calculate a fire solution, and it allows us to cue the Patriot and look in the right direction a whole lot sooner than it would be able to.”
The effort also allows the Army to get more out of its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) missile fired from Patriot units but built by Lockheed Martin.
“Today that missile outperforms the organic Patriot radar, and so that is going to allow us to get more value out of Patriot missile from the integration,” McIntire said. “That is going to allow us to be more efficient with how we defend things, and that is going to allow us to increase the battlespace.”
The Army is working through how to replace Patriot’s radar in a separate line of effort.
From the standpoint of selecting appropriate missiles depending on threats, McIntire said, instead of launching a THAAD missile, a Patriot missile could go after a threat and save the Army on cost per shot.
The worst case, he said, is if Patriot and THAAD both go after the same threat. Interoperability would help avoid that.
When it comes to THAAD and Patriot integration, McIntire noted he was surprised that the Army doesn’t already have this capability, but it’s imperative that the Army achieve a tiered and layered approach to missile defense rather than have independent, stove-piped systems.
Originally, the Army thought the integration of the two key systems were four or five years away, but the AMD CFT reprioritized the effort due to the joint urgent need out of Korea and will shave off about 50 percent of development time. From Lockheed’s standpoint, the company had already been internally investing in the interoperability between the two systems and also in how to make its own systems more flexible in a layered missile defense environment, according to Tim Cahill, company vice president of air-and-missile defense. When the integration is complete, Cahill said, the Army will be able to attach a Patriot launcher with MSE missiles into a THAAD battery, which will increase the range of the MSE missile due to the range of the THAAD radar. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
09 Oct 18. US Army looks to scale new network design to brigades. Army leaders are following up on an experiment to modernize their battlefield network and are now considering scaling a new approach to brigades after a successful test with smaller battalions. The integrated tactical network, or ITN, is best described as a suite of capabilities that provide greater connectivity and mission command functions that have, to date, largely focused on smaller units such as battalion and below. But Army leaders have said they plan to scale this architecture to a brigade unit and could start fielding the tools in formations, and not just test units, in 2020.
“The first kind of goal post … over the next 12-18 months is defining what this integrated tactical network capability set should look like in the various formations and then begin fielding. We want to start fielding units, like first units equipped on a conveyor belt, starting in ’20,” Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director of the Network Cross Functional Team told reporters Oct. 9 at the AUSA annual meeting. “We will adjust, as [Maj.] Gen. [David] Bassett, said based on the configuration of the unit and we will learn as we go.”
Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, told reporters that ITN, the new network design, roll out has started with the infantry brigades, Stryker brigades and armored brigades. Working through the network cross functional team, the Army has been using experimentation to figure out exactly what this network design will look like. One of the conclusions is that not every formation in every region will have the same configuration.
“The key is treating the network as an ecosystem and not just a box and a set of limited waveforms but really taking a look at what’s in the art of the possible for cross connecting, cross banding, going through either translation tools or gateways,” Gallagher said. “We don’t want that network to be the same network at every stage. We want to evolve the network, tailor to it to each of those formations and take advantage of technology as it becomes available.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra has a proven record of accomplishment – with over 15 years of experience in delivering secure communications and cybersecurity solutions for governments around the globe; elite militaries; and private enterprises of all sizes.
As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage this experience to deliver Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Spectra’s SlingShot® is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over 1000s miles between forward units and a rear HQ, no matter how or where the deployment. Unlike many BLOS options, SlingShot maintains full COTM (Communications On The Move) capability and low size and weight
On 23 November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced that it had recently been listed as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier for 2015-2016 by the UK Crown Commercial Services
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year by BATTLESPACE magazine and is a finalist in the inaugural British Ex-Forces In Business Awards in the Innovator Of The Year category.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.