Sponsored by Spectra Group
17 Mar 22. Spectra Group wins contract to supply the Royal Navy (Royal Marines) with Troposcatter. Spectra Group, the specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems has announced a successful bid to supply the Troposcatter Compact Over-the horizon Mobile Expeditionary Terminal (COMET) system across NATO, including the UK Royal Navy for primary use by the Royal Marines. The contract has been placed through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), so Troposcatter COMET is now available to all NATO countries for the next 3 years via the NATO catalogue.
Tropospheric scatter is a communications capability using the Troposphere (up to about 13km altitude) to provide communications. Specifically, the COMET system is small and lightweight with a maximum transmit power of 10-watts and utilises a 1-meter dish, providing low latency (typically 9-20mS) and large data links (5-60Mbps) up to 60 kilometers, but in practice data transfer speeds can be much greater. The system is simple, intuitive, and easy to set up and does not require the use of vulnerable and expensive satellites. The system can also be established and operational within 15 minutes. The COMET system comes packed in two small cases that can be transported on civilian aircraft if required.
Troposcatter is satellite independent and works in a GPS/GNSS denied environment, so is suitable for use in a Peer-on-Peer conflict/Multi Domain Integration. It has very low latency and can provide huge bandwidth, potentially enabling analysis and manipulation of large data, which combined with its low operating cost makes it suitable for deployed battlegroup or even company headquarters. Unlike geostationary satellites, it is effective in polar regions and because it is directional, uses low power and has complex waveforms it is difficult to detect and is highly suitable for many of the challenges UK Defence and NATO face today.
Future developments with COMTECH, have the potential to address many of the problems encountered by Future Commando Forces when operating in the littoral region and trying to enable responsive Command and Control communications while remaining at a safe distance from the enemy’s area defense systems that render traditional tactical communication systems ineffective. A high bandwidth Troposcatter COMET system could provide the vital communication link to the bridgehead including Radio over IP (ROIP) to extend BOWMAN and MANET radios systems.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this contract to supply Troposcatter services through the NSPA catalogue which will enable us, in addition to wider NATO forces, to supply and support the UK MoD and the Royal Marines – who have urgent operational requirements – and are likely to be the early adopters of this deployable long range communication capability. We have participated in the British Army’s Warfighting Experiments in the past to better understand the challenges and requirements that future combat forces require and have been working hard with our partner COMTECH to deliver these essential capabilities.”
17 Mar 22. DoD Announces Release of JADC2 Implementation Plan. Deputy Secretary of Defense (DSD) Dr. Kathleen Hicks signed the Department of Defense Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) Implementation Plan on March 15, 2022. JADC2 is a warfighting necessity to keep pace with the volume and complexity of data in modern warfare and to defeat adversaries decisively. JADC2 enables the Joint Force to “sense,” “make sense,” and “act” on information across the battle-space quickly using automation, artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and machine learning to deliver informed solutions via a resilient and robust network environment.
“We must maintain continued focus and momentum on these initiatives and programs which enhance Department capabilities to face current and future threats,” said Deputy Secretary Hicks. “Command and Control in an increasingly information-focused warfighting environment have never been more critical. JADC2 will enable the DoD to act at the speed of relevance to improve U.S. national security. JADC2 is delivering capabilities beginning now, and it will continue to be funded in the coming years.”
The DSD chartered JADC2 Cross-Functional Team (CFT) will oversee the execution of the JADC2 Strategy, initially announced in June 2021, and the Implementation Plan. While the JADC2 Strategy provides a vision and an approach for identifying, organizing, and delivering improved Joint Force C2 capabilities – the Implementation Plan outlines how the Department will accomplish this. An unclassified summary of the JADC2 Strategy is available here.
“This step represents irreversible momentum toward implementing the JADC2 Strategy and concepts the Department announced earlier this year,” said Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “This is about dramatically increasing the speed of information sharing and decision making in a contested environment to ensure we can quickly bring to bear all our capabilities to address specific threats.”
JADC2 is the Department’s way ahead. The JADC2 Implementation Plan, while classified, can be described as the document which details the plans of actions, milestones, and resourcing requirements. It identifies the organizations responsible for delivering JADC2 capabilities. The plan drives the Department’s investment in accelerating the decision cycle, closing operational gaps, and improving the resiliency of C2 systems. It will better integrate conventional and nuclear C2 processes and procedures and enhance interoperability and information-sharing with our mission partners. (Source: US DoD)
17 Mar 22. IBCS Expands All-Domain Capabilities. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) successfully completed two recent U.S. Army flight tests, further demonstrating the system’s scalability and resiliency to enable all-domain command and control capabilities. Northrop Grumman-manufactured IBCS Engagement Operations Center, Interactive Collaborative Environment emplaced at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. for IOT&E. [Source: U.S. Army]
“We continue to demonstrate our architecture’s power to leverage information from every domain, delivering unprecedented situational awareness and increased time and options to warfighters,” said Christine Harbison, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. “IBCS’s maturity and ability to connect legacy systems significantly helps to expand their mission capability.”
In the first flight test, the U.S. Army intercepted a high-performance, high-speed tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target using IBCS, aided by Northrop Grumman’s Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) which delivered space-based sensor data to the system for early warning of an inbound TBM launch. IBCS established a track from the JTAGS data before ground-based sensors were able to detect the target, thus providing increased situational awareness for the operators.
During the second flight test, IBCS demonstrated the resilience of the system to defeat two cruise missile targets in a stressing electronic attack environment. IBCS was able to maintain continuous track custody of the targets by fusing data from multiple sensors degraded by electronic attack.
The testing took place at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, utilizing operationally realistic scenarios with soldiers of the U.S. Army 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Regiment at the controls of the system. These tests are part of the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) of IBCS, in which the system is evaluated on its operational performance prior to deployment and full-rate production.
IBCS has an open, modular and scalable architecture that is foundational to integrating all available assets in the battlespace, regardless of source, service or domain. Its architecture enables the efficient and affordable integration of current and future systems. Through numerous successful tests and demonstrations, IBCS has validated the ability to connect and fuse multi-service sensor data to multi-service weapons demonstrating JADC2 capabilities.
16 Mar 22. Big Data analysis protects the Eurofighter. HENSOLDT develops new solution for EW data fusion and evaluation. Solutions provider HENSOLDT is putting its latest technologies in sensor data fusion and analysis at the service of increased protection for the Eurofighter. By combining its Spectrum Battle Management Suite (SBMS), which creates a situation picture from a huge amount of Electronic Warfare (EW) data, with an advanced version of the evaluation software of the Eurofighter self-protection system “Praetorian”, the so-called Electronic Warfare Data Analyser (EWDA), HENSOLDT has developed a tool that allows mission data of the Eurofighter to be evaluated much faster and more precisely and to be used for programming future missions.
“The amount of data that modern sensors deliver today can only be partially utilised with today’s evaluation mechanisms,” says Roland Castor Head of Spectrum Dominance at HENSOLDT. “With the help of our Spectrum Battle Management Suite, we were able to develop an automated solution that proves its worth, especially in the demanding operational scenarios of the Eurofighter. The assertiveness and protection of aircraft and pilots is thus improved once again.”
Modern electronic self-protection systems, such as that of the Eurofighter, require system settings that tell the system on which frequencies threats are to be expected and which jamming techniques should be used. These system settings are taken from recorded reconnaissance data from previous missions. The more accurate and comprehensive this mission data can be evaluated, the better the self-protection system can be programmed for the next mission.
The SBMS software enables mission planning of Electronic Warfare (EW) operations based on reconnaissance results from radar and radio signals (Signal Intelligence, SIGINT). It is continuously further developed by HENSOLDT and is in use in several NATO and EU countries. Due to its modular software architecture, different workflows can be adapted to different units. The SBMS provides a unified software solution for all EW requirements of modern armed forces with integrated workflows ranging from mission planning, control of reconnaissance and command of jamming systems to database management and data analysis.
On the other hand, the EWDA software ensures the analysis of extensive flight data in the Eurofighter with a focus on Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Electronic Countermeasures (ECM). Synthetic laboratory tests are evaluated in real time and complex post-fight analysis is supported. The results ensure the targeted and mission-specific optimisation of system parameters in the Eurofighter self-protection system.
HENSOLDT already supplies the EloKa evaluation software EWDA and SBMS. These will be delivered in a new version towards the end of the year.
10 Mar 22. Congress wants to give Air Force an extra $65m for ABMS. A fiscal year 2022 funding package making its way through Congress includes millions of dollars more than requested for the Advanced Battle Management System, the U.S. Air Force’s contribution to the Pentagon’s communications-and-networks overhaul. Nearly $269m is allotted for the ABMS, documents show, some $65m more than the Air Force initially sought. The bundle includes $728.5bn in military spending for the year. The prospective boost for the Advanced Battle Management System suggests growing support for the effort, which lawmakers and watchdogs have scrutinized.
“One of the things that I think this shows is that it’s getting more real, it’s getting more defined and we’re getting more confidence in Congress in the idea of Joint All-Domain Command and Control as well as the specifics of Joint All-Domain Command and Control,” Air Force Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote said March 9 at the Defense Programs Conference. “And that’s a good thing for tomorrow’s war fighter.”
The Defense Department initially asked for $204m for ABMS in fiscal year 2022 — an increase compared to Congress’ allocation the year prior, but still a significant slash to the service’s original vision.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has said he wants to see the Advanced Battle Management System mature alongside the Defense Department’s grander communications concept known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control, despite prior reservations. The ABMS buildout is one of the secretary’s imperatives, the Air Force said March 3.
“If you look at your operation centers and other command and control nodes — AWACS and JSTARS, for example, battle management nodes which are aging out or increasingly vulnerable to attack — we’ve got to figure out what the architecture looks like,” Kendall said March 9. “And we got to get on replacing. Some of our communications links need to be replaced, as well.”
The Air Force has conducted several demonstrations of new command and control capabilities over recent years. One exercise with the Advanced Battle Management System, in December 2019, showcased data transmission from Army radars, Navy destroyers and fighter aircraft.
The compromise $1.5trn spending package is expected to be signed into law shortly. It passed the House and has support in the Senate.
“It is unquestionably in the interest of the American people that the House and the Senate act quickly to pass this bill and send it to the president,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said March 9.
11 Mar 22. India looking to acquire high-capacity radio relay equipment. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recently issued a request for information (RFI) for high-capacity radio relay (HCRR) equipment for the Indian Army. According to the RFI, the MoD will acquire 800 units of HCRR equipment for the Indian Army. In addition, the HCRR equipment should “meet the operational aim of engineering and setting up secure, high-bandwidth, point-to-point communication links networks in high-altitude areas, mountainous [areas], plains, and deserts”. The RFI is open to “Indian Vendors” as defined under Paragraph 20 in Chapter I of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
Further, the HCRR equipment should comprise a radio, an antenna, and a power subsystem. Moreover, the HCRR equipment should be transportable by a detachment of three personnel in multiple roles. These include a semi-permanent role for deployment on the required terrain, a mobile role with the whole system fitted in a 5 or 7.5-ton vehicle, and a static role with the HCRR equipment stationed in a field shelter. The HCRR’s design should also enable transportation by troops and on mules. (Source: Janes)
10 Mar 22. US DoD forms team to fuel adoption of 5G technology. Under Secretary of Defence for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu will chair the team. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced that it has formed a 5G and FutureG cross-functional team (CFT), to expedite the adoption of transformative 5G and future generation wireless networking technologies. The move comes after the US Congress green lighted the establishment of the CFT in the 2021 National Defence Authorisation Act, to facilitate collaboration within the DoD, and with the private sector, to deliver next generation networking capabilities.
The adoption of new networking technologies is expected to enable armed forces to operate in contested environments.
The DoD’s 5G to Future Generation Initiative acting principal director Amanda Toman said: “Today’s operational requirements call for the acceleration of 5G technology, with at-scale prototyping and experimentation.
“The 5G and Future Generation CFT will play a critical role in advancing the department’s 5G and future generation capabilities.”
The CFT is authorised to execute the DoD’s responsibilities for policy, guidance, research, and development, as well as acquisitions regarding 5G and future generation wireless technology.
It will also work to ensure interoperability by managing outreach with industry, interagency, and international partners.
As agreed, Under Secretary of Defence for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu will chair the CFT.
In a statement, the DoD said: “Shyu’s recent designation of future generation wireless as one of DoD’s 14 critical technology areas underscores the need for the 5G and Future Generation CFT to act quickly in building the ecosystem necessary to rapidly deliver requirements to the warfighter, and innovate for 6G and beyond.”
The team will also include senior officials from across the Office of the Secretary of Defence, the Joint Staff, the Services, and Combatant Commands. In October last year, the US DoD made eight orders to strengthen the domestic small uncrewed aerial systems (sUAS) industrial base. (Source: army-technology.com)
14 Mar 22. Eyes on the Prize: Lockheed Martin Australia focusses on AIR6500. This project is the ADF’s Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS), valued at $1.8-2.8bn in the 2020 Force Structure Plan. After shortlisting two companies in August 2021, LMA and Northrop Grumman Australia, Defence now plans to release a tender this calendar year and aims to have selected a prime contractor and be in contract by the end of 2023. In the run-up to the 2022 Federal election nobody was willing to say more than that about the timing and value of the project.
The JABMS will be a 5th generation C2 system forming the core of an overarching ADF Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) capability. The JABMS will need to integrate no less than 40 legacy systems, including JORN, the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail, Lockheed Martin Australia’s own Tactical Air Defence Radar System (TADRS) based on the AN/TPS-77, and a host of other air surveillance and response capabilities, both ground-based and airborne. One of its aims is to create an Australian networked and integrated joint capability, albeit one acquired and mainly managed by the RAAF.
The RAAF is seeking an ambitious mix of capabilities in its JABMS. In the C2 domain it seeks automation, decision aids, Air Battle Management (ABM), Mission Planning and Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities; these will be protected by a multi-level and cross-domain cyber security system.
Lockheed Martin Australia announced in early March it had signed its second teaming agreement related to AIR6500 Ph1. Last year it announced a teaming agreement with Leidos; this year it announced another, this time with Canberra-based QinetiQ Australia, who will be responsible for Test and Evaluation, Verification and Validation, certification and assurance services and will work with LMA to develop the test and evaluation and governance framework to support risk reduction in the development and delivery of the JABMS.
Defence wants data fusion and data analytics, meaning lots of AI; its legacy and future sensor array includes everything from HF Over The Horizon Radar to ship and fighter radars. It also includes passive sensors: EW, Signals, Electronic and Communications Intelligence (SIGINT, ELINT and COMINT) as well as ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) using passive optical and thermal sensors. It needs communications right across the sensor-effector network, meaning that it needs everything from tactical datalinks to IP networks to robust tactical comms; it needs ICT infrastructure, including servers, storage and cyber security; and it needs training and simulation capabilities. This all needs to be established, commissioned and tested.
The LMA AIR6500 Program Executive, Steve Froelich, said in a media release: “Lockheed Martin Australia’s proven expertise in building, integrating and sustaining advanced technology systems across complex joint all-domain platforms combined with QinetiQ Australia’s unrivalled expertise in integrated air and missile defence test, evaluation, certification and systems assurance, means we are the trusted partner of choice to deliver an unmatched integrated air battle management capability edge to Australia.”
One of the keys to success in AIR6500 will be understanding the customer’s needs correctly, according to Froelich. The company has been positioning itself for Project AIR6500 for seven years, he told EX2: back then, he was running Lockheed Martin’s C2 business in San Diego, California, and was intrigued by the complexity and ambition of Australia’s project. Now he’s actually in Australia, running the company’s AIR6500 bid.
Importantly, Froelich told EX2, there was nothing available on the shelf then or now which can meet the ADF’s needs: Lockheed Martin and LMA might have skills and capabilities they can bring to bear that have been validated on other customers’ programs, but they don’t have product which they can simply adapt for a new customer. The same goes for its rival, Northrop Grumman Australia. The RAAF realised this early, hence its careful search for a prime contractor in what will be much more than a simple transactional contract.
The competition in AIR6500 Ph1 is to be a strategic partner of the RAAF and provide an architecture into which these legacy systems, and others to be acquired in the future, can be integrated. The current Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) is in Stage 2, which is all about risk reduction and demonstrating constructive behaviours.
LMA has leveraged its capabilities in projects of record in the USA and elsewhere, says Froelich, but with nothing available off the shelf it hasn’t been hard to build an Australian supply chain that delivers out to the leading edge of sensor and C2 capability.
Much of the AIR6500 solution will be software; both Leidos and Qinetiq understand Lockheed Martin’s Agile software development process; the former will help develop the software architecture and the code itself while QinetiQ Australia will be an objective and rigorous Test and Evaluation (T&E) contractor, says its managing director, Greg Barsby. He told EX2 that, while LMA does have its own in-house T&E expertise, QinetiQ can undertake objective assessments as a comparative outsider and provide results and evidence to the customer. QinetiQ’s stock in trade is T&E: spun-off from the UK’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 2001, it now employs 7,000 people worldwide and 650 in Australia alone, where it started operations in 2008.
The opportunity here is to be collaborative with the Commonwealth – ‘insight, not oversight’ is Defence’s goal, he told EX2. This marks an interesting evolution in the way Defence manages software-heavy projects. There have been many in the past where the Commonwealth has got the contracting or technical model wrong, sometimes badly so, and Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) has become a great deal more sophisticated in the way it acquires complex systems, say Barsby and Froelich. Among other things, both it and the RAAF have assigned staff to the program on a permanent basis to ensure continuity and retention of corporate skills and knowledge.
“I commend the Air Force’s approach to this program,” Barsby told EX2.
Meanwhile, LMA, like its Canberra-based rival Northrop Grumman, continues to develop a JABMS capability that it will be able to demonstrate as part of the risk mitigation process in CEP Stage 2. The company has examined more than 130 potential suppliers and has so far named eight sub-contractors, among them Penten, who are cyber security specialists; Consilium Technology, whose AI is intended to reduce operator fatigue; Silentium, which has become Australia’s leading exponent of passive radar; secure software developer Consunet; C4I; Ultra; and Shoal Group.
For LMA, the AIR6500 Ph1 project team is headquartered in Adelaide. Why? Because, says Steve Froelich, the company already has significant software and architectural development capabilities in the city: it has spent five years developing an Australian version of the AN/BYG-1 submarine combat system for the RAN’s future submarines; it is developing in Adelaide a slightly modified version of the AEGIS air warfare system for the RAN’s Hunter-class frigates; and this is also the home of the LMA’s JORN team. The company has good relationships with all three major universities in Adelaide, adds Froelich, and the project’s Chief Engineer is there, also.
Supporting all this is the company’s long-term investment in Australian R&D: In 2010 it established the STELaRLAB in Melbourne as its point of focus for low-TRL advanced R&D. This is the company’s first multi-disciplinary R&D centre outside the United States and its principal focus is on information processing, distribution and presentation. It was followed, first, by a strategic LMA investment in the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute of Machine Learning (AIML), which is now located in Adelaide high-tech and defence R&D centre, Lot Fourteen.
The next strategic investment was LMA’s Endeavour Centre in Canberra, established in 2018, which Froelich describes as a “very significant capability” where a lot of C2 integration is carried out and which is set up to both provide customer demonstrations and undertake operational analysis.
If the company wins AIR6500 the aim is to export this capability, says Froelich. Obviously, he says, it would be impossible to provide a conveniently packaged solution for some other customer’s sovereign needs (and Australia’s own sovereign capabilities need protecting as well). But LMA will be adding to an existing in-house capability and providing a pathway to export for Australian members of its supply chain as well. Importantly, he told EX2, the ADF is conceptually ahead of many of its peers around the world: it’s a joint force and so is able to look across the ADF as a whole. This is where other allied defence forces want to go, and Australia, he makes clear, is showing the way both in how it’s organised and how it is equipping itself. (Source: Rumour Control)
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.