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26 Dec 22. Czech Army unveils new indigenous STARKOM tactical communication jammer. Janes has learnt details of the STAvebnicový Rušič KOMunikační (Modular Communication Jammer: STARKOM), one of the main components of a mobile electronic warfare (EW) system. The first STARKOM system was delivered to the Czech Army’s 53rd Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare Regiment in mid-October.
The system was developed and manufactured entirely in the Czech Republic in only three years. The main contractor is the state-owned VVU Brno military research institute, with the software (SW) and key hardware components related to EW provided by specialised Czech jamming systems manufacturer URC Systems, supported by systems engineering company JISR Institute. (Source: Janes)
22 Dec 22. USAF sees 5G as one of many connectors on future battlefields.
The U.S. Department of the Air Force considers 5G a promising avenue for communication — but far from the only one — on future battlefields, amid a Pentagon-wide push to keep forces connected across vast distances.
While some consider the fifth generation of wireless technologies as extraordinary, Jay Bonci, the department’s chief technology officer, sees it as an additional means of connectivity, or another arrow in the quiver of military networking.
“It’s a bandwidth provider. It’s got some interesting technologies, in future tranches, that we’re looking at for military utility,” Bonci said Dec. 14 during a livestreamed C4ISRNET event. “But our standing position is it is a part of ‘connect,’ the same way fiber works, same way Wi-Fi works. And we’ll continue to think about it in those regards.”
The Pentagon has invested bns in 5G — with its 2020 strategy recognizing it as “far more disruptive” than its predecessors, such as 4G — and in recent years established test beds at a dozen military installations. Bonci described the Defense Department as having “special emphasis” on 5G, adding that the Air and Space forces are “answering the mail on that.”
5G pledges exponentially faster speeds as well as capacity to accommodate more and more-advanced devices, which can pay dividends for defense, health care, logistics and more. But 5G that lives up to the hype has yet to arrive for many; the sluggish rollout is often blamed on squabbles between industry and lawmakers over the designation of space on public airwaves.
“We are here at kind of the early days of 5G,” Bonci said. “Everyone recognizes the potential of a more-connected military to be able to do great things and we’re, again, working through these elements.”
Defense companies are tinkering, too.
Lockheed Martin, the No. 1 defense contractor ranked by revenue, according to Defense News analysis, and Verizon in September said they were able to securely share and analyze real-time intelligence captured by a swarm of drones via 5G wireless networks, both private and public.
Viasat in June announced it would, over four years, explore how 5G networking and related gear can support Marine Corps operations abroad, including needs for long-range precision fires, refueling, rearming, surveillance and reconnaissance.
And General Dynamics Information Technology, Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Splunk and T-Mobile have formed a 5G coalition to accelerate adoption across several sectors, the military among them. The efforts of the GDIT 5G and Edge Accelerator Coalition stem from the Advanced Wireless Emerge Lab, where work is already underway to identify the best 5G applications and how kit can be cost-effectively implemented across federal, state and local agencies.
“To that end, our industry partners, the AT&Ts, Verizons, T-Mobiles of the world, as well as the private infrastructure providers for private 5G networks, have been really great at being at the table to help us get this right together,” said Bonci, who previously worked at Akamai Technologies, a digital security and computing company.
The Pentagon secured some $338m for 5G and microelectronics in fiscal 2022. It sought $250m for 2023. Congressional leaders this week unveiled a $1.7trn government spending package, which includes $858bn for defense. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Dec 22. Pentagon, intelligence community eye cloud collaboration.
The Pentagon’s recently inked Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract sets the stage for greater collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense and intelligence agencies, according to officials from both communities.
The department awarded the JWCC deal in early December to four companies: Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon and Google. Under the arrangement, the companies will compete for task orders worth up to $9bn through June 2028. The vendors, each only promised $100,000, will provide cloud computing, storage and other services to users around the globe and across all classification levels.
Speaking this month at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems Worldwide Conference in San Antonio, Texas, leaders from the military and intelligence agencies said the award of JWCC provides an opportunity for unprecedented collaboration as the organizations design an enterprise-wide architecture.
“This enables us for the first time ever to be able to jointly use, co-use, these capabilities from these vendors, between the DoD and the IC,” Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, said during a Dec. 14 speech. “That’s huge.”
The intelligence community has its own multi-cloud construct, similar to JWCC, called Commercial Cloud Enterprise, or C2E. The 15-year contract, awarded in 2020, includes the same vendors as JWCC plus New York-based IBM, which provide services to intelligence agencies and other users.
DoD and the IC are establishing “co-use” agreements that allow intelligence officers to access the tactical elements of cloud that the military will build out and, conversely, lets defense users take advantage of the top-secret environments that the IC will establish. It also means the agencies can both draw from the same pool of vendors for various services.
DISA is the lead on JWCC, and while the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is managing the IC contract, the Defense Intelligence Agency is helping create the top-secret cloud environment. DIA’s highly classified communication network, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System — which is in the midst of a significant modernization and expansion effort — will connect the top-secret elements of the cloud.
DIA Chief Information Officer Doug Cossa told reporters during a Dec. 13 roundtable at the conference the benefit of working so closely with the Defense Department to establish the foundational infrastructure is that it allows for interoperability further down the line.
“It really is a huge step forward for the department and the IC as a whole that we’re actually planning the design together and not waiting until things are in operation only to find out that it’s not interoperable,” he said.
The early partnership and access to both contract vehicles also gives the user communities options, Cossa added. DoD officials have said they believe the competition baked into the JWCC arrangement — with Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon and Google competing for every task — will produce best-of-breed products and drive down costs.
“As we define the vendors and the capabilities on JWCC and we make our awards on C2E, we have two vehicles that we could use,” he said. “When you lock yourself into one IT phenomenology or one IT capability, you limit your function as a result of that. Expanding the offerings to where we can leverage the best cloud service provider for the best function really helps us build up our enterprise.”
How and where will the cloud be accessed?
Some of the initial collaboration will involve determining where to locate cloud access points, Cossa said. While today’s cloud infrastructure is largely focused in the U.S., part of the goal of JWCC and C2E is to move that connectivity overseas.
Expanding access to users by creating entry points that are closer to combatant commands and other overseas locations will speed up communication, he said. Quicker, more protected communications are critical to the Defense Department as it increasingly focuses on competition with technologically advanced competitors, such as China and Russia, and less on counterterrorism operations.
“Creating these cloud connection points around the world to be able to decrease the amount of distance . . . that’s the real change that we’re talking about,” Cossa said.
Determining where to place those connection points won’t be easy, he said. While the intelligence and defense communities share about 80% of their requirements, they’ll need to negotiate the remaining 20%.
“The biggest challenge is deciding where in the world are the most efficient locations that get to the equities of both the IC and the DoD,” Cossa said. “How do we balance those? That’s probably the hardest decision that we need to make.” (Source: Defense News)
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