Sponsored by Spectra Group
09 Mar 23. Spectra Group announces supply of Troposcatter COMET Systems to ARRC for C2 experimentation. Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, a specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems, announces the supply of a number of Troposcatter Compact Over-the horizon Mobile Expeditionary Terminal (COMET) systems to the British Army’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) 3-star Headquarters (HQ) as part of their Agile Command and Control (C2) experimentation programme. The initial award has a value of £1.2 m, with aspirations to upscale following results analysis and suitable funding being secured. The capability will help support HQ ARRC’s rapid deployment role, enabling the communication of large data in a tactical environment without relying on host nation infrastructure or satellites.
HQ ARRC stands at high readiness to deploy and lead NATO’s Response Force (NRF). The Army’s position as the pre-eminent European Land partner to the US, is achieved through leadership in NATO and reflected in the tenure of the Alliance’s deputy commander post. HQ ARRC provides UK Defence a 3-star HQ, capable of deploying around the world in a variety of configurations to command national or NATO missions. It provides a framework within which international partners can deploy forces and is capable of operating across the spectrum of conflict. As such, HQ ARRC has significant data communication demands that must be met in challenging and austere environments, with minimal infrastructure and when facing both an asymmetric and conventional enemy threat.
Troposcatter is a small, lightweight and high-bandwidth data link that uses the Troposphere to provide its communication network. It is independent of satellites and works in a GPS/GNSS denied environment, so is suitable for use in a Peer-on-Peer conflict and to support multi-domain integration, including pan-government and with allies. It has very low latency and can provide wide bandwidth, enabling analysis and manipulation of large data, which combined with its high mobility makes it suitable for large, deployed HQs (such as ARRC) and for more mobile battlegroups or even down to 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 faced by UK Defence and NATO today.
Spectra Group delivered two COMET systems to HQ ARRC in January 2023 which will allow ARRC to train and deploy at speed with the latest Troposcatter technology and facilitate big data manipulation at the very edge of the tactical environment, while enhancing the HQs flexibility and agility to respond quickly in a crisis. The procurement route was equally as agile as the system itself, as reported in March 2022, Troposcatter COMET was added to the NATO Catalogue so any NATO country can purchase directly without going to tender.
Michael Davies, Business Development Executive at Spectra Group said: “The Troposcatter COMET is a lightweight and easily deployable system that is operationally proven and is also in-service with British high-readiness forces such as the Royal Marines. We are delighted that HQ ARRC has also adopted this system to support its communication and data needs.”
09 Mar 23. US must revive, dominate electronic warfare, Pentagon CIO Sherman says.
The U.S. must “regenerate” its electronic warfare capabilities after years of neglect to ensure dominance on battlefields of the future, John Sherman, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, told a congressional panel.
“As we get ready for China, we better be able to fight and dominate” the electromagnetic spectrum, he told the House Armed Services Cyber, Information Technology and Innovation subcommittee at a March 9 hearing on defense in the digital era.
The CIO oversees national security and defense business systems, including communications, spectrum management, cybersecurity and positioning, navigation and timing policy.
While funding has so far been “sufficient,” Sherman told the panel that the U.S. move away from smaller-scale fighting in the Middle East to confronting world powers around the globe is underscoring the need to get things right in EW, and fast. President Joe Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget blueprint, released Thursday, includes a promise of “investments to out-compete China globally and to continue support for Ukraine in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression.”
“This is something I’m going to bird-dog very carefully from my office here, particularly as we see the services starting to, kind of, regenerate electronic warfare and other capabilities, both to put the enemy back on their heels and ensure our [non-commissioned officers] and our trigger-pullers can stay in touch with one another,” Sherman said. “I think we need to keep a close eye on it here, and monitor, as we regenerate this capability that we had in the Cold War, that we had to maybe somewhat turn away from a bit during the war on terror.”
The electromagnetic spectrum is relied upon by militaries for communications, weapons guidance and situational awareness, among other vital uses. Electronic warfare wields the spectrum in an effort to detect, deceive or destroy.
A conflict with either China or Russia would likely involve significant amounts of digital-first tactics, including jamming, spoofing, hacking and influence campaigns. In Eastern Europe today, forces are jumbling communications, jamming GPS signals and more.
“As we’ve seen on the Ukrainian battlefield — all the dynamics with [electromagnetic spectrum operations], of how the Russians are trying to use it, and the Ukrainians are using it — we cannot be cut off on this, to be able to make sure we can conduct combat operations,” Sherman said.
The U.S. Army and Air Force are trying to inject new life into their respective EW arsenals after years of allowing them to atrophy.
The Army in 2022 awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics Missions Systems for what is known as the Terrestrial Layer System, which will provide soldiers a collection of electronic warfare, cyber and signals intelligence capabilities. It’s also rolling out batches of upgraded communications equipment — to infantry and armor, alike — every two years in an effort known as capability sets.
And the Air Force, as of late last year, was organizing a sprint to identify deficiencies and fix them, according to Lt. Gen. Leah Lauderback, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations.
“As we regenerate it, I want to assure this committee I’m going to keep a close, close sight on this,” Sherman told the lawmakers. (Source: Defense News)
09 Mar 23. Deputy Secretary of Defense Signs 2023-2027 DoD Cyber Workforce Strategy. On February 27, 2023, Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks signed the 2023-2027 DoD Cyber Workforce (CWF) Strategy, which sets the foundation for how the DoD will foster a cyber workforce capable of executing the Department’s complex and varied cyber missions.
The strategy will enable the DoD to close workforce development gaps, resource workforce management and development initiatives, stay at the forefront of technological advances, securely and rapidly deliver resilient systems, and transform into a data-centric enterprise with optimized workforce analytics.
The DoD CIO developed this strategy in coordination with other Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Component heads, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States Cyberspace Command, and the military services to provide focus to cyber-related human capital initiatives in alignment with the 2022 National Defense Strategy that states the Department needs to “Cultivate the Workforce We Need.”
“We are looking at every aspect of the cyber employee’s lifecycle to ensure we are not only finding and hiring a diverse group of skilled cyber specialists but also developing the tools, resources, and partnerships required to continue to grow these individuals professionally,” said Patrick Johnson, director, Workforce Innovation Directorate (WID). “I’m proud of the work our team has done so far, and we still have a lot more work to do to overcome talent shortages within the cyber workforce.”
In addition to the CWF Strategy, WID currently implements several initiatives that support the broader talent management lifecycle for the DoD’s cyber workforce, including the recently published DoD Manual 8140.03.
“This strategy, in combination with our current portfolio, will help to unify cyber personnel management efforts across the DoD and ensure that our workforce continually develops through training and skill-building opportunities,” said Mark Gorak, Principal Director for Resources and Analysis.
The DoD is aligning strategic efforts to four human capital pillars: identification, recruitment, development, and retention. These pillars provide the foundation and set unified direction to accomplish the goals outlined in the CWF Strategy. These goals are to execute consistent capability assessment and analysis processes to stay ahead of force needs; establish an enterprise-wide talent management program to better align force capabilities with current and future requirements; facilitate a cultural shift to optimize Department-wide personnel management activities; and foster collaboration and partnerships to enhance capability development, operational effectiveness, and career-broadening experience.
A forthcoming implementation plan will provide a list of implementation activities the DoD will pursue over a multi-year period, along with key performance indicators to monitor and assess the impact of CWF Strategy activities. Together, the strategy and implementation plan will enable the Department to identify, recruit, develop and retain the most capable and dominant cyber workforce in the world.
To read the CWF Strategy, visit https://dodcio.defense.gov/Cyber-Workforce/CWS/, and to view DoD Manual 8140.03, visit https://dodcio.defense.gov/Portals/0/Documents/Library/DoDM-8140-03.pdf. (Source: US DoD)
07 Mar 23. The Blessed Plot. A promising new development aims to overcome naval surveillance radar line-of-sight restrictions to improve ballistic missile detection and engagement.
Thales shared details of the Plot Level Data Exchange and Fusion (PLDEF) initiative involving the Dutch and French navies during a visit to the company’s facilities in Hengelo in the eastern Netherlands. PLDEF was first demonstrated in 2021. The demonstration took place during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO’s) At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield exercise. NATO says this was the largest live-fire integrated air and missile defence exercise performed by the alliance that year.
Along with several other vessels, the exercise included the Koninklijke Marine (Royal Dutch Navy) De Zeven Provinciën eponymous class frigate. She was joined by the Marine Nationale (French Navy) Forbin ‘Horizon’ class frigate. The Dutch vessel is equipped with Thales SMART-L L-band (1.215 gigahertz/GHz to 1.4GHz) and APAR X-band (8.5GHz to 10.68GHz) naval surveillance radars. The Forbin has a Thales S-1850M L-band naval surveillance radar. During the exercise, the two ships demonstrated they could share radar plots which each other. Tracks represent individual echoes from targets detected by radar. The radar’s software assembles these tracks into a plot. The plot will contain metadata on the target such as velocity, altitude and bearing. It may also be overlaid with target identity information derived from the radar’s identification friend or foe interrogator. During the 2021 experiments PLDEF data was shared between the ships using the Link-16 (960MHz-1.215GHz) Tactical Datalink (TDL) and standard NATO SATCOM links.
Merging the Picture
PLDEF is an important capability. It lets vessels which may be separated by hundreds of nautical miles to use SATCOM and other links to share target plots. This is particularly important if two or more vessels are tasked with detecting ballistic or hypersonic missiles launched from afar. The target could be beyond the radar horizon of the ship tasked with intercepting this threat with her surface-to-air missiles. The SMART-L has a range of 35 nautical miles/nm (65 kilometres/km) against surface-to-surface missiles. This assumes these targets have a low radar cross section and are flying at low altitude. That said, the radar can track ballistic missile targets at ranges of circa 932nm (1,500km) once the missile appears above the horizon. The S-1850M has a range of circa 300nm (480km) for air targets.
A SMART-L-equipped warship could be around 900nm (1,667km) downrange of another equipped with the S-1850. The first ship could track a ballistic missile and share its radar plot with the other vessel even through the latter’s radar has yet to detect the target. PLDEF lets the two ships combine their radar pictures. They can then coordinate the target’s interception based on which vessel is best placed for the engagement. In a nutshell, the PLDEF works to artificially overcome physics-imposed limits on some radars’ line-of-sight detection range. Sharing plot information is a significant step vis-a-vis traditional Tactical Data Links (TDLs) like Link-11 and Link-16 primarily restricted to sharing track information.
The French Navy’s Forbin ‘Horizon’ class destroyer seen here during NATO’s 2021 Formidable Shield exercise. The ship demonstrated the utility of the Plot Level Data Exchange and Fusion system to share radar imagery with the Royal Dutch Navy’s De Zeven Provinciën frigate.
Thales officials said that the data burden imposed on the transfer of this information between radars is noticeably less than those of the US Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). The CEC networks disparate US Navy sensors, battle management systems and weapons on aircraft and ships. It provides a common, rich tactical picture which can be shared within a task force. Details on CEC data rates are classified. Nonetheless, the officials assured Armada that the link budget required to share PLDEF plots is noticeably less than CEC’s allocation.
Company representatives said that the PLDEF provides “better detection performance, better tracking accuracy and better tracking continuity” than hitherto possible with conventional TDLs. They added that testing of the PLDEF architecture at sea will continue. Thales declined to provide any information as to whether PLDEF will form part of the French Navy’s evolving CEC-like architecture. Ultimately, “it is up to the navies to decide how they want to move this forward,” the representatives concluded. (Source: Armada)
08 Mar 23. RIPLs in the OODA Loop. An ambitious project is looking to improve cybersecurity and accessibility for US Air Force cloud computing applications.
The Robust Information Provisioning Layer, better known as RIPL, is a cybersecurity tool being developed under the auspices of the US Air Force’s Research Laboratory (AFRL). RIPL could play a key role in the US Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). This in turn forms a key part of the US Department of Defence’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control architecture (JADC2).
JADC2 will connect every weapon, sensor, platform, base and human asset deployed to support an operation. America’s armed services each have tactical and operational/strategic level Command and Control (C2) systems. These are largely stove-piped, making it difficult for information to flow laterally between them. As a result, the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop can be slowed if information moves between services in a cumbersome fashion. The 2018 US National Defence Strategy first envisaged the need for JADC2. It argued that navigating the OODA loop at a faster clip than one’s adversary is intrinsic to defeating regional anti-access/area denial postures.
The US Navy, US Army and US Air Force are all developing new C2 systems which improve inter- and intra-service flows of information. ABMS is indicative of this. As a paper by the US Congressional Research Service states, cloud computing forms a key part of the architecture. The ABMS aims to create an Internet of Military Things (IOMT). Much like the prevailing JADC2 philosophy this will network all air force assets deployed to support an operation. These assets will continually share their information upwards to the combat cloud and receive information they need down from it. Lateral links between the combat clouds of sister and allied services will let information flow betwixt these.
Managing the Data
The ABMS doubtless risks creating torrents of data all of which needs to be managed. This is where RIPL comes in. Raytheon’s BBN subsidiary has developed RIPL which acts as a custodian of this data only releasing what a user requests and is allowed to see: “In a nutshell, the RIPL system allows seamless and secure access to content for all users in the network. (This ensures) users receive only what they requested and what they are authorised to see,” Sam Nelson, principal investigator at Raytheon’s BBN subsidiary told Armada. “In other words, it provides users at the tactical edge with wide-scale access to content, which may have previously been inaccessible or siloed due to differences in waveforms/networks, platforms and message types, for example.”
RIPL will make significant use of artificial intelligence to ensure information seamlessly and securely flows between users and the cloud even if connectivity is intermittent. This is important when the air force is operating in electromagnetically contested and congested environments. In December 2022, the AFRL performed laboratory experiments. These saw the RIPL architecture connect with SpaceX’s Starlink communications satellite constellation. The demonstration showed that data could be moved between sites in Stockbridge and Rome, north New York State, both involved in the experiment. “We did not fly any platforms during these tests; they were all ground based. This should give some indication as to the readiness level,” Mr. Nelson adds. He continued that the programme is in the “proving the concept” phase. “How various parts of the DOD will actually field this, or deploy it operationally, is still yet to be seen.” (Source: Armada)
09 Mar 23. SpaceX Needs to Get With the Programme. Boxes of Starlink terminals are seen here behind the Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv and his brother Wladimir Klitschko. Deliveries of the terminals began shortly after Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022.
SpaceX’s provision of Starlink terminals and web connectivity to Ukraine should be applauded, but the erratic nature of some members of the company’s management is concerning.
Starlink was “never, never meant to be weaponised,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer, said during the Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington DC on 8th February. “Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement,” Ms. Shotwell continued.
SpaceX famously provided its Starlink Satellite Communications (SATCOM) terminals to Ukraine following Russia’s second invasion of the country on 24th February. Four days later SpaceX began shipping terminals to Ukraine. Lightweight and highly portable the terminals can access SpaceX’s Starlink constellation using Ku-band twelve gigahertz/GHz to 18GHz and 26GHz to 40GHz frequencies. Wideband internet access is provided with data rates of between 20 megabits-per-second/mbps and 220mbps. The terminals access Starlink low earth orbit satellites within line-of-sight range above the Ukraine theatre of operations.
The constellation comprises over 3,200 spacecraft covering most of Europe, parts of the North African coast and the United States. Starlink has made an invaluable contribution to Ukrainian success in the ongoing war. The terminals have enabled Ukraine to outflank Russian attempts to sabotage Ukrainian internet access and have been used to ensure the connectivity of Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure. For example, Newsweek reported that the terminals have helped ensure connectivity between Ukraine’s hospitals and health facilities. Militarily, Starlink has been indispensable for ensuring wideband internet connectivity for Ukrainian forces. It has helped connect uninhabited aerial vehicles with their pilots and to share the data they collect. The contribution has been so valuable that Russian cyberwarriors have tried to hack the terminals. This was first detailed by SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk in March 2022. It was swiftly remedied with a software fix. Russian hacking has continued sporadically since.
Footing the Bill
Ms. Shotwell’s outburst is not the first time SpaceX has courted controversy regarding Starlink provision to Ukraine. CNN reported in October that it had seen a letter sent by SpaceX to the US Department of Defence (US DOD) asking the latter to pay for Ukraine’s Starlink use. SpaceX claimed it could no longer afford to fund this. The report stated that the company has paid 70 percent of all SATCOM services provided to date in Ukraine. This includes subscription rates of $4,500 per-month per-terminal. The terminals themselves sent to Ukraine cost either $1,500 or $2,500. Mr. Musk claimed that the costs incurred by SpaceX providing Starlink terminals and coverage to Ukraine would reach $100 m by the end of 2022. He later said on social media that “SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely (and) send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100 (times) greater than typical households.” Eyebrows were raised regarding Mr. Musk’s claims, particularly as SpaceX’s own figures quoted by CNN said that circa 85 percent of the first 20,000 terminals sent to Ukraine were paid for by the US, Poland and others. These actors also paid for around 30 percent of the bandwidth costs.
Mr. Musk articulated his own ‘peace plan’ for the war on 3rd October 2022. This included requirements for Ukraine to remain neutral. Russia would also retain the southern Ukrainian territory of Crimea it occupied in 2014. Both these conditions would be unacceptable to Kyiv.
This begs the question as to whether Mr. Musk metaphorically threw his toys out of his cot by threatening Starlink provision after his proposals were rejected? Ultimately, Mr. Musk backtracked on 15th October saying on social media: “(T)he hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are getting bbns of taxpayers (dollars) we’ll just keep funding (the Ukrainian government) for free.” The row appeared to have died down until Ms. Shotwell’s interventions this February.
Beyond Ukraine, SpaceX is keen to fulfil US DOD SATCOM requirements. The company has already carved a valuable niche launching satellites for the Pentagon. It has developed a militarised version of Starlink called Starshield. The spacenews.com website reported that this could provide secure worldwide communications to the DOD. These links would presumably be carried over existing and future satellites in the Starlink constellation, albeit with more secure waveforms. The DOD will desperately need SATCOM bandwidth in the future. Its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) architecture will deepen the intra- and inter-connection of all sensors, weapons, personnel, platforms and bases at strategic, operational and tactical levels. This will be done to improve the quality and pace of decision-making at all levels of war.
The recent remarks by SpaceX’s senior leadership are concerning. They arguably risk eroding the vital international support Ukraine is receiving as it resists Russian aggression. Secondly, they seem to show naivety. Mr. Musk cannot have seriously expected that Starlink would not be used for military purposes? After all, these communications give Ukrainian forces a serious tactical advantage over their Russian adversary.
Beyond Ukraine, what do his comments and those of Ms. Shotwell say about the company’s reliability? Would Mr. Musk make similar threats to the DOD if it was using his networks in the future in a way he did not like? To threaten to pull the plug during wartime could be a best irresponsible and at worse may cost lives. The SATCOM services provided by SpaceX have shown themselves to be transformational in Ukraine. They could have a similar effect on US and allied communications in the future. However, this depends on the company being a responsible and reliable actor. (Source: Armada)
09 Mar 23. Re-emergence of Emotet highlights evolution of pre-existing malware, threat to small businesses. As of 7 March, phishing emails containing the Emotet malware have begun infecting devices globally, after a three-month hiatus. Emotet is considered one of the most distributed malware and emerged as a banking Trojan and evolved into a malware dropper that delivers malicious payloads, including ransomware strains like Conti and Trickbot. The newest campaign utilises emails that pretend to be invoices, diverting from hijacking pre-existing email threads to phish users. At this time, the volume of phishing emails remains low, as it is likely the threat actors are trying to rebuild their previous capabilities, gather new credentials to leverage and find high-value targets. Following Microsoft disabling macros in Word documents, there is a realistic likelihood that this campaign will have little success as the actors are still using Word documents with macros. However, it is likely that threat actors will adapt their phishing tactics to address this, which would increase the likelihood of successful infections. Emotet is industry agnostic in its targeting and remains an operation risk to organisations globally, disproportionately affecting small businesses as they often have weaker cyber defences. (Source: Sibylline)
08 Mar 23. Cyber Command, NSA Successes Point Way to Future. U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are on a wartime footing all the time, as the agency works to defend the homeland from cyber attacks, said Army Gen. Paul Nakasone to the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday.
Nakasone serves as the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency. Both organizations have a role in preventing and defeating cyberattacks on America.
“In the contested cyberspace domain U.S. Cyber Command acts against foreign adversaries that threaten our nation through malicious cyber activity and enables action by our federal, private and allied partners,” the general said. “For instance, a combined U.S. Cyber Command-NSA election security group countered malicious cyber actors and oversaw measures to enable the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, among other domestic partners, to defend the recent midterm elections.”
The general noted that the 2022 election cycle was able to proceed “without significant impacts, due in part to our efforts.”
The command cannot rest on its laurels as enemies are always looking for new ways to sabotage the information system in the United States or mining information for their own purposes. “Going forward, success for U.S. Cyber Command will be measured by how effectively foreign adversarial actors are prevented from achieving their strategic objectives,” Nakasone said. “Last year saw significant maturation for U.S. Cyber Command, but our work is not done. In 2023, we must continue to focus on our people, our partners and our ability to deliver a decisive advantage.”
The command must work on readiness and resilience, he said. Every member of the command also must buy into developing and maintaining “a culture of continuous improvement,” he said.
Cybercom is not only crucial to defense of the homeland, but to the other combatant commands. A great advantage to the U.S. military is the ability to network and communicate quickly and securely. It is also a vulnerability. “We will continue to deliver warfighting advantage for the joint force and partners throughout competition, crisis and conflict,” Nakasone said. “We are doing so by executing our service-like authorities to build and sustain campaigns in and through cyberspace, and the information environment.”
These efforts allow the command to counter adversaries and competition to deter conflict and prevail against aggression, he said.
There have been questions about whether Cybercom and NSA should be separated. A recent study by retired Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recommended the arrangement works and should remain the same. “Aligning efforts of both U.S. Cyber Command and NSA is essential to achieving these goals and is in the best interest of the nation and national security,” Nakasone said.
Nakasone did talk about the necessity to retain individuals in the military and civilian workforce. “It all starts with people, the men and women of U.S. Cyber Command working with NSA and partners here and abroad,” he said. “We win with people.”
The problem is not with recruiting, but with retention. The training and experience individuals get in U.S. Cyber Command or the National Security Agency, also makes them attractive to private firms.
He said the services have done a good job of recruiting. The piece that the command needs to work on with the services is the retention piece. “The challenge is someone that has this type of training is very, very attractive to those on the outside,” he said. “But several of the services, the Marines included, have made tremendous progress in this in being able to focus their Marines on doing what these Marines wanted to do, which is cyber operations.”
Giving people the opportunity to work on cyber operations and keeping them in those jobs where they make a difference has improved retention rates. (Source: US DoD)
08 Mar 23. Boeing, Shield AI Set to Collaborate on Artificial Intelligence, Autonomy for Defense Programs.
– Teams will explore integrating artificial intelligence technology on current and future programs for military customers
Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Shield AI have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore strategic collaboration in the areas of autonomous capabilities and artificial intelligence on current and future defense programs. The agreement, signed at the Air Force Association Warfare Symposium, will be managed by Boeing Phantom Works.
“Boeing continues to leverage talent from across the enterprise to make great strides in autonomous capabilities and programs in recent years,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager for Boeing’s Air Dominance organization. “Collaborating with Shield AI, the leader in AI pilots, will accelerate our ability to deliver these capabilities to the warfighter.”
Shield AI created Hivemind, an artificial intelligence pilot that has flown a variety of aircraft. According to Shield AI, the AI pilot can also enable swarms of drones and aircraft to operate autonomously without GPS, communications or a human pilot in the cockpit.
“AI pilots are the most strategic deterrent technology since the introduction of stealth aircraft and have proven successful in flying air-combat scenarios” said Brandon Tseng, president and co-founder of Shield AI and a former Navy SEAL. “Integrating Boeing aircraft with our AI pilot would redefine what large aircraft, crewed or uncrewed, could do. As the world leader in aerospace technology, Boeing has been exceptionally easy to engage with, so we are excited to expand our scope of work to co-develop, productize and bring to market the world’s best AI pilot for large aircraft.”
About Shield AI
Shield AI is a venture-backed defense technology company whose mission is to protect service members and civilians with intelligent systems. In pursuit of this mission, Shield AI is building the world’s best AI pilot. Its AI pilot, Hivemind, has flown a fighter jet (F-16), a vertical takeoff and landing drone (V-BAT), and a quadcopter (Nova). The company has offices in San Diego, Dallas, Washington DC and abroad. Shield AI’s products and people are currently in the field actively supporting operations with the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. allies. For more information, visit www.shield.ai.
08 Mar 23. APAC: Elevated risk of cyberespionage against regional governments amid ongoing tensions. On 7 March, Check Point Research released a report detailing the latest campaign carried out by the Chinese threat group Sharp Panda. The group has reportedly targeted high-profile government entities in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia with a new version of the ‘Soul’ malware since 2022. The campaign is still ongoing according to Check Point Research. The campaign uses spear-phishing for the initial compromise, with the malware containing a “radio silence” feature. This capability allows the threat actor to close the backdoor to the C2 server on specific hours, thus evading detection during working hours. While the exact reasons behind the espionage campaign remain unclear, Chinese threat actors are known to conduct espionage in the APAC region to monitor high-value government and diplomatic officials, obtain strategic information and policy related to China and the South-China Sea, and other useful intelligence. Government entities are always attractive targets for state-sponsored cyberespionage, and with the uptick in recent Chinese cyberespionage campaigns, there is a sustained risk to the public sector for the foreseeable future as tensions between China and the West continue. (Source: Sibylline)
27 Feb 23. The Australian Department of Defence has committed a combined $1.746m in funding two artificial intelligence research projects with the University of South Australia and Deakin University. The funding will be made available from the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) by a phase two call-out from the Defence Artificial Intelligence Research Network (DAIRNet).
Defence has signed contracts on 6 March for two research projects, which will use artificial intelligence to process noisy and dynamic data into information and help inform military decision making.
The University of South Australia research project will develop a statistical machine learning algorithm to detect early signs of infection in a person using data from devices like smart watches. It is expected to have practical applications for early detection of chemical or biological threats and maximise the intervention effectiveness.
The Deakin University project will apply machine learning to develop models that can process multi-source, multi-modal, irregularly timed, noisy, and dynamic data, through their Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute.
Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro said the aim of the two-year projects was to rapidly develop prototypes that deliver defence capabilities.
“Robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence are a group of technologies that are a Defence Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority,” she said.
“The DAIRNet Phase II call-out sought innovative proposals for prototypes that will help warfighters achieve superior decision making, and ultimately enhance defence capability.”
The NGTF is a cornerstone of Department of Defence’s integrated innovation system with $1.2 bbn in funding through to 2030 to invest in new capabilities for Defence. (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Mar 23. White House Announces National Cybersecurity Strategy. The White House has announced a National Cybersecurity Strategy. This strategy seeks to build and enhance collaboration around five pillars: (i) Defend critical infrastructure, (ii) Disrupt and dismantle threat actors, (iii) Shape market forces to drive security and resilience, (iv) Invest in a resilient future, and (v) Forge international partnerships to pursue shared goals. To realize the vision these pillars layout, the strategy calls for making two fundamental shifts in how the United States allocates roles, responsibilities, and resources in cyberspace. In realizing these shifts, the strategy aspires not just to improve U.S. defenses, but to change those underlying dynamics that currently contravene its interests. (Source: glstrade.com)
27 Feb 23. ASTM International “developing an uncrewed aircraft-to-anything communication standard.” ASTM International’s unmanned aircraft systems committee (F38) is developing a proposed standard that will help identify communications security principles and relevant frameworks for securing ad hoc uncrewed aircraft system communications. According to a press release from the organisation:
“ASTM member Drew Van Duren says that the proposed standard (WK84631) will identify and describe a tailorable approach to securing aircraft-to-anything (A2X) broadcast-type applications. “With the phenomenal scaling of UAS operations worldwide, there is a burgeoning need for UA and other aircraft types to be able to communicate ad hoc, safety-related data with each other, not just with air traffic control or their operators. Networks are simply not omnipresent, and they can introduce unacceptable latency.” According to Van Duren, the security of such links is vital, particularly in safety-critical applications such as detect-and-avoid (DAA) and related manoeuvring.
“The proposed standard will describe the types of security controls available and the appropriate use of cryptographic, credential-based solutions for implementing those controls,” says Van Duren. “The standard will also address the trade-space between various security options available and their impacts on messaging overhead, utilization of radio frequency spectrum, and demands imposed on trust management infrastructures.”
According to Van Duren the committee will apply the security principles by standardizing an authentication and integrity mechanism for ASTM’s broadcast remote ID standard (F3411-22a).
ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards – see www.astm.org/JOIN.
“The more participation we get from different types of stakeholders, the better,” says Van Duren. “For example, there is an enormous relationship between security controls, cryptographic trust credentialing, and evolving national/international polices that can influence how the security is used to maintain minimum thresholds of trust.” Because of this, Van Duren notes, the committee is interested in participation from stakeholders involved in both technical and policy aspects of UAS security. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
06 Mar 23. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) will participate in Phase 1 of the Common Tactical Edge Network (CTEN) consortium, an opportunity to leverage digital engineering to build and demonstrate the backbone of a connected battlespace for the U.S. Air Force. The CTEN Phase 1 award was announced after Northrop Grumman successfully demonstrated proven network, communications, and processing solutions to enable Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) by connecting sensors and platforms to distribute data across all domains.
Northrop Grumman connected previously incompatible links and networks using an Open Mission Systems (OMS) compliant radio, Resilient Network Controller, machine learning algorithms and gateway technology.
“We provide the connectivity for military platforms, sensors and systems to communicate using open, mission-aware networking solutions,” said Kevin Berkowitz, senior director, network solutions, Northrop Grumman. “The CTEN demonstration and Phase 1 award are two examples of Northrop Grumman’s integrated capabilities that get the right data to the right place at the right time in support of the Department of Defense’s JADC2 vision.”
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.