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13 Dec 18. NATO to send Ukraine secure comms amid Russia standoff. NATO announced on 13 December that it will supply Ukraine with secure communications equipment by the end of the year to help Kiev combat destabilisation efforts by Russia.
Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg praised Ukraine for its ‘calm and restraint’ during the recent naval standoff with Russia in the Azov Sea and said NATO support for Kiev would continue.
After talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Stoltenberg repeated a call for Russia to free sailors seized in the Azov Sea clash last month.
‘Today, I told President Poroshenko that we will deliver secure communications equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the end of this year,’ Stoltenberg said.
‘We are also supporting Ukraine to improve its naval capabilities, logistics and cyber defence.’
Earlier this week the EU said Russia had prepared the ground for the sea clash with a year-long campaign of disinformation about Kiev and NATO’s plan for the Azov Sea.
Stoltenberg took aim at Russia’s ‘destabilising behaviour’, particularly in Ukraine where a conflict rages in the east between the government and separatists supported by Moscow.
Stoltenberg also said that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission in Ukraine was facing restrictions.
‘They are regularly prevented from moving freely and their observation drones are jammed and shot down,’ Stoltenberg said. (Source: Shephard)
14 Dec 18. APEC success demonstrates Currawong capability: Boeing. Boeing’s Currawong Battlespace Communications System has completed its first operational deployment, supporting the ADF security operations for the APEC leaders’ conference in Papua New Guinea. Boeing delivered the new network under LAND 2072 Phase 2B, which included the core communication network software and hardware, along with 39 deployable communication nodes to date. More than 700 communications specialists have now been trained to use the system, with ongoing support provided by Boeing field service representatives as part of the ongoing support contract. Multiple defence units are currently using the Currawong I-BTN during Army’s largest annual exercise, Exercise Hamel 2018, in Shoalwater Bay.
Program director of Boeing Defence Australia’s Project Currawong Ian Vett said the rapid rate at which the system reached deployed operations since declaring initial operating capability in March spoke to the confidence the ADF has in the next-generation communications system.
“Our team is incredibly happy with the feedback we’ve received on Currawong’s first operational deployment. It proved itself to be a highly capable, reliable and mobile communications system that enabled the seamless flow of information,” said Vett.
Currawong provided huge transfer capacity of voice, graphics, video and text data needed to support real-time situational awareness for Operation APEC Assist commanders and their staff.
Colonel Joanne Whittaker, Army Headquarters, stated tha the Army was impressed with the Currawong Integrated Battlespace Telecommunications Network System capability during the operation and that Boeing should be “very proud” of the first operational deployment of the Currawong System, where it worked reliably and effectively.
Lieutenant Colonel Blaydon Morris, Commanding Officer 1st Signal Regiment and the J6 for OP APEC, stated, “Noting this is the first operational deployment for Currawong, it was essential to the successful conduct of the operation. The flexibility it provided to Commander JTF658, Major General Paul McLachlan, in executing the mission was revolutionary and has proven a significant step forward in the ADF’s modernisation.”
Vett echoed these sentiments stating, “We’re proud to have delivered a system that not only enables the timely receipt of accurate information but ensures that information is presented in a format that can be readily digested and shared to support the chain of command.”
The successful operational deployment of Currawong to support APEC comes months after the system reachedinitial operating capability (IOC) earlier this year, just four months following the first material delivery of the platform.
Boeing Defence Australia vice president and managing director Darren Edwards said at the time, “The rapid implementation of the Australian-designed and manufactured communications network is testament to the high customer engagement during the product development and the expertise of Boeing’s Australian team in delivering complex development systems.”
The modern Currawong Battlespace Communications System replaces bulky, static and complicated legacy systems with a mobile, scalable and easy to operate ‘plug and play’ communications capability that can be quickly established in theatre. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Dec 18. USMC looking to integrate new information capabilities. The Marine Corps has famously claimed that every Marine is a rifleman, but the Corps has moved 1,000 personnel in the last two years to focus on cyber, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and information operations. These moves have come at the cost of infantry, “a pretty big cost to go pay for the Marine Corps,” Kenneth Bible, deputy director of the C4 directorate and deputy chief information officer, said Dec. 6 at the Charleston Defense Contractors Association Defense Summit. “The commandant really had to go think about taking that out of the structure to create these [units] across the Marine Corps.”
Now the Marines are looking to integrate these new units — called Marine Expeditionary Force Information Groups, or MIGs — with traditional formations. The deputy commandant for information, a new three-star position created in 2017 to oversee all aspects of information-related warfare, is overseeing efforts to further develop the groups and integrate them into battle plans.
“How does he employ those capabilities as part of an integrated warfare plan? How does he implement a strike package in the information domain?” Bible said. “We really have to figure out how to go make that a relevant force and make it something that the MEF commanders can use.”
Bible explained these forces will be able to provide traditional military information support operations, psychological operations, military deception, or cyber to fight in the information environment. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 Dec 18. Here’s what the US Army is saying about its new electronic warfare solution. 3A U.S. Army official is describing results from the recent deployment of an urgent electronic warfare capability to Europe as mixed. In light of advanced Russian capabilities in theater, the U.S. Army decided it couldn’t wait for the current trajectory of the service’s official program schedule for the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, or EWPMT, a command-and-control planning capability that allows commanders and soldiers to visualize on a screen the effects of electronic warfare in the field. Rather, the Army issued what’s known as an urgent operational need statement for a capability that bridged the incremental capability insertions for EWPMT, the next of which is not slated to be delivered for some time. Enter Raven Claw 1, added to EWPMT ahead of the next capability phase (due in 2020). Raven Claw enables soldiers to conduct electronic warfare planning and management on the move and without network connection, getting at a critical need for troops in Europe, who are rarely tethered to a static command post.
More specifically, Raven Claw adds capabilities so when electronic warfare officers are in a vehicle in the field, they benefit form real-time updates and the command-and control of sensors, as well as better communication with the command post in a degraded environment, according to Niraj Srivastava, a product line manager for airborne information operations electronic warfare systems at Raytheon.
“The key thing here was from the [electronic warfare officer’s] perspective in the vehicle, it was really important the we create a capability that allows them to easily identify a new threat, geolocate that threat and share that information with their peer or the command post,” Srivastava told C4ISRNET during a system demonstration Nov. 28
Army officials have lauded the overall Raven Claw process as a demonstration for how the service can more quickly provide capabilities to war fighters, while informing the program about future requirements based on solider feedback.
The Army has received these results of the Raven Claw deployment to Europe, and one official described its results of the specific capability as mixed.
“It does what it’s supposed to do, but it requires a lot of computing capacity and also it requires a lot of inputs from the [electronic warfare officers] right now,” Col. Mark Dotson, the Army’s capability manager for electronic warfare, told C4ISRNET in a November interview.
Dotson said the service is trying to simplify the system and make it more user-friendly.
“How do we automate some of the inputs so that it’s more user-friendly at the EWO level so they can actually go through modeling and sim without having to input each system individually?” he said.
Raytheon has programmed in what it calls automated “plays” to help relieve the cognitive burden on electronic warfare personnel in the field. This allows for automated actions when certain conditions are met, such as turning off sensors on a specific frequency if they’re detected by the sensing system.
“Anything we can do to help him concentrate on the objective and reduce his workload was one of the objectives of the [quick reaction capability],” Srivastava said.
Dotson identified another concern related to computing capacity. He said the Army is eyeing lighter versions of the capability that could be available for lower echelons, which may not need the modeling and simulation required at higher echelons.
“We’re looking at ways to tailor it specifically to the echelon, and then that will help us with the platform we need to put it on,” he said. The modeling and simulation might be important at the staff officer level, he added, but he questioned whether that computing power is needed at the micro-tactical level.
Dotson noted that this process of providing a needed capability and assessing soldier feedback have allowed program officials to identify potential burdens on the tactical network.
“We think it’s going to be big,” he said, “but we’re integrated with the [capability managers] for tactical radios, mission command, network and services so that we can work through that problem or work through how that’s going to happen rather than before where we were kind of guessing how much of a burden it’s going to be.”
Regarding the future of the program, Dotson said capability drop 3 was approved last year, and the Army is in staffing for capability drop 4, the last of the capabilities as slated by the initial program timeline.
Dotson added that capability drop 4 is “absolutely” influenced by what has been learned in Europe. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 Dec 18. InstantEye Robotics Forms Cybersecurity Group. New Group within InstantEye Robotics Tasked with Ensuring Information Security of Robotics Systems. InstantEye Robotics today announced the formation of a special group tasked with the development and implementation of advanced cybersecurity measures across its family of robotic systems. The charter of the InstantEye Cybersecurity Group is to continually assess threats to data validity and integrity on InstantEye platforms and to develop measures in hardware, software and operational employment to minimize information risk.
InstantEye operators – whether military personnel, first responders, or professional inspectors – have an expectation that the system will be available when they need it and that the information provided is accurate and secure. Threats to information availability take many forms: environmental conditions, unintended interference by nearby infrastructure such as cell towers or power generators, and malicious attacks intended to interfere with normal system operations. While the Cybersecurity Group has a broad purview that addresses all these areas, its primary focus is the detection, analysis and defeat of malicious attacks on the system.
Among the technologies under development is an “encryption engine” with a size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) sufficiently small that it can be deployed across the entire InstantEye family of systems. The device is tightly integrated into the system and is rapidly reconfigurable to quickly counter emerging threats as they are uncovered. The encryption engine is designed to allow different cipher methods to be used depending on customer requirements or threat environment demands, and it will employ blockchain concepts to ensure data integrity and to detect tampering attempts.
“While the newest InstantEye Mk-3 products already use the latest data protection techniques, we are strongly committed to continuous assessment of existing and emerging threats and to developing effective ways to defeat them,” said Tom Vaneck, Vice President of InstantEye Robotics. “The encryption engine is just one of a number of ongoing activities in the Cybersecurity Group. We believe that our approach makes us uniquely flexible to address the ever-evolving threats to cybersecurity.”
InstantEye Robotics is a division of Physical Sciences Inc., both located in Andover Massachusetts. InstantEye Robotics is a global leader in tactical unmanned aircraft systems. When customers need a reliable, portfolio-manageable, multi-mission system, they choose InstantEye. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
11 Dec 18. Thailand’s military is working to further link major weapon systems. The words “network-centric Air Force” are emblazoned all over the buildings that make up the Royal Thai Air Force’s Wing 7, located at Surat Thani Air Force Base, southern Thailand.
One could find it in conference rooms, in promotional videos created to highlight the wing’s significance and on a mural in one space where pilots grab coffee between briefings or sorties.
Wing 7 is known for being the home of Thailand’s 11 Gripen fighter jets, but its squadron commanders and pilots say the Thai military’s indigenous network, called Link T, is just as critical to the wing’s future.
Having “network-centric wings actually is kind of the big picture of the Royal Thai Air Force,” said Group Capt. Prachya Tippayarat, deputy commander of the RTAF’s Wing 7. “We had to start almost from — well, not from zero — but we had do something to be able to reach that [vision].”
Link T, a tactical data link manufactured by Saab and managed by Thailand, makes it possible for Wing 7’s Gripens and its two Saab 340 airborne early warning aircraft to share a common battlespace picture. Defense News visited the Wing 7 from Nov. 27-28 and accepted airfare and accommodations from Saab.
Now, the Thai military is working to expand Link T’s reach to make its major weapon systems more interoperable — a goal that might sound familiar to observers in the United States.
Top U.S. military leaders such as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson have rallied around the idea that future battlefields will require the services’ platforms to be networked together to seamlessly share data.
The Thai military’s work to link its own aircraft, ships and other weapon systems show that this is not a problem unique to the United States or NATO.
Thailand has close ties with its neighbors through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The country is also allied with China and the United States, and it conducts military exercises with both nations, such as the “Falcon Strike 2018” air force drills that occurred this September with China and the multinational “Pitch Black” exercise with Australia, the United States, Canada and others.
Because Thailand has good relationships with countries that may be competing or are adversaries with each other, protecting Thai sovereignty — and its information — is of primary importance to its government.
“We aim to have our own defense. We have to be able to stand on our own feet in defense of the country,” Tippayarat said. Link T gives the military “[a] link that we can use every time,” no matter what the situation or threat.
Link T is “easy to use,” he said. “We see everything that happens around us. … We can see a friendly force. We can see our enemies.”
The path to developing Link T began around 2008, as Royal Thai Air Force leaders began calling for a more digital air force that would be able to use emerging computer technology and understand English — which Thai service officials saw as fundamental so that foreign-derived technical publications and tactics could be understood by pilots and maintainers, Tippayarat said. (Source: Defense News)
10 Dec 18. UK eyes new digital radios as Morpheus advances. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published a new request for information (RFI) seeking industry input on next-generation software-defined radios, kick-starting efforts to eventually replace legacy multi-mode radios (MMRs) as part of a wide-ranging Morpheus communications upgrade. The RFI was released to industry in late November to assess what is currently available on the market. The MoD is considering a future MMR “that shall be a software-defined combat net radio capable of operating across a broad range of frequencies, from 30 MHz to 2,000 MHz, to deliver point to point, networked, or mobile ad hoc network [MANET] communications”, the RFI said.
It added: “It shall make use of differing waveforms and cryptographic standards and cyphers to achieve secure communication effect, enabling simultaneous voice and data transmission in both line-of-sight [LOS] and beyond line-of-sight [BLOS] roles.”
The UK MoD said it is seeking dismounted and vehicle-mounted solutions that can be deployed across a “broad spectrum” of operational and climatic conditions. According to documentation viewed by Jane’s, the future MMR is considered a “discrete” element of the Morpheus sub-programme, which falls under the wider Land Environment Tactical Communication Information Systems (LE TacCIS) modernisation.
The UK uses the Bowman family of tactical radios to provide secure high frequency (HF), very HF (VHF), and ultra HF (UHF) voice and data communications. Bowman is now going through its final major upgrade – known as Bowman ComBAT Infrastructure P-BISA (BCIP) 5.6 – before a ‘Main Gate’ decision on Morpheus is expected in the early 2020s. During this transition phase, General Dynamics Mission Systems UK has been contracted to develop a new open architecture standard known as Evolve-to-Open (EvO). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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.