Sponsored by Spectra Group
14 Feb 19. US Navy awards fibre optic mooring technology contract to OPT. The US Navy has awarded a contract to Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) to develop a fibre optic mooring system to enable the transmission of subsea sensor data to airplanes, ships, and satellites. The Phase I contract is valued at $125,000 and includes three options worth an aggregate value of $100,000.
Designed to address the Navy’s need for reliable and low-cost ‘optical-mechanical mooring cables’, the contract work will be delivered under OPT’s Innovation & Support Services line. The company noted that the fibre optic-based buoy mooring concepts being developed under the US Navy contract is likely to be incorporated into its PowerBuoy and Subsea Battery Module product lines.
Ocean Power Technologies CEO George Kirby said: “We’re very excited for this Phase I award by the US Navy to develop a fibre optic mooring line which may be used for both defence and commercial applications.
“We believe that this new contract award further validates our technical expertise and experience with ocean energy systems and could also lead to additional future contract awards where we might utilise OPT technologies which are already in advanced stages of development.”
OPT expects to bid on a Phase II contract.
Previously, the firm proposed to power acoustic and non-acoustic sensors and enhance the persistence of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) through battery recharging and critical data transfer.
As part of a prior contract with the Office of Naval Research, OPT advanced its anchorless PowerBuoy design. The company is currently in the process of prototyping the design for both defence and commercial applications.
Kirby added: “The anchorless PowerBuoy design is very encouraging to our customers due to its innovative and patented approach to power generation and also the need for a quick-deploy solution throughout markets such as defence and offshore oil and gas.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
14 Feb 19. ViaLite Launches C-Band RF over Fiber Link. ViaLite has launched a new C-Band RF over fiber link. With a C-Band uplink/downlink frequency range of 3.4–7.1 GHz, the link is suitable for use in a wide range of satcom and broadcast applications, as well as some surveillance and weather radar systems. The link’s full frequency range is 500 MHz – 7.5 GHz. By removing the requirement for an up/down converter to convert signals to an IF band, the module reduces deployment costs and complexity. Another benefit is that there is virtually no signal attenuation across the site from the dish to the operations center. The ViaLiteHD C-Band Link is available either as a rack chassis card or as a new purple OEM module, and comes with a five year warranty as standard.
“The C-Band Link has the highest frequency band of all our RF over fiber links and we anticipate it generating a lot of interest,” said ViaLite Marketing Manager: Natasha Miller.
13 Feb 19. In a unique partnership between the UK and the US, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in collaboration with the Wright Brothers Institute (WBI), are inviting individuals and teams from across industry, academia and the general public to take part in a special hackathon. Using a bespoke synthetic environment from AFRL, this hackathon is going to develop new and innovative ways to use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to assist the emergency services to deal with wildfires. This pioneering initiative aims to find new ways of using UASs for global search and rescue in defence and the public sector. Scenarios will be run in parallel with the US via a continuous video link with the WBI in Dayton, Ohio who are hosting the same event in the US.
The hackathon will explore innovative ways to plan missions using multiple systems to assist in the identification and prediction of how wildfires will spread and subsequently find preventative solutions, minimise damage and save lives. Teams will use a range of collaboration platforms to explore different fire scenarios with an increasing level of complexity, working with experts from the Fire Service, Dstl and the wider Ministry of Defence. Dstl and AFRL are using this innovative approach to find the best Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) algorithms that embody efficiency and resilience.
Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Collaboration in innovative research between the UK and US continues to push the boundaries of advanced technology. This hackathon will bring together the best and brightest from academia, industry and the public to discover new ways to utilise life-saving drone technology.”
Tim Wright, Dstl’s Aerospace Systems Group Leader, said: “The speed and ferocity of the devastating wildfires in California demonstrated the need to develop new ways of using science and technology to assist the emergency services wherever possible. Small unmanned air systems or ‘drones’ – in the right hands – could offer a way of reducing the burden on the emergency services by mapping and tracking a wildfire in real time, autonomously, so efforts can be focussed rapidly where they’re needed to save more lives. We are reaching out to industry, academia, tech start-ups, coders, anyone with new ideas and an interest in drones, artificial intelligence or autonomy to help us find and develop new concepts of controlling drones in the most efficient and effective ways to give as much assistance to the emergency services as possible. This event will be a fantastic opportunity to spend a weekend with some of the best minds in the business from the UK and US, collaborating simultaneously with the Wright Brothers Institute’s hackathon.”
Mick Hitchcock from the US Air Force, said: “It is fantastic to be able to work with Dstl on this project. The activity fits right into both countries’ desire to approach research differently, and involves non-traditional innovative thinkers as partners and most importantly get results faster. The competition is not between the two countries, but to highlight the ability to rapidly work together on tough problems.”
The winning team from the UK hackathon will be offered a unique opportunity to present their winning ideas and proposal for further exploitation at the British Embassy in Washington DC. Costs for travel and accommodation will be provided where appropriate. The winning teams from both the US and UK hackathons will also be recognised at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019 unmanned and autonomous systems trade show.
The UK and US hackathons take place simultaneously from 29th to 31st March 2019 with the UK event taking place at the ‘Spark’ Facility at Southampton Solent University.
To register for this unique event, visit the Dstl’s Eventbrite [https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/2019-fire-hack-registration-53590796515] page and follow #2019firehack on Twitter.
12 Feb 19. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo announced Leidos Australia as the prime system integrator to deliver the first tranche of Joint Project 2096 Phase 1. Defence has approved $500m for the acquisition and sustainment of the first tranche of Joint Project 2096, which will ensure the integration of selected intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data and applications.
Minister Pyne said the project was critical to enhancing the security of Australians at home and abroad, “This project will allow intelligence analysts to rapidly search and discover collected data to improve intelligence and decision support to Australian Defence Force and whole-of-government decision makers.”
This first tranche will integrate selected ISR data and applications, provide an ISR search and discovery capability, deliver an ISR development and support centre, and sustain the ISR integration capability throughout its life.
“The project will help deliver on the government’s commitment to improve the situational awareness, mission planning and warfighting capabilities of the ADF as outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper,” Minister Pyne added.
Minister Ciobo said the project supported the government’s defence industry engagement strategy by providing Australian industry with opportunities in development and integration services, data analytics, ICT support, and the provision of supporting infrastructure, and addition of 65 new jobs for the ISR Development and Support Centre.
“Leidos has a proven track record of delivering integrated data solutions, and will ensure around $450 million is spent in Australia,” Minister Ciobo added.
Christine Zeitz, Leidos Australia Chief Executive welcomed the government’s announcement, saying, “The Leidos solution will be instrumental in providing commanders from tactical to strategic levels with the necessary tools and intelligence to make accurate and time-critical decisions. This will help ensure ISR resources will be optimized and intelligence analysts can focus more effectively on what matters most.”
“As the prime system integrator for this project, Leidos will establish a team of more than 65 people in Melbourne. The program builds on the company’s local experience having successfully delivered multiple C4ISR programs over the past 15 years to our Defence customer,” Zeitz added.
JP 2096 is broken into two distinct phases: Phase 1 and Phase 2, with different capability objectives. Phase 1 will provide infrastructure and functionality to the Defence Secret Network (DSN) to create a unified dataset that enables users to effectively manage ISR information and intelligence. JP 2096 Phase 1 focuses on the design and development of an architecture that will provide networked access to the growing volumes of data sourced from multiple surveillance sensors available to the Australian Defence Organisation (ADO), and facilitate the related information management (including search, tasking and dissemination) of the sensor outputs. Phase 1 will also provide an ISR integration capability, key ISR services and integration of legacy ISR capabilities.
Phase 2 will extend the capability provided by Phase 1 in response to ADO ISR capability requirements and priorities. The extension of the ADIIB capability under Phase 2 will also include the continued integration of legacy capabilities, the provision of key ISR services, and the application of the architecture to other physical or security domains. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Feb 19. Why the new US Air Force’s cyber and information strategy is a return to the past. As a fifth domain, so much of cyberspace can only be understood indirectly or as analogous to things we’re more familiar with. As technological innovation increases, what seems “normal” from one perspective can turn out to be a grave mistake from a different perspective. For the military, trying to determine how to come to terms with cyber and information has been a continuous challenge, as noted by the recent change in the U.S. Air Force cyber missions.
As reported by Mark Pomerleau of Fifth Domain, “Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said he nominated Lt. Gen. VeraLinn ‘Dash’ Jamieson to serve as Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations.”
Jamieson already runs intelligence for the Air Force so with this reorganization, she “will also be responsible for overseeing offensive cyber, defensive cyber and tactical communications.” This advance is expected to lead to “increased war-fighting capabilities by leveraging the intersection of ISR, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum.”
One colonel at Air Combat Command noted that “the main advantage was mission alignment” under that command as combining “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and cyber, you get incredible synergy.”
This may be true, but over 20 years ago the Air Force created nearly these same cyber reporting relationships and for the same reasons. What is being hailed as a major breakthrough is no more than returning to the mission alignments that were in place when I was at Headquarters Air Force in 1997.
In the 1990s, the Air Force viewed cyber as a subset of information warfare, with the emphasis on warfare, as I discuss in a recent article in Air Force Magazine.
The head of Air Force Intelligence (now the A-2), Maj. Gen. John Casciano, believed that information was not just warfare but indeed the future of warfare, the reporting structure changed do he would report to the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations (the A-3) to oversee every aspect of information warfare: counter propaganda, electronic warfare, intelligence, and what would soon be called cyber: computer network attack and defense.
Intelligence was now running operations.
Many of those first cyber and other information warfare missions resided with the intelligence specialists at Air Intelligence Agency (AIA) who “defended the information highway” and “participat[ed] in, rather than just support[ed], combat operations.” In 2001 to “normalize” cyber missions, and recognize “the growing role of information operations as a war-fighting weapon” and integrate cyber with targeting, electronic warfare, and traditional war fighting. Sound familiar?
Yet ACC remained the cyber lead only until 2009, when the mission was transferred to Air Force Space Command, under the argument that “normal” didn’t mean integrating cyber with traditional airpower but cyber with space-based capabilities.
Both “space and cyberspace forces are inherently global … unfettered by time and distance,” and anyway critical military communications depends on space-based satellites (though these represent a minuscule fraction of global bandwidth).
Then in 2018, that decision was reversed, with the cyber and intelligence missions (the 24th and 25th Air Forces) re-assigned back to ACC and integrating cyber mission with electronic warfare and other traditional Air Force combat tasks. The “normal” mission of cyber was now closer to war fighting and not support.
One senior Air Force general crowed that “cyber operations and intelligence in cyber capabilities under one command is a significant step towards enhancing our war-fighting capabilities,” perhaps not realizing the “significant step” was merely a flip flop to fix a 10-year-old mistake.
Perhaps this is only a single flip-flop and the service now realizes that by combining space and cyber it made a historic mistake, setting it back a decade. But perhaps Air Force leadership will switch again, finding that the cyber missions should be aligned with, say, communications or even special forces. If so, it will not just be another flip-flop but the next step in a decades-long cycle of confusion of just how to understand cyberspace and respond to its opportunities and challenges. (Source: Fifth Domain)
11 Feb 19. USMC have been personally downloading this software that helps coordinate air support. How that error and big cyber flaws are putting lives at risk. A Navy inspector general report has concluded that a series of popular software used in Android tablets that aid Marines and Navy personnel in coordinating precision air powerand battlefield situational awareness had significant cyber vulnerabilities. The software, known as Kilswitch and APASS, was developed by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Digital Precision Strike Suite for use in small tactical handheld Android tablets. Those tablets and software are in the hands of thousands of Marines and other service members, some who have been using it in real-world operations. The vulnerable software potentially puts Marines and sailors at substantial risk by hackers and sophisticated near-peer rivals like Russia, who could hack the devices in an effort to glean sensitive battlefield information or location data.
A letter to President Donald Trump from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel following the investigation noted that the complex process by which military software is evaluated had been “totally circumvented.”
“The blatant disregard for procedure endangered the lives of military personnel,” the letter stated.
However, the inspector general’s report stated the cyber vulnerabilities could be mitigated if Marines and sailors used the software as originally stipulated in the services’ issued authorizations to operate, or ATO.
Those ATO’s approved the use of Killswitch and APASS only on government authorized devices and tablets.
The IG report noted that a number of Marines downloaded the software, where it was available on internal unit websites, onto personal tablets and devices that may not provide adequate security protections.
“The internal marketing of the software contributed to its widespread use,” the special counsel’s letter reads.
The software and tablets have been popular with Marines.
During an experimental urban exercise in March 2018, held aboard Camp Pendleton, California, Capt. Benjamin Brewster, an infantry company commander said the tablet “gives me the ability to identify the things I think are important on a map. It’s battle tracking we’ve never had before.”
The IG report further state that “cybersecurity was not a concern for the developers because they expected that the software would be used only for its intended purpose, and would not be used widely in operations.”
Following the IG report, the Navy directed the Marine commandant and chief of naval operations to ensure the software was being used appropriately in accordance with the ATOs.
“Despite these corrective actions, significant concerns remain relating to the extensive and apparently unregulated distribution of the software,” the special counsel said in its letter.
In a statement to Marine Corps Times, the Navy says it “has taken appropriate measures to address identified issues to ensure the continued safety and effectiveness of our Sailors and Marines.”
An investigation into the cyber vulnerabilities was launched following comments from a whistleblower who was a program analyst and qualified Joint Terminal Attack Controller working at NAWCWD.
He further accused the Navy weapons center of corruption in a letter to the president.
“Mr. President, I understand you want to ‘Drain the Swamp’ in D.C. However, I respectfully request that you start to ‘Pump Out the Sewer’ that is the DoD Acquisition corruption at Naval Air Warfare Weapons Division, China Lake, CA and NAVAR [naval air] Headquarter at Patuxent River, MD,” the whistleblower’s letter reads.
The whistleblower claimed that the main cause of the release of the vulnerable software was “corruption throughout NAWCWD leadership as well as NAVAIR [naval air] senior officers who used this software as a platform for political and financial (Navy Working Capital Fund) gains,” the letter stated.
The cyber vulnerabilities could prove to be a major threat to the Corps, especially for those who may be using the software on unauthorized devices.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia was actively hacking the smartphones of NATO service members to gain operational information. And in 2016, CBS reported that Russia was able to hack a phone app developed by a Ukrainian artillery officer to improve his units shooting performance. That hacking proved lethal as malware turned the app into a beacon, allowing the hackers to locate the Ukrainian military positions. (Source: Marine Times)
11 Feb 19. US Army Advances Future Command Post Technology. On an uncharacteristically chilly day in the Southwest desert, reporters gathered in a remote corner of Fort Bliss to witness the Army’s last Network Integration Evaluation. The final NIE — the 12th in a series of events that started in 2011 — focused on demonstrating the service’s new web-enabled command post system. For years soldiers have come to the NIE to test new and emerging technologies. The secluded Fort Bliss and adjoining White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico affords units the opportunity to engage in electronic warfare exercises without having to worry about interfering with civilian networks.
During the final evaluation exercise in November, members of the Army’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, tested the service’s command post computing environment (CPCE). More than 1,900 service members participated, assessing the new equipment and relaying feedback about their experiences to leadership with the goal of improving platforms before the Army’s fielding decision in 2019.
The Army’s current command-and-control support system, known as the command post of the future, does not afford soldiers the same amount of collaboration as the new technology, service officials said shortly before the event kicked off.
The new state-of-the-art system will assist the service in meeting a 10-year goal that Army Secretary Mark Esper laid out in the summer of 2018. The vision includes rebuilding the force by putting a focus on readiness and acquiring new technologies needed for possible warfare with competitors such as Russia and China.
The new command post computing environment “will enable us to meet the Army’s objective of 2028,” said Col. Chuck Roede, deputy commander of the service’s Joint Modernization Command, during a demonstration of the new system.
During its initial round of testing, the CPCE consolidated the functionality of four platforms from the field into one system. They include the command post of the future, the tactical ground reporting system, the command web and the global command-and-control system.
The consolidation of these platforms improved communication among troops, said Col. Arthur Sellers, commander of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
“My two biggest concerns, as a brigade commander, are shared understanding … so we can be faster than the enemy and be more lethal,” he said. “Everything we do is about being lethal.”
Additionally, the CPCE is easier to use than the legacy system, he noted.
“We’ve definitely created more shared understanding because of the collaboration, because it’s more intuitive. [And] because it’s web-enabled, I can do things quicker,” he said.
Younger soldiers are also finding the systems’ new app-based software easy to navigate, Maj. Shigenobu Morinaga, executive officer for 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, pointed out.
“It is very intuitive, at least for our younger generation — those who are used to apps, those who are used to working [with] cell phones, those who are used to using anything that’s a shared cloud product,” he said. “It’s automatic for them.”
Another aspect of the upgraded platform that could improve the Army’s collaboration is its newly updated map and chat functions, which all units will be able to utilize, Roede said. The legacy system required soldiers to frequently move between multiple computers to complete simple mission tasks, he added.
“Now you’re going back to having single map data, a single map file, single map message, and you’re going to get all of these vendors to be able to redo their software into an app that uses one particular map type,” he said.
Units accessing the command post computing environment will be able to drop graphics into maps, share documents or chat with soldiers in the field, allowing for increased lethality, he added.
Once the system is ready, soldiers will have access to more than 20 different collaboration-based applications, Roede said. It will include apps for mission command, fires, engineering and intelligence.
The Army is in the process of developing the new apps, said Lt. Col. Shermoan Daiyaan, product manager for tactical mission command.
“We’re starting to neck it down and the Army is developing, in real time, the priority list for when the other systems come out,” Daiyaan said. “What we’re looking at is 24-month [technology] sprints.”
The next round of software for the command post is slated to be released by 2021, he noted.
The NIE is not the only evaluation exercise the CPCE will face. The system will require Army interoperability certification tests, which will happen in the second quarter of 2019.
Once both exercises are complete, a final report will come out within 30 days of testing.
Immediately after the Army receives those final results, the information will be presented to the program executive officer for command-control and communications-tactical, then to senior leadership for final approval, Daiyaan said.
Overall, Army officials believe the new system has improved collaboration and has the potential to increase lethality, Roede said.
“We will continue to expand the CPCE, continue to take proprietary systems off the table and embed them into what I call the Army’s iPhone or iPad,” he said.
Another component of the Army’s new mission command information system that was tested during the NIE 18.2 was the mounted computing environment (MCE), which consists of two pieces of hardware.
Soldiers interacted with the computer systems — the mounted mission command and the android tactical assault kit — each of which were designed to provide service members with on-the-move support.
Both systems share a common interface with the command post.
Similar to the findings with the CPCE, soldiers testing the mounted computer found themselves relying heavily on the chat function within the system, Army leaders told reporters.
While it was not formally being tested, soldiers at the Network Integration Evaluation also demonstrated the integrated tactical network, a modernization effort designed to allow soldiers to communicate on both a secret and unclassified network, Lt. Col Brandon Baer, product manager at PEO C3T, said.
The concept integrates radios, tablets and satellite communications with the goal of creating more fluid connectivity between soldiers.
“This isn’t a new network. We’re not replacing anything,” Baer said. “What we’re doing is we’re basically taking a program of record and we’re looking at injecting commercial-off-the-shelf items to see where we can enhance or improve our capabilities.”
As soldiers continued to test the new capabilities at the NIE, Army leadership teams and developers focused on soldier feedback, Daiyaan said. “My engineers and my developers are here on site right now,” he noted.
The information gathered can then be compiled into one master list, and presented to leadership so system upgrades can be rolled out, Daiyaan said.
The tests can also determine if the units themselves need more management training.
“When you give a unit more power and more information,” he said, “managing it becomes a full-time job and if you don’t have processes in place to be able to manage all that data, it can become noise.”
Although the Army is bidding farewell to the NIE, multiple service leaders said the events helped put new equipment into the hands of soldiers.
“The feedback that soldiers are giving, by being given this stuff early, really helps in getting a better product that’s more operationally sound in the future,” Roede said.
The Army’s decision to terminate the Network Integration Evaluation was made in accordance with readiness demands and the Army’s new modernization approach. The focus will shift to support warfighter assessment events with focus on joint interoperability and concept development, the Army’s fiscal year 2019 budget request justification documents said.
A major joint operational exercise, the Joint Warfighting Assessment, is slated to replace the NIE. Originally called the Army Warfighting Assessment, the Army renamed the exercise in 2017 and announced it would be held in Europe with international partners.
Although the exercises were originally designed to complement one another, Army leadership told reporters that the service wants to shift its focus toward being both concept and capability focused.
“We’ve gone beyond the network,” Roede said. “We are bringing in other capabilities to be assessed.”
Army officials also cited the service’s discontinued expansion of their mission planning platform, Wintak, as a reason for ending the evaluations.
“Because the Army itself has decided to pull back from further development of Wintak … the need for a Network Integration Evaluation” is diminished, Roede said.
The Joint Modernization Command’s next exercise will take place in Germany in April 2019. The evaluations will encompass two training events, the Air Force’s Blue Flag command post exercise and the Army training command’s Combined Resolve X exercise, which is a joint warfighting assessment, one official said. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
09 Feb 19. Germany Opens Massive Intelligence Complex (Maybe the World’s Largest) in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the official opening of the Federal Intelligence Service building in Berlin on Friday, “This modest conference room does not even give any idea of what is actually hidden behind the gates.”
In the heart of Berlin, where memories of the Gestapo and the Stasi remain and distrust of secret-service agencies still runs high, Germany has opened what is being called the world’s largest intelligence service headquarters.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was on hand on Friday to inaugurate the massive, $1.23bn complex, which stands on 26 hectares (about 64 acres), but in keeping with the secret mission of the place, dignitaries and members of the news media were not allowed deep into the building.
The notoriously understated Ms. Merkel said in a briefing room: “I have to say quite honestly: This modest conference room does not even give any idea of what is actually hidden behind the gates. I would say it would impress any foreign intelligence service.”
In extolling the building, whose interior is a state secret, Ms. Merkel was apparently hoping to seal the post-Cold War transition of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service — or BND — and to cast it as a necessary defense in an increasingly complicated and dangerous world.
“The Federal Intelligence Service has successfully accepted the change in its mission since the end of the Cold War,” she said. “Today, it observes events worldwide for the government.”
For most of its six-decade history, the intelligence service was focused on Cold War enemies, especially the East German state. It handles intelligence beyond German borders and is one of two major nonmilitary intelligence services in Germany.
Another agency is responsible for domestic intelligence and has recently been in the news for surveilling the Alternative for Germany, the right-wing anti-immigrant populist party.
In 2013, revelations in the Edward Snowden case that the Federal Intelligence Service had worked closely with American intelligence operations caused a public uproar. More recent reports that the service had spied on European Union allies and foreign journalists have sullied its image. Last year, it defeated a lawsuit brought by a Berlin newspaper, with a panel of judges ruling that the service was not legally obliged to answer requests from journalists.
Since its founding in 1956, the service had been based in Pullach, a suburb of Munich, where its predecessor was housed on part of a Nazi estate. Links to the Nazi regime were not confined to the physical space: The first president of the service was Reinhard Gehlen, who had been a Wehrmacht general responsible for military intelligence in the Third Reich. After the war, he helped American forces coordinate intelligence activities aimed at the Soviet Union. (Source: glstrade.com/New York Times.com)
08 Feb 19. Austrian Army fielding two battalions with Sitaware C2, mulling more. The Austrian Army plans to equip an initial tranche of two battalions with Systematic’s Sitaware command-and-control (C2) software later this year, army officials told Jane’s. The battalions are to receive Sitaware battle management system (BMS) software as commanders consider a wider roll-out of the technology across the army. The decision to press forward with the upgrade follows the BMS software’s integration on the army’s inventory of Elbit Systems’ Tadiran Combat Net Radio 710 (CNR-710) systems in 2018. Speaking to Jane’s at the Network Centric Warfare conference in Rome on 4 February, Colonel Horst Treiblmaier, head of communication systems for the Austrian Ministry of Defence, confirmed the procurement and said it supports the Future Tactical Communication Network (FTCN) programme. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Feb 19. All Services Sign On To Data Sharing – But Not To Multi-Domain.
“We need to have any sensor connect to any shooter at very rapid machine-to-machine speed,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said, “if we’re going to multi-domain operations.” But aye, there’s the rub: Are we?
The four armed services are cooperating better than ever in a lots of ways, including a landmark agreement to buy compatible networks so they can actually share data in battle made public today. But the Navy still won’t officially sign on to the battle concept on which the Army and Air Force have staked their future: Multi-Domain Operations. That contradiction was on full display this morning at a joint appearance by the three service secretaries: Heather Wilson for the Air Force, Mark Esper for the Army, and Richard Spencer for the Navy and Marines. I can’t remember any of their predecessors ever doing this together, but this trio has done this twice in 12 months (both this time and last time at the Center for Strategic & International Studies).
Even more stunning, they’ve been having breakfast together every two weeks that entire time – and without their staffs present. Those morning meetings, Wilson added, force all their subordinates to get together and hammer out any differences between the services before the three secretaries decide to settle it with a handshake over pancakes. “I think what they say is, ‘we’d better sort this out because if we give to them, we have no idea what they’re going to do,’” she said to laughter.
“The three of us are completely aligned on our overall goals, wearing our Title 10hats, and now we’re aligning resources,” Spencer said more solemnly.
One example, Wilson added immediately, is the joint memo on communications standards they recently signed: “It’s probably one of the most important things we’ve done together.”
The services have historically struggled to communicate in combat. There’s an infamous albeit often exaggerated anecdote that, during the invasion of Granada in 1983, an Army officer had to call for Navy fire support on a civilian phone line because he couldn’t find a compatible radio. In the modern era, with its flood of data from satellites, surveillance drones, and GPS-tracked vehicles, it’s even more crucial and even more complicated to get everyone’s wireless communications networks to work together.
Hence the memo, in which the three secretaries direct their acquisition chiefs to make future weapons systems use compatible data-sharing standards, part of what’s called the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA), although I understand there’s no specific timeline prescribed to make this actually happen.
The vision is a future force that can share data swiftly and seamlessly – where the enemy is, where friends are, what to shoot ASAP and what not to kill — from submarine to foot soldier to fighter jet to satellite. As soon as anyone spots a target, everyone can see it and whoever’s best positioned can take it out — “any sensor, any shooter,” as Wilson and Spencer both summed it up today.
“Take the F-35 as an example,” Spencer said: “One of the goals obviously is a platform in the air that can call on any platform to deliver any weapon.” The services argue that the F-35 is uniquely suited, not just to sneak stealthily into enemy airspace, but to spot targets with its sophisticated sensors and then transmit the targeting data to less stealthy but more heavily armed aircraft – or even ships and artillery batteries – to take the actual shot.
That concept requires much more than people talking on compatible radios: It takes computers — probably, in fact, artificial intelligences — updating one another, across vast distances, in the time it takes a human being to blink. “We need to be able to have any sensor connect to any shooter at very rapid machine-to-machine speed,” Wilson said, “if we’re going to multi-domain operations.”
But aye, there’s the rub. Yes, the Air Force and Army have both publicly committed to Multi-Domain Operations: in essence, taking apart advanced enemies like Russia or China with relentless, coordinated attacks from all five domains of war – land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Their generals talk about it all the time, right up to their respective four-staff chiefs of staff, David Goldfein and Mark Milley (who’s been tapped to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). Both Wilson and Esper invoked the term today. Esper in particular emphasized how the Army, using new long-range precision missiles, could support both the Air Force and Navy. It could bombard enemy anti-aircraft batteries too dangerous for airplanes to approach, for example, or even spot and sink ships from shore, as an Army missile battery did in a recent exercise, he noted proudly.
But the Navy has not officially endorsed Multi-Domain Operations, which means it can’t become an official joint concept shared by all the services, which means it won’t be enshrined and enforced in joint acquisition, budgeting, and doctrine. In fact, despite having some very similar ideas themselves, Navy leaders consistently avoid even using the term “multi-domain”– as Spencer did today, until I asked him about it in Q&A.
“You talk about multi-domain,” the Navy Secretary replied. “Look at the air wing of an aircraft carrier: It can shoot a ship, it can shoot a plane, it can deliver power to project on land. Look at the P-8 [a land-based Navy airplane]: It can launch a Harpoon [anti-ship missile], it can launch a torpedo, or it can also be your information gathering, your surveillance.
“We are in multi-domain every single day,” Spencer said. “If we didn’t sign up and say it’s something new, I apologize,” he added, to laughter from the audience.
That response didn’t actually address whether the Navy had formally signed up to the Multi-Domain concept as have the Army and Air Force. So I slipped up to Spencer after the CSIS panel and asked again: Yes, the Navy operates in multiple domains – sea, air, even space – but there’s no public sign it’s working on this concept with the other two services….
“We live in the multi-domain,” Spencer said. “That’s why it’s nothing new for us.”
But are you working with the Army and the Air Force?
“Oh yes,” he said. “[Any] sensor, [any] shooter goes across all services. Link-16, that’s the backbone, and you look at how we’re developing F-35, that’s going to pick up any weapon, any platform, anywhere — [that’s] the ultimate goal, and if that’s not multi-domain, I don’t know what is.”
Link-16, for reference, is a NATO communications protocol in widespread use since the 1990s; it’;s necessary but hardly sufficient for multi-domain command and control. The F-35 is much newer and more sophisticated, but it’s still one weapon, not a whole intellectual framework for future war. So I tried again: Is the Navy signing on to this specific, formal concept?
“We have; we’re living it,” Spencer said. “I don’t know how much more we can sign onto.”
At that point his staff shepherded the Navy Secretary off to his next appointment. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
06 Feb 19. Defence launches crackdown on Australian crypto research. Ahead of Thom export control review findings. The Department of Defence has significantly tightened exemptions for Australian information security and cryptographic researchers through tough export control laws, a move likely to stifle collaboration with the overseas research community outside intelligence circles. Defence’s export controls arm (DEC) has quietly revoked the permits of researchers subject to the Defence Trade Controls (DTC) Act 2012, which regulates the supply of military and so-called ‘dual-use’ technologies overseas.
The permits were introduced on a trial basis in 2017 in response to feedback during the implementation of the legislation to allow researchers in the field of information security and cryptography to communicate with their counterparts in any non-sanctioned country.
Since then, Defence has launched an unprecedented bid to be able to retrospectively re-classify research as dual use or security sensitive, a power academia has warned will fundamentally undermine funding certainty for research across the sector.
At the same time, sections of the the information security industry remain at loggerheads with the government over new controversial crypto-busting powers.
With the date of the delivery of highly anticipated defence exports controls review by Vivienne Thom – a former Inspector General of Intelligence and Security – still up in the air amid protracted uncertainty, leading academics say they are already feeling the heat.
Defence initially said the permits issued to academic researchers would “achieve a balance between the need for free flow of information for research purposes in the initial stages of a research project and national security interests”.
But two years after the trial was introduced, Defence now looks to have pulled the plug on the general permission permit allowing organisations to communicate about cryptography research with any non-sanctioned countries.
The University of Melbourne is one such organisation that has been affected by what appears to be an undisclosed policy change amid the DTC Act review.
Cryptographic researcher and associate professor at the School of Computing and Information Systems Dr Vanessa Teague told iTnews the decision not to renew the university’s general permit had limited her ability to communicate about cryptography to researchers in only three countries.
She said this had occurred without any warning or explanation of why from the DEC, including if there had been a change in policy.
The result is that each time the university wants to communicate with researcher from a non-approved country they will need to “fill out a new form and ask permission”, which Teague described as “unworkable in the context of an international, competitive scientific community”.
“What they [Defence] don’t understand is asking permission in advance and waiting a few months to get around to granting a permit is just unworkable in the context of scientific research,” she said.
It’s also the very reason researchers pushed for the exemptions in the first place after the DTC Act was introduced.
Teague warned that other research organisations potentially affected may not yet be aware.
“Because the permits last for a year, and I don’t know exactly when the policy changed, the only other people who might have been affected would be the other people whose permit expired after the policy changed,” Teague told iTnews.
The DTC Act review began in April last year to ensure it remains fit for purpose, including whether it “adequately safeguards national defence capability and prevents trade and collaboration that could unwittingly advance the military capabilities of potential adversaries”.
It was expected to take around six months to complete, but Defence is yet to publically release the report almost ten months after the review was called.
iTnews understands the review has been completed and is waiting to be tabled when parliament returns later this month.
That could see new powers apportioned to Defence for controlling how all technology developed in Australia is sold or exported in the interests of national security, which Australia’s top universities have hit back against. Defence had not responded to request for comment by the time of publication. (Source: glstrade.com/https://www.itnews.com.au)
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.