Sponsored by Spectra Group
11 Apr 19. Thales evolves S2C2 software for special forces. Thales used the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) to unveil the Smart and Seamless Command and Control (S2C2) battle management software. According to Thales officials, the S2C2 software is designed to support special operations small unit teams and continues to be developed in co-operation with the French Special Operations Command (COS). Jane’s sources confirmed that the design, development, and production of early release software was completed “at the end of 2018”. The software was then delivered to the COS ahead of the next phase in the programme, which will focus on the “industralisation” of the product over the next few months. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Apr 19. BAE Systems’ New Software-defined Radio Assembly Makes Space Missions More Flexible. BAE Systems today unveils its new general software-defined radio assembly for high reliability commercial and Department of Defense space applications. The SDR integrates the company’s RAD5545™ Single Board Computer (SBC) with advanced Field Programmable Gate Array-based transceivers, enabling unparalleled flexibility, on-orbit reprogrammability and increased capacity for signals processing.
“The flexibility allowed by the general-purpose software defined radio for customers to reprogram missions makes this hardware a product our customers will be able to use into the future,” said Ricardo Gonzalez, director of Space Systems at BAE Systems. “Coupled with our RAD5545™ technology, the processing power and capability enables our customers to apply their spacecraft to multiple missions that evolve over its lifespan.”
The software defined radio’s (SDR) unique, upgradeable SpaceVPX architecture can accommodate an alternate transceiver or design improvement while retaining the integrity of the assembly. To facilitate broad application, it was designed to host third party hardware and mission intellectual property or algorithms. The SDR provides multiple receive and transmit channels that can be configured for different applications, like weather sensing, flexible communications payload, or specialized radio frequency sensing.
The RAD5545™ SBC delivers exponential improvements in processing throughput and bandwidth as compared to predecessor products. The SpaceVPX RAD5545 computer is powered by the radiation hardened general purpose System-on-Chip processor.
BAE Systems is a pioneer and leader in narrowband and broadband communications technologies, with more than two decades of core expertise in software-defined radios for air, land and sea forces. The company’s Common Datalink radio family merges the latest generation wideband, high speed hardware and software technologies to provide warfighters with interoperable broadband data link communications solutions.
The SDR assembly will be developed and produced in BAE Systems’ sites in Manassas, Virginia and Merrimack, New Hampshire. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
10 Apr 19. Prime confirmed to deliver US$1bn worth of next-gen EW capability. In a major program milestone, the prime contractor responsible for the delivery of the Royal Australian Air Force’s new fleet of MC-55A Peregrine aircraft has been announced.
Defence Connect can today confirm that L3 Technologies has been awarded the prime contract worth an estimated US$1bn to deliver the Royal Australian Air Force’s four next-generation airborne electronic warfare MC-55A Peregrine aircraft.
Known as the MC-55A Peregrine, the contract includes four modified Gulfstream G550 aircraft with an integrated mission system that provides the latest EW capabilities. Work on this program was initiated in 2017.
Funded orders received on this contract were about US$230m for the 2019 first quarter and about US$700m in total as of 29 March 2019.
As reported by Defence Connect in March 2019, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said, “The Peregrine is a new airborne electronic warfare capability that will be integrated into Defence’s joint warfighting networks, providing a critical link between platforms, including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, E-7A Wedgetail, EA-18G Growler, Navy’s surface combatants and amphibious assault ships and ground assets to support the warfighter.”
Christopher Kubasik, L3’s chairman, chief executive and president welcomed the announcement, saying, “Our mission solution and electronic warfare capabilities are highly sought-after by our allies.
“As business jets are increasingly utilised for EW purposes, we have invested in miniaturising our capabilities to deliver new resources for our customers. Australia is a very important market for L3, and we look forward to a long and productive partnership with the RAAF and the local supplier base in support of the Peregrine program.”
The MC-55A Peregrine will be integrated into the Commonwealth’s joint warfighting networks, providing a critical link between platforms, including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, E-7A Wedgetail, EA-18G Growler, Navy surface combatants and amphibious assault ships, and ground assets to support the warfighter.
Jeff Miller, corporate senior vice president and president of L3’s ISR systems business segment, reinforced Kubasik’s comments, saying, “This capability will greatly strengthen the RAAF’s goal to becoming a fully networked fifth-generation force and considerably enhance their global effect on peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.”
Italy, Israel and Singapore operate Gulfstream G550s modified by IAI with large conformal antennas and other enhancements in the AEW&C role, and the US Navy has also ordered a similarly configured aircraft for range-control work. Various other special-mission G550s serve with the US government and other countries.
At the time of the $2.46bn contract announcement, Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds said the acquisition would be a major win for Australian industry: “About $425m will be spent with Australian companies during the acquisition phase of the project, including $257m to be invested in new facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
“There will be further significant opportunities for Australian industry, estimated to be over $2bn, in the sustainment of the aircraft over the 25 years life-of-type.”
Australia requested the possible sale of up to five Gulfstream G550 with AISREW mission systems, GPS capability, secure communications, aircraft defensive systems; spares, including whole-life costs of airborne and ground segments; aircraft modification and integration; ground systems for data processing and crew training; ground support equipment; publications and technical data; US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; flight test and certification; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
Work is being performed at L3’s Greenville, Texas facility and at Gulfstream in Savannah, Georgia. It will include airframe modifications to accommodate mission systems and secure communications equipment, installation of a self-protection suite, ground-based data processing systems and crew training services. (Source: Defence Connect)
09 Apr 19. High Performance Networking Data Link Solution. Patria presents their high performance networking data link solution CANDL (Compact Airborne Networking Data Link). This is a data link system that enables reliable long-range communication between up to 24 members in the same network. CANDL provides a single data link solution for communication requiring high reliability such as UAS payload data and C2. It enables air-to-air and air-to-ground networking as well as relaying for BLOS capability. It offers an 8 Mbps data rate with additional safety features for C2, dynamic networking communication, motion video and digital voice capability are all integrated in one software defined radio based compact airworthy terminal. CANDL covers NATO IV C-band as well as WRC 2012 defined civil UAS C2 frequency band in single housing enabling both military and civil UAS applications. Networking and range performance can be further extended with optional external HPA (High Power Amplifier) module. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
09 Apr 19. Finnish Defence Forces Get ESSOR Waveform. The Finnish Defence Forces have awarded a contract for porting the ESSOR waveform to the Bittium Tough SDR tactical radios. Under the terms of this contract Bittium will port the European ESSOR (European Secure SOftware-defined Radio) programme’s OC1 (Operational Capability 1) phase wideband waveform to the Bittium Tough SDR radios. The porting of the waveform to the national software-defined radios will enable compatibility between radios used in European coalition operations, in accordance with the goals of the ESSOR programme. The ESSOR OC1 phase has continued the ESSOR programme, that started in 2009, with the aim of enhancing the operational capabilities of the ESSOR High Data Rate Waveform (HDR WF) meant for joint operations of different national troops. The Bittium Tough SDR products can flexibly use the most suitable and best performing waveform, such as the ESSOR HDR Waveform, Bittium TAC WIN Waveform and Bittium Narrowband Waveform. Using several waveforms, even simultaneously, improves compatibility and enables operations on different levels and missions. The value of the purchase order is approximately €1.1m and the corresponding work will be delivered by the end of the year 2019. The purchase order also in-cludes options for the years 2020 – 2021. The total value of the options is approximately €2.5m. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
09 Apr 19. 4G On A Dassault Falcon F900DX. The first installation of a GoGo Advanced L5 Wi-Fi-based 4G experience solution in Europe has been completed by RUAG on a Dassault Falcon F900DX. The upgrade was fulfilled in line with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards, to full customer satisfaction, the company announced. The Wi-Fi-based communication solution ensures a 4G connectivity experience across up to 40 personal devices. The connectivity and communication platform is lightweight and features the advanced 802.11ac dual-band router (5GHz & 2.4GHz) that maximises bandwidth, dynamic, multi-bearer data and voice management, and the ability to connect with Gogo Biz/Gogo Biz 4G, Iridium Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, and Inmarsat Jet ConneX bearers. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
09 Apr 19. Airbus aims to boost SOF readiness with virtual sandbox. Airbus Defence and Space used the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) exhibition in Camp de Souge on 2-4 April to launch the Holographic Tactical Sandbox (HTS). The HTS employs augmented reality (AR) headsets and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) mapping data to support commanders at all levels in mission preparation, briefing, and rehearsals. The system is centred on a 3D holographic map and can be programmed to provide an “accurate representation of the battlefield” using GEOINT data derived from multiple sources, including Airbus’s own OneAtlas Data set, which provides customers with access to the company’s satellite imagery.
Airbus officials told Jane’s on 4 April that an unlimited number of users equipped with virtual reality (VR) headset technology – providing them with a bird’s eye view of the battlefield – could network themselves into the HTS, even from remote locations.
“A remote capability allows operators to connect and take part in mission preparation by viewing and interacting on the same map with the same data from a remote location,” the officials stated.
The HTS can also be networked to a separate battle management system (BMS) software. Airbus has already proved this concept with the integration of its own Fortion Tactical Command-and-Control (C2) software into the HTS, enabling the display of iconography.
“AR allows decision-makers to continue interacting with their environment and staff. Integrated into the chain of command, operators can view and create information which is then shared with higher decision-making levels,” the company said in a statement.
“In addition, operators no longer need to process the data and information they receive, allowing them to focus on more value-added tasks,” it added. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Apr 19. Multi-Domain Networks: The Army, The Allies & AI. Even with Australia, one of our closest allies, it can be hard to share data. And the Army’s future war plans require seamless network coordination with the other US services and foreign allies. Working with Australia ought to be easy. It’s a longtime ally with a common language, shared traditions, and a lot of US-built technology and is a member of the Five Eyes. But when American artillerymen arrived in Oz for a recent exercise, the commander of US Army Pacific recounted, they discovered they couldn’t share data — not because of any technical problem, but because of an obscure policy on giving access to foreigners.
“Australia has AFATDS [Raytheon’s Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System] and we have it,” Gen. Robert Brown said. “We figured, ‘okay, that’s easy.’ Lo and behold, we get there and we realize there’s a policy that we can’t directly link with them, even though they have the same system we do and they’re an ally. We didn’t even know there was a policy!”
Gen. Robert Brown (left), commander of the US Army Pacific, stands at attention with two Australian two-stars, Maj. Gen. Roger Noble (center) and Maj. Gen. Daniel McDaniel (right). Brown’s soldiers got a waiver to connect the artillery networks — “sometimes you’ve just got to ask” — but just asking was counter-cultural in an Army that’s long discouraged coloring outside the lines. You have to “push the system,” Brown said. “What we’d do for years was say, ‘we don’t have those authorities…. Policy says we can’t do that, so we can’t do that.’”
“One of the challenges is, we don’t know what polices to ask to be adjusted,” the general said, “because…. in some cases we’ve never tried to do some of this stuff, particularly in cyber and space.”
Yes, the Army fixed the problem with Australia, but Australia is about the easiest possible case. The Army network also faces some truly wicked problems too complex for human minds to manage — like threading jets, helicopters, missiles, and artillery shells through the same airspace without killing each other — which will force it to lean heavily on artificial intelligence.
It’ll be hard enough just to bring together data from across the Army and the other US services so all the Americans — let alone the allies — are on the same page. And that kind of Multi-Domain Command & Control (MDC2) is essential to Army and Air Force plans for future warfare, which seek to break down high-tech Russian and Chinese defenses with relentless, coordinated attacks from land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace.
“One of the thing’s that missing — and people are working it across the board — is a common operating picture,” Brown said. “How do you see all domains, without it just overwhelming you, [and] connect all those systems that were not designed to connect?”
“We’ve got to fight through the tendency to have a service solution only, a single-service solution, which is the way we grew up,” Brown told last week’s AUSA Globalconference here. “The good news is, we’re as joint as any force in the world. The bad news is, we’re still not joint enough.”
“Secure But Unclassified”
The Army is urgently modernizing its internal networks already. Fed up with the long delays of military-unique development programs that are often obsolete on arrival, the service is increasingly turning to commercial, off-the-shelf technologies (COTS) and services — which should make it easier to get compatible systems with foreign allies.
The Army’s also made much of its tactical network “secure but unclassified.” That’s not solely for the allies’ benefit — rules for handling classified information are cumbersome even when only US soldiers are involved — but it does handily bypass restrictions on sharing classified data with foreign countries, making it easier to plug everyone in.
“We’ve got NSA approved encryption that allows the network to be secure, but we made a conscious decision… to operate unclass because we are operating with [foreign] partners,” said Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, head of the Army-wide network modernization team. Most data on the tactical network — unit locations, supply levels, orders for immediate action — will be out of date long before an adversary can decrypt it anyway, the Army believes.
Some network updates are being fielded now, but the next big upgrade will come in 2021, when the first “Capability Set” of the new Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) is issued to select infantry units. That will set off a two-year-cycle of overlapping major upgrades. In 2021, even as the first Capability Set is just entering service, the Army will be starting to test candidate systems for Capability Set ’23 and conducting early research and experimentation for CS ’25.
“If it’s not ready by’ 21, that’s fine… We’ll see you in ’23 — or maybe in between — if your capabilities are ready,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for tactical networks, told contractors at the AUSA conference. “If it’s not, we need you to be honest about that.”
The Army “can’t solve the entire problem” in one go, Gallagher said, so it’s going step by step:
- The 2021 upgrade will strive to simplify the network for small units and to slim down gear for easier deployment, especially in the Army’s Expeditionary Signal Battalions, Gallagher said.
- 2023 will focus on upgrading the network backbone with heavy use of new satellite constellations in Low and Medium Earth Orbit (LEO and MEO).
- The hope for 2025 is that artificial intelligence and machine learning will have matured enough to build “self-forming” and “self-healing” networks that automatically connect sensors, decision-makers, and shooters across the force. This will require a major shift from self-contained nodes to cloud computing.
- Finally, the 2027 update is supposed to fully support Multi-Domain Operations in time for the Army to field a full MDO “force package” — able to defeat Russia or China, but not both at once — by 2028.
As the Army network takes on increasingly complex problems over the next decade, it will have to lean ever more heavily on AI.
Big Army, Big Data
Traditionally, amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics — but today, the professionals are increasingly talking data. Maintaining a modern war machine requires huge amounts of information, from ammunition supply levels to missile flight paths. That’s why the entire US military is keenly interested in big data analysis and machine learning, which requires lots of raw data for the AI algorithms to train on.
“For artificial intelligence and machine learning ….we see an immediate impact for the fielded force, not some 10, 15, 20 years out,” said Chip Retzlaff, chief of information management for Training & Doctrine Command’s intelligence section.
Consider the National Training Center, where Army brigades wage bloodless battles across the California desert in what’s basically the world’s biggest game of laser tag. Almost every soldier, vehicle, and weapon in these exercises is instrumented, and there’s years of data available to analyze, Retzlaff enthused. While training data is only an imperfect representation of actual battle, he acknowledged, machine learning algorithms could crunch the NTC data for use in training simulations or even planning aides for real-life operations.
Another high-complexity, high-payoff application for AI, Reztlaff said, is airspace deconfliction. For the military, this means much more than air traffic control. A battle can involve Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps jets — some of them dropping bombs or launching missiles — roaring through the same airspace as slower helicopters (mostly but not all Army), as well as drones, surface-to-surface missiles, missile defense interceptors, anti-aircraft weapons, and even artillery shells. The traditional solution is to reserve certain altitudes and areas for a particular service or even an individual unit, making them no-go for everyone else. But multi-domain operations require much greater flexibility and closer cooperation. What if an AI could track each object in flight, predict flight paths and issue warnings or even commands to change course as necessary?
“Every system flying in the air today has telemetry data associated with it that can be offloaded” for analysis, Retzlaff said. That’s the big data foundation for future AI.
Airspace management, planning aides, and other unglamorous applications like predictive maintenance might lack the apocalyptic sex appeal of robot tanks and Terminators. But US officers have no intention of handing over control of lethal force to AI, as much as they want to enlist its help.
AI won’t replace human soldiers, Gen Brown emphasized: “The key is going to be artificial intelligence that helps human beings make decisions faster, that will weed through those haystacks of information and find you the golden needle.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
04 Apr 19. How a merger will expand the US Air Force’s cyber edge. The USAF is merging its main cyber and intelligence organizations after years of discussion and speculation. 24th Air Force, or Air Forces Cyber, will merge with 25th Air Force — responsible for global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance this summer — according to an April 4 press release. Officials had been coy about the potential merger when asked directly about it, despite publicly referencing it as recently as mid-March. The merger follows several initiatives within the Air Force to integrate cyber and ISR together. Last summer, the Air Force reassigned 24th Air Force from Air Force Space Command to Air Combat Command. At the headquarters level, the service created a new deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations.
“The synergy between cyber, ISR, [electronic warfare] and [information operations] will increase unity of effort across these capabilities, resulting in new and improved options for combatant commanders,” the Air Force’s press release said. “The integration also better aligns these units with priorities outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy and delivers the first ‘Information Warfare’ [numbered Air Force] for the Air Force.”
Even before the recent moves, from the beginning AFCYBER always maintained a close link between the two numbered Air Forces with 24th supplying the cyber personnel and 25th supplying the intelligence personnel.
“The merger of 24th and 25th is the next step in leveraging and integrating new ideas and technologies to both improve the quality and speed of decision-making and deliver improved effects for commanders,” Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, said. “This formalizes the existing collaborations between cyber and ISR while expanding our competitive space in EW and IO, ultimately improving readiness and increasing lethality across the range of military operations — all vital to the success of multidomain war fighting in the 21st century.”
The release also said the new information warfare numbered Air Force bolsters the Air Force’s ability to “present electromagnetic spectrum forces and capabilities to execute missions alongside joint and interagency partners.”
Other services have integrated these capabilities to form a more cohesive information warfare package that includes cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence and information operations.
The Air Force also recently concluded a year-long study into how to better integrate electronic warfare with its forces.
The Air Force said the final organization structure has not been determined for the 24th and 25th merger, but it anticipates an activation ceremony in the summer of 2019. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Apr 19. New deployable network to improve information sharing during ‘Five Eyes’ operations. Australia has invested nearly AUD53m (USD37m) on a deployable computer network to improve information sharing during operations with the other four members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance, Minister for Defence Industry Linda Reynolds disclosed on 4 April.
“This investment by the government will enhance the exchange of secret-level command-and-control data with our ‘Five Eyes partners’: the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada,” the minister said in a statement.
“The ability to quickly share higher quality information with our coalition partners will directly contribute to the safety of people on the ground during ADF [Australian Defence Force] operations,” she added. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
05 Apr 19. IACIT develops small UAV jammer for militaries. Brazil’s IACIT has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) jammer for military use called DroneBlocker that can block small to medium-sized aircraft in multiple ways, according to a company official.
Henrique Nobre, IACIT general manager for sales and marketing, told Jane’s on 4 April that DroneBlocker is applicable for militaries looking to secure land such as bases and airports. He said the Brazilian Army currently uses the jammer for various confidential applications, which he believes includes the protection of VIPs and important events. IACIT said the Brazilian Armed Forces used DroneBlocker during the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janiero.
Nobre said DroneBlocker can jam a UAV’s Global Positioning System (GPS), which will force the aircraft to land softly. It can also force the UAV to return to its point of origin. DroneBlocker can block imaging streams from returning to the operator.
DroneBlocker works with multiple sensors. IACIT developed an image-processing algorithm capable of detecting targets such as UAVs through the videos of surveillance cameras installed along a perimeter. The camera subsystem detects the target and sends a message or trigger to the jammer subsystem to activate it.
A radio-frequency (RF) sensor detects targets by receiving the RF signals with a database and searching for a signature protocol equal to the signal generated by the aircraft and/or its operator. The RF receiver sensor operates with a 360° aperture angle. Nobre said IACIT prefers to define DroneBlocker’s range as a power ratio of 4:1, meaning the UAV operator must be 4 times closer than the jammer to continue to exchange data with the aircraft. (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.
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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.