Sponsored by Spectra Group
04 Sep 19. Spectra’s SlingShot greenlit for US Army. Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, having recently achieved safety accreditation from the US Army Test and Evaluation Command and completed the prestigious US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE 2019), will be exhibiting their game-changing SlingShot communications system at DSEi 2019, taking place at Excel London 10-13 September 2019.
Spectra’s SlingShot, which was recently awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation, is a unique, lightweight system that enables existing, in-service tactical military and commercial VHF/UHF radios to utilise commercial L-band satellite coverage (COMSATCOM). The technology delivers Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) Comms on the Move (COTM) with low-latency voice and data connectivity to radio networks for ground, vehicle, maritime and airborne platforms. SlingShot’s unique capability provides reliable, secure communications between widely dispersed military forces and/or civilian agencies operating in austere and hostile environments, without the cost, delay or logistical challenges of deploying additional infrastructure.
Invited to take part in AEWE 2019 by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), SlingShot has been identified for integration opportunities into the US Army to gap battlefield capability shortfalls. AEWE places cutting-edge technologies into the hands of soldiers, providing bottom-up input to capability development through early and iterative feedback in a tactical setting. During AEWE 2019 SlingShot was extensively evaluated, providing BLOS voice and data connectivity from manpack recce sections to fast-moving, vehicle-borne forward observers and headquarters operations rooms. Additionally, vital interoperability between VHF/UHF commercial and military radios was repeatedly proven in a number of operationally challenging scenarios.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “Spectra is delighted to be exhibiting at DSEi 2019. We intend to maximize this fantastic opportunity to establish and deepen relationships with government departments, defence and security agencies and international businesses.” He added, “Launched in 2013, over 2000 SlingShot systems are now in operation with US SOCCOM alone. The system is used by over 20 different organisations, mostly NATO countries. Our recent participation in AEWE 2019 has cemented SlingShot’s reputation as the system of choice for tactical radio users needing increased range, flexibility and interoperability.”
Spectra will be showcasing the SlingShot tactical communications range extension system on Stand N9-370
04 Sep 19. Spectra Group appointed UK & NATO SOF distributor for Comtech System’s Troposcatter Technology. Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, world-leading provider of high-grade information security and communication capabilities, have recently been appointed as the UK distributor for US company Comtech Systems Inc with a 5-year contract. As part a contract with Navy Command supported by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), COMTECH have developed a manpack utilising Troposcatter communications technology, due to be available in 2020.
The advanced Troposcatter systems developed by Comtech provide high capacity, low-latency data links for over-the-horizon communications, without the need to rely on satellites or multiple line-of-sight repeaters. Recent trials of new, innovative, low-RF signature modems have successfully delivered bandwidths far exceeding those possible using satellite communications systems.
The current 500 Watt Mobile Transportable Transmission Systems (MTTS ) version from Comtech is capable of delivering in excess of 200Mb/s up to ranges of 200km dependent on conditions, whilst the manpack version is expected to deliver more than 5Mb/s using just 10 Watts for ranges in excess of 50km.
This collaboration sits well with Spectra’s ethos of innovation. Spectra’s own revolutionary Slingshot technology has been a true game-changer in the world of tactical communications. SlingShot is a unique system that enables UHF and VHF radios to use L-Band Satellite frequency, allowing users to instantly extend the range of their in-service tactical communications equipment to BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight). Conceived and designed to meet demanding Special Forces requirements, SlingShot offers a significant number of benefits for users requiring secure, reliable and robust communications on the move (COTM). Over 3500 SlingShot systems are in operation world-wide in the Manpack, Vehicle, Maritime and Aviation variants.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “Spectra is delighted to have been appointed the UK distributor for Comtech. With increasing state-level global threats to communications and the potential for denial or degradation of Satellite services, we need to focus on innovation and diversification. The fresh development of robust, reliable and effective Troposcatter technologies opens up the opportunity to offer multiple long-range, secure communications solutions that don’t rely exclusively on satellite systems.”
The Spectra team will be exhibiting both Troposcatter and their game-changing SlingShot communications system at DSEi 2019, Stand N9-370, at Excel London 10-13 September 2019.
05 Sep 19. Japan’s budget document reveals electronic warfare plans. Japan is stepping up its investments in electronic warfare, with its latest defense budget request containing a number of related acquisitions and research activities in this domain.
The latest budget request from the Defense Ministry for fiscal 2020, which starts April 1, calls for $50.5bn, an increase of 1.2 percent over the previous year and the eighth straight year of an increase.
The detailed budget request document released by the ministry contained a breakdown of funding allocation as well as line items of proposed acquisition and research projects. Among these were several items related to Japan’s electronic warfare, or EW, capabilities, ranging from acquiring and researching ground-based jammer systems to improving the EW capabilities of its fleet of F-15 Eagle fighter jets.
The budget request included a proposal to acquire one complete system of Japan’s truck-mounted Network Electronic Warfare System, or NEWS, for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, or JGSDF, with the cost listed as $97m.
NEWS is used for collecting, analyzing and classifying adversary signals intelligence, and subsequently jamming them. The system is mounted on the air-transportable Toyota Type 73 truck and exists in several sub-types, known in the JGSDF as Type 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each sub-type has a different role and covers different bands on the electromagnetic spectrum.
The JGSDF will also establish a new EW unit by the end of the next fiscal year, reportedly in Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s three main islands.
The ministry also asked for $35.8m in research and development funds for a new ground-based, anti-aircraft EW system. The as-yet unnamed system will detect and jam the radars of enemy aircraft approaching Japan to neutralize them. A graphical representation in the ministry’s budget request document shows a large dish antenna mounted on an eight-wheel drive truck with a separate, truck-mounted control station or generator.
Japan’s airborne EW capabilities are also getting attention in the budget request. The ministry asked for a further $36.7m and $19.5m respectively to continue development work on upgrading Japan’s Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle interceptor fleet and a new standoff jammer aircraft.
Most of Japan’s F-15 fleet will eventually go through the upgrade, which will improve the type’s EW systems and expand its multirole capabilities. The latter will see the carriage and integration of the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, to its arsenal. JASSM is a low-observable standoff air-launched cruise missile used for land-attack missions. It’s currently in use with the U.S. military and by the forces of Australia, Finland and Poland.
Meanwhile, the new standoff jammer is expected to be based on the Kawasaki C-2 airlifter and perform standoff jamming of the adversary’s electromagnetic spectrum in the air, land and naval domains. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force already has a number of EP-3C Orion aircraft in similar roles, and the Defense Ministry is seeking funds to perform life-extension work on these aircraft for a fatigue assessment to ensure the airworthiness of the airframes. (Source: Defense News)
05 Sep 19. NSA looks to ‘up its game’ in cyber defense. The National Security Agency’s new cybersecurity directorate aims to level the playing field against a barrage of cyber threats.
“The national security landscape of the country had changed. Our adversaries could achieve strategic impact by tactical actions,” Anne Neuberger, the directorate’ new leader, said Sept. 4 at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference. “Attempting to use influence operations to shake confidence in a democracy. Stealing intellectual property to gain potential military parity with the United States.”
As a result, NSA had to “really up its game”, Neuberger said.
“That’s what drove us to stand up the directorate, frankly, to set a pretty aggressive mission, which is to prevent and irradiate cyber actors from national security systems and critical infrastructure with a focus on the defense industrial base.”
The directorate was announced in July and is set to formally start its work Oct. 1. Neuberger said U.S. companies, critical infrastructure and the defense industrial base must get better support from the government’s largest intelligence organization. As a result, NSA leaders hope the new directorate provides better, and more contextual, threat information to private entities.
Neuberger, speaking Sept. 4 at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference, said NSA officials have heard that some of the information the agency provided – such as IP addresses and domain names – was a case of too little too late or didn’t include enough context for organs to defend themselves properly.
She explained that the NSA and the cybersecurity directorate want to arrive at a place where essentially offense is informing defense.
“Bottom line, it’s recognizing the power we have to prevent an attack through rapid sharing – and ideally at the unclassified level – so it can be easily used to defend a network,” she said.
The directorate’s other priorities include deepening the collaboration between communities that perform threat analysis, vulnerability assessments and mitigation to better understand threats.
When it comes to protecting the defense industrial base, which has been the subject of a significant amount of nation state espionage and intellectual property theft via cyber means, Neuberger explained the fine line NSA is trying to straddle.
One one hand, she noted, it can’t be expected that every defense industrial base company can fully defend itself against a nation state actor that invests time and resources. However, the government can’t be completely responsible to defend these organizations either.
“There is a balance between the two and we’re looking for, certainly, creative approaches to share threat intelligence but also ways to allow smaller companies to quickly jump their cyber capabilities,” she said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
06 Sep 19. Inzpire Limited Develop Beyond Line of Sight Communications Capability for GECO Mission Support System. Inzpire Limited has further enhanced the functionality of its GECO Mission Support System by designing and delivering a beyond line of sight communications system. The capability, which was developed in response to an urgent operational requirement (UOR), uses satellite communication enabling users to communicate over great distances from virtually anywhere in the world using the company’s tablet-based electronic flight bag.
A global system for mobile communications (4G) option is available for use during training where a suitable network exists, enhancing connectivity and reducing cost.
Designed by Inzpire’s ex-military aviators and highly-experienced engineers, the secure messaging function of the beyond line of sight capability allows messaging groups to be created and customised in real time on the military-grade tablet. Default messages are stored on the system to speed up the sending of routine messages, whilst emergency messages are also stored and can generate instant alerts and responses. A read receipt function has also been developed to enhance awareness, ensuring the sender can keep track of the status of their messages and whether they have been received and read.
To enhance awareness during missions, the new beyond line of sight capability also provides the operator with live location updates of other users, both on the ground and in the air. With the functionality being developed by ex-military aircrew who understand the sensitive nature of missions, the position sharing feature can also be turned on or off.
Jonny Smith, Inzpire’s Head of Mission Systems, said: “The addition of the beyond line of sight capability is a game changer for the GECO system and its users. Fully integrated with the vast array of other GECO system features, the beyond line of sight communications capability allows vital safety and situational awareness updates to be exchanged over great range between aircraft and their operating base. Furthermore, the GECO System is a totally ‘carry-on’ solution, requiring no aircraft modification, offering hugely reduced cost and timescale. The capability makes missions safer, more effective and offers outstanding value for money.”
05 Sep 19. Cyber Ops to Gain Speed, Accuracy From AI. On the battlefields of the future, cyber defensive actions and counteractions will occur in milliseconds and microseconds — not seconds and minutes.
Artificial intelligence will play a key role in assisting cyber operators to make speedier and more accurate decisions, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director, Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center said while participating in a panel at the 10th Annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington yesterday.
DOD is increasingly focused on AI — and counter, or adversarial AI — the general said, adding that the AI tools of the future must work in extreme field environments and be trusted by the troops who will use them.
That will require a “red team” approach to training, he said, pitting an opposition force against cyber operators to test the limits of cyber defense. The Defense Innovation Unit is already automating some of the red team actions, he added.
“Counter-AI is in the future. It’s analogous to electronic warfare,” the general said. “That’s something that’s upon us now, and we need more thought put into that commercial enterprise.”
Shanahan said three areas of focus for cyber-related AI are talent, culture and data. “Data challenges are a particularly hard one for the cyber piece,” he added.
When AI is used for noncyber applications such as motion video, known objects on the ground are easy to classify and label. The same goes for predictive maintenance and humanitarian assistance, Shanahan said. But cyber is much harder.
“What does normal look like so anomalies and variances in the system can be detected in the data?” he said. And he noted that data is also important in building algorithms.
Shanahan said data in the DOD and intelligence communities wasn’t built expecting a future of AI. “So before AI becomes fully functional,” he said, “the data problem has to be addressed.”
Data problems with AI and cyber include access, quality, content, classification and format, he noted.
“We have 24 cybersecurity service providers, all collecting data in slightly different ways,” he said. So, constructing a cyberdata framework means working with Cyber Command and the National Security Agency and those cybersecurity service providers to come up with a starting point for data curation, content, sharing and storage.
“Just on that agreement, I think we’ll have much more success down the road as we bring in commercial vendors to do product evaluation,” Shanahan said. “The challenge right now is they didn’t know the data they’d be seeing.” (Source: US DoD)
05 Sep 19. A year in cybersecurity with the UK National Cyber Security Centre. A year in cybersecurity, as in politics, is a long time. Part of the UK National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) role is to identify shifts in the cyber threat environment so organisations can prepare accordingly. At the recent RESET conference on cybersecurity hosted by BAE System, NCSC head of cyber assessment Eleanor Fairford spoke about the role of assessment and how the attribution and nature of attacks have changed over the past year.
“Assessment sits at the heart insofar as we take on board all of the information sources and various information that is available from all bits of the NCSC and more broadly,” she explained.
“So we’re looking across all the different sources across the cybersecurity sector in general, and then attempting to draw what is generally a very strategic broad overview of the cyber threats, usually designed to inform policy decisions and senior decision-makers and ministers at a senior government level about the cyber threat.”
The NCSC collects intelligence from open-source reporting, plus broader information from industry, international partners and other major sources to develop what it understands to be the latest highlights and trends in cyber threats.
“It’s a wee bit broad, strategic and high level; the idea is that what we produce is readable by a non-technical person,” said Fairford. “This is kind of the stuff that we put forward to ministers who, believe me, are genuinely a non-technical audience.”
The evolution of cyberattacks
NCSC began tracking public cyberattack attributions in 2017, which Fairford said pushed cybersecurity and the cyber threat from hostile states up the political and public agenda.
“What we did not see in 2018 were these big standout attacks we saw from 2017, like WannaCry and NotPetya, these massive global campaigns, in these cases by self-propagating worms,” she said. “Nonetheless, there were ransomware and data-wiping attacks that we saw in the UK and globally.”
Fairford noted that whereas previously the NCSC would look at the impact of attacks directly targeting the UK, many recent ones were the result of unintended consequences.
“They’re about adversaries attacking each other elsewhere and us being a kind of knock-on effect or a collateral target,” she said. “We had the widely reported Iranian attack using Shamoon malware against a Saudi petrochemical company, which happened to have headquarters in Glasgow so the UK business suffered the data-wiping attack. That was not part of the initial MO.”
Data breaches became higher profile in 2018, thanks in part to GDPR regulation, and more frequent, which Fairford said is to be expected in an increasingly connected world. There was also increased consciousness of data use and abuse, not least following the Cambridge Analytica scandal which used data from Facebook to support political campaigning.
“We saw a lot of data breaches reported in the context of GDPR; they had to be reported by ICO [the Information Commissioner’s Office], so it raised the profile,” said Fairford. “And we also saw the scope for abuse and misuse of data in general. Cambridge Analytica obviously involved the use of Facebook data, and we saw that Facebook also had data-sharing agreements with Russian and Chinese companies, as well as elsewhere. It was not just Cambridge Analytica; it was other states’ interests as well.”
Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated
Another significant theme NCSC noted over the past year was evolving techniques in financial attacks.
“We’ve seen North Korean banking attacks, particularly against Bangladesh Bank for $82m,” Fairford said. “Last year we saw the globally coordinated ATM cash-out phenomenon with the cash being taken from ATMs, where $2m was taken out in a really short period of time. These are really sophisticated, clever attacks that are well-coordinated on a global level and take it to a whole new level.”
One extraordinary global risk that surfaced in the past year or so has been the Chinese Government supplying IT hardware gifts with backdoors – embedded systems or hidden devices that secure remote access to passwords and data.
Fairford explained: “The African Union headquarters in Ethiopia received an IT gift from the Chinese Government. They found the servers were mysteriously exfiltrating data to Beijing overnight and they realised that that was a backdoor built-in. Subsequent research discovered that there are many, many more instances of IT being gifted from China to other states, particularly in Africa, which are undoubtedly being exploited to their maximum capacity as well.”
Cybercrime meets state sponsors
Finally, Fairford flagged up that the crossover of cybercrime with state-sponsored activity is another key issue that the NCSC is coming across.
“A lot of this North Korean activity we refer to as cybercrime because it’s against a bank, but it’s sponsored by states as well,” she said. “We see cybercriminals who move in and out of state-sponsored circles. They become part of the state apparatus and they might function there and move back in again; sometimes they are directly employed, and sometimes they’re not.”
The NCSC sees cybercriminal groups who fully understand what the state intelligence requirements are and will obtain relevant data; although not state-sponsored, it is very much carried out with the state’s requirements in mind, which Fairford said leads to a unique employment opportunity.
“We see states spotting really good cybercriminals and employing them because they’re great,” said Fairford. “There are loads of examples of where states and criminals are increasingly overlapping and organised crime groups become similar to advanced persistent threats [typically state actors].” (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Sep 19. The Pentagon is looking for an AI ethicist. After a rash of tech employee protests, the Defense Department wants to hire an artificial intelligence ethicist.
“We are going to bring on someone who has a deep background in ethics,” tag-teaming with DOD lawyers to make sure AI can be “baked in,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who leads the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told reporters during an Aug. 30 media briefing.
The AI ethical advisor would sit under the JAIC, the Pentagon’s strategic nexus for AI projects and plans, to help shape the organization’s approach to incorporating AI capabilities in the future. The announcement follows protests by Google and Microsoft employees concerned about how the technology would be used — particularly in lethal systems — and questioning whether major tech companies should do business with DOD.
The JAIC is building an AI ethics process with input from the Defense Innovation Board, the National Security Council and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Policy to address AI ethics policy concerns and offer recommendations to the defense secretary.
The JAIC, which is only about a year old, is still “trying to fill a lot of gaps,” Shanahan said, but installing an ethicist is a top priority.
“One of the positions we are going to fill will be someone who’s not just looking at technical standards, but who is an ethicist,” Shanahan said. “In Maven, these questions really did not really rise to the surface every day because it was really still humans looking at object detection classification and tracking — there were no weapons involved in that.” (Source: Defense Systems)
19 Aug 19. BAE Systems raises the bar for multi-domain cybersecurity with XTS® Guard 7. XTS Guard 7 provides U.S. intelligence organizations with secure access to geospatial imagery.
BAE Systems has launched its next-generation XTS® Guard 7, which provides U.S. intelligence organizations with secure access to geospatial imagery and data through multi-directional transfer of different data types across classified and unclassified domains. XTS Guard 7 is a cybersecurity appliance solution that resides between networks with differing levels of security classification, and is a key component to secure information sharing between programs and agencies using intelligence libraries.
Equipped with the company’s Geospatial eXploitation Products™ (GXP), BAE Systems’ newest guard builds on the proven, reliable XTS Guard 5 platform. XTS Guard 7 meets the National Security Agency’s (NSA) recently released National Cross Domain Solution “Raise the Bar” design and implementation requirements for filtering, sanitizing, and decomposing data. Raise the Bar (RTB) is a cyber-security initiative created by the NSA to combat escalating threats while continually improving the status quo in the cross-domain community.
“Our product is the guard of choice for Department of Defense and other Intelligence Community enterprises,” said Douglas Steil, general manager of Cyber Security Products at BAE Systems. “We created a superior product predicated on design patterns outlined by the NSA, and have proven XTS Guard 7’s readiness to deliver operational success for a number of U.S. government entities and agencies.”
Built to support the simple plug-in of leading content filters, XTS Guard 7 offers easy and secure communication with coalition partner countries. The product’s “STOP” operating system further enhances security by allowing for data heterogeneity, reducing vulnerabilities across the architectures defined by the NSA.
XTS Guard 7 protocols include Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and DSG, which is a persistent socket proprietary protocol. The product’s architecture can support multi-enclave and multi-compartment controlled information sharing, with advanced administration and auditing. It supports up to 28 enclaves or domains, and is compatible with filters or Data Format Description Language libraries. Additionally, the XTS Guard 7 is available in a small form factor that handles up to 10 domains for land, sea, and airborne vehicle deployments.
XTS Guard 7 is operationally cost-effective for customers upgrading their current architectures and migrating to the RTB-accredited design patterns. BAE Systems currently offers an affordable upgrade path for existing and accredited XTS Guard 5 customers to the new XTS Guard 7 platform for customers requiring a move to the Raise The Bar architecture. The company is the only vendor to build and offer both the XTS Guard 7 and the unidirectional data diodes required in RTB solutions.
01 Sep 19. Cyber Command is quiet about the tools they need. Here’s what they’ve told industry. Leaders at U.S. Cyber Command have been working to ensure its staff has the tools and infrastructure necessary to conduct operations separately from the National Security Agency.
While specificity surrounding desired and needed tools aren’t always available, contractors told Fifth Domain Cyber Command is pursuing tools to access targets and capabilities that enhance data integration. They also want a broader vision for how to ensure large programs of record mature and do not become obsolete.
“Many [proposals] have been a combination of ‘what do you have today?’ because the fight is happening today. So, what do you have today off the shelf that we can acquire to use as part of our mission,” Thomas Warner, vice president of cyber solutions at Lockheed Martin, told Fifth Domain. Or, they ask “how long would it take for you to develop [something]?”
More specifically, given the unique nature of cyber operations within DoD and the fact that each service feeds up into Cyber Command leading to joint teams that span services, there is a need for standardized tools to be used across the force.
Congress has become increasingly interested in ensuring the organization has what it needs. In the last several annual defense policy bills, members asked for reports on how the Pentagon can better acquire and maintain software-based cyber tools. They’ve also asked for studies on future capabilities.
Cyber Command created the Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture within the last year to help guide capability development, shape its programs and prevent the services from building their own one-off tools that don’t play well with others.
The architecture not only allows Cyber Command to have better oversight of its arsenal, but is also beneficial for contractors to see what the Defense Department wants. The architecture’s five elements include:
- Common firing platforms that serve as a comprehensive suite of cyber tools,
- Unified Platform, a major program to integrate and analyze data from offensive and defensive operations with intelligence and partners,
- Capabilities for joint situational awareness and command and control,
- Sensors to support the defense of the network, and,
- The Persistent Cyber Training Environment, for training.
Warner noted that the architecture outlines capabilities and investments Cyber Command wants is year by year.
“We wouldn’t want DoD or industry to build divergent solutions or to build proprietary stovepipes. So JCWA will allow us to build a common framework,” Don Bray, director for cyber training at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services on Cyber Capabilities, told Fifth Domain.
Warner added that the architecture helps companies logically group capabilities, which in turn helps ensure industry is investing in the right tools to support Cyber Command.
Moreover, with such a variety of tools available, the services want weapon systems that work together.
“What I’m seeing from the mission force is there’s a need for those [strategic and operational level tools planned in development] to be integrated together,” Meghan Good, cyber solutions lead at Leidos, told Fifth Domain. “It’s how they integrate commercial tools, how they use them in a way that works for the defending forward that they’re doing, how they can use tools for multiple purposes spreading across all of cyberspace operations” from defensive to offensive operations. Slowly, it is becoming more apparent how capabilities, systems and programs of record are fitting into this larger architecture, she said.
While each service has developed its own capabilities, she said the next iteration must ensure other services can leverage similar capabilities.
“You’re starting to see the need and desire coming out in these systems around the JCWA,” she said.
Doug Booth, director of strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin’s spectrum convergence segment, said in the past, the command was focused on more tactical level targets and operations. But he said newer requirements from Cyber Command show leaders there are looking for strategic level deterrence tools as well as tools that can integrate with traditional military forces. Other industry officials have previously explained in the past few years that the command’s capabilities directorate has looked at the cyber equivalent of parking an aircraft carrier off another country’s coast as a form of power projection.
Data fusion and integration
With a glut of information from sensors and networks around the world, commanders will need a cohesive way to analyze this data and process it for more informed decision making.
“It really comes down to data,” George Franz, cybersecurity lead for Accenture Federal Services’ national security business, told Fifth Domain. “You consider what the force is going to have to do now and in the future, the first thing they have to do is have access to all of the data and information they’re going to need to understand the environment to shape the environment, plan in the environment and that’s a significant problem.”
To bring all this data in, enter Unified Platform. Unified Platform is one of Cyber Command’s first major weapons systems and will allow cyber forces to share information, conduct mission planning and provide the command and control tools they need to conduct cyber missions.
“Unified Platform is really that big data infrastructure in the center piece for everything they do,” Franz said.
Unified Platform will consolidate and standardize the variety of big data tools used by Cyber Command and its subordinate organizations to include the Defense Information Systems Agency. This will allow forces to share information more easily and build common tools to be used across the service cyber components leading to greater interoperability, Franz said.
The Air Force, which serves as the executive agent for joint cyber command and control platforms, has named Northrop Grumman as the system coordinator for Unified Platform. Additionally, the service named five companies to a subordinate contract beneath Unified Platform called, cyber enterprise services (CES), which will enhance multiple cyber platforms with a services in command and control, planning, generation, execution, assessment, reporting and visualization.
While DoD is still evolving what the platform will look like in many respects, the vision is becoming clearer.
“I think [Unified Platform is] becoming closer to reality now that there’s some idea of how it’s going to be developed. I think there’s a lot more emerging things of how the data is interoperable between different systems and how you can use tools in one place to another,” Good said. “The conversation is evolving into how we really make it work versus just saying in the conceptual.”
Warner, explained that DoD has given itself a lot of flexibility on Unified Platform, leaving room for new requirements as the fight evolves.
“While they do have a lot of high-level requirements, they’re taking an approach of here’s the capability we need. Industry tell us what you have in this area … and then award the best-of-breed for that,” he said.
Cyber Command’s long-term vision is for Unified Platform to serve as the baseline capability and flow into what the military calls Joint Cyber Command and Control (JCC2), which will provide joint commanders enhanced situational awareness and battle management for cyber forces and missions. Unlike Unified Platform, little information is publicly available about JCC2. The Air Force is planning to spend $11.6m in research and development funds for JCC2 in FY20. The Air Force awarded Enlighten IT Consulting a contract in mid-March under the JCC2 program under something called the “Threat Awareness and Sharing Concept (TASC)” effort, according to an Air Force spokesman.
The TASC is “a year-long prototype activity focused on expanding cyber threat data sharing automation and visualization. This prototype award is but one of several parallel R&D efforts focused on further informing global Combatant Commanders on the heartbeat of cyber operations,” the spokesman said.
Others have noted that while Unified Platform will integrate various cyber platforms or operations, JCC2 will integrate joint, coalition as well as inter-agency command and control.
Good noted that Unified Platform serves as the baseline and it is becoming clearer how these systems are being integrated together.
“Cyber Command, but really DoD at large, is trying to adapt to this changing environment and getting the right platforms … even though you’re adding new capabilities that are evolving with different threats and mission needs,” she said. “I really am starting to see that progression toward this larger architecture and platform that they’re building to.”
Franz also explained a command-and-control tool at the combatant command level can provide commanders valuable information on the health and readiness of their teams and tools.
Electronic warfare-powered cyber?
One trend Cyber Command officials have considered is the need for radio-frequency-enabled cyber tools to help exploit certain targets.
“It’s one of those where you have to know that not everything is IP based, not everything is on net so what are the other kinds of ways to get into the targets and then to figure out how to manipulate data, how to, again, defend forward and achieve mission outcomes that we want,” Good said.
RF and electronic warfare tools have not just been associated with soldiers on the ground carrying jammers and sensing systems, not necessarily remote operators conducting cyberattacks like Cyber Command.
Bray said the cyber mission force conducts operations at all levels of war — tactical, operational and strategic — adding that at the tactical level, they would need to manipulate electronic warfare or RF-type systems.
“Absolutely, [the] cyber mission force would need EW capabilities as well as RF capabilities when they [are] operating in the tactical space and maybe even the operational space,” he said. “You can combine the tactical capabilities with operational and strategic capabilities. I can see why they would need that.”
However, the so-called multidomain nature of warfare necessitates accessing these types of targets in new ways.
“It’s just a logical maturity, the expansion of the capacity of the CMF that if they’re trained to do it, it’s within their capacity, they’ve got the tools synchronized with ground mission commanders,” Franz said. “I think there’s a lot of discussion around bringing those [EW and cyber] authorities together in an efficient way and it’s logical that the CMF would be part of that future delivery of a future combined effect, particularly if the force and the technology let them do it better.”
Does Cyber Command need more electronic warfare tools?
Cyber forces of the future might need to exploit the electromagnetic spectrum to get at targets not connected to traditional networks. Bray said if forces are trying to conduct a long range mission such as a bombing run, they might need some type of close action capability to ensure that the mission or the aircraft can make it there safely and back without being detected.
03 Sep 19. Portuguese military communications technology company EID has been awarded a €16.7m contract to supply its PRC-525 tactical radios and ancillary equipment to the Portuguese Army. Deliveries will start in 2019 and will go through to 2026. The PRC-525 Combat Net Radio (CNR) is currently the standard man-pack and vehicular radio system used by the Portuguese Army. The flexible, software-based system supports high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) ranges and enables frequency hopping and a wide range of waveforms. The tactical radio offers high performance across portable, vehicular and stationary applications. The contract also includes supply of further systems and components manufactured by EID, including deployable base systems, power amplifiers for vehicular use and antenna tuning units.
EID Managing Director António Marcos Lopes said: “We’re proud of the fact that our state-of-the-art communications systems already support and will contribute further to the fulfilment of the Portuguese Army’s national and international missions. This award further enhances EID’s long-standing and successful partnership with the Portuguese Ministry of Defence to provide equipment for both land and sea-based military applications.
“With multiple frequency ranges, the PRC-525 tactical radio is a highly flexible capability, supporting a wide range of operational functions including interface with analogue and digital networks, and mobile stations for command and control systems.”
03 Sep 19. Bittium has received a purchase order for the software-defined Bittium Tough SDR™ radios and Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™ (TAC WIN) system’s products to be delivered to the Estonian Defence Forces. The Bittium Tough SDR radios, which are intended for soldier use and vehicle installations, and Bittium TAC WIN products, will complement the tactical communications system that has been delivered to the Estonian Defence Forces already previously.
The purchase order continues the reform that aims to improve the Estonian Land Forces’ IP (Internet Protocol) data transfer capability and availability. Bittium’s tactical communications system ordered already previously is based on the Bittium TAC WIN system and contributes to the reform as part of a bigger system entity. The system will now be complemented with the next generation software-defined Bittium Tough SDR radios, which are compatible with the wideband and mobile Bittium TAC WIN system. Bittium’s tactical communications system will be used to modernize the IP data transfer, improve the performance of the tactical data network, and diversify the wireless and wired connectivity of the system entity used by the Estonian Land Forces. Bittium TAC WIN system together with the Bittium Tough SDR radios enables bringing broadband data and voice to all mobile troops starting from brigade level and all the way across the battlefield.
Together with the Bittium Tough SDR radios, Bittium will also deliver waveforms, including the wideband Bittium TAC WIN Waveform™ and the Bittium Narrowband Waveform™, as well as accessories. Using several waveforms, even simultaneously, improves the compatibility of the radios to different networks and enables operations on different levels and missions.
The product deliveries will commence during the year 2019. The value of the purchase order will not be disclosed. The order will not change Bittium’s financial outlook for the year 2019, published on August 8, 2019 in Bittium’s Half Year Financial Report January-June 2019.
Bittium Tough SDR™ product family
The Bittium Tough SDR product family of tactical radios consists of Bittium Tough SDR Handheld™, tactical handheld radio for individual soldiers, and Bittium Tough SDR Vehicular™, tactical radio for vehicle installations. Bittium Tough SDR products help to produce and share real time situational awareness (location, image, voice, video, and sensor data) to all levels of the organization. This improves the performance and the effectiveness of the tactical troops, and leading the troops is easier based on the up-to-date situational awareness and more reliable connections. The uniquely wide range of frequency bands in the radios improves combat survivability. Using several waveforms, even simultaneously, improves compatibility and enables operations on different levels and missions. Together with the SDR based Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™ (TAC WIN) system, used for forming a tactical broadband mobile IP backbone network, it is possible to bring broadband data and voice to all mobile troops starting from brigade level and all the way across the battlefield.
More information about the Bittium Tough SDR radios: https://www.bittium.com/tactical-communications/bittium-tough-sdr-handheld and https://www.bittium.com/tactical-communications/bittium-tough-sdr-vehicular
Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™
Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network (TAC WIN) is a Software Defined Radio based wireless broadband network system intended for military and public safety use. With the system MANET (mobile ad hoc network), link, and connection networks can be formed into one logical IP network quickly, no matter what the location is. Bittium TAC WIN is compatible with existing fixed and wireless network infrastructures, and it is an excellent data transfer solution for example for weapon systems and unmanned vehicle platforms due to its mobility, low latency and high bandwidth features. The core of the system is a tactical router that enables users to freely form both wired and wireless broadband data transfer IP connections. Tactical router enables also connections to different types of terminals and other communication systems connecting them into one communication network. In addition to the router the system comprises three types of radio heads, and each radio head covers its own frequency band area and can be used for flexible formation of optimized network topologies for different communication needs. All the products of the system are designed for harsh conditions, and thanks to the system’s automated functions the implementation of the system can be done quickly. Due to the software-based functionality of the Bittium TAC WIN system, it can be easily updated with additional performance cost-efficiently during the whole lifespan of the system.
02 Sep 19. In August 2019 Barrett Communications was advised that the Barrett 4075 500 Watt & 1000 Watt High power HF transmitter series was granted certification by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States. This product certification was for FCC compliance for both the 500W and 1,000W high power HF transmitters. FCC approval is particularly defined within the United States but is also seen by many countries in South America and international organisations within the civil aviation, such as ICAO, as part of their homologation process.
Mr Andrew Burt, CEO of Barrett Communications commented “The American and Canadian markets continue to grow for Barrett Communications, specifically the aviation industry and as a result, we will continue to seek relevant approvals for the products we design and manufacture.”
Barrett Communications will be exhibiting at the ICAO Innovation Fair in Montreal Canada in September 2019. Barrett will have the 4050 HF SDR and 4075 High power systems available at their stand 33 on the 4th Floor.
02 Sep 19. Barrett Communications announced that on the 18th July 2019 it received certification from the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) for the Barrett 4050 HF SDR transceiver. This certification includes conformance to the basic radio specification of MIL-STD-188-141B, 2G Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). The JITC certification establishes the Barrett 4050 transceivers as interoperable with other JITC certified HF transceivers. This is paramount when considering coalition and Partnership for Peace (PFP) operations and the use of Barrett transceivers in HF networks for emergency preparation and disaster relief.
30 Aug 19. Raytheon uses Ultra Electronics for US Army Troposcatter. Raytheon has formed a partnership with Ultra Electronics’ business unit Gigasat to provide advanced communications capability to the US Army. In May, Raytheon won a potential $663m, ten-year indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract to deliver Troposcatter communication systems to the army. The systems will provide soldiers with secure voice and data communications in contested environments.
As part of the partnership, Ultra Gigasat will provide its Troposcatter antenna solution. The antenna will help soldiers carry out mission-critical communications in the field, as well as command and control.
Troposcatter will ensure troops have access to a communications capability in the field in areas not equipped with a reliable source of satellite communications coverage.
The Troposcatter terminal will establish a reliable and secure communications network for troops deployed anywhere in the world.
Ultra Gigasat business unit director Mark Aitken said: “The operational requirements of today mean that troops are required to deploy to a variety of environments where access to satellite coverage and power is not guaranteed.
“Reliable, secure communications is a vital component of operations and is essential not only to the success of missions, but also to protecting soldiers’ safety. Our partnership with Raytheon will ensure that the capability is readily available to provide soldiers with deployable communications tools, regardless of whether or not satellite coverage is available.”
Raytheon completed testing and analysis of the Troposcatter antenna to verify whether it meets mission requirements.
The company tested the antenna’s capability to support deployment in any field of operation and whether it can be assembled easily without requiring additional equipment. Ultra Gigasat stated that the terminal will be able to operate even in harsh conditions. (Source: army-technology.com)
01 Sep 19. The Pentagon’s AI center is poised for a breakthrough. The head of the Pentagon’s new artificial intelligence center said in an Aug. 30 press conference that the organization is poised for a breakthrough in 2020. Established in June 2018, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is an effort to accelerate the Pentagon’s adoption and integration of AI at scale. As a Center of Excellence, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, JAIC’s director, said the organization was intended to expand beyond product delivery to include “strategic engagement and policy, plans and analysis, and intelligence and more.”
Shanahan has led the JAIC since January, and prior to that he led Project Maven, a major effort to apply AI and machine learning to analyzing full-motion video.
“At this time last year, the JAIC only had a handful of people, no money and no permanent spaces from which to operate,” he said. “We did not get the majority of our fiscal year ‘19 funding until the beginning of March of this year. We now have 60 government employees, a real home, a healthy fiscal year ‘20 budget, and we are delivering some initial AI-enabled capabilities.”
The center’s budget fiscal 2019 was $93m, an amount that Shanahan said was fair for where the organization was at that time. He added that he requested $268m for fiscal year 2020, although that figure has been marked down, first by the White House which requested $209m. The Senate and House versions of the National Defense Authorization Act differ on funding for the JAIC. The Senate bill authorizes funding the center at the full $209m while the House marks it down further to $167m.
“I am optimistic that 2020 will be a breakout year for the department when it comes to fielding AI-enabled capabilities,” said Shanahan.
At the moment, the JAIC is pursuing several mission initiatives, which include:
- Predictive maintenance for the H-60 helicopter
- Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with a focus on wildfires and flooding.
- Cyber sensemaking, focusing on event detection, user activity monitoring and network mapping
- Information operations
- Intelligent business automation
Beyond those initiatives, Shanahan said the JAIC’s biggest priority in fiscal year 2020 will be “AI for maneuver and fires” — product lines focused on war fighting operation. That effort will include operations intelligence fusion, joint all domain command and control, accelerated sensor to shooter timelines, autonomous and swarming systems, target development and operations center workflows.
Shanahan said he hoped to see progress in a couple of those efforts in the six months following October.
“We still have a long way to go to help bring pilots, prototypes and pitches across the technology valley of death to fielding and updating AI capabilities at speed and at scale,” said Shanahan. “I doubt I will ever be entirely satisfied that we’re moving fast enough when it comes to DoD’s adoption of AI. My sense of urgency remains palpable.” (Source: glstrade.com/ C4ISR & Networks)
30 Aug 19. UK buys SitaWare HQ for NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. The NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) headquarters has awarded a contract to Systematic for its SitaWare Headquarters (HQ) command-and-control (C2) software, the company told Jane’s. This is a multi-year contract with the software procured by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) as the UK is the ARRC framework nation. The value of the contract was not disclosed. SitaWare consists of three interoperable segments of C2 software designed for different levels of command. The HQ segment is designed for use in ground force command posts at battalion level and above, and to provide a fused operational picture for command support in maritime and air operations.
ARRC is one of NATO’s high readiness corps-level HQs that can act as a land component HQ or as a theatre-level joint task force HQ. It is based at Innsworth in Gloucestershire and maintains close relationships with formations from four countries, as well as the UK.
Paul Fielding, senior manager of business development for Systematic, told Jane’s that HQ ARRC would be using the SitaWare HQ software to integrate NATO functional area services, the software applications that provide information and decision support to operational divisions within the staff, along with data feeds from other sources in order to provide a single common operational picture (COP) covering all domains. The COP interface will be provided by SitaWare HQ.
SitaWare uses the Multilateral Interoperability Programme (MIP) protocol, which supports C2 data exchange with coalition partners as long as they are using MIP-compliant systems. For example, one of the principle assigned formations to the HQ is the British Army’s 3rd Division. Fielding said that because the UK uses Systematic’s MIP Gateway, integration with HQ 3 (UK) Div should be straightforward. (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.