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23 Aug 18. MALD-X Project Completes Free Flight Demonstration. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), with Air Force Miniature Air Launch Decoy (MALD) Program Office, and Naval Air Warfare Center Point Mugu successfully completed a series of free flight demonstrations of the MALD-X on August 20 and 22. This innovative and collaborative project builds upon the successful MALD platform and seeks to demonstrate the operational effectiveness and tactical advantage provided by large numbers of collaborative, expendable platforms highlighted with the completion of a complex free flight demonstration of advanced electronic warfare techniques.
“The rapid development and demonstration was made possible by the cross-service technical collaboration between the Air Force and Navy”, said Chris Shank, SCO Director. “The MALD-X is handing over to the Navy to complete system development and transition to an operational capability. The superb cross-service technical teamwork is an exemplar for future innovative projects.”
MALD-X’s modularity allows the Navy to rapidly inject adaptive payloads and capabilities into as yet unknown future mission sets.
“MALD-X gives future warfighters the ability to focus on the nature of the emerging threats rather than being encumbered by the burden associated with making a system interact with mission elements and mission supporting actions,” said Matthew O’Connell, MALD-X Program Manager.
The MALD-X program is continuing to pursue multiple enhancements for the vehicle that would provide additional mission sets that will be demonstrated next year.
22 Aug 18. New technology promises more efficient spectrum use. In a real sense, radios are limited like humans: it’s hard to both talk and listen at the same time. A radio receiver picks up nearby emitted signals, so it cannot broadcast at the same time it’s trying to listen. While this has worked well enough for over a century of radio use, if any device using radio signals could receive and transmit at the same time, it could effectively fold space into the existing spectrum and speed up communications. Kumu Networks says they have a solution to this problem, a new “self-interference cancellation technology.” If it works at scale, the implications could be use for military customers narrowly, and for anyone that uses radio or Wi-Fi more broadly.
“At the very basic concept, if you think about noise canceling headphones you are wearing on the airplane, how do they work? They listen to the environment, they record the environment, they inverse the noise of the environment by 180 degrees and they inject it back in your ear so you think that you don’t hear anything,” says Joel Brand, vice president of product management for Kumu Networks. “That’s what we do: we take a copy of the translated signal, we invert it, and we inject it into the receiver of that same radio, so the radio doesn’t think that it hears itself. If it cannot hear itself, it can hear everything else.”
While it will be some time before this technology is fielded in smaller, battery-powered devices (think phones), Brand says its already out in the world in large commercial deployments with two major U.S. carriers. The immediate frontier is expanding beyond infrastructure nodes to plugged-in radio signal hubs in houses, like Wi-Fi hotspots or Internet of Things hubs. Brand wouldn’t name the carriers, but he described the process of the existing installations.
“They took LTE base stations, small cells, and connected them to a mobile device, then connected, using our device, through a mobile station to their network. Traditionally, that was not possible because the mobile device would have connected back through that same bay station. So you would have infinite loop, not a mesh network,” says Brand. “Same if you turn on two speaker phones next to each other. Oscillation. With our technology you can turn it such that one device doesn’t hear the other device even if they sit next to each other.”
Besides the commercial deployments, Kumu tested the technology for mobile Wi-Fi relaying in a van as it drove through the hills and outlying neighborhoods of Istanbul, with strong signal throughout. That’s useful enough for anyone commuting through the signal-rich environs of Northern Virginia or elsewhere, but there’s specific military implications that stand out. First is the practical one. Kumu Networks was part of the vendor team headed by Trellisware that won the a $15.7m contract from the National Spectrum Consortium (NSC) to develop the Military Full Duplex Radio. That program aims to create a device that can interact with existing communications, and work in signal-rich environments. A tactical radio that can work through interference would be a boon for battlefields and for first responders.
“Think about if you could speak to me while you listen to a third person,” said Brand. Mesh networks with the self-interference cancellation technology could enable communications to run both ways, quickly. “Now think about a mesh hop, popular in Wi-Fi and in military applications. You are receiving from one, you are turning around transmitting the information further on to the next hop in the chain. With our technology, because you can listen while translating, you can do that pretty much simultaneously; you need to get first packet but then you can turn around and start translating.”
The other military implication is what listening through interference could mean for electronic warfare.
“There’s always conflict between signal intelligence, the need to always listen to what’s going on around you, and Electronic Warfare, that’s attempting to jam the spectrum in order to prevent the enemy from being able to communicate,” says Brand. “Every time you jam, you also jam your own forces. If you could jam, meaning transmit, while still listening, so you could collect data, you could resolve that fundamental conflict in electronic warfare environment.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Aug 18. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have set a new standard for wireless transmission by operating a data link at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) over a distance of 20 kilometers in a city environment.
Northrop Grumman and DARPA 100 gigabits per second link demonstrated over 20 kilometer city environment on Jan. 19, 2018 in Los Angeles. The two-way data link, which featured active pointing and tracking, was demonstrated Jan. 19, 2018 in Los Angeles. The blazing data rate is fast enough to download a 50 Gigabyte blue ray video in four seconds. The demonstration marked the successful completion of Northrop Grumman’s Phase 2 contract for DARPA’s 100 Gbps (100G) RF Backbone program. The 100G system is capable of rate adaptation on a frame by frame basis from 9 Gbps to 102 Gbps to maximize data rate throughout dynamic channel variations. Extensive link characterization demonstrated short-term error-free performance from 9 to 91 Gbps, and a maximum data rate of 102 Gbps with 1 erroneous bit received per ten thousand bits transmitted. The successful data link results from the integration of several key technologies. The link operates at millimeter wave frequencies (in this case, 71-76 gigahertz and 81-86 gigahertz) with 5 gigahertz of bandwidth, or data carrying capacity, and uses a bandwidth efficient signal modulation technique to transmit 25 Gbps data streams on each 5 gigahertz channel. To double the rate within the fixed bandwidth, the data link transmits dual orthogonally polarized signals from each antenna. Additionally, the link transmits from two antennas simultaneously (spatial multiplexing) and uses multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) signal processing techniques to separate the signals at two receiving antennas, thus again doubling the data rate within the fixed bandwidth.
According to Louis Christen, director, research and technology, Northrop Grumman, “This dramatic improvement in data transmission performance could significantly increase the volume of airborne sensor data that can be gathered and reduce the time needed to exploit sensor data.”
22 Aug 18. Wales awarded first cyber security centre of excellence. Cardiff University is recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. Cardiff University has joined a prestigious list of academic institutions helping to make the UK the safest place to live and work online. The University has been named as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), becoming the first institution in Wales to be given this status. The award is in recognition of the internationally excellent research developed at the University over a number of years, and will allow academics to feed directly into the UK Government’s strategy of making the country more resilient to cyber-attacks. Furthermore, as a Centre of Excellence the University will nurture more young talent and foster a pipeline of the next generation of cyber security professionals. Launched in 2016, the NCSC was set up as part of GCHQ to help protect the UK’s critical services from cyber-attacks, manage major incidents, and improve the underlying security of the UK Internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations. Since then it has prevented thousands of attacks, provided vital support for the UK’s Armed Forces and managed hundreds of incidents. Cardiff joins a prestigious list of academic institutions helping to support the NCSC’s mission, including the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and University College London. As part of the scheme, Cardiff University will specifically focus on how artificial intelligence can be used to monitor, identify and ultimately tackle cyber-attacks.
Prof. Pete Burnap, Principal Investigator of the Centre of Excellence and Professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity in the School of Computer Science and Informatics, said: “We are delighted to receive this recognition as it evidences our long track-record of research excellence in cyber security.
“Our core identity is the interdisciplinary fusion of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, a concept we call Cyber Security Analytics. AI is at the heart of the UK government’s industrial strategy and our aim is to innovate with AI to improve automated cyber threat intelligence and support decision making and policy responses to make the UK more secure for individuals, business and the government.
“We are proud to be the first Welsh university to be recognised by NCSC for our cyber research capability, and we hope to build on the impressive expertise that already exists across the region between academia, government and business.”
Cardiff University has a proven track-record of research excellence in cyber security and already has close links with government and industry.
The Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics was recently launched at Cardiff University to further research into the link-up between artificial intelligence and cyber security, and is the first centre of its kind in Europe. Research in the centre aims to protect corporate IT networks, intellectual property, and critical national infrastructure.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan said: “The recognition afforded by the National Cyber Security Centre is validation of the University’s world-leading expertise in this area, and further demonstrates the real-world impact that our research has on the UK as a whole.
“At a time when threats to our critical infrastructure have never been greater, it’s particularly encouraging to see Cardiff University research contributing to efforts to detect and deter cyber-attacks.”
Economy Secretary, Ken Skates said: “As cyber security threats become more prevalent and sophisticated, enabling the rapid development of innovative new products and services to counter them has never been more important.
“The Welsh Government is working hard to support the growth of cyber security businesses and products. With partners such as Cardiff University and NCSC we want to create the right environment for businesses to grow and thrive so they can develop the innovative cyber products and services we need to tackle the security challenges ahead.
“I am delighted that Cardiff University’s excellent research work in this area has been formally recognised with this Award. It is a great boost for the sector in Wales and I look forward to us building on this success in the months and years ahead.”
Minister for Digital, Margot James said: “These universities are doing fantastic research in cyber security and they are rightly being recognised for their pioneering work.
“We have some of the best minds in the world working in the field and thanks to this scheme they can now help shape our National Cyber Security Strategy and develop the talent and services of tomorrow.”
Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns said: “Cardiff University’s recognition as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research not only cements Wales’ position as a world class provider of higher education but also highlights Wales’ ambition to lead the way in training cyber specialists.
“As the importance of cyber security continues to grow, it is great to see that Wales will play such a vital role in developing the skills and building the capability needed to fight cyber-attacks whenever and wherever they occur.”
21 Aug 18. L3, Northrop Selected for Next Generation Jammer Work; Program Stalled After Raytheon Protest. The next phase of the Navy’s effort to replace its decades-old ALQ-99 jamming systems on its fleet of electronic warfare aircraft is in a holding pattern amid a protest from a company cut from the competition, USNI News has learned. As part of rapid acquisition push for the new jamming technology, the Navy is splitting up the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) ALQ-99 replacement work into three increments based on the frequencies the system must block – high-band, mid-band and low-band – to help shield U.S. aircraft from anti-air radar systems. In 2013, Raytheon won a $276m award for the first portion of the NGJ project – the ALQ-249 mid-band jamming part of the new system – and was awarded an additional $1.2bn for the work in 2016. In late 2017, Naval Air Systems Command announced a “demonstration of existing technology” contract to shape how it would pursue the low-band increment. The work would create “[a] demonstration that will lead to an assessment of the maturity level of the technologies that might be applied to a low band jammer pod,” a NAVAIR spokesperson told USNI News in a statement on Tuesday. “This will help inform the appropriate acquisition strategy of the program.”
Last month, L3 and a team of Northrop Grumman and Harris were selected to move forward from a field of four competitors that also included Raytheon and a Lockheed Martin and Cobham team, USNI News has learned. Soon afterwards, Raytheon filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, arguing it should have been selected to move forward with the low-band jammer effort. Both L3 and the Northrop Grumman/Harris team confirmed that their low-band tech was selected for potential further study by NAVIAR but referred additional questions to the Navy due to the ongoing protest from Raytheon.
“We have a mature and exceedingly capable offering for Next-Generation Jammer Low Band,” a Northrop spokesman told USNI News in a statement. “Northrop Grumman stands ready to demonstrate that technology.”
USNI News understands a Lockheed Martin/Cobham team was not selected for further study. A Lockheed spokesperson referred questions to the Navy citing the protest. In a short statement, Raytheon implied the Navy did not fully take into account the benefits of the company’s existing investment into the ALQ-249 mid-band jamming technology.
“We believe there were errors in the government’s evaluation,” Dana Carroll, a Raytheon spokeswoman, told USNI News in a statement. “Our low-risk, open architecture pod effectively and affordably counters modern threats while maximizing reuse of proven technology and taxpayer investment.”
The GAO has until October to reach a decision on Raytheon protest.
The Next Generation Jammer program has been a weak point the Navy’s push to revitalize its aerial electronic warfare portfolio after the service shrugged off developing an improved capability for years in favor of other priorities. The program was placed on the backburner for years while the U.S. was mostly engaged in conflicts with largely uncontested airspace.
However, with the national defense focus of “great power competition,” along with accelerated capabilities in both Chinese and Russian radar systems and anti-air warfare systems, the NGJ capability was given new importance and was placed on a list of accelerated acquisition programs that was overseen by former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall. That emphasis to improve the electronic warfare capability has carried over into the current administration. Last month, Capt. Michael Orr told reporters at the Farnborough Airshow that early iterations of the system would begin aerial testing next year and the entire system was set to reach an initial operational capability sometime in 2022, according to Breaking Defense. The gradual introduction of the NGJ systems onto U.S. and Australian Boeing EA-18G Growlers will initially augment the ALQ-99 before eventually replacing the legacy capability, according to NAVAIR. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/USNI)
20 Aug 18. US Army Takes Its Radio Network Commercial. As the Army reboots its battlefield radio networks, it’s jettisoning exquisitely custom-made military waveforms and moving to simpler — but more capable — commercial radio protocols. The move is underway on three fronts, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the two-star Program Executive Officer for command, control & communications – Tactical (PEO C3T), says:
- The Army’s already moving its backpack-mounted tactical radio, the Manpack, from the milspec Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) to the commercial TSM waveform, with both Harris and Rockwell Collins now integrating TSM in their radios. (Special operators already use TSM).
- They’re currently selecting vendors to do the same for their handheld Leader Radio, mainly used by junior and non-commissioned officers on foot. Bassett’s staff told me to expect an award sometime in September.
- They’re exploring alternatives to the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) as the “backbone” of the Army’s tactical network. TSM is one candidate but there are others, including some still in development, Bassett told me in an interview here.
It’s all part of a wider effort to rebuild the Army’s command, control, and communications (C3) networks for war against a high-tech great power. Speaking at a cyber and networks conference held here Aug. 2 by the Association of the US Army, Bassett said the Army will conduct operational testing of new command systems — including two lower-complexity alternatives to complement the current mainstay, JBC-P — and start fielding them, he said, “this fall.”
Why the rush? Army systems like WIN-T(Warfighter Information Network – Tactical) worked adequately as long as we had big bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, with plenty of time to set up extensive infrastructure and minimal enemy interference. China and Russia, however, have cutting-edge cyber and electronic warfare attackers to hack the network software, powerful electronic warfare units to jam its transmissions, and long-range precision guided missiles that can easily target large, stationary command posts. So last year Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley ordered a crash program of improvements, cancelling planned WIN-T upgrades in favor of new technologies, many from the thriving commercial IT sector.
“It was kind of a shock to the system,” the Army’s Chief Information Officer, Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, told the AUSA conference. “The Army came forward and said there were some programs it wanted to halt and some things it fundamentally wanted to do differently.”
Appealing To Industry
Gen. Milley’s announcement met with initial resistance, including on Capitol Hill, but inspired intense interest from industry. Maj. Gen. Bassett himself had come to the AUSA conference from a meeting in Raleigh, one corner of North Carolina’s thriving“research triangle,” where he had briefed 400 representatives from some 126 companies.
“Down in Raleigh, the challenge that I gave them was learn how you fit into our network design. Propose solutions that will fit into our network,” Bassett said. “We want them to become part of that infrastructure rather than competing with it.”
Traditional Army procurement relied on specialized defense contractors to develop bespoke solutions to military specifications, which created a patchwork of incompatible and hard-to-update systems for different purposes, some as narrow as running the network infrastructure on a single base. So the new approach is for the Army to set common standards, preferably ones already in wide use commercially, and then to open competition to all comers whose products meet the standard. This kind of open architecture allows the military to plug-and-play the latest technology as needed, without having to overhaul the underlying infrastructure every time. Since frontline troops can’t spool out miles of fiber optic behind them as they maneuver, battlefield networks have to be wireless. That brings us back to radio waveforms. While old-fashioned radios had their settings largely hardwired in, modern Software-Defined Radios (SDR) can change how they operate just by loading a different program. A waveform is a set of software instructions governing things like wavelength, encryption, rapid frequency changes to avoid hostile jamming, and how to add and subtract radios from the network as they turn on and off, get jammed, or move. The Pentagon spent billions developing bespoke waveforms like Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) for small ground units and Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) for large formations of both air and ground vehicles. But the commercially developed TSM waveformscales up better to large numbers of users and is generally less complex, more robust, and more capable, Bassett told me after his talk. But can commercial systems hold up on the battlefield against high-powered jamming, a threat that doesn’t exist in the civilian world? “If you’ve got a strong enough jammer you can take down any com systems,” Bassett told me, “but you’ve got to be close to do it and you’ve got to have enough power.”
The solution is two-fold. First, Bassett said, “we want to make it so those systems are harder to take out from a distance,” so the enemy jammer has to either get close, ramp up the power, or both, making itself an easier target. Second, he said, “they can’t jam you everywhere all the time, (so) it’s also about having multiple redundant means of communication.” That’s another reason to change Army procurement to be able to buy a wide range of commercial products. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
17 Aug 18. Six3 Intelligence Solutions Inc./CACI, McLean, Virginia, was awarded a $125,807,584 modification (P00021) to contract W911W4-16-C-0006 for intelligence support services to the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and Resolute Support director of intelligence. Work will be performed in Kabul, Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2020. Fiscal 2018 operations and maintenance Army funds in the amount of $23,577,527 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity.
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.