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02 Oct 19. MAPLE C2 system expands unmanned exploitation possibilities. The United Kingdom’s Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) command-and-control (C2) system has been used at NATO’s ‘Recognised Environmental Picture Maritime Unmanned Systems’ (‘REPMUS’) exercise, which was held on the Troia Peninsular and in Sesimbra, Portugal, from 11-27 September. MAPLE is being developed by QinetiQ in conjunction with the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl).
During the exercise naval and civilian personnel worked out of a shore-based Marine Operations Centre (MOC) modelled on that of a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate. The MOC was running a stripped-down version of the vessel’s combat management system (CMS).
A MAPLE node was set up in an adjacent ISO container. The complete MAPLE setup can be moved on the back of a 40 ft truck. Sensor feeds converged on and were processed by a dedicated server.
The exercise has seen several systems brought onto MAPLE for the first time, including the Portuguese Ogassa unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and commercial-grade unmanned aircraft systems (UASs). The main aim was to test the ability of MAPLE to integrate varied systems under exercise conditions and a priority was put on variety over military utility.
MAPLE repeated control of the L3-Harris MAST-9 unmanned surface vessel (USV). This was first trialled with MAPLE during the ‘Autonomous Warrior’ exercise in Australia in 2018.
MAPLE simultaneously controlled BAE Systems PAC-950 USV – which is based on a rigid hull inflatable boat – and the Puma UAV. Some of these systems were controlled by signals relayed from radios elevated on helikites. This arrangement provides a reduction in antenna, cabling, and terminal requirements and mitigates the problem of security accreditation by separating individual feeds from the MOC and enabling single consolidated and accredited feed into the CMS. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Oct 19. Raytheon developing final phase of Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool. EWPMT helps the U.S. Army manage and plan electronic warfare. Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) is developing Capability Drop 4 of the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, or EWPMT, under a multi-million dollar contract from the U.S. Army over the next 24 months.
EWPMT is a first-of-its-kind tool that plans, manages and controls sensors and systems in the electromagnetic spectrum, providing critical information about what is happening in a crowded signal environment. Delivered in what the Army calls Capability Drops, CD4 represents the final stage of a fully operating capability, or Increment 1.
“EWPMT gives the Army the freedom to add new capabilities and algorithms so they can manage an increasingly complex electromagnetic spectrum,” said Niraj Srivastava, product line manager for Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems. “And because it uses open architecture, the tool can be shared with other military services.”
Open architecture also allows the tool to execute cyber effects in multi-domain operations.
Raytheon delivered CD1 and CD2, and is currently working on CD3, which addresses using the tool in a tactical environment against threats. CD3 also includes all of the functionality of Raytheon’s Raven Claw, a mobile version of EWPMT that helps operators control signals in the field even without a host server or reliable connection to external data. Under the CD4 contract, Raytheon will continue to develop software and the user interface for a more connected, mobile system.
02 Oct 19. Persistent Systems LLC to supply MANET radios to GDLS robotics. General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) has chosen Persistent Systems LLC’s mobile ad-hoc network (MANET) technology as its commercial radio supplier for its Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) UGVs.
The MPU5 radios will provide high-speed data and video communications as well as command and control for the MUTT, which is a finalist for the US Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) platform.
Nick Naioti, vice-president of business development for Persistent Systems, told Jane’s, “The radios create a very long-range, high-capacity network that is completely secure that will allow expansion for sensors to be put onto the platform.”
Naioti added, “There will be some sensors that will be put onto the bare bones SMET platform, but then long-term there will be modular mission payloads such as EO/IR gimbals, radar, and CBRNE. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 Oct 19. EDA’s cyber range project reaching end, with major demonstration. A five-year-old European Defence Agency (EDA) project to forge national cyber ranges into a federated network for simulated exercises and training will soon show its mettle when its first major demonstration takes place in November. Based on an interoperable architecture of hardware and services, the project will rely on the integration of cyber ranges across its participating nations to produce a “highly realistic experience” for users that reflects complex cyber defence environments, according to agency officials.
“It was already clear from the start that, due to the complexity of the internet, it would be impossible for a single [national] range to realistically simulate the threat landscape, the assets to protect, the attacking measures of a simulated enemy, and the defence measures required,” an EDA source told Jane’s on 2 October. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Oct 19. Aussie research project to build AI enabled cyber traps and decoys. Canberra-based cyber security company Penten, the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC) and the CSIRO’s Data61 have confirmed a major collaborative research project to extend the country’s sovereign advantage in autonomous and active defence.
Penten, Data61 and CSCRC are looking to fill two Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship positions and is offering five PhD scholarships of up to $50,000 per annum to work on applying AI and machine learning to create deceptive and plausible computer systems and data.
Announced at CSIRO’s D61+ LIVE event in Sydney, the project will provide Penten with access to Data61’s artificial intelligence (AI) research expertise. The research will focus on extending Penten’s world-leading work on applying AI to turn the tables on cyber attackers, using deception technology like ‘cyber traps’ and ‘decoys’, part of an emerging category of cyber security defence.
Rachael Falk, CEO of the CSCRC, said, “This is a significant announcement for the Australian cyber research community. The collaboration brings together one of Australia’s most innovative companies with our national science agency to collaborate on solving challenging problems in our field.
“The CSCRC continues to focus on industry led research, bringing the best scientific and engineering minds together to create tomorrow’s commercial opportunities.”
Penten CEO Matthew Wilson said, “Unlike what you see on CSI, it is hard to detect intrusions and data theft. Not because traditional systems are incapable, but because criminals and people with malicious intent are always looking for new ways to hide their actions in the noise of everyday computer activity. Even when we do find something, traditional tools don’t often tell us ‘who’ or ‘why’.
“Cyber traps work best if the content is realistic, enticing and does not interfere with legitimate users. Making these cyber traps by hand and optimising for these requirements is very time consuming for cyber defenders.
“Our solutions use artificial intelligence to learn the patterns of activity and content from surrounding computers and data. We then use this information to create realistic and believable mimics. This means we can deliver suitable content extremely efficiently, tailored to a customer environment and with minimal effort on the part of the defender.”
Penten is an Australian business that has been operating for four years and has grown to over 75 employees. The company has developed AI tools that generate and update decoy and trap documents, military radio communications, Wi-Fi access points and active network hosts.
Penten has also received a number of industry awards, including Telstra Australian Business of the Year in 2018, AFR and Boss Magazine’s Most Innovative Company, Government and Best Innovation Program, Government, in 2019 and Australia’s Defence Industry Awards, Cyber Business of the Year 2019.
Data61 has delivered world leading research in AI-driven security solutions. Dr Surya Nepal, senior principal research scientist at CSIRO’s Data61 and security automation and orchestration team leader at CSCRC said the partnership could help Australia create new technologies that can reach global scale.
“As cyber threats increase in volume and sophistication, AI and machine learning offer an opportunity to assist overwhelmed human defenders and speed up decision making and response. It also allows us to deliver more agile defences in a way that we were not able to before. Cyber security is a critically important area of research, and Data61 is looking to partner with industry to do similar work that builds a competitive advantage for Australian companies,” Dr Nepal said.
This research partnership creates more than seven full-time research positions across the country, with options to extend the work in future years or grow the research team. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Oct 19. ST Engineering’s Electronics sector today launched a first-of-its-kind Cybersecurity Operation Centre As-A-Platform (SOCaaP) that delivers customised security operations centre (SOC) solutions that will result in greater operational efficiency and significant cost savings for customers’ digital assets.
The SOCaaP, which provides a complete suite of capabilities to protect, detect, respond and recover from cyberattacks, includes advanced, cutting-edge technologies such as a new age Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Advanced Analytics Engine. These capabilities provide automated, real-time analysis of security alerts within an organisation’s network with a higher degree of accuracy, compared to existing SIEM.
Expands Foray into Myanmar
The Electronics sector entered into a collaboration with Myanmar partner, Alliance Urban Transports (AUT) to provide cybersecurity services and training for Myanmar’s government, financial services and insurance sectors.
ST Engineering and AUT will jointly operate an SOC in Yangon. Through SOCaaP, the setup of this SOC will be shortened to just under four months, from the usual over 12-month lead time required for such implementation. The partners will also operate a cybersecurity training centre in Yangon to help strengthen Myanmar’s national cybersecurity resilience and boost its cyberthreat detection and response capabilities.
The agreement was signed by Mr Lau Thiam Beng, President of Cybersecurity Systems Group, ST Engineering, and Mr U Kyaw Win, Chairman of AUT. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Mr Ravinder Singh, President of Electronics, ST Engineering, Mr U Thar Oo, Deputy
Minister for Transport and Communications, Myanmar, and Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information.
To date, ST Engineering has delivered more than 15 SOCs for government agencies and commercial enterprises internationally, helping them maintain a secure environment while ensuring continuity of business operations.
Forerunner in Cybersecurity Certification under Common Criteria
In another development, the sector has further solidified its position as an internationally recognised cybersecurity solutions provider when eight of the sector’s cybersecurity products received the Singapore Common Criteria Scheme (SCCS) certification, administered by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). These products are the NetCrypt Family Series, DiskCrypt M100 (Enterprise) and DigiSAFE Data Diode product lines.
The Common Criteria (CC) certification ensures that cybersecurity products and solutions conform to strict guidelines and is the de facto standard for cybersecurity product certification. CC certificates are mutually recognised by 31 nations which signed the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA).
27 Sep 19. NATO exercise explores unmanned and underwater connectivity. NATO pushed the boundaries of the Janus underwater communications protocol during its Recognised Environmental Picture (Maritime Unmanned Systems) – REP(MUS) – exercise held off the Troia Peninsula in Portugal from 11-27 September 2019. Janus is an open-source communications standard but was adopted as the official NATO underwater signalling standard under STANAG 4748 in March 2017. During REP(MUS) 2019 it was used to establish communications between Portugal’s D Carlos I (Stalwart)-class hydrographic survey vessel Almirante Gago Coutinho and a Tridente (Type 214)-class submarine, along with a range of unmanned surface and underwater vehicles (USV/UUV).
Integration was the key theme for the exercise, UK Royal Navy Commander Ian Danbury, from the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Innovation and Coordination cell told Jane’s. “It may not be the biggest collection of unmanned systems, but it’s probably the most integrated,” he said.
This was reinforced by Dr Giorgio Cioni, NATO’s Director of Armament and Aerospace, who stressed that this was the first time this level of interoperability had been achieved, and critical to that was the exercise’s mixture of allied navies, the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation, industry, and academia.
The adoption of Janus has opened up the potential to increase data connectivity for submerged platforms as it enables communications signals to be digitised, making them more manageable and supporting the transmission of data packets over longer distances, as well as creating a common communications framework so that multinational underwater assets can talk to each other. Although scientists and engineers from the programme were reluctant to put firm figures on the ranges they achieved during the exercise, they said that digital imagery can be sent over tens of metres and pure text up to 10km in tests. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Sep 19. Don’t expect major IT acquisition reforms in next NDAA. All eyes are on the congressional defense committees as they begin reconciling their differences in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Spending isn’t a big issue – lawmakers settled on $738bn for 2020 – as part of a two-year budget deal approved Aug. 1.
“The good news is they don’t have to address the top-line spending,” said Alan Chvotkin, the Professional Services Council’s executive vice president and counsel, “but they have to figure out all the thousands of applications that go into the top line.”
Conferees, including House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.), did not detail what issues would be taken up or which way they were leaning during a Sept. 19 press briefing. A Trump administration laundry list of objections to specific items in the 2020 NDAA does not touch on major acquisition issues and is mostly taken up with military policy and organizational matters.
Defense acquisition experts say some of the most controversial issues that will affect the tech procurement likely won’t get taken up until 2021.
David Drabkin, the Section 809 Panel’s former chair, said it was “too late” to include much of the panel’s 93 recommendations — the last chunk which were finalized in June — in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
The hope is for those more controversial ones, such as exempting DOD from the Clinger-Cohen Act in the hopes of speeding up IT acquisitions, to be considered in the 2021 bill and beyond. Drabkin expects the 809 Panel recommendations that did make it into the 2020 bill — provisions that ease commercial buying and software acquisition — “ought to pass without any problem.”
An 809 Panel recommendation to support cloud acquisition appears headed for passage. Larry Asch, former Section 809 Panel professional staff member and strategic advisor for the Defense Health Agency, explained the measure provides a path for acquiring cloud-based solutions, which would frame a model to buy cloud services and other “as a service” items.
The consumption-based acquisition provision made it into the NDAA via an amendment offered by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). The measure doesn’t do a “full implementation” per the panel’s recommendation, but Asch said it tasks DOD with conducting a study that would evaluate how consumption-based solutions, where an agency is billed for how much it uses, would affect contracts.
Former panel members also noted their relationship with Congress hasn’t been as close since the death of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and the shift of power in the House in the 2018 elections. Drabkin said it seemed that while their ideas are appreciated, Congress may have a “different view of how to get there.”
“The heavy lifting is yet to be done,” Drabkin said, noting that much of the panel’s work will take years to materialize. “I think it will be years before we will be able to understand whether our reports has been adopted or not… We provided the tools needed.”
Drabkin noted that several of the panel’s recommendations could be immediately implemented, such as only requiring security clearances to those who will handle classified data.
Chvotkin said he’s watching a House-passed amendment introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) into the House version of the bill, which aims to block the proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration. The shift is needed, according to the administration, because the move of the National Background Investigations Bureau from OPM to the Defense Department leaves the human resources agency without a big chunk of revenue.
“When they pulled out the NBIB it left, really, not much of OPM,” Chvotkin said, adding that PSC doesn’t have a position on whether there should be a GSA merger with OPM but is concerned about the funding gap. “If the Congress is not going to support the realignment of functions to OPM, GSA, and OMB — it’s important that you fill that gap pulling out NBIB creates.” (Source: Defense Systems)
25 Sep 19. Pentagon teams with GSA on AI Center of Excellence. The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has partnered with the General Services Administration to accelerate government’s AI use with a new Center of Excellence initiative.
“The new GSA-DoD partnership reflects the ongoing success of the Center of Excellence initiative. In alignment with the Administration’s strategy for ensuring American leadership in the industries of the future, the AI CoE program will build the capacity to deliver AI solutions throughout the federal government,” Chris Liddell, White House deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, said in a statement.
JAIC will rely on expertise from the GSA Technology Transformation Services team, and will look to push military advances in AI technology to the civilian sector.
“We believe that the opportunities for applying AI in government are significant,” TTS Director Anil Cheriyan said in a statement, adding that the effort will “build a foundation to reuse our AI expertise to improve citizen experiences across government.”
The Centers of Excellence program is a Trump administration technology and management effort to help agencies accelerate modernization and digital transformation with the help of private-sector vendors. The Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Personnel Management are among the agencies who have tapped the program for support.
News of partnership also solidifies what JAIC head, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan has been saying all along. The AI expert told reporters during an Aug. 30 briefing the JAIC was an AI Center of Excellence and would expect “a commensurate level of funding support” in the coming years. JAIC was given $93m for fiscal 2019 and expects north of $200m for fiscal 2020.
“We have a center of excellence concept in the JAIC. So part of that center of excellence is a strategic engagement and policy team,” Shanahan said Aug. 30. “Within that, our team is spending a lot of time working with Defense Innovation Board, but also just internally and with the services components, on this question about the ethical use of AI, the safe use of AI, the lawful use of artificial intelligence.”
Ahead of the announcement, Shanahan has been making the rounds clarifying DOD’s AI mission and controversies related to it.
“Part of the problem is that the people developing the technology don’t fully understand how it can be used because it’s used for civilian purposes — what about the military side and vice versa,” Shanahan said during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Festival Sept. 24.
As part of the effort to explain and contextualize AI and its military applications, the DOD is looking to hire an AI ethicist. Shanahan said knowledge of a technology’s strengths and limitations can be low across the military and government at large and repeatedly stressed the Pentagon’s desire to use AI ethically and responsibly.
As of now, JAIC has five main priorities — predictive maintenance for the H60 helicopter, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cybersecurity (e.g. event detection, user activity monitoring, and network mapping), information operations, and intelligent business operation — and hopes to begin pushing out capabilities in 2020.
JAIC’s biggest project for fiscal 2020 will be “AI for maneuver and fires,” a battlefield application that’s designed to process and fuse intelligence to accelerate decision-making in the field, among other things. Maneuver fires will take Project Maven’s metadata, fusing it with other intelligence data and overlaying operating and sensor information in a common experience. JAIC will work with operations and command and control issues, curating cause for fire data from Iraq data in hopes of speeding up fire support coordination.
JAIC is also teaming with the Defense Innovation Unit and services on a predictive health project that includes health record analysis, medical imagery classification, post-traumatic stress disorder mitigation and suicide prevention. (Source: Defense Systems)
26 Sep 19. Silvus Technologies demos future MANET capabilities. Announcing the latest software-defined radio (SDR) in its family of Mobile Networked- Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MN-MIMO) solutions, Silvus Technologies demonstrated a range of emerging concepts of operations (CONOPS) to industry partners and end-users in September.
Conducted from 6 to 7 September at a training facility near Reading, United Kingdom, the ‘Silvus Connect Tactical Mesh Technology Demonstration’ provided a glimpse into how special operations forces (SOF) and other units could use mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) in the future. The event coincided with the announcement of Silvus’ latest SDR to be added to the StreamCaster family of systems, with a release date scheduled for 2020. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Sep 19. USAF unveils 10-year cyber warfare plan. The US Air Force released an overview of its 10-year “Cyber Warfare Flight Plan” Sept. 18, which attempts to fuse all of the best parts of electronic, cyber, and information operations.
That’s how Lt. Gen. Veralinn Jamieson, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Cyber Effects Operations, described it.
“The mathematical equation for information warfare, IW: I have ISR, plus cyber warfare, plus electronic warfare, plus information operations, equals information warfare,” she told reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air Space Cyber conference in National Harbor, Md. Sept. 18 just a few hours after announcing the strategy.
The unclassified strategy overview highlights building up talent and fielding “agile, scalable, modular cyber warfare training” as the foundational component. In addition to increasing offensive and defensive cyber operations capabilities, the plan also indicates developing “enterprise HF architecture” to modernize warfighter needs.
The plan also emphasizes the need for an Air Force reinforcing global communications, data strategy as well as open architecture infrastructure and platforms to improve data flow and analysis — something Air Force acquisition head Will Roper previously stressed.
Jamieson said the strategy was developed after discussions with the Army and Navy and aims to “really understand this non-kinetic capability whether it be sensing, whether it be waveforms — how do I control this electromagnetic spectrum. Is it ones and zeros, is it pamphlets or strategic messaging?”
The strategy comes in tandem with news of the Air Force announcing more details on the coming information warfare command, to be called the 16th Air Force, which will operationalizing the strategy. (Source: Defense Systems)
25 Sep 19. A new contract offers on-demand support for cyber missions. The government has selected Parsons for a $590m cyber contract called Combatant Commands Cyber Mission Support (CCMS). The contract, run out of the General Services Administration, will support cyber capabilities — both hardware and software requirements — across the government to include geographic and functional combatant commands, the interagency and federal/civilian agencies.
“The contract, the way it was structured was to be able to develop and deliver capability multidomain capability across the services, both defensive, non-defensive capabilities, as well as open-source, intelligence analytics through this contracting mechanism,” Paul Decker, executive vice president and head of cyber and intelligence business for Parsons, told Fifth Domain.
“The intent of this is for it to be a multiuse contract to serve both the DoD, as well as interagencies across the department … A key takeaway is as organizational requirements continue to get fed up through the various different tactical organizations, it is all going to be about having technology that is interoperable, integrateable and that can be used at each echelon at an organization.”
More specifically, according to a source, the contract seeks to provide cyber research, development, test and evaluation, training and cyber tools. It will provide rapid capabilities and is thought to strengthen cyber operations for forces.
Decker said that this could be one of many vehicles used by U.S. Cyber Command to procure capabilities.
“This contract, CCMS, will likely be utilized as a means to help support additional requirements that the command could have, as well as any of the geographical commands and functional commands,” he said.
“They’re an organization that can absolutely utilize this vehicle, this acquisition vehicle to get their rapid needs serviced through this vehicle.”
He also noted that the Department of Homeland Security could also use the contract, potentially, for election security needs. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Fifth Domain)
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.