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28 Nov 19. Indra to develop electronic protection system for European aircraft. Spanish defence company Indra is developing advanced electronic protection system for European aircraft to operate in hostile territory across the world.

The company has taken up the project under the direction of the Spanish Ministry of Defense. Led by Spain, the project has the participation of France, Italy, Germany and Sweden.

The five countries are jointly working within the EU Permanent Cooperation Structure (PESCO), which enables partner countries to sign agreements to go ahead with their defence integration.

The latest air defence systems are expected to allow a combat aircraft to fly in the protected area without an electronic protection system.

The technology being developed by Indra is expected to strengthen the safety of aircraft undertaking international, surveillance or cross-border cooperation missions.

Indra said that the new system will be interoperable with military assets in Nato countries for simultaneous operations on land, at sea, as well as in air, space and cyberspace.

According to Indra, the project will cover a wide frequency spectrum, including design, development and proof-of-concept of the capability to interfere with enemy electromagnetic systems.

This includes individual jamming capability, joined jamming capability with other platforms, as well as jamming in escort mode.

The project will be based on existing technologies in the European industry, including cyber-electromagnetic capabilities.

Indra said that the system’s modular, scalable and flexible development will facilitate integration into the avionics of the platform and carried in external pods, as well as guarantee compatibility with manned and unmanned aircraft used by allied countries.

The objective of the system is to develop an aerial platform to carry out several missions, including suppressing enemy air defences (SEAD), unconventional attacks, escorting other platforms, and attack support.

Indra is the national industrial coordinator of the European FCAS (Future Combat Air System) defence programme. The company has developed critical projects for the national defence of countries all over the world and has also participated in major European and Nato programmes. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

27 Nov 19. Airbus presses for German Tornado decision to meet electronic attack requirements.  Airbus is pressing the German government to expedite its Panavia Tornado replacement decision so that it can develop the electronic attack (EA) capabilities needed for both NATO and the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a senior company official told Jane’s on 27 November. Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference 2019, Airbus Marketing Manager Combat Air Systems, Dirk Zickora, said that a decision is needed on which platform the Luftwaffe will receive to replace its 90 Tornados so as to release the funds needed for Airbus to develop the Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) version of the Eurofighter. If selected, this Eurofighter ECR would fulfil the government’s EA commitment to NATO in the mid-2020s and feed into the New Generation Fighter (NGF) element of FCAS that is set to become operational in the early-2040s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

26 Nov 19. Researchers have achieved a comms breakthrough. Research funded by the Army has demonstrated powerful communications capabilities that could boost 5G technologies and improve sensing equipment. A carbon nanotube technology — developed by Carbonics Inc. and the University of Southern California — achieved for the first time speeds over 100GHz in radio frequency applications, according to the Army Research Laboratory.

“This milestone shows that carbon nanotubes, long thought to be a promising communications chip technology, can deliver,” said Dr. Joe Qiu, program manager of solid state and electromagnetics at the Army Research Office, part of the Army Research Lab. “The next step is scaling this technology, proving that it can work in high-volume manufacturing. Ultimately, this technology could help the Army meet its needs in communications, radar, electronic warfare and other sensing applications.”

ARL said that researchers had theorized for decades about carbon nanotubes being well suited as high-frequency transistor technologies, despite engineering challenges. The Carbonics-USC team overcame these hurdles, and projections based on their work indicate scaling the technology could far exceed top-tier RF technologies currently used.

This breakthrough also has significant implications for the advent of 5G technologies, which will allow for faster communication and less latency.

“With this exciting accomplishment, the timing is ripe to leverage our [Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor]-compatible technology for the 5G and mm-Wave defense communication markets,” Kos Galatsis, Carbonics’ CEO, said. “We are now engaged in licensing and technology transfer partnerships with industry participants, while we continue to advance this disruptive RF technology.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)

27 Nov 19. Barrett Communications receives NTIA certification. Barrett Communications has announced it has received certification and approval from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The company confirmed that the approval incorporates the Barrett 4050 HF Transceiver System and Components.

“This approval from NTIA now completes the interoperability approvals required to provide the Barrett Communications 4000 series transceiver range for HF users subject to NTIA rules,” a release from the company said.

“The Barrett 4050 system [has] previously obtained FCC parts 90 and 87 as well as JITC MIL-STD-188-141B approvals.”

“This approval rounds out the approvals required for COOP requirements across federal agencies in the United States government,” Barrett CEO Andrew Burt said.

Barrett Communications is the specialist Australian designer and manufacturer of commercial and tactical HF and VHF radio communication systems, with global distribution to over 150 countries and a customer support network in over 65 countries.

Since 1976, Barrett Communications has provided HF communications solutions to military, government, security, business and non-government organisations around the world.

The company recently won a multiyear contract to supply the Canadian National Defence Department (DND) with very high frequency radio communications equipment. (Source: Defence Connect)

26 Nov 19. Return of Minister for Cyber Security recommended for Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. Just over a year since it was abolished, there are multiple calls for the government to reinstate the position of Minister for Cyber Security in submissions on Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy.

The dedicated role for cyber security lasted less than a year itself, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison shuffled up his ministry after succeeding Malcolm Turnbull in the role in August last 2018, with then-junior minister for law enforcement and cyber security Angus Taylor instead re-assigned to Minister for Energy.

It’s a move that several bodies have called to be reversed in their submissions on Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy.

“The 2016 Strategy set an overarching framework which included the establishment and allocation of resources for a number of key government responsibilities,” wrote the Australian Industry Group in its submission this month.

“These included the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, AustCyber, and ASD.

“Unfortunately, a minister dedicated to cyber security with the responsibility to develop expertise on cyber security matters and advocate within the Australian government for industry no longer exists. We consider this role is critical.

“Therefore, this type of minister should be reinstated that can take a holistic view, have full responsibility for managing cyber security policy and can operate across relevant departments.”

This position was echoed by Peter Coroneos, international vice president of the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Advisors Network (CyAN).

“We believe consideration should be given to reestablishing a separate Cybersecurity portfolio within government,” Coroneos published in his submission.

“This would send a strong signal to business and the public that the issues our members contend with on a daily basis are receiving the focus and attention they deserve.”

Currently, the role is loosely filled by Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, as well as Minister for Cyber Safety and Communication and the Arts Paul Fletcher.

The latter, however, is more focused on consumer safety and things like cyber bullying and inappropriate online content.

Microsoft’s submission suggested that five critical functions be spread across three different agencies; the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), DHA and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

These functions are as follows:

  • Policy and planning function: lead the nation’s development, co-ordination, alignment, and integration of cyber security policies, strategies and plans.
  • Outreach and partnership function: lead and manage relationships and interfaces across the government and with other nations, institutions and the private sector.
  • Communications function: co-ordinate regulatory and non-regulatory communication, including messages, documents and publications, and statements, to all stakeholders on behalf of relevant government authorities; manage communication during a crisis or emergency; act as a point of contact for media, organisations and the general public seeking information about programs, policies, procedures, statistics, and services. A greater focus and investment in the communications function is worth considering as a part of the 2020 strategy.
  • Operations function: ensure effective co-ordination and deployment of resources in response to cyber threats and incidents.
  • Regulatory function: oversee compliance with cyber security regulations, including by developing guidance to help organisations understand the relevant requirements, interacting with regulators who will enforce compliance, establishing an incident reporting framework, and collaborating with other units to update regulatory obligations.

“If the desire is to maintain the current structure, the government should consider whether the existing governance arrangements are ensuring that cyber functions performed by the Australian government are collaborative and co-ordinated,” Microsoft added.

“One possible improvement could be to have a single co-ordinating minister and/or a co-ordinating executive with oversight across all cyber functions within the existing machinery of government arrangements.”

The 2020 Cyber Security Strategy

The successor to Australia’s 2016 Cyber Security Strategy, the 2020 iteration aims to build on the government’s $230m investment three years ago “to position Australia to meet the rapidly evolving cyber threat environment”.

The membership of the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy Industry Advisory Panel was announced yesterday, who will provide strategic advice on the development of the strategy.

The panel membership is as follows:

  • Andrew Penn (chair), chief executive and managing director, Telstra;
  • Robert Mansfield, AO, chair, Vocus Group;
  • Robyn Denholm, board chair, Tesla;
  • Chris Deeble, AO, CSC, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia; and
  • Darren Kane, chief security officer, NBN Co.

“Since the release of the 2016 Cyber Security Strategy, the cyber threat landscape has shifted and evolved dramatically,” the government said.

“The magnitude of the threats faced by Australian businesses and families has increased. They will become more acute as our society and economy become increasingly connected. As the threat evolves, so too must our response.” (Source: Defence Connect)

25 Nov 19. Spain’s Indra claims lead in EU electronic-warfare push for future aircraft. Spanish military-electronics specialist Indra has claimed the lead in a program meant to equip future European military aircraft with new electronic-warfare capabilities, according to a company announcement. The project, named Airborne Electronic Attack, falls under the European Union’s latest batch of so-called PESCO initiatives, which are meant to foster collaboration among member nations in key military areas. Besides Spain as the lead nation, Indra said France and Sweden also are participating, as will Germany and Italy, though those countries were still absent from a roster published online by the European Defense Agency.

According to industry sources, the agency could hand out a contract to begin work on the project in the first quarter of 2020. The partner countries are expected to position their respective go-to suppliers to jockey for position, namely Thales, Saab, Hensoldt and Leonardo.

The EU’s airborne electronic-attack project could take on some of the supporting work for a manned fighter under the the Future Combat Air System program, a next-generation aerial weapon developed by France, Germany and Spain. That future aircraft will need sophisticated jamming capabilities, for example, and the PESCO format could offer Indra an avenue into the major program’s work share at a time when the details of Spain’s participation have yet to be fully sorted out.

Indra is also the Spanish national industry lead for FCAS, while Airbus and Dassault play those roles for Germany and France, respectively. Spain’s defense companies expect one-third of the business flowing from the program, an Indra spokesman told Defense News.

According to the company, the new PESCO project aims to develop an electronic-warfare weapon that can be fitted inside combat aircraft or carried via external pods. In its statement, Indra plays up the defensive nature of such a system, saying the requirement is expected to grow in importance as advances in anti-air weapons threaten to make military aviation a risky mission in the decades ahead.

“European manned and unmanned combat air units will depend on this capacity to carry out their missions safely in hostile territory and will achieve superiority in the electromagnetic spectrum,” the company wrote.

“The purpose of this system is to prepare an aerial platform to carry out missions such as suppressing enemy air defenses, escorting other platforms, carrying out unconventional attacks and providing attack support.”

Meanwhile, other European companies have begun to claim portions of those new PESCO projects that include straightforward product-development angles. Missile maker MBDA, for example, has telegraphed it wants to play a prominent role in the development of a new interceptor missile under the TWISTER project, which stands for Timely Warning and Interception with Space-based Theater Surveillance.

France has the lead for that project, with Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain listed as participants. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)

25 Nov 19. How the FCC’s new ban on Huawei benefits the US military. The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Nov. 22 to prohibit its dollars from being spent on equipment or services from Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE, a move that will protect U.S. military bases in the rural parts of the country from Chinese espionage as 5G technology appears on the horizon.

The vote banned money from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, which helps subsidize broadband access in rural areas of the United States, from being spent to obtain, maintain or support Huawei and ZTE products, as well as established a process to add companies to the banned list in the future.

Telecom providers, as well as government agencies, across the United States are preparing for the onset of 5G technology, which will transform communications, but will also introduce greater cybersecurity risks into U.S. networks. Concerns about the cybersecurity of Huawei and ZTE products are widespread across the U.S. government.

“These two companies pose a great security risk because Chinese intelligence agencies have opportunities to tamper with their products in both the design and manufacturing processes,” the FCC noted in its fact sheet.

A central issue in the decision is a Chinese law passed in 2017 that compels Chinese companies to cooperate with the government, providing a potential avenue into U.S. networks. Huawei has a history of espionage. For example, Huawei equipment was caught sending data back to China from the headquarters of the African Union. In addition, there is also concern about Huawei having backdoor access into U.S. networks through its technology.

James Lewis, senior vice president and director of the technology policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the worries extend beyond back doors, adding that Huawei has immediate front door access to U.S. networks through software updates.

“Every day or every week they pump updates or patches … and we don’t have the ability to say there isn’t a hidden command in that” update that is designed to cause disruption, Lewis said, like making phone calls drop or turn off hospital networks.

While major U.S. telecom providers have removed Huawei and ZTE products from their networks, rural providers still purchase and use products from the Chinese-based companies largely because they are cheaper options.

This poses a national security threat, experts say, because Chinese-made equipment deployed in rural networks are near U.S. military installations, providing an opportunity for China to spy.

“The Chinese are very aggressive and nimble at intelligence collection,” said Lewis. “This isn’t a country that likes us, and they don’t behave in a particularly trustworthy manner. So would you want military bases [or] some of the national labs that are out in rural areas depending on network technology that might be reporting back to China? It’s a risk.”

The FCC also proposed that all USF recipients deemed eligible telecommunications carriers remove existing Huawei and ZTE products from their networks. The same proposal would establish a fund to reimburse telecom companies for costs associated with transitioning away from risky companies’ technology.

That task, referred to as “rip and replace,” is estimated to cost up to $1bn. Tom Wheeler, former FCC chairman and current visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the fund had to be set up for rip and replace because small telecom providers made a business decision to buy Huawei products despite warnings from the federal government about risks.

“They knew that the United States government was urging carriers not to use Chinese equipment,” Wheeler said. “They knew that the major carriers had already said, ‘Yes, we won’t [use it],’ and they still decided to go ahead and do it.

Wheeler characterized the fund as a bail out, adding that he “hope[s] that that bail out will also contain some expectations” by the government on what the rural carriers do in the future to protect their networks.

Also tucked into the FCC vote was a provision that creates an information collection effort to help telecom providers identify the amount of Huawei or ZTE technology that lies in their networks along with how much it will cost to take out.

“One thing that we actually don’t have a good handle on is how much Chinese equipment is currently on U.S. networks and what’s the actual cost associated with taking it all out,” said Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow at the the Center for New American Security’s technology and national security program. “So this is a good way to actually audit what the state of affairs is.”

The FCC decision came over a year and a half after it initially published its notice seeking public comment on the proposal to ban USF dollars from being spent on equipment bought from companies dubbed a national security threat, prompting complaints from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel at Nov. 22 vote about the amount of time it took the FCC to act. Top U.S. officials, like Rosenworcel, have continuously warned in recent months that the United States doesn’t have a comprehensive 5G strategy.

The U.S. government is also trying to get its allies across the globe to remove and stop buying Huawei equipment.

“If Huawei was a Brazilian company or an Indian company, they wouldn’t be having this trouble,” Lewis said. “It’s because they are connected to a hostile foreign power and there’s not … a lot they can do about that.” (Source: Fifth Domain)

21 Nov 19. When it comes to 5G, Army says ‘show us what you have.’ With the next generation of cellular network technology known as 5G expected to become more widespread, the Army is exploring how the new hardware could improve global asset management, “smart depots” and augmented or virtual reality. In an interview with C4ISRNET, Army Col. Schawn Branch, the project lead on 5G and enterprise IT as a service, outlined how the technology will help the Army with training, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence capabilities.

To date, the Army has recommended 13 installations for 5G pilot progams.

Branch told C4ISRNET in October that the use cases the Army is considering for those programs are focused on global asset management, “smart depots” and augmented or virtual reality. He added that service leaders want to see how the latter “helps us in terms of mission planning and training.”

To do that, industry will help the Army harness the capabilities that come with 5G deployment.

“We want industry to conduct demonstrations. Show us what you have in terms of 5G … Companies are talking about their 5G capabilities and what they’re doing,” Branch said. “So we want them to come and conduct some demonstrations and want to see how it has military application but also commercial applicability.”

Branch said Army leaders invested significant time and money in fiscal 2019 in planning for 5G. As a result, in the next year, the service expects to see “a lot more momentum.”

5G technology will also allow the Army to process information faster, which will help the Army develop better artificial intelligence.

“In order to really use artificial intelligence you’re going to require a lot more bandwidth than we currently have with our 4G network,” Branch said.

In addition, the Army hopes to be able to more quickly build software-defined networks, networks that are build for high-bandwidth application, speed and simplifies network architecture. “So now I’m not having to reconfigure equipment to build a new network; it’s software defined,” Branch said.

Still, obstacles remain.

“With every new technology capability, [there’s] always prioritizing resources and looking at it from a cost benefit perspective … That’s really the challenge,” Branch said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

21 Nov 19. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly Launches ARCHANGE Program. At the ministerial investment committee of November 18, 2019, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly decided to launch the production of the ARCHANGE program [1], which will equip strategic intelligence aircraft with a Universal Electronic Warfare Capability (CUGE in French).

Led by the Directorate General of Armament (DGA), ARCHANGE aims to strengthen electromagnetic intelligence capabilities, including interception of radio and radar emissions. The 2019-2025 military programming law (LPM) provides for the delivery to the Air Force of the first ARCHANGE system from 2025.

The result of a decade of studies on advanced technologies, the sensor suite making up the mission payload will be developed by Thales. Based on innovative technologies such as multi-polarization antennas and artificial intelligence to improve automatic processing, this mission package will detect and analyze radar and communication signals with integrated sensors fitted to a Falcon 8X business aircraft. built by Dassault Aviation.

These modified Falcon 8Xs with their on-board and ground mission system will be called ARCHANGE. In accordance with the 2019-2025 military program law, three aircraft will replace the two Transall C-160 Gabriel now used for similar missions. A ground training platform planned for deployment at the Evreux airbase will complete the system.

The ARCHANGE systems will significantly increase the capabilities of French airborne electromagnetic intelligence and will contribute to the particular effort on the strategic function “knowledge and anticipation” which guarantees France’s decision-making autonomy and its superiority in operation. The ARCHANGE program will thus contribute to the revival of military capabilities requested by the President of the Republic.

[1] ARCHANGE is the acronym for “Avions de Renseignement à CHArge utile de Nouvelle GEnération,” or Intelligence Aircraft with New-Generation Payload. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)(Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Armed Forces Ministry)

12 Nov 19. EDA to take forward PESCO project on CBRN surveillance. Today, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has for the first time been chosen to support the development of a PESCO project as an Agency initiative, in line with the PESCO commitment to use EDA as the European forum for project capability development. The Austrian-lead project, CBRN Surveillance as a Service (CBRN SaaS), will provide a rapidly deployable 24/7 chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) surveillance capability. The project aims to maximise the use of unmanned ground systems and aerial drones which will be equipped with a variety of sensors to deliver a real time CBRN surveillance, detection and incident management capability for both civilian and military purposes.

CBRN SaaS involves four contributing Member States (cMS), Austria (lead), Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. Following a request from the project lead, on behalf of the cMS, CBRN SaaS will be taken forward as an EDA project. The transfer was formalised today during a signing ceremony in the margins of the EDA Steering Board.

Speaking at the event, Thomas Starlinger, Minister of Defence of Austria said, “CBRN SaaS will be designed for use in the military and civilian domain. For the Austrian Armed Forces it constitutes another means to increase force protection for operations in Austria as well as abroad. National project partners may also benefit since the project will most probably be eligible for funding from the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. Through this, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Research Institutes will profit through a financial return from the EU.”

The high strategic value of assets that provide 24/7 CBRN surveillance is proven by their ability to survey critical infrastructure and borders, augment situational awareness and support not only  military commanders but also national disaster management in dealing with CBRN incidents. CBRN SaaS will establish an unmanned sensor network consisting of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS) that will be interoperable with legacy systems. When combined with communications and data networks it will deliver a Recognised CBRN Picture that enhances knowledge-based decision making by leaders and supports the mission of saving lives. In focusing on the deployment of unmanned systems, operational flexibility will be increased and reduces the risk to the operators.

“EDA is delighted to take this project forward and support our Member States. CBRN SaaS will benefit from EDA’s extensive experience of delivering defence cooperation projects, especially the insights gained from the EDA CBRN Joint Investment Programme. CBRN agents and weapons are a source of great concern, effective surveillance is therefore a crucial capability. As endorsed by the EU’s Capability Development Plan, developing enhanced CBRN capabilities based on newly available technologies such as unmanned systems is a priority that will enhance Europe’s resilience and preparedness to deal with CBRN threats.” EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq commented.

The CBRN SaaS main deliverable will be an operational plugin module for widely varying civilian missions and CSDP or NATO military operations. As a capability and technology development project, CBRN SaaS aims to provide suitable mobility (e.g. aerial, ground, unmanned) to mount CBRN sensors that will collect and send data to be processed through a secure network to the decision maker.

In addition, the generated Recognised CBRN Picture can be offered as a power by the hour service to others in need of CBRN surveillance.

The project will run until 2022, and will mainly deliver a demonstrator that provides a proof of concept; a Cooperation Roadmap which identifies what future modules could be developed in what format and with whom; a concept of operations and a service availability concept.


CBRN SaaS was approved and initially launched as a PESCO project within the second batch on 19 November 2018. Following a decision of the cMS, EDA was requested to support establishing the CBRN SaaS Cat. B project (developed and launched by a number of cMS with the opportunity for other participating Member States to join later) that will help implement the CBRN SaaS PESCO project. (Source: EDA)


Spectra Group Plc

Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.

Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.

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In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.

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Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.


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