Sponsored by Spectra Group
30 Aug 18. L3 TRL launches new CORVUS platform. L3 TRL has developed a new open standards platform for cyber-space electromagnetic activities (CEMA) operations called CORVUS, and will launch it at the Land Forces 2018 exhibition in Adelaide in September. Richard Fitton, L3 TRL general manager, told Jane’s the new-generation platform had been under development for some time, having started as a private venture research project and blossomed into a product. He noted that the operational environment has broadened from counter-insurgency operations to full-spectrum warfare, and the increased range of CEMA threats has led to a series of bespoke, stovepiped solutions to address specific threats, with consequent increases in footprint, training, and logistic support. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Aug 18. Is this the new wave of submerged communications? The ocean hides what it contains, and it is in that hiding that submarines have their power. Lurking under seas, at first with just enough capability for an attack run and now with the ability to lurk for months at a time, submarines remain power out of reach, unseen until engaged in combat or resupplying in a friendly port. That stealth comes at a cost, however, besides the simple perils of existing underwater. When submerged, submarines are more or less on their own until they resurface again, since radio waves do not travel well through seawater. Or they are for now. New research by MIT, presented at a conference in late August, devised a way for submerged submarines to communicate wirelessly with people on the surface by combining hydroacoustics and acoustic radars.
Presently, submarines communicate either across normal radio frequencies when surfaced or through hydroacoustic signals and listening posts underwater that can transmit the messages back to counterparts on shore. Very and extremely low-frequency radio waves can be transmitted in a way that submarines can listen to below the surface, but it’s a one-way form of communication, from stations on land to submarines. To get something responsive, with the flexibility to communicate away from static seabed hydrophones, needs something else. Specifically, it needs a way to combine hydroacoustic transmission from the submarine through water that can then be converted into a useful data.
“We present a new communication technology, translational acoustic-RF communication (TARF),” write paper authors Francesco Tonolini and Fadel Adib of the MIT Media Lab. “TARF enables underwater nodes to directly communicate with airborne nodes by transmitting standard acoustic signals. TARF exploits the fact that underwater acoustic signals travel as pressure waves, and that these waves cause displacements of the water surface when they impinge on the water-air boundary. To decode the transmitted signals, TARF leverages an airborne radar which measures and decodes these surface displacements.”
In testing, they demonstrated that the communication technique can transfer data at standard underwater bitrates up to 400bps, and even do so with surface waves 6.3 inches crest-to-crest, or 100,000 times larger than the surface perturbations made by the acoustic transmitter.
Right now, this communication is one-way. While the signal transmitted up from the water produces useful information at the boundary with the air, a signal transmitted through the air downwards would disintegrate on integration with water. This one-way is distinct from previous forms of communication with submarines, however, as it lets the submarine talk without revealing its position to surface sensors.
Despite the limitations, and the earlierness of the research, Tonolini and Adlib see a bright future for the technology, as a way to enable a host of new technology in machines. The technology, they write, can enable “many applications including submarine-to-drone communication, deep-sea exploration, and subsea IoT (Internet of Things). (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Aug 18. A US Army aerial electronic attack platform prepares to fly. One of the Army’s major electronic warfare program will fly next year, according to one top official. Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, told C4ISRNET in a Aug. 22 interview at TechNet Augusta that the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare Air, an electronic attack capability that will be mounted to MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, is in prototyping and will fly next year. The original MFEW program was slated to be phased across the next several years, first with aerial capabilities, ground vehicle capabilities and dismounted soldier capabilities. Recently, however, the Army decided to delay MFEW ground in favor of a new integrated capability with the military intelligence tribe. The developers of MFEW ground realized that their intelligence brethren were developing almost an identical capability, leading them to join forces. The Army has identified that there needs to be a closer relationship between the electronic warfare/cyber cadre and signals intelligence force. The new air capability, the Terrestrial Layer System, is a SIGINT/EW system projected to be fielded on aerial vehicles to provide brigade commanders a means to deliver the electronic attack effects. MFEW Air will not go the way of MFEW ground, Morrison said, However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be integrated EW-SIGINT air platforms designed in concert with the intelligence personnel in the future.
“We do have greater opportunities to team with our MI partners there and we will stay closely nested with them,” Morrison said.
Similarly, Maj. Gen. Robert Walters, commander of the Intelligence Center of Excellence, said in July that the Army wants SIGINT, electronic warfare and cyber systems on the same platforms in the air and ground domain. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Aug 18. Artificial Intelligence Is Now a Pentagon Priority. Will Silicon Valley Help? In a May memo to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implored him to create a national strategy for artificial intelligence. Mr. Mattis argued that the United States was not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries. With a final flourish, he quoted a recent magazine article by Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, and called for a presidential commission capable of “inspiring a whole of country effort that will ensure the U.S. is a leader not just in matters of defense but in the broader ‘transformation of the human condition.’” Mr. Mattis included a copy of Mr. Kissinger’s article with his four-paragraph note.
Mr. Mattis’s memo, which has not been reported before and was viewed by The New York Times, reflected a growing sense of urgency among defense officials about artificial intelligence. The consultants and planners who try to forecast threats think A.I. could be the next technological game changer in warfare.
The Chinese government has raised the stakes with its own national strategy. Academic and commercial organizations in China have been open about working closely with the military on A.I. projects. They call it “military-civil fusion.”
It is not clear what impact, if any, Mr. Mattis’s memo had. Though the White House announced in May — about three weeks before he sent his note — that it would establish a panel of government officials to study A.I. issues, critics say the administration still has not done enough to set federal policy. Officials with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which would most likely take a leadership role in setting an agenda for A.I., said that A.I. is a national research and development priority and that it is part of the president’s national security and defense strategies.
Nonetheless, the Pentagon appears to be pushing ahead on its own, looking for ways to strengthen its ties with A.I. researchers, particularly in Silicon Valley, where there is considerable wariness about working with the military and intelligence agencies.
In late June, the Pentagon announced the creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC. Defense officials have not said how many people will be dedicated to the new program or where it will be based when it starts next month. It could have several offices around the country.
The Defense Department wants to shift $75m of its annual budget into the new office and a total of $1.7bn over five years, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not allowed to speak about it publicly.
Known as “the Jake,” the center is billed as a way of facilitating dozens of A.I. projects across the Defense Department. This includes Project Maven, an effort to build technology to identify people and things in video captured by drones that has come to symbolize the ideological gap between the government and Silicon Valley. Around the time Mr. Mattis wrote his memo to Mr. Trump, thousands of Google employees were protesting their company’s involvement in Project Maven. After the protests became public, Google withdrew from the project.
The protests might have been a surprise to Pentagon officials, since big tech companies have been defense contractors for as long as there has been a Silicon Valley. And there is some irony in any industry reluctance to work with the military on A.I., given that research competitions sponsored by an arm of the Defense Department, called Darpa, jump-started work on the technology that goes into the autonomous vehicles many tech companies are now trying to commercialize.
But in the eyes of some researchers, creating robotic vehicles and developing robotic weapons are very different. And they fear that autonomous weapons pose an unusual threat to humans.
“This is a unique moment, with so much activism coming out of Silicon Valley,” said Elsa Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank that explores policy related to national security and defense. “Some of it is informed by the political situation, but it also reflects deep concern over the militarization of these technologies as well as their application to surveillance.”
The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, officials hope, will help close that gap.
“One of our greatest national strengths is the innovation and talent found in our private sector and academic institutions, enabled by free and open society,” Brendan McCord, a former Navy submarine officer and an A.I. start-up veteran who will lead the center, said during a public meeting in Silicon Valley last month. “The JAIC will help evolve our partnerships with industry, academia, allies.”
The center, he added, will work with “traditional and nontraditional innovators alike,” meaning longtime government contractors like Lockheed Martin as well as newer Silicon Valley companies. The Pentagon has worked with more than 20 companies on Project Maven so far, but it hopes to expand this work and overcome the reluctance among workers.
This summer, a Pentagon researcher worked alongside a small but influential Silicon Valley artificial intelligence lab, Fast.ai, on a public effort to build technology capable of accelerating the development of A.I. systems.
Autonomous systems are based on algorithms that can learn to do things like recognize objects by analyzing vast amounts of data. The Fast.ai project would improve the speed of that A.I. “training.”
The Pentagon is also offering an olive branch to its Silicon Valley critics. While unveiling the JAIC, Mr. McCord said its focus would include “ethics, humanitarian considerations, and both short-term and long-term A.I. safety.”
It was an important step toward reaching détente with A.I. researchers, said Sophie-Charlotte Fischer, a researcher at Center of Security Studies at ETH Zurich University in Switzerland who specializes in the relationship between the tech industry and government. “There needs to be a clear understanding of what it means to develop and deploy these A.I. technologies,” she said.
Will it be enough? Skeptics want to see the details. “So far, the plans remain very abstract,” Ms. Fischer said. “What kind of systems do they want to allow? Do they want to attach weapons systems to A.I.?”
Robert Work, the former deputy secretary of defense who founded Project Maven, worries that the Google protest has skewed the perception of the project, which does not yet involve lethal weapons, and stunted public discussion of how military technology should evolve.
“We need to have an open debate about A.I. and its consequences and hear arguments from all sides,” he said in a recent interview. (Source: glstrade.com/New York Times.com)
27 Aug 18. New high-end wideband I/Q data recorder from Rohde & Schwarz enables realistic device tests in the lab. The R&S IQW wideband I/Q data recorder can be used to record signal scenarios typically required in test cases at a bandwidth up to 512 MHz and high sampling rates. The solution records wideband RF signals and reproduces them to simulate real-world test environments, enabling realistic, repeatable device tests in the lab. The solution consists of an R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer, the new R&S IQW wideband I/Q data recorder and an R&S SMW200A vector signal generator from Rohde & Schwarz. The R&S IQW records the signal spectrum of a wideband RF signal or the spectra of multiple narrowband signals in a frequency band, with a bandwidth up to 512 MHz. This makes it ideal for realistic component tests with radar signals, for deployments using a variety of RF test scenarios in the automotive sector, and for tests employing GNSS signals, for example.
To obtain signals as realistic as possible for simulations, the R&S IQW high-end I/Q data recorder samples signal spectra at a rate up to 640 Msample/s and a large bit depth – 16 bits each for I and Q data. Removable 6.4 Tbyte SSD memory packs are used for storage. Perfectly matched high-end solution for realistic RF Scenarios Signals are captured by an R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer. The instrument acquires signals with high sensitivity, generates the corresponding I/Q data in real time and transfers the data gapless to the R&S IQW. The R&S FSW comes in seven models for frequency ranges up to 90 GHz.
For signal playback, the wideband recorder feeds the I/Q data to the R&S SMW200A vector signal generator, which reconstructs and delivers the corresponding RF signal. This high-end generator supports a wide range of signal configurations and can add any desired radio signals, e.g. standard cellular, WLAN and GNSS signals, to the R&S IQW signal to create more complex signal scenarios. This enables defined and repeatable measurements under controlled conditions in the lab or in an EMC test chamber, as frequently required in the test cases for the diverse standards. The wideband I/Q data recorder is usually operated via LAN using a web based GUI that automatically adapts to the actual screen size. The recorder can also be operated locally via its 5.7″ TFT touchscreen, with the option of connecting an accessory keyboard and mouse.
27 Aug 18. UUV Aquabotix Ltd (ASX:UUV) (the “Company” or “Aquabotix”) is pleased to announce that it has been accepted as a member of the Information Warfare Research Project consortium (“IWRP” or the “Consortium”), a consortium focused on advancing information warfare capabilities to enhance United States Navy and United States Marine Corps mission effectiveness. Aquabotix was approved to join IWRP as a demonstrated technology leader with competencies in autonomy, assured communications, and battlespace awareness – all key focus areas for the consortium. As a member of IWRP, Aquabotix will gain access to US Space and Naval Warfare (“SPAWAR”) Systems Command’s Other Transaction Authority (“OTA”) agreement previously awarded to the Consortium. The aggregate amount of this particular OTA across the Consortium is US$100m over the next three year period, and the OTA will be used as a vehicle to advance information warfare technologies and innovation delivery to the U.S. fleet. The OTA enables the Consortium members to engage in a broad range of activities advancing such technologies and allows for the delivery of new technology faster and more efficiently than traditional U.S. federal acquisition requirements might permit.
In a release made last month by the United States Navy, Rear Adm. C.D. Becker, commander of SPAWAR Systems Command was quoted as stating, “The IWRP OTA will accelerate acquisition and bring non-traditional sources, research and development labs, and industry together to provide new, innovative information warfare solutions.” SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic Deputy Executive Director, Bill Deligne, was also quoted remarking on the use of OTAs, stating, “This mechanism is faster and more attuned to getting something quickly that we want today, as opposed to traditional federal acquisition. […] While speed is a critical element, reaching beyond the traditional DoD industrial base, further into the commercial sector to capture new, innovative solutions, is also a key element of the IWRP.”
Whitney Million, Chief Executive Officer of Aquabotix commented, “It is a privilege to be joining other industry leaders in the IWRP. We anticipate participation in this consortium will provide access to key partners and customers while enabling rapid research and prototyping using non-dilutive funding options under the OTA to support our goal of continuing to develop innovative and leading-edge solutions and product offerings for the U.S. and allied governments.”
23 Aug 18. Okinawa Marines Test Future of Wireless Communications. Marines with 7th Communication Battalion, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, conducted field testing of a new free space optics system here Aug. 21. FSO is an optical communication system that transfers data on a highly secured and nearly undetectable infrared laser, separate from the radio frequency spectrum. The FSO allows for higher data rates compared to the current systems in the Marine Corps. This allows more users on a single network and larger files, imagery and information to be transmitted.
“The FSO is technology which changes the dynamics of how Marines will support the demand for greater data throughout while not increasing the need for more radio frequency spectrum, an already constrained resource,” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jerome Foreman, a strategic electromagnetic spectrum officer with Headquarters Marine Corps.
Foreman said that because everything from the battlespace to providing humanitarian aid is data-driven, “ensuring warfighters are equipped with the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it, is critical to mission success.”
User-Friendly, Lightweight, Mobile
The FSO is designed to be user-friendly, lightweight and mobile. Marines can quickly learn how to set up and operate the system within minutes and are able to easily move the equipment to different locations, said Marine Corps Sgt. William Holt, a cyber systems administrator with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
“When it first came up, we thought it would be a lot more difficult to set up and understand,” Holt said. “When the Marines heard ‘free space optics’ and ‘lasers,’ they got nervous about that. Then when they actually got behind the gear and were able to operate it, it was easier than expected. Now we know any Marine, of any rank, is able to get the gear up and running.”
The Marines are working alongside engineers with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the developers of the new FSO system. Linda Thomas, a senior research engineer with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, said they came to Okinawa to test how well the system works in variable weather conditions.
“We came out to Okinawa because it was one of the harshest humid environments with highly variable weather on very short time scales,” Thomas said. “It can go from being nice and sunny to torrential downpours. We are looking at how the system operates and handles these conditions and how we can better fulfill the needs of the future Marine Corps.”
Throughout the time of fielding this new technology, the Marine Corps already is looking into real-world applications.
“We have it tied into just one system, but I can see this system actually expanding,” Foreman said. “Right now, it is doing ground-to-ground communications. But I see it going ship-to-shore and even air-to-ground. This is a system we could actually fly over and send information down to the ground components in an instant.”
The 3rd MEF Information Group gives commanders the ability to integrate information warfare during their planning, training and operations. One of its roles is to field and test new information systems that better equip Marines during combat, training or support operations. (Source: US DoD)
23 Aug 18. DARPA wants an AI system that can basically make sense of everything. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is looking for an artificial intelligence and machine-learning model that can help scientists and researchers push their work to new limits. The Automating Scientific Knowledge Extraction (ASKE) program, announced Aug. 17, is the first contract opportunity DARPA has released as part of its new AI exploration program. The goal is to establish the feasibility of new AI concepts and do it fast ― within 18 months of award ― to help DARPA outpace global AI science and technology discovery efforts. Specifically, the ASKE opportunity is looking to develop an AI system that can rapidly aggregate scientific data over a number of complex systems (physical, biological, social) and identify new data and information resources automatically. Science depends on equations and complex computations of large data sets. The proposed AI system would be able to interpret and expose scientific knowledge and underlying assumptions in existing computational models to extract useful information, like causal relationships, correlations and parameters. This information would then be integrated into a machine-curated model that generates more robust hypotheses.
To ensure the system is working with the full-breadth of scientific information available, DARPA is interested in a system that automatically verifies published scientific results and can monitor “fragile economic, political, social and environmental systems undergoing complex events,” in real-time. For such a system to be viable, DARPA believes advanced AI techniques such as “natural language processing, knowledge-based reasoning, machine learning, and/or human-machine collaboration” are needed.
Although rapid and real-time aggregation of data from a variety digital sources may have military applications, for now DARPA maintains its “overriding interest is in innovative approaches to extracting knowledge from scientific models.”
The winner will be awarded a contract worth as much as $1m for a prototype. Proposals are due Sept. 17. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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.