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27 Jan 21. US Navy to stand up DevSecOps task force. The Navy is standing up a task force to speed up software delivery.
“Implementation of development, security, and operations (devsecops) in our pursuit of modern software development and delivery is critical to accelerating capability to the fleet and improving the security of our information,” Navy CIO Aaron Weis and the Navy’s acquisition chief James Geurts wrote in a memo signed Jan. 15 and publicly released Jan. 21.
“The challenge before us is to determine the most effective and efficient implementation across our diverse landscape of operating environments that optimizes limited resources and minimizes impact to innovation and agility.”
The task force, which is ordered to be stood up by March, is responsible for delivering “a set of prioritized recommendations” that, once approved, would become the Navy’s enterprise wide roadmap for implementing DevSecOps.
The recommendations would tackle a framework for DevSecOps infrastructure, governance and management, cybersecurity assessments for infrastructure, and potential barriers to scaling, according to the document. Policy, contracting, standards, training, and workforce are also to be considered.
The memo comes as the Navy is looking to improve software accessibility and networking in its fleet.
Rear Adm. Kathy Creighton, the director for Information Warfare Integration, N2/N6F, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, said the Navy has been considering how to do DevSecOps on its fleet, thinking of innovative ways to collaborate amongst the program executive offices.
“On a ship, PEO [Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence and Space Systems] delivers a C4I network and PEO [Integrated Warfare Systems] delivers the combat system,” Creighton said during an AFCEA virtual event on innovative technology Jan. 19.
“We’ve looked at how we’re going to do DevSecOps on ships, how we are going to deliver software in an agile, rapid manner [and] we’ve realized we’ve got two networks…do they both need to buy capability to get software brought on the ship and pay twice? Or could they work together…on one path and be able to share?”
The Navy is also ready to implement the Defense Information Systems Agency’s cloud-based internet browsing technology created to enhance network cybersecurity this year, Creighton said, after pilots of the technology that creates a gap between the Defense Department’s network and internet traffic were successful.
“It was clear that that would be great on the enterprise network but the concern is will that work at the tactical edge: how will that work on ships? And so [U.S. Pacific Fleet] leaned forward and said, yeah, I want to demo that right away on ships,” Creighton said.
CBII was developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency using a $200m other transaction agreement and went into production in 2020. DISA announced in September that it was planning to roll out the tech solution to 1.5 million users over the next year starting with the agency. (Source: Defense Systems)
27 Jan 21. Getting away from ‘anything goes’: US Military leaders set data standards for joint war fighting.
Top military leaders signified a new level of cooperation on joint war fighting in an all-day meeting Jan. 26 to hash out data standards to connect the services’ largely disparate projects to work together to compete against Russia and China.
Meanwhile, the Army shared details with C4ISRNET Tuesday about a successful lab demonstration of a data exchange with the Air Force, mirroring the type of cross-communication needed to achieve the Pentagon’s goal to connect targeting information from any source to the best shooter from any service, an effort known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The Army allowed C4ISRNET to tour the facility’s C5ISR Center experimental environments, set to become a central hub in integrating systems across services.
“This is probably the first time that I have seen a level of cooperation and commitment to an outcome,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, the CIO/J-6 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told C4ISRNET in an interview at Aberdeen. “So in addition, this is simply the moving of these ideas, which I think are pretty novel, and moving them to a plan, where we have mission threads, places to start, and a genuine desire to challenge authorities, resources and processes if they don’t fit the rapid nature, and the type and scope of work that we need to do to get this outcome.”
With the Joint Chiefs leading the project, Crall has been vocal in calling for cooperation on JADC2, stating that old data governance models will not be successful as the services look to connect their networks. In future battles against technologically advanced adversaries, the services must rapidly exchange information to enable commanders to make quick decisions, such as putting fires on target.
Crall called the meeting, as reported by Breaking Defense, to work toward agreement on common data management practices to ease the services’ ability to share information, moving away from JADC2 efforts that have largely been “anything goes,” which he called unsustainable.
One step accomplished at the meeting was agreeing on a definition of a common data fabric, a task that Crall said seems “simple, but it’s complex.” The people in the meeting who worked out that definition included officials from the Joint Chiefs, Pentagon chief data officer office, Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, combatant commands, Department of Homeland Security, and NATO.
Here’s the wording they settled on: The data fabric is “a DoD federated data environment for sharing information through interfaces and services, to discover, understand and exchange data with partners across all domains, echelons and security levels.”
In order to make JADC2 a reality, the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, the Army’s Project Convergence and the Navy’s Project Overmatch must be able to transfer data to each other, a task made impossible if the systems can’t read or translate the data into formats that a system understands. While the services go about their own concepts, Crall recognizes that “one size does not fit all” but said that they need to be ready to come together sooner than later.
“Today was really about setting that baseline of common level understanding and vernacular, particularly as it relates to all the way down to these mission threads and across the joint force,” Brig. Gen. Rob Parker, the J-6 deputy director for Joint All-Domain Command and Control on the Joint Staff, told C4ISRNET, adding that the Defense Innovation Board would review the definition before it is finalized.
Stuart Whitehead, the J-6 deputy director for cyber and command, control, communications and computers integration on the Joint Staff, said the stakeholders identified components of the data fabric definition that they will turn into objectives to direct subsequent work on JADC2.
These components, according to the agenda viewed by C4ISRNET, are metadata tagging, common data interfaces, data access control, data security and data infrastructure. The agenda also said the overall lead for the common data fabric will be the Pentagon’s chief data officer, Dave Spirk.
“It’s given us … a foundation, but it’s also given us a springboard for what we’re going to work next,” Whitehead said.
To enable that, the Joint Staff is working on joint war-fighting requirement documents, a strategy to build JADC2 and define common language for the services. The challenge the Pentagon faces is that the services fight in their unique domains, meaning they have their own needs.
“There comes a point in time where if there’s really no benefit, and only risk and expense as a result of those differences, then we’ve got to collapse those sooner rather than later,” Crall said.
Whitehead pointed out that one of the biggest challenges to sharing data is the fact that requirements have changed so much over time.
“We’re now talking about linking programs between multiple services in order to get a collective capability, [and] that is probably a situation that wasn’t anticipated when a particular requirement was created, say 10 or 15 years ago,” Whitehead said.
Parker noted that the stakeholders discussed reciprocity of systems, or accepting mature, rigorously tested solutions developed by other services.
“We need to get out of our own way sometimes to bring those types of things, and faster, to really bring about that interoperability,” Parker said.
The Air Force and Army have actively worked on plugging their capabilities together after formal staff talks last September between the services led to an agreement to share data and develop common sharing standards.
Describing the experimental data use case, Portia Crowe, the chief data officer of the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team, told C4ISRNET that the Air Force’s DataONE environment is sharing data with the Army’s common data fabric, known as Rainmaker, which can then transfer that data into the Army’s Command Post Computing Environment. The Army used an application programming interface to overcome the fact that the Army and Air Force don’t use the same data message format.
The Army’s work on a common data fabric, she noted, could be a key piece of joint war fighting.
“We have a common data fabric that allows us to do a lot of that that we couldn’t do before,” Crowe said. “So instead of system to system, we can do one system to many. We can do one data library to many. I mean, the possibilities are enormous now.”
As work on JADC2 moves forward, Crall said that he expects “no less” than three follow-up meetings that will become “increasingly more challenging by design,” with the next session proposed for mid-April. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Jan 21. USAF chief: Electromagnetic spectrum could be cheaper option to defeat enemies. The Air Force is looking into flipping the cost curve when it comes to defeating adversaries by focusing on electronic or nonkinetic capabilities as opposed to missiles.
“In some aspects, an electron is much cheaper than a very expensive missile,” Gen. Charles Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force, said during a Jan. 27 web event hosted by the Association of Old Crows. “We’ve got to think about the cost curve” and be able to do both the kinetic and nonkinetic.
Brown acknowledged that the Air Force has been “asleep at the wheel” for the last 25 to 30 years when it comes to operations in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Sophisticated adversaries have noted the spectrum is critical for U.S. forces and have sought high-tech methods to deny it, trying to jam or spoof communications.
Top nation-states, including China and Russia, have demonstrated significant prowess within the electromagnetic spectrum, rivaling the DoD in some respects, while U.S. forces divested much of their related systems and expertise following the conclusion of the Cold War.
In some cases, operating in the electromagnetic spectrum can be cheaper than other options, Brown said. As the Air Force looks toward future budgets and ways to not only achieve cost savings but stay ahead of adversaries, adapting software-defined systems could be a huge boon.
The military can rapidly updated those systems to keep pace with fast-moving threats without fundamentally changing the platform, capability or maybe most importantly, the budget.
While the Air Force has taken some recent steps to improve its approach in the electromagnetic spectrum, Brown said they aren’t enough.
These include creating a new directorate within the plans and strategy office on the Air Staff, as well a forthcoming spectrum warfare wing that will focus on digital engineering that allows faster execution in the domain.
The Air Force is also undertaking war games to help project future needs. Brown contrasted these with exercises, which use existing capabilities. The war games are more tabletop activities that invite a wide range of stakeholders from inside and outside the Air Force to grapple with what’s possible.
Bringing in people from industry or think tanks will provide perspectives and ideas that the Air Force might never have thought of, Brown said. This allows them to look at concepts that could be developed in the future.
When it comes to cross-service cooperation, Brown mentioned that his service is working with the Navy to look at electromagnetic attack waveforms and how they can attack communications or intelligence systems of adversaries. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Jan 21. Data Summit Syncs Joint Strategy, Standards. More than 20 one- and two-star generals, flag officers and senior executive service members from the Joint Staff, Services and Combatant Commands converged on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Jan. 26, for a Joint All-Domain Command and Control data summit hosted by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis A. Crall, the director of the Joint Staff’s J-6.
The event was held to discuss the JADC2 strategy, data standards, application programming interfaces, access management and data security and infrastructure. Without standards in place and an agreement on key components of the JADC2 concept strategic approach, data sharing in a joint fight will never be realized.
“Today is a stage-setting event,” Crall said of the summit. “This particular meeting is about making sure that the framework is in place and that we understand who is responsible for each part of the [JADC2] strategy.
“We all have ideas and investments in those ideas, and it’s time to pull those ideas together. If we do this right, we’ll have the right decisions made up front, by the right decision-makers, and then kick those outcomes to specific capabilities that meet the needs of each service,” he added.
The JADC2 strategy — a comprehensive document charting the path forward for JADC2’s development — is currently being developed by the Joint Staff J-6, with input from across the Department of Defense.
Sessions throughout the day honed in on specific JADC2 strategy lines of effort, priority Joint interoperability challenges and governance. One session in particular, focusing on a “common data fabric,” spawned more than an hour of discussion to come to an agreed- upon definition that enables the JADC2 concept strategic approach. Defining exactly what “data fabric” means is critical to developing the enterprise framework and in executing its implementation. JADC2 is defined as the warfighting capability itself enables warfighters to sense, make sense and act at all levels and phases of war, across all domains, and with partners to deliver information advantage at the speed of relevance.
The summit brought together key stakeholders across the U.S. government’s data community to continue positive momentum in shaping inter-service data agreements and turning JADC2 from concept to reality.
“What we’ve been doing for the last six or seven months is enabling this body [of decision-makers] to have this JADC2 vision and then execute it,” Mr. David Spirk, the Chief Data Officer for the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer said. “We have given [the Joint Services] the path and we’re asking them to drive us to this open systems data architecture.”
Summit participants included additional representatives from the Joint Staff alongside the Army, Air Force, Navy, Space Force, Department of Homeland Security and NATO information and network management organizations. Together, this community is driving tangible outcomes through joint collaboration to ensure data is shared and converged seamlessly at all levels where it makes sense, both in experimental and operational environments.
“I don’t think these are simple objectives but I do think they are easily attainable,” Crall said. “We can no longer afford to live the way we have been living.”
The next JADC2 Data Summit is slated for mid-April. (Source: US DoD)
26 Jan 21. How the intelligence community is tapping into commercial radio frequency data. In the past, intelligence analysts have only had access to classified government satellite data when assessing radio frequency use all over the world. Now, a pilot program with HawkEye 360 is feeding those analysts commercial RF data, potentially opening the floodgates to a torrent of new unclassified data.
“NGA’s analyst community has never had access to commercial RF before. It’s always been in the domain of the government, for them to collect and supply to the analyst,” CEO John Serafini told C4ISRNET. “It’s been highly classified data.”
RF signals play a massive role in the modern world, enabling communications across vast distances without physical connections. With its formation-flying satellites, HawkEye 360 aims to make that invisible world visible. It’s satellites can detect RF emissions all over the world, which can then be used to identify and geolocate the signals’ origins. That level of analysis has a number of applications for the defense and intelligence community, from simply improving maritime domain awareness by detecting ships that have disabled their automatic identification system, to giving war fighters a better understanding of RF activity on the battlefield.
In September, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency launched the RF GEOINT Pilot program, importing HawkEye 360′s unclassified data as well as the company’s processed analytics.
One advantage of using the commercial data is that it’s unclassified, making it easier to share with mission and coalition partners.
“That allows the NGA to further strengthen their relationship with allies,” said Serafini. “The end state of our ongoing engagement with NGA is a true analyst appreciation for being able to access a non-classified commercial source of RF that they can use in a remote setting and they can be able to share with their mission partners.”
The pilot program utilizes a 2019 commercial study contract HawkEye 360 signed with the National Reconnaissance Office, the intelligence agency charged with operating the nation’s spy satellites and contracting with companies that provide commercial satellite data. Under that study contract, NRO has access to the RF data collected by the company’s satellite constellation. NRO can facilitate access for other intelligence agencies and partners in the Department of Defense, as has happened with the pilot program.
HawkEye 360 launched its first three formation-flying, RF-sensing satellites in 2018 and recently expanded its constellation with three upgraded satellites in a January SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. More launches are expected later this year.
“We’re going to have a lot of capacity on orbit very shortly, and that capacity is not only helpful from a collection standpoint, but it also allows us to have a much greater revisit rate,” said Serafini. “Right now we’re about every five hours revisit rate globally. Pretty soon we’ll be down to under two hours, and we hope to be close to about an hour of revisit rate by the end of the year.”
Once that full commercial capability is on orbit, the company will be ready to start pursuing service-level agreements for its data and analytics products, said Serafini.
The company is also investing in its ground infrastructure, enabling it to deliver its satellite data to customers faster. Serafini said the company is aiming to get the time from collection to getting data into the hands of customers down to about an hour by the end of the year. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
26 Jan 21. ABMS Won’t Replace BACN Comms Til 2026; Northrop Wins Support Deal. The USAF intends to get rid of three of its four BACN-equipped EQ-4 Global Hawks, but increase the number of piloted E-11 BACN aircraft through 2026.
Northrop Grumman’s new IDIQ contract, worth up to $3.6bn, to support the Air Force’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) E-11A and EQ-4B aircraft guarantees operations through 2026. While the Air Force is already moving to field new capabilities developed under the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) to replace BACN, the award suggests that this won’t be completed until 2027 at the earliest.
BACN is a gateway and relay system that allows tactical communications beyond line-of-sight and in areas where satellite communications are blocked or unreliable, such as in mountainous areas. The system, which first flew in 2005, also ‘translates’ between different radio frequencies, allowing the linkage of incompatible platforms and radios. Air Combat Command (ACC) currently operates three E-11As, variants of the Bombardier Global Express business jet (a fourth one crashed last January in Afghanistan killing the pilot and co-pilot), and four EQ-4B modified Global Hawk drones, according to ACC.
The Air Force recommended retiring all three EQ-4Bs in its 2021 budget request, but buying another E-11A — with planes to increase the total E-11A fleet to eight by 2026. (The three operational E-11As are all deployed with the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.)
The Air Force’s plan is to replace the EQ-4B with ABMS’s gatewayONE, which is a modern software system than can translate machine code between incompatible platforms, such as the F-22 and the F-35 fighter jets. GatewayONE is now slated for deployment on air mobility aircraft, with the most likely being Boeing’s troubled KC-46 tanker.
The 2021 NDAA included a stern warning to the Air Force: The conferees remain concerned regarding the potential decrease in airborne network communications capacity and capability resulting from the Air Force decision to divest EQ-4B platforms, and the impacts this could have on the geographical combatant commands, specifically U.S. Central Command. Therefore, the conferees expect the Secretary of the Air Force, in coordination with the associated U.S. air component commanders for each relevant geographical combatant command areas of responsibility, to provide equal or greater capability and capacity for battlefield airborne communications and networking, noting the Secretary’s planned inventory quantity increases of manned E-11 aircraft systems that was similarly provided by both the unmanned EQ-4B and the E-11A aircraft systems combined.
Congressional appropriators went along with the Air Force’s plan in the 2021 defense spending bill signed into law Dec. 27.
This new BACN contract covers “research, development, test, and evaluation, integration and operations and sustainment for existing and future payloads contained in or connected to the BACN system. It also includes associated ground stations or controls, ancillary equipment, support equipment and system integration laboratories,” according to today’s Northrop’s press release. The company’s previous BACN support contract, awarded last January, was for $217m for work through Jan. 23. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
27 Jan 21. Thales Receives Continued Orders for the U.S. Army’s Leader Radio Program.
- Thales receives third Army Leader Radio delivery order for simultaneous 2-channel IMBITR radios.
- The Thales IMBITR has received extensive Soldier testing to deliver on U.S. Army expectations for a modern, resilient tactical network.
- Following delivery completion more than 6,000 IMBITR radios will be fielded globally.
Thales has been awarded its third delivery order from the U.S. Army to provide the AN/PRC-148D Improved Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (IMBITR®). Under the Army Leader Radio program and in support of Capability Set fielding’s into the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), this latest award brings total IMBITR radio orders to more than 6,000.
In collaboration with the U.S. Army and under previous fielding’s, Thales provided the IMBITR to multiple operationally deployed units to generate important Soldier feedback for testing and risk reduction prior to the U.S. Army’s formal Operational Test and Evaluation in January 2021. Important capability feedback from Soldier Touch Points – both as a standalone radio as well as a device integrated into the ITN architecture – was highly positive affirming IMBITR’s ability to provide cutting-edge tactical communications for mounted or dismounted Soldiers.
Today, the IMBITR offers an extended range of operational waveforms and features such as Beyond-Line-Of-Site SATCOM, Integrated Waveform SATCOM and enhanced frequency hopping modes. The Thales IMBITR Vehicular Amplifier Adapter for mounted vehicular platforms currently exceeds all threshold and objective range requirements with the potential to provide maneuver commanders greater voice and data communications ranges. The AN/PRC-148D, further incorporates additional secret and below security to the wideband side providing Commanders increased flexibility for an ever-changing environment and ensuring a modern, highly resilient tactical network.
IMBITR is the first 2-channel handheld radio providing Soldiers with critical narrowband, tactical communications capabilities along with a second wideband channel providing world-class WREN-TSM™ mobile, ad hoc networking waveform. Together, these capabilities provide assured, simultaneous networked voice, data and video communications for improved situational awareness and real-time decision-making. Currently, 4,800 IMBITR radios are operationally deployed and highly successful, supporting Security Force Assistance Brigade and Infantry Brigade Combat Team/Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.
“Thales is pleased to be a continued key contributor to the Army’s Leader Radio Program and fielding’s in support of the Integrated Tactical Network. With the new Thales AN/PRC-148D IMBITR radio, Soldiers will experience continued benefits from a decisive tactical advantage that comes with using the most capable radio on the market.” Mike Sheehan, CEO, Thales Defense and Security, Inc.
26 Jan 21. Viasat Ramps-Up Production on its Link 16 Next-Generation Tactical Data Links Radios to Meet Near-Term U.S. and International Defense Requirements. Global Military Surge Interest Seen Most Dominantly in Viasat’s Newest Link 16 Radio Product Line, BATS-E.
Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today it increased production run rates to over 200 Non-Developmental Item (NDI) Link 16 Next-Generation Tactical Data Links radios per month to meet current interest and pending orders from U.S. and international defense customers.
Specifically, Viasat is seeing surge interest in its Battlefield Awareness Targeting System-Embedded (BATS-E) Link 16 radios, which provide network connectivity and access for a variety of unmanned platforms to view, relay and share situational awareness data for more accurate tracking, identification and engagement. The Company is on track to build 25 BATS-E radios per month to meet near-term demand from U.S. and global military forces—with an ability to go significantly higher if demand requires. The Company’s other NDI Link 16 radios, the AN/PRC-161 Battlefield Awareness Targeting System-Dismounted (BATS-D) and KOR-24A Small Tactical Terminal (STT), round out the production levels to run rates totaling over 200 radios per month.
“The evolving threat environment requires new capabilities that give warfighters a 360-degree view of the battlefield,” said Ken Peterman, Viasat’s president, Government Systems. “Viasat is actively developing, fielding and bringing new capabilities to market, through our expansive NDI business model, which enables us to deliver products significantly faster, with lower lifecycle costs and lower risk to the defense customer when compared to traditional acquisition programs and timelines.”
Peterman added, “We have a large-scale production capacity, which enables us to deliver high volumes of our Link 16 Next-Generation Tactical Data Links product line. These products empower warfighters with critical Link 16 communications on the battlefield; are future proofed to address emerging threat requirements; and meet cryptographic modernization requirements ahead of any Department of Defense mandated timeline.”
25 Jan 21. AI and machine learning for the future fleet: Dstl’s Intelligent Ship. The UK is kickstarting the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to be used on future defence platforms, potentially including the Royal Navy’s future fleet as well as air and land systems from 2030 onward.
In early November 2020, DASA (Defence and Security Accelerator) awarded £3m to nine projects as part of the UK’s Defence Science Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) Intelligent Ship project through the Intelligent Ship competition. The money will fund the development of proposals including a decision-making support system for engineering crews to manage power and propulsion systems and an ‘innovative mission AI prototype agent for decision-making to support decision-making during pre-mission preparation, mission execution and post-mission analysis.’
Core to the competition is developing technologies to change the way the British Armed Forces approach decision-making, mission planning and automation, with a key goal of the competition’s second phase being the exploitation of a ‘human-machine network that could work collaboratively on military platforms.’
DASA, which is running the competition on behalf of Dstl, has described the project as ‘technologically high-risk and potentially high-gain’ exploring new ways of ‘doing things in defence.’
Dstl Project Technical Authority Julia Tagg told Naval Technology: “Our project aims are really to look at an alternative future concept. Looking at how AI agents and humans can work collaboratively as a team, how command and control can be flexibly distributed, how you can help more effective and faster decision making.
“What we want to look at is the trends of both manpower and machine intelligence and how they’re used together. Those are the overarching reasons why we are doing all this.”
Tagg said the competition was taking a ‘blank sheet of paper’ approach to addressing the challenges and generating a ‘revolutionary way of doing things in the future.’
While the competition goals are to develop technologies to be used a decade from now, Tagg added that, if the technology developed was suitable, options were being explored to see how it could be pulled through to benefit current in-service platforms as well.
In recent years, the military has put ‘information advantage’ at the centre of a number of its ambitions and planned programmes have shown how, with more advanced and distributed sensors, personnel will increasingly have to contend with more data in the decision-making process.
While having more information is a benefit, it also has the downside of taking longer to process. Many see AI and machine learning as a way to help operators sift through vast data to make better decisions faster.
Tagg added that another pillar of the programme was developing human-machine interfaces and studying how information is exchanged effectively between the two. She said: “I think really we’re looking at not being constrained by the way we do things now but doing things in a different way in the future.”
Partners involved in the competition include a mix of well-known primes and academia, with funding so far awarded to Rolls-Royce, Nottingham Trent University, Decision Lab, CGI IT UK, DIEM Analytics, Frazer Nash Consultancy, Montvieux and SeeByte.
Tagg said this range of responses was important to DASA and Dstl as it ensured input from a broad range of sources. Tagg added: “It was very important to us to have a really wide range of people, companies and organisations to bring in different ideas for us [and] bringing in experience from some other areas where things are already being done differently.”
The £3m is a relatively small amount in the grand scheme of defence contracts, but DASA delivery manager Rachel Solomons said that targeted investment could deliver strong returns with this kind of project. Solomons explained: “We have this wide range of suppliers that we target, and those are right from the start-up level and SMEs through to primes and we have an emphasis on attracting talent that hasn’t been involved with defence before. Sometimes that means that kind of contracts they would be interested in are a lot lower [value] than usual defence contracts”.
“Part of that is to deliver capabilities, proof of concept, to fund research, but also exploration to see what is out there initially, and what can be developed, as obviously, a lot of the stuff we produce is at the very early stage.”
Solomons added: “We do actually find that although DASA contracts can often be a lot smaller, than the contracts with our big procurement agencies. They do deliver results because what they’re doing is seeking things that are innovative and that haven’t been explored before. That’s how we extract the most value from relatively low contracts.”
DASA aims to achieve this by making the defence business more understandable for contractors who don’t typically work in the sector. To achieve this, Solomons said the accelerator tries to publicise its competitions widely and avoid acronyms that would not make sense to industry outsiders.
While technologies through the competition are still of a low technology readiness level (TRL), all funded projects are set to deliver software that can be demonstrated within DASA and Dstl’s framework.
Tagg added: “If we start to look at the next phase of the project, then some of those things may get into demonstrators, which could go on to ships fairly quickly.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
25 Jan 21. US Army names new director for tactical network modernization team. U.S. Army organization responsible for modernizing the service’s tactical network will soon have a new leader, the army chief of staff announced Monday.
Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, the J-6 of Central Command, will replace Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher as director of the Network Cross-Functional Team, a critical piece of the Army’s modernization efforts.
“BG Jeth Rey is the perfect choice to serve as the next director of the N-CFT,” Gallagher said in a statement to C4ISRNET. “His years of experience as a Soldier, NCO, Warrant Officer, and Officer with a multitude of conventional and Special Operations Signal and Cyber assignments make him uniquely qualified to lead this critical modernization effort for the Army.”
Rey will move up from Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to the home of the N-CFT at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Justine Ruggio, spokesperson for the N-CFT, said Rey didn’t yet have a start date and that it’s unclear what’s next for Gallagher.
Under Gallagher, the first director of the N-CFT, the Army started is capability set process, in which new sets of tactical network tools are developed and delivered to soldiers every two years. This year, the service is deploying Capability Set ’21, which focuses on addressing immediate gaps in the tactical network.
Gallagher, along with the N-CFT’s acquisition arm Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, have already started planning Capability Set ‘23. That set, which is scheduled to undergo preliminary design review in April, is focused on increasing network resiliency and increasing broadband.
Rey will take over as the Army’s newly separated G-6 and CIO offices focus on connecting the service’s enterprise network with the tactical network to support multidomain operations. Gallagher is deeply involved with that effort and hosts biweekly meetings with stakeholders. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
25 Jan 21. US Army seeks ‘graceful migration’ from SINCGARS. US Army leaders are moving forward with evaluating options for an eventual replacement of the service’s Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) in the next three years, in favour of systems that are more mobile, easier to encrypt, and capable of integrating into the army’s larger networked communication modernisation initiative under the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN).
The SINCGARS replacement effort kicked off when service leaders from Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) issued a request for information (RFI) in October 2020 seeking technology upgrades to legacy radio systems or development of new radio programmes. Since then, army engineers have been evaluating options submitted under the RFI, Program Executive Officer for C3T Army Brigadier General Robert Collins said.
“We are looking at a range of options, anything from a [card] chip and replace to … some type of a [commercial off-the-shelf]-type capability that we could adopt, which could provide us with some growth potential as we start to migrate to our newer, handheld [or] manpack, small form-factor capability. So, we are framing that up,” he said during an AFCEA International-sponsored webinar on the future of the ITN.
The SINCGARS modernisation and replacement effort was spurred on by the service’s desire to explore “future waveforms [support] which may include different modulation techniques and faster frequency hopping” for the legacy radio system, according to the RFI. Concerns over the current SINCGARS encryption capabilities, coupled with a desire by service leaders to increase resiliency within the service’s slate of tactical radio systems, also helped spur on the effort. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Jan 21. SkyGrid and SparkCognition deploy AI-powered cybersecurity system on drones. Industrial Artificial Intelligence (AI) company SparkCognition and SkyGrid, a Boeing company, have announced a new collaboration to deploy AI-powered cybersecurity directly on drones, protecting them from zero-day attacks during flight. Equipped with SparkCognition’s DeepArmor cybersecurity product, SkyGrid claims to be the first airspace management system to enable drone protection powered by AI, says the company. This approach provides more advanced airspace security than traditional anti-malware reliant on signatures of known threats.
Integrated with SkyGrid’s airspace management system AerialOS, the DeepArmor product can be deployed directly on drone hardware to function even when network connectivity is impaired or non-existent. The AI protection defends drones from zero-day attacks by leveraging models trained on the DNA of malicious files instead of relying on a signature database.
The DeepArmor product suite leverages SparkCognition’s patented machine learning technology combined with a defense in depth mantra to provide multiple layers of protection on an endpoint – instead of using known signatures, heuristics, or rules-based approaches. The software protects a wide range of endpoints, with its most recent addition to the product suite, DeepArmor Industrial, launched in collaboration with Siemens Energy and designed to protect operational technology assets across the energy value chain.
“In the near future, we’ll essentially have a network of flying computers in the sky, and just like the computers we use today, drones can be hacked if not secured properly,” said Amir Husain, CEO and founder of SparkCognition and SkyGrid. “In this emerging environment, traditional anti-malware technology won’t be adequate to detect these never-before-seen attacks. SkyGrid is taking a new, intelligent approach by using AI to more accurately detect and prevent cyberattacks from impacting a drone, a payload, or a ground station.”
“We leveraged cutting-edge AI research and technology to build the DeepArmor product, which allows it to protect endpoints against 99.9% of never-before-seen threats,” said Sridhar Sudarsan, Chief Technology Officer at SparkCognition. “In addition, the product’s uniqueness lies in its ability to provide top-rate endpoint protection on the lowest footprint with minimal interference – all in varying degrees of connectivity. This is the true overarching security differentiator from which SkyGrid’s customers will see value.”
For information visit: www.skygrid.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
25 Jan 21. NATO selects Thales to supply its first defence cloud for the armed forces.
- NATO has selected Thales to provide the first theatre-level deployable defence cloud capability, a compact and fully certified solution for end-to-end management and control of connectivity, applications and data hosting.
- Nexium Defence Cloud was selected by NATO as it complies with the strictest military security and interoperability standards.
- Thales’s solution guarantees the sovereignty and strategic autonomy of the armed forces.
NATO has selected Thales to provide the first certified defence cloud solution that can be deployed in the theatre of operations in less than 24 hours. Thales was selected after a worldwide competitive tendering process on the basis of its defence systems integration know-how. With this contract, the Group enters a new market sector and demonstrating its capacity to integrate the best civil and commercial technologies available and to adapt them to the needs of the armed forces.
As military operations become increasingly data-driven, access to critical data and applications is a crucial requirement for the armed forces. The defence cloud developed by Thales enables the forces to analyse and share data in real time from the command centre to the theatre of operations, pursue their digital transformation in complete security, and accelerate the decision cycle to gain and maintain an operational advantage.
Until now, it could take several months and dozens of specialised engineers working at sites close to the combat zone to deploy the assets required. With Nexium Defence Cloud and its Service Design Studio and orchestration system, a small team of experts can deploy IT services and applications to locations thousands of kilometres away in just a few hours. This solution is based on a holistic approach encompassing applications management, IT, networks and security, with an overall system architecture designed to accommodate various different levels of confidentiality.
Nexium Defence Cloud incorporates the best civil and commercial technologies available to provide a complete, modular, sovereign solution that enables forces to operate fully autonomously in the theatre of operations. It offers a wide array of possible configurations, from very high-capacity and easily scalable infrastructure for command headquarters to all-in-one containerised systems that transform a forward base into a new cloud node in just a few hours.
This easy interconnection within ad hoc organisations and command structures increases mission effectiveness with an unparalleled level of security.
Nexium Defence Cloud is the most compact, highly integrated and modular solution available today. It includes all the components of military command posts (cabinets, servers, data storage media, supervision system, etc.) and meets performance requirements in terms of size, weight and power (SWaP) to simplify deployment and minimise the logistics footprint.
Through this contract,Thales once again demonstrates its system certification and standardisation know-how. Its defence cloud solution was designed to comply with the requirements of NATO’s Federated Mission Networking (FMN) standard, which establishes the framework for cooperation between command-and-control networks for coalition forces. Nexium Defence Cloud has all the strengths needed to become the benchmark solution for the high-value-added deployable command posts that will be required for the coalition operations of tomorrow.
“Thales is proud to be contributing to the digital transformation of the armed forces by providing this first deployable, certified, tactical defence cloud solution. We are grateful to NATO for renewing their trust in our expertise in secure, interoperable information and communication systems.” Marc Darmon, Executive Vice-President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales.
22 Jan 21. Artificial Intelligence Is a Work in Progress, Official Says. Expectations are high that artificial intelligence will be a game changer for the military — and it is, in fact, one of the Defense Department’s top priorities.
“We’re in the very early days of a very long history of continued very rapid development in the AI field,” said William Scherlis, director of the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He spoke yesterday at a virtual panel discussion at the Defense One Genius Machines 2021 summit.
There are a lot of moving parts to AI that must come together to make it all work for the warfighter, he said.
Components include, machine learning, symbolic reasoning, statistical learning, knowledge representation, search and planning, data, cloud infrastructure, algorithms and computing, he said.
“If you want to do strategy planning, then you’re gonna have a mashup of machine learning with, maybe, game theory and a few other elements. So when we talk about AI, sometimes people are referring to just machine-learning algorithms and data and training. But in the systems engineering context, we’re really talking about how to build systems that, that have elements of AI capability embedded within them,” he said.
Scherlis discussed the history of AI, back to the 1940s and noted that there were three waves of development.
The first wave involved symbolic AI, which has explicit rules, such as if it’s raining, then bring an umbrella, he said. Commercial income tax programs operate this way, using rules, logic and reasoning to reach a conclusion.
The second wave involved neural nets, which Scherlis refers to as statistical AI. Neural nets attempt to replicate higher-order human thinking skills, such as problem solving.
All AI relies on having good data. But although data is certainly important, the real game-changer for AI will be the third wave where symbolic is meshed with statistical to get the best of both worlds, Scherlis predicted.
“This is a wide open research area, but there’s a lot of good work in this area — and I think it’s very promising,” he said, referring to third wave research.
This third wave will need to focus on how AI systems interact with humans in a productive and symbiotic way, he said.
Warriors will have to understand what it’s like to have an AI as a trusted team member, he said.
Currently, AI isn’t yet ready for prime time, he said. It’s still fragile, opaque, biased and not robust enough, which means it does not yet have trustworthiness.
“At DARPA, we have another number of programs that are, that are addressing these challenges,” he added. (Source: US DoD)
22 Jan 21. US Army Seeks Security For ‘Smart’ Base Networks. How can the Army bring the Internet Of Things and ‘Smart Cities’ technology to its bases, without opening new avenues for cyber attack?
Data-driven “Smart Cities” networks could make Army bases more efficient, safe, and livable — but the Army needs to make sure they aren’t as vulnerable to cyber attack as civilian Internet of Things technologies have proven to be.
“Our installations are not a safe haven,” said Andrew Nelson, director of the Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s International Research Office in London, at an AFCEA NOVA conference today. “Particularly as we incorporate more technology and smart-cities infrastructure, we’re introducing vulnerabilities to the installation via cyber-physical threats we previously haven’t had to deal with.”
Acknowledging the risks from the start is crucial if the Army is to proceed with its new Installations Strategy, which was published in December 2020 and emphasizes the risk that stateside bases will be attacked. It’s much easier to build safeguards in from the beginning than to try to bolt them on after the fact.
The Army Installations Strategy leans heavily on Internet of Things technologies, which collect data about people, machines, and climate around them, and then make that data accessible. The ultimate goal, as emphasized by both Nelson and in the strategy documents, is to improve base life so as to better support multi-domain operations.
“At the same time we’re introducing new capabilities, new information, new data streams, that we can utilize in ways to improve the ways we operate our installations in ways we are able to provide our installations in terms of training and force projection from installations,” said Nelson.
For now, the Army is working on pilot programs, like the Virtual Testbed for Installation Mission Effectiveness (VTIME), which will gather existing data streams and offer them in a useful virtual console. The data will cover everything, from mold detection to building energy use and water treatment, to possible accommodation for autonomous vehicles. The console will give garrison commanders a tool that allows them to understand and assess risk to a base for everything from environmental health to explosive blasts.
Beyond the basics of health and security, a SmartCities approach to data is designed to make life in the service and on-base appealing to people entering the All-Volunteer Force from civilian life, with a new generation of “digital natives” bringing different expectations for technology.
“Future Soldiers will expect installations to modernize at pace with civilian sector smart cities initiatives,” reads the Army strategy. “Opportunities that leverage technology through creation of data-informed, smart installations will allow the Army to pivot from an industrial-age paradigm, characterized by rigidity and purpose-built specialization, to a data-rich, reconfigurable, and technology-enhanced information-age construct.”
Crucial to this entire project is network security, which will allow the smooth functioning of on-base sensors and the long-reaching deployments of cyber effects from Army bases.
“The end state is this modern and resilient army, and sustainable installations that enhance readiness and position us for that MDO [Multi-Domain Operations] battlespace that we understand,” said Nelson. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
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