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26 Feb 21. Rafael marks another milestone in the development of the I-Derby ER Air-to-Air Missile. In a test series held earlier this week, Rafael completed the development of the ground-based Air Defense version of the missile.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has completed the development of the ground-based Air Defense version of the I-Derby ER (Extended Range) air-to-air missile. During the test series concluded earlier this week in southern Israel, Rafael performed a ground launch to test the missile’s command and control, navigation, and flight trajectory capabilities.
These tests serve as a significant milestone in I-Derby ER’s development, which is the newest and most advanced of Rafael’s electromagnetic air-to-air missiles, and it marks the completion of the missile’s ground-version development.
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Pini Yungman, EVP, Rafael’s head of air and missile defense systems division: “Rafael has been Israel’s national home of air-to-air missiles since the country’s founding, when we developed Israel’s very first air-to-air missile – Shafrir. Ever since, Rafael has excelled in the development of various air-to-air missiles, many of which are in operational use today by the IDF and air forces worldwide. This week, we completed a series of tests in the development of the I-Derby missile in its latest version – ER – which allows for Beyond Visual Range (BVR) launches over 100 km. This is a key milestone in the development of a missile with some of the most advanced capabilities, giving it significant interception advantages in air-to-air battles, as well as ground-to-air air defense applications. These achievements provide significant air superiority to the fighter pilot or the air defense commander.”
Rafael’s I-Derby ER missile is a an over 100 km long-range air-to-air missile with a dual-pulse rocket motor and an active radar seeker, providing combat aircraft with exceptional performance advantages both at short ranges or beyond visual range. The missile has fire-and-forget capabilities, allowing the operator to tackle multiple targets simultaneously. The missile’s light weight allows it to be adapted to a variety of modern fighter jets, including the F-16, F-15, F-18, Gripen, LCA, Typhoon and more.
The I-Derby ER Missile is identical in shape and size to the Derby missile currently in service worldwide. The ground-based Air Defense version of the missile can be integrated almost immediately onto air defense batteries such as Rafael’s SPYDER system, which provides air defense for ranges between 20 to 60 km. Launched from the ground, the I-Derby ER missile doubles the existing missile range, and allows target interception within a range of up to 40 km without a booster, and 80 km with a booster.
Improved-Derby ER (Extended Range)
Long-Range BVR Air-to-Air Missile with Active Radar seeker
I-Derby ER is a long range derivative of the Derby missile in operational use among several air forces worldwide. It is part of Rafael’s several generations of air-to-air missile families which it has developed over the past 65 years, with more than 150 combat interceptions in Israel and around the world. This includes the Python missile family with its most advanced missile in this series – Python-5 – operational with the Israeli air force and a number of other global air forces.
I-Derby ER incorporates Rafael’s innovative software-controlled radar seeker, which allows full operational flexibility by controlling all operational parameters through software. This capability enables upgraded missile performance against new threats and enemy tactics such as electronic warfare and new aerial targets. The software update process is quick and simple, and can be performed in a timely manner relevant for during a combat round.
I-Derby ER contains electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) designed to deal with the challenges of aerial combat in a hostile environment with exceptional operational flexibility, adaptable to the customer’s operational requirements. The missile has a dual-pulse rocket motor, which enables optimal thrust management in accordance with mission requirements, providing the significantly-extended flight range. The missile’s brain contains sophisticated algorithms to optimize trajectory according to launch conditions and target behavior.
I-Derby ER features two-way communication, based on Rafael’s proven operational SDR, supplying a complete information set on the chosen target and on those in close vicinity.
I-Derby ER Operational Benefits:
- Launch range over 100 km
- Air-to-Air missile with short, medium, and long range capabilities
- Detection and Interception capabilities from the ground
- All-weather operability
- Lock On Before Launch/Lock on After Launch operational models
- Strong, efficient ECCM
- Simple integration for current Derby users
- Dual-use air-to-air and air defense
24 Feb 21. AFRL to receive first major assembly as part of SHiELD ATD programme. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is set to receive the ‘first major assembly’ as part of its Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) programme.
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is set to receive the ‘first major assembly’ as part of its Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) programme.
The first of three main subsystems will be delivered this month. The other two subsystems will be handed over later this year.
The programme aims to combine a laser system on a fighter jet to defend against incoming missile threats.
According to AFRL, the SHiELD programme is developing a ‘directed energy laser system’. It will be housed in an aircraft pod.
This laser system will showcase the defensive capabilities of aircraft against surface-to-air (SAM) and air-to-air (AAM) missiles.
SHiELD programme manager Jeff Heggemeier said: “Over the last five years we have worked side-by-side with Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, advancing the technology that would make this system work.
“To finally have the subsystems in the lab, will be a huge step forward in seeing the system to completion.”
After receiving its first major assembly, the SHiELD pod structure will enable AFRL scientists and engineers to start the complete system’s integration.
AFRL noted that the full system test is scheduled for fiscal year 2024.
AFRL Directed Energy Directorate director Kelly Hammett said: “Those critical demonstrations show that our directed energy system is on track to be a game-changer for our warfighters.
“The ability to shoot down missiles in flight, and operate in denied environments, increases the advantage we have over our adversaries.”
25 Feb 21. Paramount partners with Sarcos Robotics to offer exoskeletons and military robots. Paramount Group and US-based Sarcos Robotics have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bring robotic systems to government and industrial customers in the Middle East and Africa.
The announcement was made during the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) underway in Abu Dhabi on 24 February.
Paramount said that through the collaboration, the two companies “will explore market opportunities and modifications to Sarcos’ award-winning robotic systems to address the region’s unique requirements in the maritime and aerospace technology arenas. The companies will supply these modified systems to defence, aerospace and commercial customers in the Middle East and Africa.”
Sarcos and Paramount Group will focus their efforts initially on the Sarcos Guardian XO robotic exoskeleton, which has been in development for 20 years and is described as the world’s first full-body, battery-powered wearable robot designed to increase strength and endurance — and the Guardian XT teleoperated dexterous robot, which has been developed to provide human-like dexterity while offering substantially greater strength, stamina and precision on a remote control basis.
The Guardian XO will enable defence and industrial workers to lift and manipulate heavy objects up to 90 kg (200 pounds), such as ammunition, vehicle tires, machinery and plywood, for a full shift or work day, due to its hot-swappable lithium ion batteries, Paramount said.
One worker using a Guardian XO exoskeleton can do the work of 4-10 workers, depending on the task. The Guardian XO exoskeleton has a hands-free feature that locks the robot’s arms in place. This functionality enables the operator to complete multiple tasks at once, such as lifting and holding heavy loads while simultaneously handling dexterous work such as aligning, bolting, welding, and other tool work.
The Guardian XO exoskeleton is expected to be used across a wide variety of industries such as industrial manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, oil and gas, utilities, logistics, construction, automotive, aviation, aerospace, and defence.
The Guardian XT, based on the upper-body portion of the Guardian XO, can be mounted to a variety of mobile bases and can be teleoperated to perform dexterous tasks at height, enabling the lifting and manipulating of heavy objects up to 90 kg that are out of reach or are at a height that makes the task inherently dangerous for a human worker to perform, such as tasks associated with ship and aircraft production and maintenance and in the construction industry. The Guardian XO and Guardian XT are expected to be commercially available in the United States beginning in mid-2022.
The Guardian S multi-purpose remote visual inspection and surveillance robot, a man-portable, cloud-connected IoT sensor platform, will also be available under the MoU. Paramount said the Guardian S robot has been designed to gather visual and sensor-based data regarding critical assets in various facilities. It can be teleoperated and facilitates two-way, real-time video, voice and data communication, performing tasks such as the detection of hazardous materials and gasses, surveillance operations and first-look inspections of environments that are dangerous or difficult for a human to operate within. The Guardian S robotic platform is now available for purchase.
“Sarcos and Paramount share a vision to deliver revolutionary products that improve efficiency and reduce risk of injury in vigorous environments; bolstering workers’ strength and amplifying performance in often ergonomically-stressful environments,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman, Paramount Group. “We believe that the market opportunity to make an impact in the Middle East and Africa is significant, and we look forward to working with Sarcos to deliver a version of the company’s game-changing robotics, accelerating access to what are today critical technologies, specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of our customers in these regions.”
“The Middle East and Africa are regions that show incredible promise,” said Ben Wolff, chairman and CEO, Sarcos Robotics. “Given Paramount Group’s extensive knowledge and experience within this region, we believe they will be an excellent partner to deliver on our vision for a safer, more productive global workforce.”
In December 2020, Frost & Sullivan gave Sarcos a 2020 Company of the Year Award, saying it stands out with “revolutionary products that are more energy-efficient, functional, and cost-efficient. Its full-body powered robotic exoskeletons combine the best of human intelligence, instinct, and judgment with the strength, endurance, and precision of machines.”
Sarcos spun out from the University of Utah in 1983 and for years operated as a bioengineering research institution. By 2000, it had expanded into segments like animated film props, prostheses, and human-computer interfaces. A US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) grant to develop a military exoskeleton steered Sarcos toward military applications. After DARPA accepted Sarcos’ proposal in 2006, the company began developing prototypes and contracted with the US Navy to pilot salvage robots, according to VentureBeat.
Raytheon bought Sarcos in November 2007, and from 2007 to 2014 Sarcos operated as Raytheon’s robotics division focused on technologies for governmental use. The company remained a division of Raytheon until 2015, when Sarcos president and entrepreneur Ben Wolff led a group that acquired the business with venture capital backing.
According to VentureBeat, Sarcos claims past customers include NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, Boeing, Ford, Merck, and Xerox PARC. The company retains a defence division called Sarcos Defence — led by ex-military personnel — that works with the US Department of Defence and other federal, state, local, and international government agencies on research, development, and deployment.
In July 2020, Sarcos Defence won a contract with the US Marine Corps for the alpha-version of the Guardian XO exoskeleton. The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) awarded Sarcos Robotics a contract in March 2019 to deliver a pre-production version of the Guardian XO robot.
Sarcos Robotics announced a collaboration with the US Navy in March 2019 for testing the Guardian XO suit and Guardian S robot. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF) will evaluate and deploy robotic technologies, including full-body, powered exoskeletons, and man-portable inspection robots.
Following an earlier contract, the United States Air Force awarded Sarcos Robotics a development contract in August 2018 for logistics applications of full-body exoskeleton robots.
24 Feb 21. Minuteman III Test Launch Demos Safe, Reliable Deterrent. A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle at 11:47 p.m. Pacific Time Feb. 24 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies.
“Our nation’s ICBM fleet stands ready 24/7,” said Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. “Operational tests validate our Minuteman III readiness and reliability. It further demonstrates to our citizens, our allies and our partners that men and women across three missile wings provide credible overwatch with a strategic deterrent that is safe, secure and effective.”
During this test, the ICBM’s reentry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
“Over the last year, our highly professional and dedicated team of Airmen, civilians and contractors have showcased phenomenal initiative and adaptability while continuing to run a successful ICBM test launch program despite the challenges of a world-wide pandemic,” said Col. Omar Colbert, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “Today’s launch sends a visible message of deterrence to the world, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, which includes task force members from the three ICBM wings along with key expertise and support from Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command, Headquarters Twentieth Air Force and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.”
The test launch is a culmination of months of preparation that involved multiple government partners and demonstrates that even during the pandemic, AFGSC maintains various levels of redundant capability to assure a national deterrent. The missile came from the 341st Missile Wing, with men and women supporting the launch from all three AFGSC missile wings as well as the 576th Flight Test Squadron.
“The Task Force traveled from all three operational missile wings and executed a successful test launch. The maintenance members showcased the resourcefulness and technical expertise that make them the backbone of the ICBM mission,” said Maj. Jesse Haskett, Task Force commander. “The operators delivered an on-time on-target sortie and provided yet another reminder of the readiness and reliability of the Minuteman III weapon system. We’re all truly honored to conduct this mission in conjunction with the 576th Flight Test Squadron and proud to represent the numerous men and women that support the nuclear deterrence mission.”
The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command, uses data collected from test launches for continuing force development evaluation. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational capability of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.
The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to launch. Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.
Air Force Global Strike Command comprises more than 33,700 Airmen and civilians assigned to two Numbered Air Forces, 11 wings, two geographically-separated squadrons and one detachment in the continental United States, and deployed to locations around the globe. The command oversees all bomber and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile operations for the U.S. Department of Defense. (Source: ASD Network)
23 Feb 21. Kalashnikov group is bringing new modular carry system for special forces to the international market. The world premiere of new Kalashnikov Modular Carry System will be held at the largest Middle Eastern arms exhibition IDEX 2021 which will take place from February 21 to February 25 in Abu-Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The company will present to the public and potential customers Modular Carry System (MCS) designed by Group 99 (part of the Kalashnikov group).
MCS is a universal solution for a wide range of missions and allows the user to find the optimal balance of protection and load bearing capability with regards to thermoregulation, ergonomics and the operational situation.
“When we developed MCS we had one mission – to develop the system with the best ergonomic and functional solutions for any situation and environment based on the analysis of the combat experience of Russian forces. Among consultants and designers of this system we had former and active duty operators of the elite Russian special units,” said Boris Salenko, Managing Director, Group 99.
Specialists had some stringent requirements: the system should be adaptive to covert operations, long range movements, close quarters combat, and different types of climates. Also, the system should provide sufficient protection, be ergonomic and easy to transport.
With all those requirements in mind, Group 99 designers created a system that can be used for covert, recon and assault missions. It is certified as NIJ IIIa, NIJ III, NIJ IV bullet protection and additionally equipped with improved ballistic protection effective vs fragments with speed up to 630 meters per second.
The operator can adjust the position of ballistic plates and increase the protected surface without sacrificing the mobility. Load support system allows the operator to have mobility even when using NIJ IV plates and fragment protection of over 100 square decimeters. Unification of modules allowed to decrease the number of parts in the system to a necessary minimum, easing transportation and repair of the system.
MCS entered the market in 2020. Some Russian special units already procured the system and currently are using it in counter terrorist operations in Russia and abroad. (Source: Armada)
24 Feb 21. Georgia Develops Surveillance and Strike UAS.
Tbilisi-based aviation plant TbilAviaMsheni (TAM) is developing Georgia’s first surveillance and strike unmanned aircraft system – the”T-31″ drone project for various military missions.
“Two years ago, when we started working on the drone concept, it was clear to us that unmanned aerial vehicles would have promising future,”
said Mr. Vazha Tordia, the company’s director.
The project reflects the requirements of the potential customer, the Air Force. And as a result, affordable price, advanced materials and technology makes the first Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle worthy to take place in the armaments of any country.
From the very beginning it was created for military purposes and for the versatile use by the army, and this is another indicator that our company, as always, is keeping up in the development of advanced military technologies. Drones are at the peak of their popularity due to their success in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Videos that showed well how effectively they were attacking ground targets were in the spotlight. As interest in military drones exploded around the world, many states saw them as a symbol of future wars, and began to reconsider their approach to air defense.
It were Americans who first started using drones for military purposes, but the Karabakh conflict shed more light on the effectiveness of these weapons. The Azerbaijani side used Turkish and Jewish drones. In several respects, the Georgian “T-31” not only lags behind, but also surpasses these analogues. It will be equipping with optical-electronic and radar systems, for target detection and elimination; With 350 kg of weapons on board it can fly for 24 hours, and up to 72 hours as a reconnaissance unit provided additional fuel tanks, which is the best indicator compared to all analogues.
“Tam-Management is ready to be sponsored, to move to the next stage, take orders and provide the customers with a certified unmanned aerial vehicle with full combat equipment!” –said Vazha Tordia, Director of “Tam-Management”. (Source: UAS VISION)
23 Feb 21. IDEX will see the premiere of the brand-new Russian small arms – AK-19 and PLK. IDEX 2021 will see the first official presentation by the Rosoboronexport of the brand new Kalashnikov AK-19 assault rifle and PLK compact pistol.
“AK-19 is chambered for 5.56×45 round, one of the most popular rifle rounds in the world, which is currently used by NATO countries. Consequently, this new rifle was developed specifically for the export market. “We are confident that presentation of AK-19 at IDEX, a large international exhibition will interest foreign customers, and we are already getting the first requests,” said Dmitry Tarasov, CEO of the Kalashnikov Group, quoted by the company’s press-service.
AK-19 is based on AK-12, which has already been accepted into service by the Russian Armed Forces. The rifle has a Picatinny rail, a new collapsible folding stock, improved aperture sight, and a quick-detachable suppressor, says the developer.
“In a hot and humid climate with frequent sandstorms, AK-19 will ensure reliability and effectiveness with minimal maintenance”, – reported the Kalashnikov Group.
The PLK compact Lebedev pistol chambered for 9×19 round is another premiere at IDEX. Compact size and sufficient magazine capacity make PLK suitable for concealed carry, necessary for plainclothes law enforcement personnel. Picatinny rail allows mounting lights and lasers which are crucial in a low-light environment.
According to Kalashnikov, one of the PLK’s advantages is great ergonomics: slide stop, manual safety, and magazine release are ambidextrous and allow both right-handed and left-handed to use it equally effectively. (Source: Armada)
25 Feb 21. CARACAL Unveils New Pistol, Semi-Automatic Rifle at IDEX 2021. CARACAL, a world-renowned, UAE-based small arms manufacturer, launched two pioneering products that underpin the company’s innovation credentials and agility in response to market demands. The second-generation CARACAL F Gen II pistol and the CSA338 Semi-Automatic rifle were unveiled for the first time at the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX 2021) taking place from 21 to 25 February, in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.
Hamad Al Ameri, Chief Executive Officer, CARACAL, said: “We are extremely proud to be able to release these new industry-leading products at IDEX 2021 – the second-generation CARACAL F Gen II pistol, and the CSA 338 Semi-Automatic rifle. They represent the pinnacle of innovation, performance, and reliability. Building our reputation as a leading international manufacturer of precision weaponry, we continue to place our customers at the heart of everything we do, while remaining at the forefront of innovation and product development.”
The CARACAL F Gen II pistol builds on the strengths of its 9mm pistol predecessor, with a low bore-axis and unique handling ergonomics. There is a new ‘solid slide’ integrating multiple components and giving the pistol improved performance and ease of maintenance. An optional modified slide, allowing the addition of advanced optics like reflex sights is now available factory built.
The polymer grip frame now has a MIL-spec picatinny rail, allowing for simple adding of multiple accessories. Engineered to meet the most demanding customer requirements, the CF 2 has set new standards for durability and dependability and features improved sights and target acquisitions for even higher performance.
The unveiling of the CSA 338 Semi-Automatic rifle (photo) highlights CARACAL’s growing technical sophistication. Through effectively merging two rifle concepts – a designated marksman rifle (DMR) with a 338-calibre sniper rifle into a highly precise semi-automatic weapon – this rifle reinforces the company’s strong focus on innovation.
The CSA 338 boasts another regional first in having been fully designed, validated, and manufactured in the UAE. The elegant weapon features high-calibre ammunition and builds on the success of the bolt action CSR338 sniper rifle – fusing it with a DMR concept applied to an 8.6 x 70-calibre weapon.
Together, the weapons represent significant technological and manufacturing advancements for supply to the local and international markets.
CARACAL is part of the Missiles & Weapons cluster within EDGE, an advanced technology group that ranks among the top 25 military suppliers in the world.
Established in 2007, CARACAL is a regional leader in high-performance small arms. The company designs, engineers, innovates, and manufactures battlefield-proven firearms for law enforcement, security, and military forces, with a production legacy spanning approximately 15 years.
Part of the Missiles & Weapons cluster of EDGE, CARACAL’s product portfolio includes pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles across a range of calibres. Its experience reflects in the quality, performance, and dependability of its growing range of weapons, incorporating the latest technological advances, developed to meet the evolving and challenging nature of warfare as well as the diverse mission requirements of customers in the UAE and abroad.
EDGE is an advanced technology group established to develop agile, bold and disruptive solutions for defence and beyond. Enabling a secure future, it is dedicated to bringing innovative technologies and services to market with greater speed and efficiency.
Consolidating over 25 entities and employing more than 13,000 brilliant minds, it offers expertise across five core clusters: Platforms & Systems, Missiles & Weapons, Cyber Defence, Electronic Warfare & Intelligence and Mission Support. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, EDGE is a catalyst for change – set to revolutionise the industry and change its fundamentals. (Source: Al Defaiya)
23 Feb 21. India’s DRDO conducts two launches of VL-SRSAM missile. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (VL-SRSAM). The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (VL-SRSAM).
The VL-SRSAM is indigenously designed and developed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Indian Navy.
The missile was launched by DRDO from a static vertical launcher in the Integrated Test Range (ITR), off the Odisha coast at Chandipur.
The surface-to-air missile has been designed to defuse several aerial threats that are at ‘close ranges, including sea-skimming targets’.
The Indian MoD noted that the current launches were aimed at demonstrating the ‘vertical launch capability’ of the missile as part of its maiden launch programme.
During the trials, the VL-SRSAM with a weapon control system (WCS) was deployed and tested for minimum and maximum range.
The launches were monitored by senior scientists and engineers from DRDO’s Hyderabad and Pune facilities.
During the two test launches, parameters such as flight path and vehicle performance were monitored using flight data.
The data was captured by various range instruments such as radar, an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) and telemetry systems deployed by ITR.
Indian MoD said in a statement: “The present trials have proved the effectiveness of the weapon system and few more trials will be conducted shortly before deployment on Indian Naval ships.
“Once deployed, the VL-SRSAM system will prove to be a force multiplier for the Indian Navy.”
Recently, the Indian MoD announced the flag off of the final production batch of the Indian Navy’s long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM).
23 Feb 21. USAF to begin assembly of airborne laser. The Air Force Research Laboratory is set to receive the first major assembly of one subsystem needed for its airborne laser, although it’s pushed back the first test to fiscal 2024.
The Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration Program’s goal is to build a laser weapon that can be installed on fighter jets to take out incoming missiles. The weapons system includes the laser under development by Lockheed Martin, a beam control system being developed by Northrop Grumman, and a pod to encase it all made by Boeing. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $26.3m contract to design and build the laser.
In a Feb. 23 announcement, AFRL said that it is scheduled to receive the first major assembly of one of SHiELD’s three main subsystems in February. The lab expects delivery of the other two subsystems in July. The delivery this month marks the end of development and production of the subsystems and the beginning of complete system integration, AFRL noted.
“Over the last five years we have worked side-by-side with Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, advancing the technology that would make this system work,” said SHiELD Program Manager Jeff Heggemeier in a statement. “To finally have the subsystems in the lab, will be a huge step forward in seeing the system to completion.”
Still, a full system test is years away. Originally slated for 2021, in June AFRL pushed the flight demonstration back by two years — to 2023. Now, the lab says the first fully system test will be conducted in 2024.
Tests of some of the enabling technologies have taken place, according to AFRL. The Air Force has successfully flown an F-15 with a laser test pod attached, and ground-based laser weapons have been used to shoot down air-launched missiles.
“Those critical demonstrations show that our directed energy system is on track to be a game changer for our warfighters,” AFRL Directed Energy Directorate Director Kelly Hammett said in a statement. “The ability to shoot down missiles in flight, and operate in denied environments, increases the advantage we have over our adversaries.”
Even as the SHiELD program continues to make headway, high-level officials have questioned the practicality of airborne lasers. Perhaps most notably, then-Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin stated last year that the program’s goal — shooting down missiles midair with an airborne laser — was unlikely to work.
“I’m extremely skeptical that we can put a large laser on an aircraft and use it to shoot down an adversary missile, even from fairly close,” said Griffin. “It has been done as an experiment, but as a weapon system — to equip an airplane with the kinds of lasers we think necessary, in terms of their power level, and all their support requirements, and get the airplane to altitudes where atmospheric turbulence can be mitigated appropriately — that combination of things doesn’t go on one platform.”
When asked to respond a month later, Air Force acquisitions chief Will Roper acknowledged that installing lasers on fighter jets for missile threats might not be the best option. Instead, he suggested that directed-energy technology could be repurposed to take out small drones — a growing concern for the Pentagon. The Air Force is working to develop that exact capability.
In AFRL’s announcement, Heggemeier acknowledged that taking out surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles traveling at mach speeds is difficult.
“These are hard problems we are solving,” Heggemeier said. “Imagine the disturbances and stresses — wind speeds, turbulence, and quick aircraft maneuvers that a laser system would have to perform under. We had to solve those challenges first — and that took time.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
23 Feb 21. AL JASOOR, the exclusive supplier of the RABDAN 8×8 IFV, has announced its collaboration with Raytheon Emirates and Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) to embed a High-Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) onto the RABDAN. EARTH, a leading facilitator of state-of-the-art R&D, engineering, and technology integration (a sister entity of AL JASOOR within EDGE) is responsible for the seamless integration of the RABDAN vehicle with the advanced laser system. Announced ahead of IDEX 2021, the integrated vehicle is on display as part of the broader EDGE stand.
The next generation RABDAN 8×8 is an advanced, mission-ready platform built to meet a range of versatile objectives. Highly mobile on land and water, RABDAN is available in several configurations and can be equipped with different levels of armour protection to ensure tactical and technical advantages.
Raytheon’s HELWS is powered by technologies that use photons, or particles of light, to carry out military missions. The cutting-edge product uses an EO/IR sensor, to detect, identify and track multiple threats; primarily UAVs. Once targeted, the system is designed to rapidly and precisely engage, and neutralise, the non-cooperating UAV.
RABDAN and HELWS Advantages
One decisive advantage of the HELWS is its unmatched precision. In addition, connected to an adequate power source, they demonstrate “infinite magazine depth,” or a virtually unlimited supply of ammunition. Complementing their pinpoint accuracy, lasers represent a low-cost-per-shot option, making them an ideal solution for low-cost threats, such as those posed by drones.
As an additional feature that reinforces its suitability for the RABDAN amphibious vehicle, the laser weapon system boasts high survivability, while providing 360-degree coverage in a rugged package that can be scaled to accommodate the demands of the mission.
As a sister entity of AL JASOOR in the Platforms and Systems cluster within EDGE, EARTH brings its world-class technology integration capabilities to the partnership, ensuring all subsystems function as one cohesive unit. The laser system’s open architecture allows for seamless installation across military platforms. This will enable EARTH to leverage its engineering excellence with flexibility to address dynamic tactical requirements with high-performance and reliable mission-ready solutions.
AL JASOOR works relentlessly to meet the nation’s diverse armoured vehicle requirements, with a strong vision for manufacturing land platforms in order to address the future needs of the UAE’s domestic and export markets. The company is committed to harnessing advanced technologies to remain adaptable and progressive within the fast-evolving landscape of conflict. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
23 Feb 21. Egypt becomes the first international customer for MBDA’s VL MICA New Generation surface-to-air system. MBDA has been awarded a contract from the Egyptian Navy for the VL MICA NG (New Generation) air defence system to equip its Egyptian corvettes. Officially launched in October 2020, the VL MICA NG system is based on the integration of the MICA NG (New Generation) missile into the existing VL MICA point and close area air defence system.
The VL MICA NG system offers improved capabilities to handle atypical targets (UAVs, small aircraft), as well as future threats characterised by increasingly low observable infrared and radio frequency signatures. Additionally, VL MICA NG will be able to intercept ‘conventional’ targets (aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles) at longer distances.
Eric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: “This agreement proves the confidence of our Egyptian customer in our VL MICA family, which 15 armed forces around the world already use for the protection of their naval and land forces.”
The Egyptian Navy already equips its four Gowind class corvettes, recently procured from the French Naval Group shipyards, with systems from the VL MICA family.
23 Feb 21. Tawazun and MBDA to Cooperate on SmartGlider Development. Tawazun and MBDA have signed a head of terms agreement with the intent to cooperate in the field of smart guided weapon systems.
Matar Ali Romaithi, Chief Officer of the Economic Development Unit at Tawazun and Florent Duleux, Group Export Sales Director at MBDA, signed the document during this year’s IDEX exhibition in the presence of H.E. Tareq Abdulraheem Al Hosani, CEO of Tawazun and Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA.
The aim is to create a long-term partnership between Tawazun and MBDA, enabling the development of the SmartGlider weapon systems from design to production phase.
A joint team of engineers from both sides, the majority from Tawazun, will be in charge of development studies. They will be operating from MBDA’s first regional Missile Engineering Centre established in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Following the signing, Matar Al Romaithi stated: “We are pleased with our significantly growing relationship with MBDA. This agreement allows us to extend and increase our areas of co-development and co-production of technologically advanced defense products. Collaborating with MBDA will reinforce our commitment to contributing to the development of defense and security industries in the UAE, to building national capabilities, and to supporting the growth of local supply chains.”
During the pre-development phase, the two entities will study several concepts before reaching a development phase. The intention being to offer an optimal system at the right price and with the right performance, leveraging the capabilities of the UAE defense industry.
Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, said: “We are delighted to begin this unique cooperation with one of our long-standing customers, supporting their ambition to grow their domestic defense industry and enabling the development of an outstanding next generation weapon system.”
This head of terms is part of the bilateral cooperation agreement signed between France and the UAE. (Source: ASD Network)
23 Feb 21. US Army AI Gets Live Fire Test Next Week. In an unusual bottom-up initiative, the 18th Airborne Corps is developing its own AI targeting system – and the corps’ fire support coordinator says he wouldn’t go to war without it. The 18th Airborne Corps will host a live-fire experiment the first week of March, using artificial intelligence to share targeting data amongst Marine F-35s, Air Force A-10s, ground-based HIMARS rocket launchers, and commercial satellites.
The AI-driven system – developed in large part by 18th Airborne itself — is already mature enough to let the corps strike more targets, more quickly than ever before, wherever it deploys, the corps’ fire support coordination officer, artillery veteran Col. Joe O’Callaghan said.
“The AI we work with today is ready now; it’s ready to fight tonight, and we would take it forward with us,” O’Callaghan told me in an interview. It’s tied into what he called a “nascent JADC2 network” – short for Joint All-Domain Command & Control, a top Pentagon priority – that connects multiple services’ sensors from ground to air to space.
March’s wargames aren’t the only interservice AI fire-control experiments the 18th Airborne is involved in. One of the corps’ most famous units, the 82nd Airborne Division, will work with Marines and Special Operations in an Army Futures Command experiment in May called EDGE21: The 82nd will help direct attacks against “enemy” anti-aircraft units and conduct a heliborne infantry assault using IVAS targeting goggles.
Such AI-driven wargames are increasingly common in the military, as Breaking D readers know. But what’s unusual about the 18th Airborne Corps’ wargames in March is that a corps – a three-star field headquarters – is taking such a leading role. That’s not the result of some top-down Big Army initiative: Instead, the 18th Airborne’s commander, Lt. Gen. Erik Kurilla, is pushing to make his corps a pioneer for AI and big data in the Army.
To do that, the 18th Airborne reached out to the Army Futures Command, Pentagons’ Algorithmic Warfare Task Force – better known as Project Maven – and other centers of technical expertise. It’s also forged a relationship with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, whose air wing will be providing the F-35B stealth fighters in March, and the Air Force’s 23rd Wing, which will provide A-10 ground attack jets.
Vulnerability to missile threat has led the U.S. Air Force to reassess defensive options for a full-spectrum defense network across its bases in Europe and Africa.
How do the new technologies, tactics and relationships change how the 18th Airborne Corps can fight? “The first thing you would notice…it’s a lot quicker,” O’Callaghan told me. “In the past,” he explained, “we set horizons of 24, 48, and 72 hours” to plan strikes, using traditional coordinating mechanisms such as the Air Tasking Order, which arranges air support, and the Fire Support Coordination Line, with shorter-range targets for Army artillery on one side and longer-range ones for airstrikes on the other. But the speed of AI is too fast for the ATO cycle, O’Callaghan said, and the range of new Army missiles in development will be too long for the FSCL to tidily divide the battlefield.
“That will challenge the traditional concepts,” he told me.
AI doesn’t just help spot potential targets, O’Callaghan told me. It also helps assess how the enemy is fighting, the importance of different targets in that enemy plan, and whether a given target is worth expending “exquisite” (and expensive) precision-guided weapons on. It can even help humans weigh whether they should kill a particular target.
The AI even lets targeteers use data that was historically “dropped on the cutting room floor.” Historically, you only had time to analyze positive data: ISR reports that showed potential sightings of the enemy. Because the AI can crunch so much more data, it can also analyze negative data — in other words ISR that shows where the enemy isn’t. AI can help tease out telltale patterns in such absences, O’Callaghan said: “If we have not seen anything over there… what does that mean?”
It’s a new way for humans to look at the battlefield, made possible by AI, and it requires the humans to think about the world and data in new ways. “There’s a cultural change occurring in the Army [to] become a data-literate force,” O’Callaghan told me. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
23 Feb 21. German Bundeswehr to equip Leopard 2 MBT’s with Rafael’s TROPHY™ APS. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is announcing that the German Federal Ministry of Defense has decided to equip the Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 MBTs with Rafael’s Trophy™ Active Protection Systems (APS).
Following the decision, which was made by the BAAINBw and approved by the Bundestag, Rafael was awarded a contract for an initial batch of Trophy systems, which includes a contract with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the Leopard MBTs OEM, entailing the provision of systems for a company of tanks, interceptors, and spare parts, as well as operational and technical training. The systems will be delivered over the next several years.
It is expected that in the future Germany will procure additional Trophy systems to equip most of its modern fleet of Leopard 2 MBT’s with APS capabilities.
Developed by Rafael in response to successful anti-armor attacks, Trophy APS provides mature, combat-proven protection against rocket and missile threats and simultaneously locates the origin of the hostile fire for immediate response. Trophy is the only fully-integrated, combat-proven APS in the world and has been installed on Israel Defense Forces’ Merkava tanks since 2010, as well as on the Namer APCs. Trophy has made numerous combat interceptions with no injuries to crews or dismounted troops or damage to platforms since its first operational interception in 2011. Trophy has accrued over 1,000,000 operating hours, including 5,400 successful field tests, and is now under contract for serial production of over 1,800 systems.
In January, Rafael and partner DRS announced that they had completed the delivery of Trophy Active Protection Systems (APS) ordered by the U.S. Army for installation on Abrams main battle tanks, under contracts awarded on an urgent need basis by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems.
Dr. Ran Gozali, EVP and Head of The Land and Naval Division, Rafael: Germany is joining an exclusive group of advanced tier-1 nations who have chosen Trophy APS to protect their troops and assets from the ever-increasing threat of anti-armor warfare. We are thankful to the German government for joining other user nations and for their confidence in our system and our experience, and we look forward to working with KMW on the integration and installation of Trophy on the Leopard 2 and on future platforms.
23 Feb 21. US Navy moves ahead with light torpedo programmes. The US Navy (USN) is getting ready for testing and other milestones throughout this year for its lightweight torpedo (LWT) and very lightweight torpedo (VLWT) programmes.
The navy intends to complete the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) for MK 54 Mod 1LWT and High-Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Weapon Capability (HAAWC) in fiscal year (FY) 2021, the Pentagon Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) noted in its annual report released in January 2021.
The USN is also expected to release a request for proposals (RFP) in mid-2021 for the VLWT.
“The MK 54 lightweight torpedo is the most capable ASW (anti-submarine warfare) weapon used by US surface ships, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters,” the DOT&E reported.
HAAWC provides an adapter wing kit that allows aircrews to deploy an MK 54 from a P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft from higher than traditional altitudes. The wing kit glides the MK 54 to a water entry point directed by the P-8A combat system.
The MK 54 Mod 1 includes a new sonar array that provides higher resolution than previous MK 54 variants, DOT&E noted. “Software modifications exploit the additional capability provided by the new sonar array.”
The MK 54 Mod 1 uses Advanced Processor Build (APB) 5 software that shares many components with the APB 5 variant of the MK 48 heavyweight torpedo.
Expected to deliver an Early Operational Capability in FY 2026, the MK 54 Mod 2 will feature a new propulsion system and warhead. However, the MK 54 Mod 2 is not compatible with the current Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine system or HAAWC systems. Also, the MK 54 Mod 1 torpedo is not approved for the VLA rocket. The current MK 54 Mod 0 and MK 54 Mod 0 Block upgrade variants support the VLA. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Feb 21. Italy showcases new multirole mission for Eurofighters. The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) has showcased for the first time the new multirole mission of its Eurofighter combat aircraft.
In a message posted on its official Twitter account on 20 February, the AMI showed a Eurofighter from 36 Stormo (Wing) laden with a mix of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry. This loadout comprised a pair of IRIS-T short-range and four AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles in the air-to-air role, as well as two Paveway II precision-guided bombs and a Litening targeting pod for the air-to-surface role.
“A multirole aircraft with loads for swing-role missions. In this configuration, the aircraft can perform various roles in the same mission,” the AMI said.
While the Eurofighter has been a multirole platform with other operators for many years already, it has been used until very recently by the AMI exclusively in the air-to-air role. This policy was spelled out to Janes during the debut deployment of the AMI’s Eurofighters to the ‘Red Flag’ exercise in early 2016, during which a senior service official noted the ‘political’ nature of aircraft roles in Italy, saying at that time that if all aircraft could perform all roles, politicians might question the need to maintain different fleets. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Feb 21. German forces conduct first live launch of Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 decoy. The German Armed Forces has conducted the first live launch of Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218-variant decoy. The German Armed Forces has conducted the first live launch of Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218-variant decoy.
In a recent trial, an Airbus remotely piloted air target systems (RPATS) test platform ejected live BriteCloud 218 rounds during flight.
The German forces tested the decoy’s capability to protect the target drone aircraft from semi-active radar (SAR) seeker-guided missiles.
Leonardo’s flare-sized electronic device was able to draw the missiles away from the target. Airbus, Leonardo and the German analysis and testing firm IABG supported the test.
BriteCloud requires no integration and can be launched from a standard countermeasure dispenser.
It lures the threat away from its intended target and towards itself by simulating the missile’s expected target via radio emissions.
The miniaturised jamming technology deploys the latest electronic warfare techniques.
The BriteCloud 218-variant rounds are suitable for ejection from various airborne countermeasures dispenser systems such as the AN/ALE-47.
According to the company, F-15 and F-16 jets, and smaller RPAS platform versions can be equipped at an affordable cost to enhance their defences.
As part of the US Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) programme led by the US Air National Guard (ANG), BriteCloud 218 is currently being tested for the F-16 fighter aircraft.
The company noted that its original BriteCloud 55 decoy is deployed with the British Royal Air Force. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
22 Feb 21. BriteCloud decoy trialled on Reaper UAV. Leonardo has launched its BriteCloud expendable active decoy (EAD) from a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of wider trials of the newly developed Self-Protection Pod (SPP).
An artist’s impression of the BriteCloud expendable decoy saving an MQ-9 UAV from a surface-launched radar guided missile. (Leonardo)
Announced by the Italian company on 22 February, the tests of the SPP and its UK-designed and built BritCloud EAD took place in late 2020. They were conducted to develop a suite of protections against radar frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) guided surface-to-air missile threats to both the MQ-9A Reaper and MQ-9B Sky/SeaGuardian series UAVs.
“The joint activity [with GA-ASI] is addressing the growing market need to protect the high-value unmanned aircraft from modern, radar-guided threats as they carry out their missions. Progress has already been made, with a number of BriteCloud rounds successfully launched from an MQ-9 in an aircraft survivability ‘carriage and release’ trial, designed to ensure that the decoy can be dispensed safely from the platform’s new Self-Protect Pod,” Leonardo said.
The SPP has been developed as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and with the support of the Air National Guard (ANG), the US Navy (USN), and industry partners BAE Systems, Leonardo, Leonardo DRS, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, and Terma North America. It is based on the Terma AN/ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system, which provides the interface, health, status, and command and control for the various systems installed in the pod. The AN/ALQ-213 functions as the ASE manager that coordinates between the various threat warning and dispensing systems to automatically dispense the appropriate sequencing pattern and expendables to protect the MQ-9. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Feb 21. Industry exploring Rabdan-mounted HEL system. The UAE’s Al Jasoor and EARTH, subsidiaries of EDGE Group, are partnering with Raytheon Technologies to integrate the latter’s High Energy Laser (HEL) system onto the Rabdan 8×8 armoured fighting vehicle.
According to an announcement by the three companies on 18 February, the three companies will be exploring the use of the technology in a counter-UAV (C-UAV) role, with Edge’s EARTH subsidiary to undertake integration of the system onto the Rabdan.
No further details on timelines were given.
Raytheon Technologies has been continuing the development and integration of its HEL system onto armoured vehicles for the C-UAV role, with the US Air Force revealing on 16 February that the organisation had been testing the HEL throughout 2020, culminating with the deployment and integration of a system in an overseas location in September.
A Stryker-mounted shoot-off between two 50kW laser systems offered by Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman was announced by the US Army in December, with the event anticipated to take place between April and June 2021. The programme, known as Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE-MSHORAD), is expected to have a platoon of four Stryker vehicles equipped with a 50kW laser by September 2022. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Feb 21. In a move to bolster armed forces’ tactical situational awareness and precision strike capabilities while minimising personnel risk and collateral damage, Paramount Advanced Technologies (PAT), subsidiary to Paramount Group, the global aerospace and technology company, has announced the launch of its long-range, precision strike and cost-effective swarming UAV system, N-Raven.
The N-Raven family of autonomous, multi-mission aerial vehicles featuring next generation ‘swarm’ technologies to accomplish numerous missions with pinpoint precision, debuted at the 2021 International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2021) held in Abu Dhabi.
The N-Raven family has been designed for technology transfer and portable manufacture from within partner countries with both unrivaled accuracy and affordability in mind. In doing so, the N-Raven addresses a myriad of mission requirements, including ‘future warfighter engagements’ where intelligent ‘swarming technologies’ combined with multiple munition loitering and attack operations have been proven to ensure mission survivability.
With a modular system allowing for flexible mission planning, operational units can launch the versatile N-Raven UAV from multiple land-based, naval, and airborne platforms. Formation level commanders can further benefit from the advantage of the N-Raven’s precision strike capabilities against high-value targets, both static and moving, located deep within enemy territory, by utilising a ‘swarm’ of loitering munitions.
The 41 kg N-Raven operates with a covert, low signature in contested environments offering a cruise speed of approximately 180 km/hr and a loitering endurance time of approximately two hours. N-Raven swarm loitering munitions offer a variety of sensors with each being capable of carrying a 10 – 15 kg payloads up to a range of 250 km.
The system provides detection, identification, location, and reportage (DILR) against various targets. The N-Raven Series can be critical to the successful execution of modern fire missions, with swarm capabilities offering support for Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). As the platform’s onboard sensors and communication technologies continue to improve, they can serve as significant force multipliers for strategic and tactical assignments.
Equivalent to positioning multiple personnel on the ground in often austere, high-risk environments, the N-Raven is designed to saturate an area with Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR), Semi-Active Laser sensor-driven target identification and tracking technologies to provide a rapid, data-rich picture of activity. This reduces threats to personnel safety while enhancing human end-user responsiveness in radically changing engagement scenarios.
A field simulator is optionally available which connects to the system’s control unit, allowing the N-Raven crew to rehearse each mission before launch. The UAV’s recording capabilities allow for a full debrief and ensure a positive learning curve for the end-user’s personnel, while reducing costs and minimizing risks in operator training.
Paramount Advanced Technologies has developed the N-Raven as a robust yet cost-effective technology solution, utilising proven commercial components and experience gained from the company’s long legacy in the development of UAV systems, including however not limited to the Meteorite.
Lee Connelly, CEO of Paramount Advanced technologies, stated, “We continue to research, design and innovate new technologies that remove military personnel from the front lines, minimise collateral damage and exposure of friendly forces, at the same time providing surveillance and engagement support, and helping armed forces around the world garner greater intelligence and mission success.
“Our aerospace and technology company was founded on the belief that true innovation in our space means bringing technologically advanced, affordable and highly customisable solutions to the needs of our customers and partners. We are accordingly very excited to launch the N-Raven unmanned aerial vehicle at IDEX, and showcase its diverse capabilities in addressing the battlefield challenges of 2021 and beyond”.
19 Feb 21. ULBRICHTS Ballistic head protection has reached a new level. At the IDEX 2021 in Abu Dhabi ULBRICHTS Protection will showcase its newly developed anti-rifle helmet systems (booth 07-D32). Protection against rifle ammunition is very important, particularly when it comes to terror attacks and shootings, as the majority of perpetrators use rifles rather than handguns.
Common composite helmets, such as NIJ IIIA helmets, are only effective in stopping handgun ammunition like 9mm and .44 Mag. When hit by rifle ammunition, helmets are penetrated by the bullet.
True protection saves lives: rifle helmet from ULBRICHTS Protection
However, what is not commonly known is that those helmets cannot even truly protect the wearer against handgun threats (such as 9mm and .44 Mag bullets). Policemen and soldiers continue to be killed or seriously injured by the dramatic backface deformation of the helmet, which can cause significant damage to the skull and brain. Consequently, these helmets do not truly protect those wearing them from rifle or handgun ammunition.
ULBRICHTS’ new head protection systems are capable of stopping rifle ammunition, as well as reducing the backface deformation and residual kinetic energy to survivable limits. The newly developed ballistic protection systems come as either standalone rifle helmets or as a combination with an attachable lightweight headshield.
One of the systems is capable of stopping the commonly used and highly lethal Kalashnikov steel core ammunition (7.62x39mm MSC), while at the same time reducing the backface deformation and residual kinetic energy to survivable levels. Tests according to MIL-STD carried out at a certified US NIJ and MIL laboratory proved that the average backface deformation value of such systems hit by Kalashnikov steel core cartridges is less than 10mm, while most other helmets cannot even reach comparable values against 9mm handgun ammunition. Furthermore, the residual kinetic energy of this system is far below 25 joules when hit by Kalashnikov 7.62x39mm MSC bullets.
Of course, all helmets from ULBRICHTS Protection meet the requirements of the American NIJ IIIA standard and the European VPAM HVN 2009 Level 3 standard, with a residual kinetic energy below 25 Joules.
About ULBRICHTS Protection
ULBRICHTS Protection in Schwanenstadt (Austria)is a division of the ULBRICHTS Group. ULBRICHTS Protection manufactures titanium ballistic helmets and hybrids made of titanium aramid or titanium polyethylene. The company’s international clientele includes various special and police units.
ULBRICHTS Protection is one of the pioneers in the field of ballistic head protection and regularly sets new technical standards in terms of protection, comfort and design. For more information, see http://www.ulbrichts.com/protection/medienbereich. (Source: PR Newswire)
19 Feb 21. Japan’s ATLA engages MHI on hypersonic missile projects. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is partnering with Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) to develop hypersonic missile systems for the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), it has been confirmed to Janes. A spokesperson from ATLA – an agency under the Ministry of Defense (MoD) – said the collaborative projects are geared towards meeting technology development milestones by the mid-2020s.
MHI’s Research & Innovation Center in Nagasaki operates a hypersonic wind tunnel, which is capable of simulating speeds beyond Mach 5. MHI has not commented on its related projects with ATLA, however.
Japan’s ATLA is collaborating with MHI on developing a hypersonic glide weapon for the JSDF. (ATLA)
The ATLA spokesperson said ATLA’s Air Systems Research Center (ASRC) has recently contracted MHI to “establish some elemental technologies” in the programme to develop a system ATLA refers to as a Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM). The research phase of this project, which started in fiscal year (FY) 2019, is initially focused on developing the HCM’s scramjet engine.
In another project, dubbed the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP), the spokesperson said ATLA’s Joint Systems Development Division (JSDD) has contracted MHI to commence research activity, although no details were provided. The JSDD commenced research of technologies for the HVGP in FY 2018.
The spokesperson said that ATLA currently expects the HVGP to be inducted into the JSDF from 2026. A modified and improved version is expected to be introduced in the early 2030s. The spokesperson also said that technology development of the HCM is “scheduled to continue until 2025” but that it is currently “not assumed” that the weapon will be inducted into the JSDF. (Source: Jane’s)
Arnold Defense has manufactured more than 1.25 million 2.75-inch rocket launchers since 1961 for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and many NATO customers. They are the world’s largest supplier of rocket launchers for military aircraft, vessels and vehicles. Core products include the 7-round M260 and 19-round M261 commonly used by helicopters; the thermal coated 7-round LAU-68 variants and LAU-61 Digital Rocket Launcher used by the U.S. Navy and Marines; and the 7-round LAU-131 and SUU-25 flare dispenser used by the U.S. Air Force and worldwide.
Today’s rocket launchers now include the ultra-light LWL-12 that weighs just over 60 pounds (27 kg.) empty and the new Fletcher (4) round launcher. Arnold Defense designs and manufactures various rocket launchers that can be customized for any capacity or form factor for platforms in the air, on the ground or even at sea.
Arnold Defense maintains the highest standards of production quality by using extensive testing, calibration and inspection processes.
C2, TACTICAL COMMUNICATIONS, AI, CYBER, EW, CLOUD COMPUTING AND HOMELAND SECURITY UPDATE
Sponsored by Spectra Group
23 Feb 21. Cyber Workforce Vital to Protecting National Security. During Engineers Week, the Defense Department is highlighting its efforts to develop a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce and to increase understanding of and interest in engineering and technology.
The Defense Department’s cyber workforce is tasked with defending virtually every system that the department relies on to protect national security, a cyber leader discussing the department’s missions, technology and workforce said.
John Marx, acting principal director for cyber modernization, office of the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, spoke this week as part of Engineer Week.
The goals of modernizing cyber capabilities within the Department of Defense, he said, are:
- The first is to advance the department’s ability to develop and deploy cyber-resilient systems. “These systems and infrastructures that are built to withstand the kinds of cyber attacks that we know about today, but also with the capacity and agility to be rapidly updated to address new threats as they emerge in an operational environment.”
- The second goal is to develop an unrivaled capability for highly integrated cyber and electromagnetic spectrum operations in support of national strategic objectives. “These will enable the Department of Defense to achieve information advantage across all domains of operations and through all phases of conflict.”
- The third goal, which directly supports the first two, is to build a cyber and electromagnetic spectrum expertise that is unrivaled throughout the world. “Without a workforce made up of innovative, creative and driven experts with expansive knowledge of how software makes complex systems function and who truly understand the limits of this software, those first two goals are unachievable.”
Besides these three primary missions, DOD supports the critical civilian infrastructure at times of need when it is requested by those by those infrastructure owners, under authorities, such as the Defense Support to Civil Authorities, Marx said, adding that this support happens in close collaboration with other federal agencies and local entities.
The department is always seeking cyber talent as well as talent residing in its workforce. DOD is looking for individuals who have a strong understanding of how software drives complex systems, Marx said.
Computer engineers, software engineers and electrical engineers, who are often associated with the cyber workforce, typically possess this kind of knowledge. Individuals with those academic backgrounds will always be in high demand to fill cyber positions, he said, but it’s important for engineers of every discipline to have an understanding of how what they do intersects with the cyber domain. Mechanical, aerospace, civil, chemical and biomedical engineers all should have a strong understanding of how their fields of practice rely on cyber systems.
“The extent at which software drives everything is an exciting and interesting area,” Marx said. “Understanding how software works, especially in the face of a determined adversary who might seek to do us harm, is important.
All types of engineers have a natural curiosity to learn how things work, and then to figure out how to make them work better, Marx said. “When our engineering workforce, regardless of discipline, possesses a level of knowledge in cybersecurity, where they can then innovate and communicate effectively with experts who spend all of their time within the cyber domain, then we’re going to be able to make great strides in our ability to deliver systems that can withstand cyber attacks and achieve information advantage on the battlefield.”
There are a couple of ways that engineers, aspiring engineers and students can gain more knowledge in cybersecurity, he said. Colleges typically have hacking clubs, for instance. Getting connected with these groups is a great way to learn some of the basics of hacking and cybersecurity. They can also help prepare for capture-the-flag-type competitions, where these skills can be put into practice.
Another thing engineers can do is learn to code, he said. Whatever the venue, be it a local college or online class, learning to code is one of the best ways to enhance one’s knowledge of how software makes the world work.
Marx spoke of experiences he had with non-cyber engineers participating in capture-the-flag-type events.
During last year’s Hack-a-Sat competition, which was put on by the Air Force, Space Force and Defense Digital Service, there were several aerospace engineering students who participated who had never taken part in a hacking event before, he said. “Their feedback was, ‘Well, geez, this was a lot of fun. We, we learned a lot, and we want to come back and learn more and do it again.'”
Marx noted that there are a lot of new and exciting innovations in technology on the horizon that will improve cybersecurity. For example, artificial intelligence and human machine teaming will likely contribute to automating many of the processes that are now being done manually in the design and operation of cyber resilient systems. But at the end of the day, there will always be a need for the skilled, motivated cyber operator or engineer, who can apply their knowledge to solve higher-order problems. (Source: US DoD)
23 Feb 21. After SolarWinds, US needs to toughen cyber defenses, says Microsoft president. In the wake of a sweeping hack that may have revealed government and corporate secrets to Moscow, the U.S. must strengthen its cyber defenses and prepare a “robust menu” of responses to attacks, Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith said Tuesday.
The breach, which hijacked widely used software from Texas-based SolarWinds Inc., has exposed the profound vulnerability of civilian government networks and the limitations of efforts to detect threats.
The U.S. must draw a lesson about danger cyberattacks pose to American civilians from the recent severe weather power grid collapse in Texas and a hacker’s botched attempt to poison the water supply of a small Florida city, Smith told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Think about the danger to American civilians if there is a disruption of the water supply, and then think about a future where a nation need not send missiles or planes but can simply send code to do its fighting for it,” Smith said.
“We need to strengthen the nation’s digital infrastructure and digital defenses, and that touches every part of the public sector, and every part of the private sector as well.”
Beyond modernizing dated information technology infrastructure, Smith suggested Congress address gaps in intelligence sharing between private companies and the government, and in the government’s intelligence gathering. For example, the National Security Agency’s authority allows it only to look outside U.S. borders, when it appears the SolarWinds hack used data centers of private firms inside the country.
The government, Smith said, should default to “a culture of a need to share,” though with privacy controls and divisions between the public and private sectors, using AI-assisted data aggregation.
The comments came as panel lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voiced worries about Russian hacking and that the Pentagon isn’t investing correctly to codevelop advanced capabilities to counter Chinese dominance in the tech sphere.
Experts testifying before the panel sounded the alarm that the U.S. could fall behind in semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, hypersonic weapons and 5G networking. However, the SolarWinds hack surfaced repeatedly.
President Joe Biden plans to release an executive order soon that will include about eight measures intended to address security gaps exposed by the hack. The administration has also proposed expanding by 30 percent the budget of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, now under intense scrutiny because of the SolarWinds breach.
Biden, making his first major international speech Friday to the Munich Security Conference, said that dealing with “Russian recklessness and hacking into computer networks in the United States and across Europe and the world has become critical to protecting our collective security.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the SolarWinds hack signaled a need to strengthen supply chain defenses and that Russia needed to “pay a price” for the hack.
“There has been no proportionate response, no response whatsoever that I’ve seen to the SolarWinds attack, and I think that making our adversaries, Russia in particular, pay a price for this attack is absolutely necessary, and that is one of the ways to establish some rules of the road,” Blumenthal said.
Smith agreed that the Biden administration, working with allies, should hold offenders accountable.
“I think it needs to start by public accountability, with the United States and other governments as the country did in 2017 twice: after WannaCry and not NotPetya [cyberattacks],” Smith said.
“Then there needs to be … a range of responses for different circumstances, but it needs to be a robust menu, and we’re going to need an executive branch that has the confidence and the support of the American public to carry them out.” (Source: Defense News)
23 Feb 21. Australia releases cyber security guide for SMEs
The federal government has developed a cyber security guide in conjunction with the defence industry, designed to ensure businesses implement appropriate safeguards before engaging in defence projects.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price has announced the launch of a new ‘go to’ cyber security guide, ‘Working Securely with Defence’, in a bid to enhance security practices across the sector.
The guide has been developed by Defence in conjunction with the AiGroup, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) over the past 12 months.
“The development of this guide has been a genuine team effort, drawing on deep expertise and connections across government, Defence, Australian defence industry and industry associations,” Minister Price said.
“It has been developed by industry for industry and will help businesses understand what they need to do to improve their security practices.
“The guide also provides direction and support to current and prospective defence industry and supply chain providers on how to understand their security obligations and improve their security practices when delivering Defence capability.”
Minister Price said the guide complements Defence’s ‘Five Pillars’ strategy.
“I am making sure Defence works with our industry partners, especially when it comes to cyber security, so that businesses can be ready and more experienced as we come back from COVID-19,” the minister said.
Australian Industry Group national president Chris Jenkins added: “The guide brings together a wealth of relevant information to assist the Defence industry and help build the security culture, compliance and resilience of the sector.
“This is so important to the strategic priorities of Australia, ensuring that both industry and Defence are working on the same page.
“We would especially like to thank all those involved, including the Ai Group Defence Council members, who shared their time, knowledge, expertise, experience and insights in contributing to the development of this guide.”
The release of the guide comes amid research which found that 40 per cent of businesses applying to win Defence work have “insufficient” cyber security measures, which fail to meet Defence’s standards.
According to Defence, more than 600 companies have been offered support to improve their security through the Defence Industry Security Program (DISP).
The DISP, which comprises of over 230 programs, aims to ensure businesses meet their security obligations when engaging in Defence projects, contracts and tenders.
This forms part of the government’s $15bn investment in enhancing cyber and information warfare capabilities over the coming decade, with $1.35bn committed to combating malicious cyber activity.
This includes $31m to provide ASD with the capability to disrupt cyber crime offshore and $35m to deliver an enhanced cyber threat-sharing platform.
A further $12m is expected to be invested in new strategic mitigations and active disruption options, while $118m is set to be spent expanding ASD’s data science and intelligence capabilities. (Source: Defence Connect)
23 Feb 21. Northrop Grumman Communications Systems Provide Foundational Elements for JADC2. Anticipating how adversaries are likely to employ new operational concepts and systems has always been important, but in an era of rapid digital transformation, it’s fundamental and critical to all U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) efforts. Understanding how these adversaries are harnessing new technology, responding with new operational concepts and enhanced lethality in accelerated timelines is how DOD intends to retain a strategic advantage on the battlefield.
Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateway system recently reached 200,000 combat operational flight hours since its first deployment with the U.S. Air Force in 2008.
There is no doubt that we are facing new and increasingly sophisticated threats from near-peer adversaries, underscoring the importance of innovation in order to maintain an advantage in an age of technology-driven warfare.
One DOD initiative, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), sits at the center of technology-driven modernization. The DOD summarizes JADC2 as “an effort to integrate sensors with shooters across all domains, commands and services.”
With its focus on integration, it is clear that communications and networking capabilities will be essential to help DOD realize its vision for JADC2. As JADC2 seeks to connect communications nodes, shooters and platforms across all domains and branches of the military, cyber-secure, integrated, open architecture communications capabilities will be critical.
For 60 years, Northrop Grumman has been a leader in the design, development and delivery of end-to-end communications and advanced networking capabilities sought out by U.S. and allied military forces. Today, the company’s communications systems are already bringing forward the integrated, open and advanced networking capabilities needed to support the foundation of JADC2.
Northrop Grumman’s gateway offerings—communications systems that help the DOD securely share mission information across military branches—are one example of how the company is already enhancing the flow of data and strengthening the overall command-and-control structure of the DOD.
Northrop Grumman’s gateway systems have an extensive track record of helping interconnect branches of the military. The company’s leading Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateway system recently reached 200,000 combat operational flight hours since its first deployment with the U.S. Air Force in 2008.
Northrop Grumman’s BACN offerings have been one of the Defense Department’s most enduring capabilities, delivering interoperable voice and data communications between boots on the ground and pilots in the sky since 2008. Northrop Grumman’s BACN gateway system and sustainment efforts, combined with both manned and unmanned aircraft, provide warfighters an essential round-the-clock capability—enabling the enhanced communications and situational awareness picture needed to defeat threats in the most challenging battlefield environments.
Northrop Grumman’s BACN offering is a high-altitude, airborne communications gateway that translates and distributes imagery, voice and tactical data from disparate elements—enhancing situational awareness communications and coordination for joint warfighters operating across space, air, land and sea. It is also one of the first battle-tested gateway systems to enable warfighters and platforms to effectively communicate and securely share data across all branches of the DOD.
Over the course of more than 15,500 missions, enabled by sustainment support that delivers uninterrupted mission readiness, the BACN gateway system has a mission availability rate greater than 98 percent. Northrop Grumman takes an agile approach to introduce new capabilities on the BACN gateway system such as the integration of new automation software, implementation of agile software development processes, and the incorporation of enhanced military standard communications protocols—all to meet emerging mission demands.
The open architecture design and cyber-secure processing of the BACN gateway system, coupled with its ability to easily integrate advanced technologies and proven track record of success, make this system well suited to meet the needs of JADC2.
According to David Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, “BACN’s operational success suggests that it, or similar data translators, could help build an ethereal nervous system for JADC2.”
Northrop Grumman is also bringing forward a new family of gateway systems that are designed to enable communications and cross domain translations between multiple beyond line-of-sight and line-of-sight networks and datalinks—inclusive of 5th-to-4th generation capabilities. The development of these systems includes a focus on cyber-secure and integrated functions such as cloud computing, machine learning and secure and ethical artificial intelligence, among other capabilities.
Another example of Northrop Grumman’s JADC2 offerings can be found in the company’s Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system. Northrop Grumman pioneered the design of its CNI system—currently used across a number of high-profile DOD platforms—to provide more than 27 fully-integrated communications, navigation and identification functions.
Over the years, the company’s CNI systems have been battle-tested and proven to enhance warfighters’ situational awareness; improve interoperability across platforms; adapt to emerging mission demands; and securely distribute critical information needed for mission success.
The software-defined nature of Northrop Grumman’s CNI system allow for continuous enhancements and its signature design will open up the company’s CNI offering to provide new functionality, such as the use of third-party capabilities that will help meet the advanced networking needs of JADC2 efforts.
A third example of Northrop Grumman’s JADC2 offerings is tied to the U.S. Air Force Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) initiative. According to the Air Force, ABMS is the services’ primary contribution to Joint All-Domain Command and Control efforts.
In support of ABMS, Northrop Grumman is rapidly working on developing and fielding a gatewayONE prototype by leveraging its proven Freedom Radio and gateway technologies. Freedom multifunction, software-defined radios are the heart of the F-22 integrated avionics suite and F-35 communications, navigation and identification system.
On December 9, 2020, Northrop Grumman’s Freedom Radio supporting ABMS efforts, successfully integrated with an attritableONE platform and enabled 5th-to-5th generation aircraft communications. According to the Air Force, “…this test was the latest demonstration of the transformative warfighting impact of the open architecture underpinning the Advanced Battle Management System.”
The signature design and open architecture functionality of the Freedom Radio supporting gatewayONE will enable 5th- to-4th generation platforms to communicate and extend capabilities to enable multiple 5th generation platform types to share and integrate data, helping make network-centric operations and JADC2 a reality for the DOD.
As the DOD moves forward to network-centric operations, Northrop Grumman is well suited to strengthen the DOD’s ability to maintain a strategic advantage in the new age of technology-driven warfare, supporting the open and integrated communications architecture needed for JADC2. Visit Connecting The Joint Force As One to learn more.
22 Feb 21. Chinese spyware code was copied from America’s NSA: researchers. Chinese spies used code first developed by the U.S. National Security Agency to support their hacking operations, Israeli researchers said on Monday, another indication of how malicious software developed by governments can boomerang against their creators.
Tel Aviv-based Check Point Software Technologies issued a report noting that some features in a piece of China-linked malware it dubs “Jian” were so similar they could only have been stolen from some of the National Security Agency break-in tools leaked to the internet in 2017.
Yaniv Balmas, Checkpoint’s head of research, called Jian “kind of a copycat, a Chinese replica.”
The find comes as some experts argue that American spies should devote more energy to fixing the flaws they find in software instead of developing and deploying malicious software to exploit it.
The NSA declined comment. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
A person familiar with the matter said Lockheed Martin Corp – which is credited as having identified the vulnerability exploited by Jian in 2017 – discovered it on the network of an unidentified third party.
In a statement, Lockheed said it “routinely evaluates third-party software and technologies to identify vulnerabilities.”
Countries around the world develop malware that breaks into their rivals’ devices by taking advantage of flaws in the software that runs them. Every time spies discover a new flaw they must decide whether to quietly exploit it or fix the issue to thwart rivals and rogues.
That dilemma came to public attention between 2016 and 2017, when a mysterious group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers” published some of the NSA’s most dangerous code to the internet, allowing cybercriminals and rival nations to add American-made digital break-in tools to their own arsenals.
How the Jian malware analyzed by Checkpoint was used is not clear. In an advisory published in 2017, Microsoft Corp suggested it was linked to a Chinese entity it dubs “Zirconium,” which last year was accused of targeting U.S. election-related organizations and individuals, including people associated with President Joe Biden’s campaign.
Checkpoint says Jian appears to have been crafted in 2014, at least two years before the Shadow Brokers made their public debut. That, in conjunction with research published in 2019 by Broadcom Inc-owned cybersecurity firm Symantec about a similar incident, suggests the NSA has repeatedly lost control of its own malware over the years.
Checkpoint’s research is thorough and “looks legit,” said Costin Raiu, a researcher with Moscow-based antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, which has helped dissect some of the NSA’s malware.
Balmas said a possible takeaway from his company’s report was for spymasters weighing whether to keep software flaws secret to think twice about using a vulnerability for their own ends.
“Maybe it’s more important to patch this thing and save the world,” Balmas said. “It might be used against you.” (Source: Reuters)
22 Feb 21. US Industry Struggles To Strip Chinese Tech From Networks.
“[N]obody was watching too closely to see just how far these Chinese components and hardware have infiltrated U.S. businesses,” one telecoms expert says.
More than two years after Congress passed two laws to strip Chinese hardware and software from US defense and telecommunications supply chains, industry is struggling to figure out how.
“No one really has the answers on some of this stuff,” Nick Jones, director of regulatory policy at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), said in an interview.
One key problem, Jones explained, is that neither DoD nor the FCC have issued lists of what equipment is banned by the laws.
“Good national security intentions, but poor execution thus far,” one telecoms expert summed up.
The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included section 889 which prohibits the federal government, contractors, and federal grant/loan recipients from buying or even using “covered telecommunication equipment or services” from Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua and their subsidiaries as a “substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any system.” It also allows the Defense Secretary, the Director of National Intelligence and/or the FBI Director to “add to the list at anytime.”
DoD, the General Services Agency (GSA) and NASA in July 2020 issued a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) “interim rule” to implement the provision, and followed up with a second one in late August aimed at helping companies through the process of certifying compliance.
Congress in 2019 also passed the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 directing the FCC to figure out how to remove and replace Chinese equipment from US telecoms networks, known as the “rip and replace” program. The bill also provided $1.89bn in FCC funds to help small and rural broadband providers comply. The FCC issued a new draft rule Thursday that would expand the pool of potential aid recipients — upping the cap from firms with 2 million customers to those with 10 million.
While the FCC rules do not directly affect most of the defense industrial base, DoD is working closely with affected commercial telecoms providers to speed 5G wireless connectivity to military users at home and abroad.
For example, DoD in October awarded some $600m in contracts for 5G experiments at five bases belonging to the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Joseph Evans, technical director for 5G in the DoD undersecretariat for research & engineering, said the awards involve “over three dozen contracts [with] prime contractors [and] over 100 total companies, over half of them non-traditional” – that is, commercial tech companies rather than longstanding defense contractors. (Awardees range from telecoms giants AT&T and Nokia to the tiny Shared Spectrum Company that has 14 employees.)
It is the second part of the 2019 NDAA Section 889 (Part B) — which covers third-party providers of systems, parts and services — that is causing the most trouble for defense contractors, Jones explained. Smaller firms in particular are struggling, he added, since they don’t have the resources the big primes do to engage legal and regulatory expertise to help.
Part B “has caused greater headaches for US Government contractors because of its broader reach,” stated a November blog post by law firm Baker MacKenzie. “It is not necessary that the Covered Equipment be used as part of the contract with the US Government to fall within the scope of the prohibition; rather, it is sufficient only that the offeror uses Covered Equipment as part of its overall business, making the breadth and applicability of this rule quite wide.”
For example, corporate leaders are scratching their heads over whether Chinese-made cameras for facility security are barred by Section 889, and what can be bought to replace the prohibited gear, Jones said.
“You know, security cameras looking at parking lots. So we’ve had people just rip those out, or turn them off,” he elaborated. “And there’s no replacement lists anywhere. Also cameras for things like simulation training and simulation applications that may have some of these [barred] components in there, and again, there’s no list.”
“The guidance/law is at the policy level and implementation is going to be hard, in part because nobody was watching too closely to see just how far these Chinese components and hardware have infiltrated U.S. businesses,” the telecoms expert said. “It’s going to take a while, and cost a lot, to purge them and I doubt it will be effective.
“Chip-level compromises, at the nation state level, are very hard to defeat and imposing this on industry without specific guidance makes it harder. It’s also imposing real costs on industry, which only makes sense if enforcement / market compliance incentives will follow,” the expert added.
Interestingly, the FCC regulations might actually help defense contractors implement Section 889, Jones noted, because the FCC is actually required to publish a list of barred equipment — a list that is expected to be released sometime next month. Further, that list will be based in part on determinations by DoD and the Intelligence Community as to what specific equipment should be deemed high risk, according to the FCC.
Tracking down the hundreds of subsidiaries for the five Chinese firms blacklisted in the NDAA also is a Sisyphean task, Jones said. While DoD has provided some guidelines for how contractors should conduct a “reasonable inquiry” into whether they (and their suppliers) are complying with the law, he explained, the Pentagon hasn’t actually name names of blacklisted subsidiaries. (Nor has the FCC provided a subsidiary list in its regulations implementing the rip and replace law.) (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
22 Feb 21. Viasat Receives Enhanced Cybersecurity Services Accreditation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Viasat Named One of Four Companies Authorized to use U.S. Government Provided Classified Cyber Threat Intelligence to Detect Malicious Activity for U.S.-based Public and Private Entities, including State and Local Governments Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today it is part of an elite community of commercial service providers approved to receive cyber threat intelligence through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program. As an accredited ECS provider, Viasat will receive DHS-provided sensitive and classified cybersecurity threat indicators and information to defend U.S.-based public and private computer networks, including state and local governments, against unauthorized access, exploitation and data exfiltration.
DHS accredited Viasat as one of four companies able to pass stringent ECS program requirements following an audit of Viasat’s cybersecurity capabilities, security architecture and facilities. All DHS ECS service providers must achieve a high standard of security competence and compliance, including maintaining the ability to safeguard sensitive and classified information, and security approvals for personnel, facilities and computer network systems.
Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat commented, “The added DHS ECS intelligence coupled with the advanced capabilities inherent in the Viasat cyber offering, enables us to better fortify our customers’ cyber posture and maintain a vigilant and watchful defense against the world’s most advanced adversaries. This added insight allows us to create a more accurate, customized, real-time cybersecurity picture that will enable customers to reach advanced cyber resiliency levels needed to reduce overall risks against cyber threats.”
How Viasat’s ECS solution works
Viasat’s ECS solution is unique in that it uses Viasat’s National Security Agency (NSA)-certified Trusted Cyber Sensor (TCS) to monitor network traffic with government provided classified indicators without routing traffic through its data center. Viasat strategically places its TCS devices within a customer’s network and securely manages, maintains and configures them remotely from Viasat’s Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC). Once in the customer’s network, the TCS devices inspect network traffic on-premises, inside the customer perimeter boundary, ensuring customer privacy is preserved.
Viasat’s ECS solution is the first to take advantage of the ECS Netflow Analysis capability, which provides network traffic flow indicators to help customers detect malicious activity within their network, in addition to the traditional email and domain name indicators. These indicators can be sent by DHS up to six months in advance of them appearing on other premium, commercially-available threat intelligence feeds——which means customers may detect serious threats before their current technology stack of security tools detects them. If the Viasat CSOC uncovers a security incident, the customer is immediately notified, sent actionable information to quickly triage and remediate the situation and is made aware of additional support resources to help them respond. In fact, Viasat offers a full range of Managed Detection and Partnered Response (MDPR) services integrated with, and complementary to, the ECS program.
Insights about Viasat’s threat detection service
Viasat has a world-class CSOC that uses an integrated and scalable cybersecurity model based on the MITRE ATT&CK® framework. Today, the Company analyzes 75,000 – 100,000 new indicators of compromise per day; 600,000 netflows of traffic data/minute and 27 terabytes of event data daily from commercial, enterprise, government and Department of Defense customers. Viasat processes this rich, diverse and large data set using proprietary analytics to create custom operationalized, contextualized and actionable intelligence for its premium level cybersecurity service.
19 Feb 21. Cubic Announces European Mission-Critical Communications Partnership. Partnership with Alea allows Cubic to provide a range of mission-critical communication broadband solutions for public safety and tactical markets.
Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB) today announced that its Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions (CMPS) business division signed an agreement with Alea, a company specializing in mission-critical communications software, for the joint development of public safety and tactical broadband solutions. Solutions developed under the partnership will leverage the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standardization body’s Mission-Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT) specifications for mission-critical communications over LTE.
Cubic’s radio gateway solutions, including the Vocality RoIP and DTECH M3-SE-MFGW, are compatible with a wide range of dispatch and push-to-talk (PTT) mobile app vendors. The addition of Alea MCPTT extends this support to include MCPTT-compatible vendors, providing customers with the confidence that their gateway solution is compliant with international standards for mission-critical communications.
“Support for MCPTT is a crucial product milestone for Cubic’s radio gateway products. This exciting new partnership further enables us to provide standards-based critical communications solutions to our first responder, disaster relief and defense customers,” said Mike Barthlow, senior vice president and general manager of Mission Communications and Computing, Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions.
Push-to-talk radios based on P25, TETRA, DMR and legacy analog technology are expected to be utilized for many years to come. However, there is an increased demand for a gateway solution that connects these radio technologies to cellular networks.
“Alea is excited to support the adoption of standards-based mission-critical solutions by the public safety community,” said Giuseppe Merlino, Alea CEO. “This new partnership confirms the quality of our solutions and is a source of pride for our company.”
As a leader in developing interoperability gateway solutions with integrated cellular modems, Cubic is already helping to provide a vital bridge between conventional push-to-talk radios and push-to-talk over cellular, allowing users to benefit from the latest cellular innovations while helping to protect the existing investment in traditional radio technologies.
For additional information on Cubic’s gateway products and services, please visit www.vocality.com and www.dtechlabs.com.
About Cubic Corporation
Cubic is a technology-driven, market-leading provider of integrated solutions that increase situational understanding for transportation, defense C4ISR, and training customers worldwide to decrease urban congestion and improve military effectiveness and operational readiness. Our teams innovate to make a positive difference in people’s lives. We simplify their daily journeys. We promote mission success and safety for those who serve their nation. For more information about Cubic, please visit the company’s website at www.cubic.com or on Twitter @CubicCorp.
Alea is an innovative software developer that boasts decades of experience in developing applications for mission-critical communications. The ISO9001 certified business prides itself on the partnerships it has created throughout Europe. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
17 Feb 21. Benefits of C3 modernization and network automation. Adopting new technologies and embracing digital transformation is a continuous process for everyone in the Industry 4.0 era, and the defense sector is no different. In 2019, the Department of Defense released its Digital Modernization Strategy, which highlighted four key strategic initiatives: Innovation for advantage, optimization, resilient cybersecurity, and cultivation of talent.
In order to achieve a competitive advantage and increase efficiency, defense forces must modernise their WAN to move data at greater speeds and scale. IP/MPLS may be the clear choice given its resiliency, multiservice support and ability to provide secure communications. However, WAN needs to use automation for high network agility, especially as the defense industry adopts new innovations for command, control and communication (C3) capabilities.
Army-technology spoke with Scott Robohn, CTO for Nokia Federal Solutions, about C3 modernization and network automation in the defense industry.
According to Robohn, although there is always a mixture of perspectives, overall there has been no active resistance to adopting automation.
“The defense industry has quite a track record for adopting new technology in many different forms to support their missions. Automation is sought out as a tool to increase mission effectiveness,” he explains.
That said, modernization is a broad term and the transition to innovation as par for the course can be a lot of work. Within the industry, there is the risk of an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” attitude slowing down modernization efforts.
Robohn explains: “Modernization presents a bigger set of challenges. For example, you may have a technology that’s widely deployed and still works, still performing as required. Efficiency gains through modernization may not be enough to justify or motivate the modernization effort, such as reducing rackspace and power consumption by 75% or more, especially as it may be hard to get to all the places where that technology (or equipment based on that technology) is deployed.”
As modernization and digital uptake are in many ways inevitable, the longer change is resisted; the more work it creates in the long run. As command, control and communications are key aspects of defense operations, it is essential that C3 modernization is an ongoing process.
“Because technology advances, there can be an increasing risk of not modernizing. Over time, we see specific expertise go away (through SMEs who retire, especially with specificities hardware expertise) and a decreasing supply of replacement components. This is especially for some communications technologies, that reach their end-of-support but are still in use.”
Five key benefits of network automation
So what does network automation offer the defense industry? The first benefit is consistency. Once automated, a process can be repeatedly executed in the exact same manner, which leads to predictability and ease of troubleshooting. Secondly, there is a reduced risk of error; assuming a process is programmed and automated correctly, even if there is an error that only shows up in very specific conditions, automated routines can be modified to account for the flaw.
Automation also allows for greater innovation. The act of thinking through a process and understanding why it’s done a certain way can lead to much more effective and efficient processes, which directly falls in line with The Department of Defense’s first modernization strategy initiative.
By moving to more automated processes, you remove humans from the “Click OK To Continue” loop and reduce delays associated with human cognition, leading to overall increased velocity in operations. Additionally, this frees people’s time up to work on more creative and challenging issues. Many people, especially network engineers, want to learn new things and routinize the mundane and repetitive tasks. Robohn cites Hackathons as a prime of example of nurturing talent and encouraging innovation. These events bring together a cross-functional team of network engineers for multi-day events focused on automating repetitive tasks.
5G’s role in automation and C3 modernization
An advantage of 5G is its ability to provide slices, which are virtual network partitions that contain dedicated resources in order to consistently meet specific requirements, such as bandwidth, security and latency, of the given application. Slices can be quickly created and deleted as missions are launched and completed.
“5G commercial adoption is well underway and will increase over the next 3-5 years,” Robohn explains. “And 5G network slicing is heavily dependent on automation.
“There are significant improvements with 5G that are going to allow for new applications, such as augmented reality and virtual reality. Not only does this give carriers new opportunities for revenue, but it also gives defense consumers the ability to use those applications for remote training applications and remote control of autonomous vehicles. One of the particular design goals for 5G centres on providing ultra-reliable low-latency communications.
In 2020, Nokia rolled out the world’s first automated 4G/5G network slicing within RAN, transport and core domains, including new network management, controller and orchestration capabilities.
“Nokia has done a great job of building a robust and complete end-to-end portfolio for 5G networking. Automation and orchestration of the separate network domains (Radio network, IP and Optical transport, and cloud data centre services) is complex, and Nokia has the tools and expertise to do this well. These are all very critical to accomplish dynamic 5G slicing.”
WAN automation is a necessary component for DoD’s Digital Modernization Strategy; it provides greater agility that matches increasing needs for greater speed and scale. As DoD looks to 5G, WAN automation is a must-have to get the most out of 5G Network Slicing and other key 5G features.
19 Feb 21. Live-fire drill puts Europe’s military cyber responders to the test. Military cyber response teams from 18 European nations went through a live-fire exercise this week designed to test the bloc’s ability to bundle its forces in the event of a cyberattack.
The event, organized by the European Defence Agency, is the opening salvo in a campaign that will stretch through the summer and include training sessions and conferences. The idea is to enhance cooperation in a field that, compared with the civilian world, is still loath to share sensitive threat data and tactics across borders.
It is the first time that officials are considering cyberthreats from a purely military perspective on a European Union scale. Defensive capabilities are seen as increasingly important because new weapon systems heavily rely on data and communications, which could make them easy targets for hackers.
Officials dubbed the drill a “live-fire” event because it played out on a cloud-based cyber range with real targets. Three teams of opposing forces, including one composed of experts from five member states, required defending teams to react to unforeseen attacks. The scenario included figuring out where attacks originated and determining who was behind them.
Mario Beccia, EDA project officer for cyber defense, said the drill’s focus was to help teams work together across nations rather than employing the latest technology. “It is our attempt to create a structure where military personnel can focus on cooperation,” he said in a Feb. 17 virtual news conference.
Typical challenges that computer emergency response teams, or CERT, in armed services face include protecting the control infrastructure of drones and spacecraft, Beccia said.
EDA officials hired Estonian company CybExer Technologies to provide the cyber range for the exercise, enabling participants to log on remotely. The company also contributed two of the red teams.
Finding a cloud-based vendor was necessary because existing exercise infrastructure in the member states requires physical access to servers and computers, said Beccia. Such an insular mindset is emblematic for the secretive world of military cyber response.
“Military units are used to working in silos,” Aare Reintam, CybExer’s chief operating officer, told reporters.
Added Beccia: “Cooperation between military CERTs at the moment is low.”
Next up on the exercise schedule is a June conference for digesting lessons learned and formulating strategic-level steps toward improved cooperation, according to an EDA statement. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Feb 21. DIN calls for proposals in Cyber security and Undersea Surveillance. The NSW Defence Innovation Network (DIN) is calling for collaborative proposals in the field of Cyber security and Undersea surveillance. Through its Strategic Investment Initiative, DIN will invest $1m of research funding in developing cutting-edge prototypes for defence use.
With the recent announcement that Cyber Security and Undersea Surveillance are priority areas for Defence investment, the DIN has established the Strategic Investment Initiative (SII).
The purpose of the SII is to enable multi-disciplinary teams to produce two prototypes, to create lasting links to the defence industry, to catalyse commercialisation and additional investment in research and development in NSW.
A key objective is to build capability in the State by funding collaborative research that will enable a prototype to be made within a 12-18 month timeframe, suitable for a ‘demonstration’ of the new capability of the integrated system.
The Initiative is funded by the NSW Government and the Department of Defence through the Next Generation Technologies Fund.
Completed proposals must be submitted electronically by 5 pm, 5 March2021 to email@example.com.
Download DIN SII_Guidelines_amended_02_02_2021
18 Feb 21. Special Forces to build ‘influence artillery’ for online campaigns. To stay ahead of rapidly moving threats in the information space, 1st Special Forces Command is building an Information Warfare Center that will specialize in “influence artillery rounds.”
Critical to Special Forces’ role is deploying to remote locations while still being able to effectively message portions of a population.
The center, to be based at Fort Bragg, will consolidate the command’s psychological operations capabilities and will wrap around other information related capabilities such as cyber and space, Col. Ed Croot, chief of staff at 1st Special Forces Command, said in a Feb. 17 virtual presentation for AFCEA TechNet Augusta.
Ideally, the center will see, sense or detect adversary activity around the globe in physical and virtual spaces and within minutes, push that information to those that need it.
The team members will specialize in developing what Croot called influence artillery rounds, no easy task since in the influence world, they must tailor those “munitions” to each specific target, unlike a missile.
“There’s a unique threat audience, a unique friendly audience, a unique neutral audience that has to do with that influence and information piece. It’s extremely difficult to be able to move fast in that space,” Croot said.
The center will work with Special Operations Command’s Joint Military Information Support WebOps Center, which Croot said is delivers information through social media. The WebOps Center doesn’t build these digital rounds, so the Information Warfare Center will fill that role.
“Cyber is another delivery system. It’s a platform, like an artillery piece that you can deliver influence rounds through,” Croot said. “There’s an information revolution that has occurred, and things move faster than we’ve ever seen before, and it’s hard to change mindsets of people and systems and processes to be able to move at the speed of information.”
The geographic combatant commands are each building their own information warfare task forces, which act as forward extensions of the Information Warfare Center across 70 nations. The sensors in those 70 nations must be able to rapidly move information back and forth so the center can tailor the right influence campaigns in a timely manner.
Aside from the effort’s role to affect others within the information sphere, officials described the need to protect Green Berets from sophisticated snoops.
One’s digital footprint can easily be mapped in the modern connected world. As such, 1st Special Forces Command is looking for tools that can provide protection at the tactical edge.
This also includes training forces on how to reduce their digital attack surfaces while deployed and even in garrison in the U.S.
The dangers were demonstrated to great effect a few years ago during a unit exercise, Croot explained. Prior to deploying to the exercise in the U.S., the commander told his unit he wanted everyone off social media a full month prior.
One day into the exercise, the commander laid out how many people the unit had deployed, what base they came from, where they were going, what their mission was and where their families lived, all from their digital footprints, Croot said.
“If you want to be terrified, sit and see and watch a picture of a family member up on a Facebook post talking about you and where you work and where you’re going,” he said. “This is real, and it absolutely is something that we have got to take seriously from a from a home station force protection perspective, let alone at the edge.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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