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26 Jul 18. Australian Industry collaboration, R&D, cyber and boots key: AUSMIN 2018. In a sign of the continuing strength of the Australia/US relationship, the 2018 AUSMIN meeting has seen agreements reached on key areas providing promise for Australian industry and academic institutions. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne, emphasised both nations’ strong and deepening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. They made clear their commitment to work together and with other key partners to shape an Indo-Pacific that is open, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based.
Minister Payne highlighted the role innovation has played in strengthening the Australia/US friendship, while also setting the tone of the outcome, saying, “Whether indeed it was Monash’s groundbreaking tactics a hundred years ago at the Battle of Hamel when he led United States troops for the first time, or the joint development programs that we’re undertaking today across so many fields – the Poseidon P-8, the Triton, the Growler, just as examples – we continue to innovate and to collaborate to ensure that our alliance is relevant to and, most particularly, ready for today’s challenges.”
A key outcome of discussions in Palo Alto is a joint work plan that advances shared strategic interests of Australia and the US in the Indo-Pacific region, which has diplomatic, security and economic dimensions, including:
- Planning for a Civil Space Dialogue between the Australian and US space industries to take place before the end of 2018 to increase co-operation on civilian space applications and promote commercial space activities;
- Fully implement the Force Posture Initiatives and expand training engagement with regional military partners through the Force Posture Initiatives between the US and Australian military forces in Australia;
- Co-ordinate efforts to raise the number of US Marines in Marine Rotation Force Darwin to its full complement of 2,500 as soon as practicable;
- Develop and implement a plan to counter the growth of advanced missile threats to mutual security interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Strengthen defence collaboration on hypersonics through technology and concept development, and the testing and validation of high-speed flight technologies; and
- Implement a cyber MOU signed by Secretary Mattis and Minister Payne to conduct research, development, testing and evaluation of cyber space capabilities.
Secretary Mattis and Minister Payne committed to strengthening defence collaboration in science and technology, and signed an MOU to perform critical research and development of advanced cyber capabilities. Under this MOU, Australia and the US will be able to jointly leverage each other’s strengths and technical expertise to collaboratively develop tools and software to address cyber and other security threats.
Expanding on the importance of the MOU regarding cyber security capabilites, Minister Payne said, “Nowhere, in fact, as Secretary Mattis has mentioned, is the need for innovation more critical than in cyber, which continues to be a pervasive threat to our militaries and to our businesses. So we have signed an MOU today to deepen cyber security co-operation so that we’re able to jointly develop the tools and the software that we need to both protect and defend against cyber threats.”
Secretary Mattis said, “We have also partnered on defence innovation. There, we will explore all opportunities for deeper defence industry collaboration now that Australia is included in the US national technology and industrial base.” (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Jul 18. DARPA Chooses Teams for $1.5bn Electronics Initiative. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has chosen a multitude of industry and academic teams to work on six programs under its lucrative Electronics Resurgence Initiative that includes upwards of $1.5bn in funding over five years, an official announced. The initiative — which was revealed last year — is meant to jumpstart innovation in the electronics industry. The technology underpins some of the Defense Department’s top technology focus areas including quantum computing, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, space and biotechnology, Pentagon officials have said. The effort comes at a time when the cost of doing business in the sector is skyrocketing and foreign countries are making greater investments, said Bill Chappell, director of DARPA’s microsystems technology office.
“We are at this really interesting point in time and DARPA decided that … we would have an increased concentration on the basics of electronics and the basics of semiconductors,” he told reporters during a teleconference three days prior to a major meeting between the agency and its industry and academic partners in San Francisco known as the ERI Summit.
The event — which takes place between July 22 and July 24 — includes more than 950 participants, Chappell said. It will include discussions about the future of electronics, particularly as it relates to Moore’s Law, a theory that says integrated circuits will double in capacity every 18 months to two years.
“DARPA has had a long history in sponsoring research that propels that forward,” he said. “We’ve had an exponential rise in capability.”
Through targeted investments, the agency plans to foster foundational enhancements within the industry that are beyond what any corporate partner would do on their own, Chappell said. The ERI effort includes six programs under three pillars — architectures, design and materials and integration. The software\-defined hardware (SDH) and domain-specific system-on-chip (DSSoC) programs are under architectures. The intelligent design of electronic assets (IDEA) and posh open source hardware (POSH) programs are under design. The three-dimensional monolithic system-on-a-chip (3DSoC) and foundations required for novel compute (FRANC) programs are under materials and integration. During the summit DARPA announced that it had selected numerous companies and universities to participate in the ERI programs.
Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Systems & Technology Research, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Washington and Princeton University were selected for the SDH program. The effort “aims to develop hardware and software that can be reconfigured in real time based on the data being processed, adapting the computing architecture for the workload and data at hand,” according to DARPA.
IBM, Oak Ridge National Labs, Arizona State University and Stanford University were chosen for the DSSoC program, which is meant to “enable the rapid development of multi-application systems through a single programmable framework,” according to the agency.
The University of California at San Diego, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, Cadence Design Systems, Xilinx, Inc., Synopsys, Inc., University of Southern California, Princeton University and Sandia National Laboratories were selected for the IDEA and POSH programs. IDEA is meant to create a “no human-in-the-loop” layout generator that can enable users with limited electronic design experience to quickly create the physical design of an electronic hardware system, the agency said. POSH is meant “to create an ethos of sharing in the hardware community that is similar to what the software community uses,” Chappell said. This will be done by standing up a foundation of verified IP building blocks with known functionality, according to DARPA. The Georgia Institute of Technology and a second team with researchers from Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Skywater Technology Foundry were chosen for the 3DSoC program.
“The 3DSoC program aims to develop materials, design tools and fabrication techniques for building microsystems on a single substrate with a third dimension,” according to DARPA.
HRL Laboratories, Applied Materials, Ferric, Inc., the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Minnesota and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been tapped for the FRANC program. That is meant to foster the “design of circuits that leverage the properties of new materials and integration schemes to process data in ways that eliminate or minimize data movement,” the agency said.
DARPA’s investment in microelectronics comes at a time of increased competition between the United States and China. In the 2018 national defense strategy, the Pentagon described Beijing as one of its two great power competitors moving forward. The eastern nation has made it a point to increase its investment in microelectronics, setting aside $150bn in funding. China’s investment is particularly worrisome because the Pentagon fears that the country could hide malicious apps or code inside U.S. military systems that use their chips. Chappell noted that much of China’s investment is going toward manufacturing facilities rather than attempting to make advancements in the technology.
“But it does underscore the need to make sure that we have new inventions occurring across our country and other allied countries where we invent new processes as older processes are being replicated en masse,” he said. “It’s more important than ever that we have new inventions that are coming out of the pipeline to make sure that the semiconductor space does become a commodity.”
23 Jul 18. Developing defense capabilities at the speed of software. When the commercial software market shifted to apps, it was obvious that the old way of developing software had to go. With regular security and capability upgrades now expected by consumers, Silicon Valley companies replaced the traditional lengthy software development processes with new, faster methods. The U.S. government has noticed this shift. The old way of developing software ― combined with the long, complex defense procurement process ― left our servicemembers in the field waiting months or years for the capabilities and software updates they needed right away. While the average consumer could expect weekly or even daily updates to their gaming, banking and media apps, our men and women in uniform had to wait for crucial capability upgrades and security fixes they needed to stay ready and relevant. To help transform the Defense software acquisition model, parts of the Defense Department — most especially the Air Force and DIUx — are working with the traditional aerospace and defense industry as well as smaller Silicon Valley companies on pilot programs that take advantage of modern, commercial software processes. This combination of Silicon Valley processes and defense engineering and acquisition expertise is providing tremendous benefit to our armed services. These companies, working side-by-side with the Air Force are now able to develop and deploy new, relevant command control applications in as little as 120 days, a timeline practically unheard of in government acquisition programs. By using this model, the Air Force is now benefitting from the same types of software development processes common in the consumer world. Instead of the long, waterfall development cycles that are standard in defense software programs, the service is experimenting with the Agile and DevOps methods of small, teams working together to break down big problems into small, solvable pieces. Developers and operators work together in pairs so code is being questioned, refined or having its approach redirected as it’s being written, not after its deployed. These development methods also cut out the middleman so developers and end users can communicate directly without playing the information translation game. This process means our airmen are getting new capabilities when they need them, and Air Force command and control systems are constantly being upgraded and secured to stay ahead of the threat. There are challenges with expanding this model across the broader force, however. Especially challenging is the defense budgeting and acquisition process, which was designed with hardware in mind. DoD’s funding structure is built around the old model of defining requirements and then methodically developing and maturing hardware and software to meet those requirements. But in today’s digital age, that model no longer works. For the broader military to take advantage of modern, commercial software processes, Congress, industry and the military must work together to develop an acquisition and funding model that is fast enough to deliver capability to the warfighter as quickly as it can be developed and tested. Defense Department leaders are serious about this transformation and are signaling the need to expand it beyond Air Force command and control. That’s because those making decisions from the Pentagon to the battlefield all agree on one underlying truth: A capability is only as good as it is relevant. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
23 Jul 18. Australia’s DMTC partners with Penguin on composites. Tasmanian firm Penguin Composites has teamed with Australia’s Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) to explore hybrid composite materials in defence manufacturing. Announcing the partnership on 20 July, Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said it would enhance “platform-independent technologies that can be applied across supply chains including in the land, maritime, aerospace and space sectors”.
He added that the two organisations would explore the development of new compounds that could enhance the capability of military platforms and look to reduce manufacturing costs. In developing the materials, Penguin Composites will join existing DMTC project partners including Thales Australia, Imagine Intelligent Materials, the University of Queensland, the Swinburne University of Technology, Deakin University, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Jul 18. EU Scientists are harnessing next generation lasers to create light-speed broadband connections and remove the data bottlenecks that could cause the Internet to grind to a halt as demand increases. A group of EU-funded researchers are incorporating VCSEL laser sources with silicon photonics to develop long wavelength, high capacity communications for the very first time, paving the way for light-speed metropolitan connectivity, and powering new ‘smart’ services like future gaming and on-demand TV. Employed in the Apple iPhone X to scan a user’s face for Face ID, “portrait mode” photos and Animoji, and in its AirPod earbuds to sense your ears, a Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) is a specialized laser diode that promises to revolutionize fibre optic communications by improving efficiency and increasing data speed. They are cheap to manufacture, and are more efficient than traditional laser sources. Future smart services require a massive overhaul of current internet infrastructure. Data ‘bottlenecks’ – or internet ‘traffic jams’ caused by the sheer volume of users with increasingly sophisticated devices running, music, video, gaming, AI, VR and telecommunications – urgently need to be freed up. These super-fast components have the potential to revolutionise smart services that consume enormous amounts of data for connected citizens of the future. With transmission rates up to 112 Tb/s, sending 28 thousand HD movies would take as little as 1 second. Whilst VCSELs (favoured for their rapid data transmission and low power consumption) have been used in data communications for short-distance connections in intra-data centres, using these infrared lasers for long wavelength, and high capacity communications has never been done before to connect our cities. Calling themselves ‘PASSION’, the research group is keen to exploit VCSEL light sources due to their high transmission efficiency and minimal power consumption.
Project coordinator Professor Pierpaolo Boffi said: “VCSELs are a bit of a buzz word at the moment. They have the advantages of low driving current, high light-power conversion efficiency and high directivity. This makes them an ideal choice for transmitting huge amounts of data in a low cost, energy efficient way. VCSELs will help us target the site of the ‘bottlenecks’: the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) interlinking users within a geographical area where all the internet traffic from a local area flows, and cope with the exponential growth in users and increasingly sophisticated services like gaming, assisted living and on-demand TV. The PASSION team has ambitions to reduce the current power consumption of the internet by ten times their current rates. Our researchers are developing a flexible network architecture that will be optimized for metropolitan applications based on aggregated signal flows. A tenfold reduction in power consumption will be achieved by exploiting the full wavelength spectrum and the space dimension in a multi-core fibre.”
US internet technology giant Cisco predicts that internet traffic will grow to an unprecedented 3.3 trillion gigabytes (3.3 zettabytes) per year between 2016 and 2021. In as little as 3 years from now our internet usage will reach 3 trillion internet video minutes per month, according to the Cisco report. To put this usage into perspective, this is five million years of video per month, or one million video minutes every second. With the exponential growth rate of users, and the enormous amount of data being sent and received through complex devices, such as gaming, TV and telecoms, the internet as we know it, so project coordinator Professor Pierpaolo Boffi believes, will grind to a halt if nothing is done.
“If we are serious about having super-connected citizens, using broadband services such as telework, improved entertainment such as HD and 3D TV on demand, or gaming, remote healthcare, assisted living, enhanced social networking, ‘eLearning’ for example, we need a fibre optic network that is leagues ahead of where it is now. We need a lighter and more flexible internet with low energy consumption. Otherwise, the future internet costs will be unsustainable.”
In order to support a low energy, sustainable communications infrastructure with new photonics technologies, the PASSION group came together to tackle the incoming capacity limitations in optical fibre networks in our cities.
“Fibre optic networks for the effective transmission and routing of a huge amount of data in our cities have undergone frequent development in the last ten years. However we are now in a situation where bottlenecks in the transmission and the routing of data are becoming inevitable” Boffi said. “PASSION will come up with new transmission, detection, and routing solutions as well as an advanced network architecture based on innovative laser sources. These solutions ensure a transmission rate of more than 100 Tb/s per link and a switching capacity of over 1 Pb/s per node”.
VCSEL Silicon Photonics
Developing a new technological platform for their network components, the PASSION group will incorporate VCSELs, or Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser Sources, to silicon photonics for the further reduction of the packaging costs of such a technology platform. VCSELs, the key components in 3D sensing, are currently used in popular electronics platforms, for example, in range finders for smart phone cameras such as Face ID and Animoji. However, deploying such a technology in silicon photonics for high speed internet connections for the metropolitan area is a real challenge. PASSION project manager Paola Parolari, explains:
“VCSELs could be the next big leap in metro communications. They are already employed widely in data communications, in intra-data centre short-distance connections for example. However exploiting VCSELs, emitting at long wavelengths and integrated in silicon photonics to realize multi-channel modules with very high communication capacity can have tremendous impacts on the fibre networks of our cities in terms of cost, footprint and energy saving”.
Coordinated by the Politecnico di Milano the PASSION consortium secured a grant of €7,535,747 from the European Commission under the H2020 funding program and was funded under the Photonics Public Private Partnership. PASSION is comprised of 14 partners with participants from 7 different European countries: (Italy) Politecnico di Milano and SM Optics; (Spain) CTTC, Telefonica and VLC Photonics; (The Netherlands) Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and Effect Photonics; (Finland) VTT; (Germany) Vertilas; (Israel) OpSys Technologies; (France) EPIC; and from 2 extra-Europe countries: (Japan) NICT and (South Korea) ETRI and ChemOptics.
20 Jul 18. Mercury Systems introduces a new SSD for data-at-rest protection. Mercury Systems is offering a new self-encrypting solid-state drive (SSD) for laptops and workstations storing highly sensitive data. The SSD uses Mercury Systems’ ASURRE-Stor, which couples NAND flash memory with the company’s ARMOR processor. The drive features up to 512 GB of storage capacity in a rugged 2.5-inch (6.35 cm), low-profile form factor (7mm). The ASURRE-Stor self-encrypting drives perform data encryption inside the SSD, Bob Lazaravich technical director, secure storage products at Mercury Systems, told Jane’s. “The operating system running on the host computer isn’t involved with the actual data encryption. This allows the encryption/decryption process to be completely transparent to the user.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Jul 18. Montvieux engineers develop predictive cognitive control tool for MoD. Artificial Intelligence engineers from UK-based company Montvieux are developing a new military decision-making tool known as predictive cognitive control system. The tool is being developed using funds provided by the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Innovation Fund. The MoD funding is made available through the Defence and Security Accelerator’s (DASA) ‘Revolutionise the human information relationship for defence’ competition. The military system can be used to assess a wide range of highly complex data that are beyond the ability of analysts to simultaneously comprehend. Using Deep Learning based neural networks, the predictive cognitive control system will be able to make confidence-based predictions of future events and outcomes of direct operational relevance to the defence users.
Montvieux director Peter Webb said: “The parallel focus of DASA on placing advanced capabilities in the hands of military users and developing wider exploitation opportunities, including commercial opportunities, has given us the space to think differently about how we operationalise our research and innovation within the company. With the help of DASA, we have been able to plan-back from potential commercial outcomes, and identify the right industry partners to move this forward.”
Currently under Phase II development, the tool is being refined in the innovation environment at RAF Wyton and is being deployed into live operational network. The UK MoD’s Joint Force Commands will deploy the tool to enable real users to test the technology in a representative environment, thereby demonstrating the real use of the system for defence. Montvieux has secured more than £600,000 in funding over the two phases of the DASA competition. (Source: army-technology.com)
20 Jul 18. US Army soldiers test newest MEDHUB transport telemedicine technology. US Army soldiers have been signed up to test the latest transport telemedicine technology being developed by the Army Medicine department to improve patient triage and communication during medical evacuations. Soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, are ready to user test the new Medical Hands-free Unified Broadcast (MEDHUB) technology. MEDHUB uses wearable sensors, accelerometers and other technology approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve the communication flow between patients, medics and receiving field hospitals. The technology is used to autonomously collect, store and transmit non-personally identifiable patient information from a device, such as a handheld tablet, to the receiving field hospital through existing long-range communication systems used by the US Department of Defense (DoD). The data transmitted using MEDHUB is displayed on a large screen at the receiving hospital in order to enable the clinicians have a clear idea about the number of patients and their vital statistics.
“MEDHUB is really about life-saving situational awareness.”
The system is being developed through a project with the US Army Medical Materiel Agency and the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, both of which are subordinate organisations of the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. MEDHUB is expected to be deployed for wider use by the US DoD by late next year. Transport Telemedicine product manager Jay Wang said: “MEDHUB is really about life-saving situational awareness.
“The system is designed to give receiving medical teams more information so they can better prepare for incoming patients by gathering the necessary staff and supplies.”
Wang and his team of researchers have been travelling across the globe to demonstrate the MEDHUB system to military leadership, potential end-users and private industry. (Source: army-technology.com)
20 Jul 18. Lockheed develops DIAMONDShield for unified image of battlespace. Lockheed Martin has developed the DIAMONDShield unprecedented enterprise system, which was technically matured from a prototype into an operational system. The system enables commanders to quickly transform terabytes of data received from unconnected systems into intelligence. Being developed for an international customer, DIAMONDShield forms the foundation of an integrated air and missile defence system. The Lockheed system helps link different platforms and systems operating across air, land, sea and space domains to provide customers with a layered, integrated and unified image of the battlespace. DIAMONDShield has the capability to integrate any desired concept of operations into the system.
Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems C4ISR and Unmanned Aerial Systems vice-president Dr Rob Smith said: “To address evolving threats with more confidence and greater efficiency, customers need ‘next-generation’ systems that connect across domains. DIAMONDShield represents that next-generation solution.”
The automation incorporated into DIAMONDShield enables customers to predict and assess enemy threats, make rapid tactical decisions and send engagement tasks to field troops. Using standards such as the Link 16 or Link 11 protocols, the system has the capability to receive data from aircraft to missile defence systems, to radar and air traffic control systems. The data is then correlated to provide a ‘comprehensive, bird’s eye visualisation of the battlespace.
DIAMONDShield’s complex algorithms can generate air tasking orders (ATO) within minutes after inserting the desired mission criteria. Once the initial ATO is created, the system continues to look for more efficient options that would help support current and future missions. Furthermore, the Lockheed solution can support simultaneous strategic and combat planning, mission execution, advanced battlespace monitoring, joint and coalition force collaboration, as well as enemy intention analysis. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.