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NEW TECHNOLOGIES, AVIONICS AND SOFTWARE

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03 Dec 20. Kromek launches the D5 RIID high performance radiation detector. World’s smallest RIID with high accuracy and ultra-low false alarm rate. Kromek (AIM: KMK), a worldwide supplier of detection technology focusing on the medical, security screening and nuclear markets, announces the launch of the D5 RIID, the world’s smallest high performance radioisotope identification device (“RIID”). The ruggedised device, with ultra-low false alarm rate, is designed for military, homeland security and industrial use.

The D5 RIID was developed under a programme with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense. It detects a wide range of sources, including special nuclear material and mixed, shielded and heavily masked configurations. It provides high accuracy dose measurement and has an industry-leading ultra-low false alarm rate of less than 1 in 24 hours. The D5 RIID combines this advanced performance with being small, lightweight and easy-to-use – capable of being operated in one hand. It can also be used when wearing all levels of PPE, including gloves. It offers multiple modes of configuration, including being able to provide app-based training, and can be easily integrated into standard and custom networks.

It is the first device to be launched in Kromek’s new D5 product range, which expands the Group’s radiation detection portfolio to encompass devices specifically designed for more challenging use cases and harsh environments. This next-generation of product has a larger crystal, which enables higher accuracy and sensitivity – capable of detecting mixed, shielded and heavily masked configurations including special nuclear material – as well as being ruggedised.

Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek, said: “We are delighted to have launched the D5 RIID, which truly sets a new benchmark in radioisotope identification. The level of accuracy, combined with small size, far exceeds competing military standard detectors, enabling the rapid identification of radiological threats. As the first of our new D5 range, this device expands our portfolio to provide products ideal for use in harsh environments and for more challenging applications alongside our existing D3 solutions that are aimed at fleet deployment for large-scale networking across urban areas. We are proud to be continuing to drive innovation in this crucial area to enable rapid, informed decisions to be made in response to a radiation threat wherever it may appear.”

01 Dec 20. DISA makes progress upgrading to new internet protocol. The Pentagon agency tasked with combat IT support is finalizing long-time efforts to transition the department to the latest system that routes internet traffic across the globe.

The Defense Information Systems Agency must enable core hardware for internet protocol version 6 by the end of 2021, according to Kenneth Garofalo, lead for IPv6 virtual program management office at DISA. The timeline, outlined in a policy letter signed in October by agency director Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, requires all other DISA services and external IT systems to be IPv6-only by the end of 2025. A strategy document and implementation plan will follow in the future, Garofalo said Tuesday at AFCEA TechNet.

It has been 17 years since the department started trying to implement this latest version of the internet’s address book, which replaces IPv4. IPv6, developed in the 1990s, is a version of internet protocol that identifies and locates devices connected to the internet. The problem with IPv4 is that the 4.5 billion addresses that it can sustain are nearly used up, considering the world population is about 7.8 billion. In contrast, IPv6 provides so many IP addresses that the number is hard to grasp—about 340 undecillion, or 340 followed by 36 zeroes like this: 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

The Defense Department has about 300 million IP addresses, with about 60 million unused but planned for use, according to a June report for the Government Accountability Office that found plans to move to IPv6 are poorly planned. That report said the DoD expected it would run out of IP addresses 2030. If the Pentagon doesn’t upgrade, it will fall behind industry and risks operating systems that aren’t interoperable with allies.

“What’s happening is that industry is migrating to IPv6 and service providers have already started their migration to IPv6 as well,” Garofalo said. “At the same time, U.S. allies are moving to IPv6, and interoperability with them is important to future joint warfighting capabilities.”

The plan also required the agency to create an inventory of all DISA IP addresses “to document and track the DISA IPv6 transition status of all unclassified and secret technology systems that are transitioning” to the latest protocol, Garofalo said.

The agency will transition all unclassified systems first and then move the classified systems over later, he said. The director’s policy document authorizes a temporary configuration called dual stack to accommodate IPv4 and IPv6 technology, meaning DISA’s legacy infrastructure can keep operating during the transition, he noted.

IPv6 provides important improvements for the Department of Defense. According to the GAO, IPv6 will increase connectivity, add security, improve warfighters’ connection and communications on the battlefield, and preserve interoperability with allied systems.

In June 2020, DISA started a IPv6 limited deployment expansion pilot, a follow-on to a smaller effort that started in 2016. The 2020 effort included U.S. Strategic Command, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Research and Engineering Network and the DISA’s internal internet access points.

The department has been slow to adopt IPv6, despite efforts dating to 2003, while another attempt stalled in 2010. Both those efforts failed due to security risks and a lack of adequately trained staff for the transition.

Garofalo said the DoD components are working together on IPv6 transition through the IPv6 working group at the Pentagon, DISA’s virtual program management office (PMO), and eight virtual PMO integrated product teams. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

01 Dec 20. Crystal Group Rolls Out New Force-Enhancing Solutions at TechNet Cyber. Crystal Group, a leading U.S. designer and manufacturer of rugged computing and networking solutions, announced today at TechNet Cyber the launch of new tactical-edge capabilities for advanced computing on the move.

At Crystal Group’s interactive, 3D virtual booth, TechNet Cyber attendees can access detailed information on the company’s newest tactical capabilities. ?This includes the 180-lb. Mobile Operating Base (MOB) Lite and the rugged Network Attached Storage (NAS), both approved by NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program and compliant with mission-critical Department of Defense cybersecurity requirements.

“As the military’s operational domains continue to evolve, so do the threats warfighters face—especially amorphous cyber threats. Security, including cybersecurity, is non-negotiable; that’s why Crystal Group is constantly working to field solutions that defend against emerging threats and vulnerabilities,” said Jim Shaw, executive vice president of Engineering at Crystal Group. “Our engineering expertise, combined with our ecosystem of industry partners, helps provide our troops with integrated capabilities that get the mission accomplished safely and securely.”

Crystal Group’s latest offerings being unveiled at TechNet Cyber focus on delivering rugged, cybersecure, forward-deployed operational capabilities that can be customized according to specific requirements. These solutions are designed for demanding deployment environments, using Crystal Group’s proven systems architecture and methodology to tackle the complexities of multidomain operations and near-peer adversaries with multilayered capabilities.

* Mobile Operating Base Lite: Engineered for austere, forward-deployed environments with little or no infrastructure, this base-on-the-move comprises two 4U transit cases, three rugged servers running virtualization software, and a 24-port network switch. MOB Lite can be operational in minutes with a generator, providing rugged, hyperconverged infrastructure when time and resilience are critical. Custom configurations eliminate separate systems while still offering up to 120TB storage for classified data according to NIST, NIAP and CSfC standards; near-zero latency for end-to-end data encryption; scalable capacity; and drives that can be instantly sanitized onsite or remotely.

* Rugged Network Attached Storage: This compact, 10G Ethernet NAS meets the strict cybersecurity requirements of CSfC, Common Criteria, NIAP, FIPS 14-2, NIST critical infrastructure and DOD data-at-rest. The ultra-secure NAS easily integrates with Crystal Group’s full product family and modular elements, and works with existing solutions and system needs—bringing cybersecurity and high-powered compute capacity to the tactical edge.

“MOB Lite is a great representation of one of Crystal Group’s entire-system solutions, while NAS represents another of our uniquely designed and manufactured, highly-secure storage solutions that solves very complex problems,” said Todd Prouty, manager of Business Development at Crystal Group. “We understand today’s environment of persistent, continuous cyberattacks. Highlighting our full product family of combinable elements at TechNet Cyber demonstrates how we can tailor our solutions to meet mission-specific needs.”

With more than 10 billion hours of military operational service, Crystal Group’s products demonstrate proven reliability and high performance on more than 600 military programs. Designed to withstand punishing theater environments and deliver critical cyber protection, Crystal Group anticipates and eliminates common risks and restrictions via custom compute systems fortified to withstand extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, sea spray and salt fog. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)

01 Dec 20. DOD Awards $50m in University Research Equipment Awards. The Department of Defense (DOD) has announced awards to 150 university researchers totaling $50m under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).  These grants will be provided to 85 institutions across 33 states in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.

DOD has long championed the country’s scientific ecosystem.  Through DURIP, the department supports purchases of major research equipment to augment current and develop new capabilities.  This effort enables universities to perform state-of-the-art research that boosts the United States’ technological edge, while ensuring that our future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce remains second to none.  This year, the awards will support equipment and instrumentation to accelerate basic research, which is relevant across the department to include quantum sciences, materials design, development, and characterization, machine learning, hypersonics, and more.

“DURIP awards help maintain the cutting-edge capabilities of our universities and provide research infrastructure to enable the most creative scientific minds in the country to extend the boundaries of science and technology,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Director, Basic Research Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  “The awards will facilitate scientific advances that will drive unparalleled military capabilities for our country and help train our future STEM workforce.”

The annual DURIP award process is highly competitive.  The program is administered through a merit competition jointly by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, and Office of Naval Research.  The Department seeks specific proposals from university investigators conducting foundational science and engineering research relevant to national defense.

For the FY 2021 competition, the Service research offices received 742 proposals requesting $297m in total funding.  Selections made by the Service research offices are subject to successful completion of negotiations with the academic institutions.

The list of winning proposals can be downloaded here: https://media.defense.gov/2020/Dec/01/2002543787/-1/-1/0/FY21-DURIP-SELECTIONS-FOR-PRESS-RELEASE-FINAL-20-NOV.PDF

About OUSD(R&E)

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense.  OUSD(R&E) fosters technological dominance across the DOD ensuring the unquestioned superiority of the American joint force.  Learn more at www.cto.mil or follow us on Twitter:  @DoDCTO. (Source: US DoD)

01 Dec 20. A level playing field: countering grey zone threats. Earlier this year, QinetiQ published a report exploring threats and opportunities presented by the ‘grey zone’ of conflict below the threshold of war. Harry Lye spoke to the company’s CTO Mike Sewart to learn more.

The grey zone is a concept that has gained increasing importance in recent years. It has come to the forefront of the UK’s discussions around defence and security as the country has moved forward with its Integrated Review into defence, security and foreign policy.

In the past, conflict was a reasonably straightforward construct, centered around two or more armed forces fighting directly on the battlefield. In the 21st century, the concept of conflict has become much more complex, with countries often operating below the threshold of traditional armed conflict to achieve their goals.

In recent memory, this has taken the form of the use of mercenary forces to complete military goals at arm’s reach, chemical weapons attacks on individuals, cyberattacks and subversion. All of these scenarios are addressed in QinetiQ’s report, titled ‘Confidence in chaos’, which was launched earlier this year.

Assessing the grey zone

“For many years, military power has ultimately arisen from large-scale capital budgets which are buying significant platforms,” says QinetiQ CTO Mike Sewart. “I think what we’re alluding to now is that a few strokes on the keyboard can usually cause more havoc than firing a bullet. New skills are now going to be required to adapt to this new environment, and that includes software development, data scientists and all forms of other systems integration skills.

“They are perhaps not traditionally associated with the armed forces and are skills that are also in demand with other industry sectors. Those skills are going to be required going forward, along with a culture within the whole of defence-that is,industry plus defence departments – of being able to adapt to new ways of working and new technologies, in order to be able to be relevant in hybrid warfare.”

The critical takeaway of QinetiQ’s report is not that new hardware or large platforms need to be bought, or that investing solely in emerging science and technology will help Western governments tackle grey zone threats. Instead, the crux of the company’s argument is that emerging science and technology needs to be utilised to adapt and improve hardware to make it better suited to meet challenges in this field.

The report outlines six common challenges the defence and security sector needs to overcome to better respond to grey zone tactics: creating information advantage, improving cyber resilience, improving threat detection, adding covert capabilities, adapting at pace and introducing new skills.

Detailing these challenges, Sewart explains: “I think that they are of equal concern and I would say that I don’t think one is of more significant concern over the other. They are all reasonably weighted, but I also think they are all different.

“I think some of the newer technologies are also relevant to challenge four, which is covert capabilities. Challenges one, two and three are all about leveraging data and leveraging information to create an information advantage. Going forward, I think that’s particularly complicated when you’ve got multiple assets, multiple sources of information coming in and it requires much more collaboration between all of the frontline commands, certainly in the UK context, to create a collective advantage.”

One part of countering grey zone threats is making betterand more efficient use of the vast amounts of data and information available. “Securely leveraging that data is absolutely part of dealing with grey zone tactics and ensuring the integrity of that data to ensure it hasn’t been manipulated is critical,” Sewart says. “Once you’ve got the data, it’s about making sense of it.

“I think that’s where newer technologies in terms of machine learning can help to verify the authenticity of information, but also to augment and leverage the power of cloud computing to get rid of irrelevant information so that the operator or user has got absolutely the right information at the right time. That is important not to increase the cognitive burden and help decision making in the field.”

Hybrid warfare levels the playing field

Traditional power relations between states have been shaken up considerably by grey zone threats, as non-state actors and groups can cause significant disruption with limited means.

“I think the grey zone and hybrid warfare levels the playing field because a kid in a bedroom can cause quite a devastating effect on a critical national infrastructure asset –sometimes to a more significant impact than a military establishment could,” Sewart explains. “What I am illustrating here is that you don’t need a lot of capital to cause chaos through the manipulation of information, or leveraging of software, and for cyberattacks.”

While a general who has spent years learning tactics and doctrine may have one idea of how to disrupt a critical national infrastructure site, a grey zone actor may take a completely different approach that could be even more effective and wholly unexpected.

However, grey zone threats do not exist in a silo and have not replaced armed conflict entirely. As recent events in Nagorno-Karabach have shown, armed conflict is still very relevant. Another example is Russia, which has a portfolio of grey zone tactics in its arsenal but is still investing heavily in traditional military hardware such as tanks and missiles.

For the UK, this poses the challenge of maintaining the capability to fight and win a conventional peer-to-peer conflict while also building up defences against emerging grey zone threats. While the cyber threat is genuine, this does not negate the need to be able to deploy physical forces.

“It’s really about ensuring that we hedge the budget effectively,” Sewart argues. “I’ve read a fair bit around the Integrated Review. I think we are fortunate to have a reasonably significant defence budget in the UK. We need to employ that and adapt that budget accordingly.

“It is important still that we do provide our military with the critical mass of forces across the land, air and maritime environment appropriately. There is no doubt that the critical mass of our forces is significant to combating threats; however, I think we also need to ensure that we are investing in the skills and technologies needed to combat grey zone tactics.”

He adds that the capital investment in some of the technologies required to meet grey zone challenges is far lower than the cost of traditional equipment, such as a sixth-generation fighter aircraft, for example. When it comes to developing new defences against grey zone threats, he says, “we can get quite a lot of bang for our buck through the use of these technologies if managed appropriately”. (Source: army-technology.com)

30 Nov 20. DISA pinpoints three technology areas in revised strategic plan. The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency released a revised strategic plan Monday for fiscal 2021 and 2022 that identifies three core technology areas of focus where the agency “must direct our attention to achieve our overall mission objectives.”

The areas are cyber defense, cloud computing and Defense Enterprise Office Solutions. The latter is a new office tools contract. This is the second version of DISA’s strategic plan for fiscal 2019-2022, which was originally released in 2019.

“This refresh incorporates updates to our priorities in light of a changed strategic environment characterized by rapidly shifting global and cyberspace landscapes,” the introduction stated. “In this era of technological advancement in the cyber domain, DISA is continually seeking new ways to meet the needs of the end user that demands responsive, resilient, secure and high-quality IT services.”

In her letter from the director, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton noted that the Defense Department relied on DISA, as its top combat-support agency, to enable telework and COVID-19 pandemic response. The pandemic kicked off remote work for many of the department’s employees, which brought with it greater cybersecurity risks and sped up conversations around zero-trust cybersecurity architectures, senior IT officials at the Pentagon have said this year.

DISA’s cyber defense strategic focus area centers around zero trust, a model that inherently distrusts users trying to access systems. To enable that architecture, the strategic plan states that DISA must define the zero-trust reference architecture, which Norton said will be released by the end of the calendar year, develop policy, and test and implement capabilities.

Right now, DISA is working with the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command and the Pentagon’s chief information officer to develop a zero-trust lab environment “to replicate existing and near-state technologies to test zero trust capabilities,” the plan stated.

DISA also plans to bolster cyber defenses at network boundaries using threat intelligence, both internally and from commercial vendors. It plans to complete this project in FY22. The agency will also boost cybersecurity through cloud-based internet isolation, for which DISA awarded a $199m other transaction authority contract earlier this year.

The strategic plan also lays out increasing regional defenses and endpoint security. DISA plans to sustain its Joint Regional Security Stacks as well as update the stacks through technology refreshes in FY21 to FY22.

DISA also plans to enhance endpoint security through the Comply to Connect program, a cybersecurity program that boosts network security. Sunsetting legacy systems and migrating to Comply to Connect started in FY20 and is expected to end in FY22. DISA also plans to stand up its Enterprise Patch Management Service by FY21 so Pentagon components have a centralized platform to find software fixes.

In terms of the cloud, DISA highlights several agile software development activities as key enablers for the department’s cloud mission, including a DevSecOps framework, a DevOps metrics model and a departmentwide community of practice. The strategic plan lists three major lines of effort for the cloud, including the Cloud Based Internet Isolation tool. The other two are cloud access and security, and cloud infrastructure. For access and security, DISA wants to establish enterprise identity and authentication for the department’s cloud environments and “evolve” its cloud access and security offerings.

“During this strategic time frame, we will host critical traditional systems, divest outdated legacy computing systems, and where appropriate, shift to cloud-based alternatives,” the plan read. “We are actively onboarding new mission-critical applications and working toward an infrastructure technical refresh for [Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network] and [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] in 2021.”

For cloud infrastructure, DISA wants to deploy milCloud 2.0 on the SIPRnet and integrate common services that will be provided through the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, the Pentagon’s long-delayed enterprise cloud.

The final area, the Defense Enterprise Office Solution, is a commercial cloud offering that will provide the Microsoft Office suite across the department in an effort to standardize tools and applications across the department. The $4.4bn contract was recently re-awarded to General Dynamics Information Technology after several protests.

“In this strategic time frame, we will facilitate migration from legacy enterprise services to DEOS, and sunset legacy services,” the strategic plan read. “This includes standing up, testing and authorizing NIPRNet services within the continental United States, as well as initiating OCONUS and SIPRNet services.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

27 Nov 20. Israel to equip UAS with sense and avoid systems as airspace congestion grows. Israel’s civil and military airspace management organizations are working on developing new sense and avoid technologies to be fitted on all drones flying in the country’s airspace, to ensure safe separation of civil manned aircraft and drones from larger Israeli Air Force (IAF) unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Israel is a small country with a very congested air space. There is a need for light-weight sense-and-avoid systems to ensure IAF and civil drones – which are growing in size – do not collide. UAS account for more than 80% of flight hours performed by the IAF, operating mainly over “areas of interest” like the Gaza strip and Lebanon but passing through busy civil airspace areas in transit.

These drones are restricted to operate in low altitudes but experts tell Unmanned Airspace that the growing and steady use of civil drones for different missions is creating a problem. While the IAF’s UAS platforms are managed by military controllers in airbases and the national air control unit – operated jointly by the IAF and the Civil Aviation Authority – the danger of a small civil drone getting too close to one of these heavily-equipped military UAS is very becoming real. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

30 Nov 20. UAV Navigation Client Solutions Workshop. UAV Navigation recently held a workshop with its partner, Tecnobit – Grupo Oesía. The workshop was an international reference in the development of technology applied in strategic sectors as Aerospace and Security and Defense, showing navigation solutions developed during the last years.

In addition to carrying out a demonstration of the technological capabilities of UAV Navigation, the main objective of the day focused on seeking synergies between both companies that can be applied in the development, production, and integration of their products and systems.

The workshop was held at Air Marugán, an aerodrome located in the province of Segovia, with the essential collaboration of two of our clients, Alpha Unmanned Systems and WAKE Engineering (Grupo CPS), whose platforms carried out real autonomous flight operations.

At the beginning of the workshop Tobias Webster, General Director of UAV Navigation, and his team welcomed the attendees of the event and introduced the technology that was later applied in the demonstrations of the platforms. Special emphasis on the VECTOR family of autopilots that are developed in UAV Navigation was also made, where multiple applications of its products and systems were also discussed: pointing antennas, cameras, stabilization of devices, etc.

After the first introduction, it was time to see the platforms fly. Alpha Unmanned Systems with its ALPHA-800 rotary-wing platform and WAKE Engineering, with its FULMAR fixed-wing, served as a practical example to show the possibilities of the technological capabilities developed by UAV Navigation. During both demonstrations, UAV Navigation customers described the potential of their platforms and the capabilities of their solutions.

Among those who attended the event, representatives of the armed forces were present. They had professional needs to find an answer in the technology that both UAV Navigation and Tecnobit develop in their products, which can be equally applicable also in a civil environment. (Source: UAS VISION)

30 Nov 20. Ion-Propelled Drones for Urban Cargo Delivery. Undefined Technologies, a startup based in Doral, about 15 miles out of Miami, claims that it has managed to increase the thrust levels of ion propulsion systems to “unprecedented levels” with its “Air Tantrum” technology, enabling near-silent drones with no moving parts, that look like flying pallets.

All aircraft propulsion systems provide thrust by moving air or another propellant, and for the vast majority of drones that means some kind of fan or propeller spinning angled blades to push air through and create thrust in the opposite direction. Ionic propulsion, on the other hand, is entirely electromagnetic.

The process uses a high-voltage electric field to ionize the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the air, liberating electrons to create, primarily, a lot of positively-charged nitrogen molecules. These are drawn toward a negatively-charged electrode, usually in the form of a flat screen grid, and as they accelerate, they bang into other air molecules and bump them in the same direction to create an ionic wind.

The company’s presentation focuses on the benefits of an ionically propelled drone – namely, extremely quiet flight that would be much better for the urban soundscape (and noise pollution regulations) than the annoying buzz and whir of drone propellers. The company says its device flies at less than 7 decibels, softer than the sound of breathing or rustling leaves.

How it does so is, well, undefined. Here’s the entire text of the technology section on the company’s website:

“Since Thomas Townsend Brown discovered propulsion generated by asymmetrical electrodes in 1921 there had not been a significant break-thru which allow generation ion propulsion to levels which made it possible to develop VTOL crafts in atmospheric conditions. The Air Tantrum Technology (Patent Pending) uses innovative physics principles which increase thrust to unprecedented levels.” (Source: UAS VISION/Website; New Atlas)

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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.

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