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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

28 May 14. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) series, which includes the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk, set a new record for mission hours flown in one week, logging 665 hours flying operational and exercise missions during the week ending Feb. 23. In 2013, Global Hawk flew an average of 433.8 hours a week. The weekly record of 665 hours set in February 2014 is 53 percent above last year’s average. That is the equivalent of almost four Global Hawks in the air around the clock for an entire week. The HALE UAS series have exceeded 110,000 total flight hours supporting diverse global missions. More than 87 percent of those missions were for the Air Force, others were for the U.S. Navy, NASA and other customers. The system’s increased flight hours combined with stable support costs continue to drive down flight hour costs. The Air Force reported that for 2013, Global Hawk cost per hour was reduced almost 30 percent compared to 2012 and it continues to drop. The Air Force has 32 Global Hawks in service around the globe. “Global Hawk is in operation today, setting performance records that are benefitting customers around the world,” said Mick Jaggers, Global Hawk UAS Program Director, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Effective, cost-efficient intelligence is in demand, and our teams deliver this to the Air Force, Navy, NASA and other customers every day.”

26 May 14. DARPA Unveils Hack-Proof UAS. The Pentagon’s research arm unveiled a new UAS built with secure software that prevents the control and navigation of the aircraft from being hacked. The programme, called High Assurance Cyber Military Systems, or HACMS, uses software designed to thwart cyber attacks. It has been underway with the Defense Advance Research Project Agency for several years after originating at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington, said Kathleen Fischer, HACMS programme manager for DARPA. “The software is designed to make sure a hacker cannot take over control of a UAS. The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack,” Fisher said. The mini UAS is engineered with mathematically assured software making it invulnerable to cyber attack. Citing the success of mock-enemy or “red-team” exercises wherein cyber experts tried to hack into the quadcopter and failed, Fisher indicated that DARPA experts have referred to the prototype quadcopter as the most secure UAS in the world. “We started out with the observation that many vehicles are easy for malicious hackers to tamper with the software and take control remotely. We’ve replaced all the software with our high assurance software that was developed using the tools and techniques that were invented in the programme,” Fisher said. The UAS prototype was among more than 100 projects and 29 advanced research programmes on display in the Pentagon’s courtyard Wednesday in what was billed as DARPA Demo Day. The HACMS programme develops system architecture models, software components and operating system software, DARPA officials said. Vulnerabilities or security issues can arise when UAS or other military aircraft are “networked” to one another such that they can share information in real time. Security risks can emerge through network protocols, software bugs or unintended interactions between otherwise correct components, DARPA officials explained. “Many things have computers inside and those computers are networked to talk to other things. Whenever you have that situation, you have the possibility for remote vulnerabilities where somebody can use the network connection to take over and get the device to do what the attacker wants instead of what the owner wants,” Fisher explained. The software tools used for the HACMS programme can be adjusted to larger platforms. In fact, DARPA plans to transition the secure software to Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird helicopter, DARPA officials sa

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