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May 13, 2022 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

Finland’s top leaders press for rapid NATO membership

The push can be expected to have an influential impact on Sweden’s own decision-making process regarding NATO membership.

On the same subject

  • Here’s who will compete head-to-head to build the next homeland missile defense interceptor

    March 24, 2021 | International, Aerospace

    Here’s who will compete head-to-head to build the next homeland missile defense interceptor

    Two teams have been chosen out of three to proceed in a competition to build the Next-Generation Interceptor to defend the U.S. against intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  • The Army’s ‘triad of opportunity’

    December 31, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    The Army’s ‘triad of opportunity’

    By: Mike Gruss Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford is quick to remind his audience that the United States Army is one of the largest organizations in the world. Crawford understands the scope because, as the service’s top uniformed IT official, any way the Army wants to take advantage of the revolution taking place in information technology must go through his office. Crawford became the service’s chief information officer in August 2017 and since then has focused on the move to the cloud, hiring staff and protecting data. “A lot of things that we’re looking at are aspirational, but what I will tell you is institutionally we are fundamentally in a different place than we were just 12 months ago,” he said. Crawford spoke recently with C4ISRNET Editor Mike Gruss. C4ISRNET: Talk about the Army’s enterprise network and the major muscle movements taking place. LT. GEN. BRUCE CRAWFORD: For about the last 18 months, the Army’s been focused on the tactical network. We really needed to take a step back from 17 years of continuous combat and say, “Have we properly networked the soldier?” Of course, the answer was “No.” In terms of the enterprise, there are about three big pieces to it. One has to do with our data. It’s not just about storing our data. How do we better protect our data? If you pay attention to a lot of the research, 90 percent of the data that exists in the world today has been generated just in the last 24 months. You combine that with investments in cloud. So today it’s about $200 billion. By 2020-2021 it’s supposed to go to about $500 billion. One of the big focus areas has to be shifting from defending our networks to how do we protect our data. C4ISRNET: What else? CRAWFORD: I call it a triad of opportunity: you have got cloud, identity and access management and credentialing. Once we put our data in a secure, accessible, elastic environment, then how are we going to make sure that we can authenticate who you are, but you can actually access that data? So, taking on the issue of identity, credentialing and access management is the second leg in that stool. Last, but certainly not least, is the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The real value of that data is your ability to analyze that data, to predict what some of the challenges may be. C4ISRNET: Do you expect to see two-factor authentication or biometrics being used on the battlefield? CRAWFORD: That technology is here today. The vast majority of our Guard and Reserve forces don’t get a government-issued Blackberry. When they come to work, they bring their device. So why shouldn’t they be able to leverage their personal device and get access to information that has been put behind a two-party authentication firewall? One of the efforts that we have ongoing is to do exactly that. We’re looking at the next six months before we have that capability, at least able to test it and put it in the hands of soldiers. C4ISRNET: Some of those technologies will rely on the cloud. How does the cloud help the Army make decisions faster? CRAWFORD: Right now, the Army has 1,112 data centers. Our goal is to have about 296 centers by 2022. So, you’ve got to ask yourself, with cloud technology available, do we even need data centers? Being able to aggregate that data, allowing the deployed soldiers to not have to take servers to the battlefield with them. Giving them the ability to be lighter and more mobile and being able to access that data from anywhere they are on the battlefield. It’s pretty powerful in terms of increasing their mobility and the survivability of their data. C4ISRNET: How does cybersecurity fit into the Army’s modernization process? CRAWFORD: You’ve heard about this concept of multidomain operations. It’s not moving from this domain to this domain to this domain; it’s organizing ourselves as an Army and posturing ourselves as an institution to be lethal in all these environments at once if we had to. So this idea of cybersecurity is critical to that. It has to be a part of our DNA as we move forward. The vast majority of the intrusions and vulnerabilities are human error. Cybersecurity has to be a part of who we are. The position now is that every domain that you’re operating in is a contested environment. That requires a culture change to remain lethal. C4ISRNET: We hear a lot about Agile and Waterfall development. What’s needed across the Army to make sure that it happens? CRAWFORD: A shared understanding of the problem. We recognized software optimization was a problem. The Army’s expending a considerable amount of resources just on software sustainment over the [Future Year Defense Program]. Recognizing that it’s an issue and then pulling together key stakeholders, not just the services, but organizations like the [National Security Agency] or organizations like FBI and CIA, which can innovate at a pace much faster than we can. My No. 1 concern when it comes to software optimization has to do with the resiliency of the applications developed by industry. A lot of the applications, they work great in the lab. But when you put them on a network, especially our tactical network, and then you have to try and extend that to the disadvantaged user at the tip of the spear? A lot of the applications don’t perform as well as they would in a sterile environment. Applications have got to be more resilient. C4ISRNET: The storage of data is a challenge, but also the integration between networks or databases. What are the steps you’re taking to make sure that soldiers can get all the information they need? CRAWFORD: One of the efforts that excites me the most has to do with this idea of a common operating environment. You’re going to take 19 disparate battle command systems and collapse them onto three specific environments — a handheld environment, a mounted environment and a command post environment — and each is going to have the same look and feel. Now think about the infrastructure. If you can collapse these systems — all with their own server farms, all with their own standards, all developed by different people, all from different organizations — if you can collapse those all onto a common operating environment, think of the things that you can divest of, but also think of the complexity. We really need to remove the burden of integration from the backs of soldiers. There is a lot of value in that, to include increased mobility for the soldier. C4ISRNET: What are some of the technologies that get you excited? CRAWFORD: The U.S. Army is the third-largest organization of any kind in the world. You’ve got to ask yourself, “Do we have total asset visibility? Do we have the ability to know what’s on our network?” Enterprise license agreements and the things of that nature. Imagine the power of that, if you had 100-percent visibility — not just of your network from a cybersecurity perspective, but when it comes to a term that I am calling information technology accountability, or investment accountability. If you had 100-percent investment accountability, meaning you knew every time an IT dollar was spent, who spent it and was that done against one of your modernization priorities. C4ISRNET: Those are a lot of the same problems that we see in the business world. You’re not starting from scratch. You can use commercial products. CRAWFORD: Absolutely. So, there are several things that we are looking to partner more closely with industry. It’s the technologies that give us total asset visibility and reduce the number of tools, reduce the number of enterprise license agreements, help us with better visibility of cybersecurity. Then there’s another that I’m really interested in: it’s talent. Do we have the talent, right now on board, to deliver the technologies that the Army’s going to need in 2028 and the answer is no. We’re in a race for talent. We’ve got an effort called “Workforce 2028” that is looking at the 13,600 IT professionals ... We’ve looked and asked, “OK, what skill sets are really required, based on what we know now, in the next 5 to 10 years?” That’s a tough one. C4ISRNET: What do you hope to accomplish in the next 12 months? CRAWFORD: I talked about a race for talent. That’s really important that we posture ourselves to get the right people on the team. C4ISRNET: How do you measure that, though? CRAWFORD: Well, you’ve got to measure it in terms of knowing what skill sets you need, so there’s some work that has to be done upfront and we’re doing that work now. And you either began — you created a process to allow you to iterate and field the skill sets — or you didn’t. It won’t be that difficult to measure, but it’s got to be an institutional approach. It’s not just in the Pentagon. I want to be able to tell you a year from now that we have created a process or leveraged an existing process, because we’ve actually been granted some authorities by Congress and others over the last couple of years to better posture ourselves. The other thing has to do with protecting our data. Over the next four years, I want to put 25 percent of 8,000 existing applications in a cloud hosting environment. And I’ve created a process that allows us to do that. It’s in support of and synchronized with where the DoD, Mr. [Dana] Deasy is going with the JEDI effort. We live in times now where status quo can no longer be the norm.

  • Here’s how the Trump administration could make it easier to sell military drones

    December 20, 2017 | International, Aerospace

    Here’s how the Trump administration could make it easier to sell military drones

    WASHINGTON — The United States is actively pursuing a change to a major arms control treaty that would open the door for wider exports of military drones. The proposed change to the Missile Technology Control Regime would make it easier for nations to sell the systems, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, that fly under 650 km per hour, according to multiple sources who are aware of the efforts. The MTCR is an agreement among 35 nations that governs the export of missiles and UAVs. Under the terms of the MTCR, any “category-1” system capable of carrying 500-kilogram payloads for more than 300 kilometers is subject to a “strong presumption of denial.” Proponents of UAV exports argue that language, while appropriate for curtailing the sale of cruise missiles, should not group together expandable weapons and unmanned systems. Instead, they argue, UAVs should be looked at the same way fighter jets or other high-tech military vehicles are. As part of an effort to find a compromise, American officials floated a white paper during the latest plenary session on the MTCR in October, proposing new language to the treaty: that any air vehicle that flies under 650 kilometers per hour would drop to “category-2” and thus be subject to approval on a case-by-case basis. A State Department official confirmed to Defense News that the U.S. presented the white paper, and that American negotiators have zeroed in on the speed of the vehicles as a potential change to the treaty. However, the official declined to comment on the exact speed under consideration. “I can’t confirm any specific numbers because it’s treated — inside the MTCR — as proprietary ... particularly because there’s a deliberative process,” the official said. “But I can tell you that speed is the thing that we, based on industry input and all, have looked at. And that’s what we have discussed with partners. And I know other governments are also looking at speed as well, so we’re all sort of coming to a similar conclusion.” Under the MTCR, a “presumption of denial” about exports for category-1 systems exists. In essence, that means countries tied into the MTCR need to have a very compelling case to sell them. However, the speed change, if adopted, would result in most drones used by the U.S. military dropping down from category-1 to category-2, allowing the U.S. to sell them through the traditional foreign military sale or direct commercial sale methods. “Treating drones as missiles is fundamentally incoherent. It reflects a 1980s view of the technology,” said Michael Horowitz, a former Pentagon official now with the University of Pennsylvania who has studied drone issues. “To the extent creating a speed delineation helps you get around that problem, it’s a good practical solution.” The impact of speed Most medium-altitude, long-endurance systems like General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper fly at slow speeds, with the Reaper clocking in with a cruise speed of 230 mph or 370 kph, according to an Air Force facts sheet. Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, a high-altitude ISR drone, flies only at a cruise speed of about 357 mph or 575 kph. The 650 kph ceiling would also keep the door open for companies developing cutting-edge rotorcraft that could be modified in the future to be unmanned — a key request made by the companies involved in the Future Vertical Lift consortium, said one industry source. Those companies include Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky-Boeing team, both of which are developing high-speed rotorcraft that can fly at excess of 463 kph, or 250 knots, for the Army’s Joint Multi Role technology demonstrator program. However, the limitation would ensure that some of the United States’ most technologically advanced UAVs stay out of the grasp of other nations. For example, it would prevent the proliferation of jet-powered, fast moving flying wing drones like Boeing’s Phantom Ray and Northrop Grumman’s X-47B demonstrators, both of which can cruise at near-supersonic speeds. While the UAV industry wants the U.S. government to pick up the pace on drone export reform, the State Department and other agencies argue that a prudent approach is needed. For example, any change to the MTCR that loosens restrictions on low-speed drones also needs to be closely examined to ensure that missile technology is still strictly controlled. “We don’t want any unintended consequences, so it has to be crafted carefully. We don’t want to inadvertently drop something else out like a cruise missile,” the State Department official said. The focus on speed is particularly smart at a time when countries are focused on increasing the speed of their munitions, Horowitz said. He pointed to growing investments in hypersonic weapons as an example where creating a speed delineation in the MTCR would allow the U.S. to push for greater UAV exports while “holding the line on exports of next-generation missiles.” Industry desires Industry has long argued that the United States has taken an overly proscriptive route, hamstringing potential drone sales to allies and pushing them into the arms of more nefarious actors such as China, the other major UAV producer on the worldwide market. Modifying the MTCR is just one facet of the Trump administration’s review of drone export policy, which also includes taking a second look at domestic regulations that can be amended by the president at will. Because changes to the MTCR require consensus among the regime’s 35 member countries, industry sees it as a direly-needed, but long-term solution. “Now we have lighter-than-air vehicles; we have intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance [UAVs]. We still have cruise missiles, we have aircraft that could autonomous for cargo and other purposes. But [the MTCR] doesn’t distinguish between any of that, so a revisit of those MTCR rules is in order for things that fly and can fly autonomously,” said Aerospace Industries Association President David Melcher during a December 14 roundtable with reporters. American firms are particularly concerned about losing out on sales in the Middle East. China has already exported its Wing Loong — a medium altitude, long endurance UAV that resembles General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator — to multiple countries worldwide, including some close U.S. partners such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, sales of U.S.-made drones have been rarer, with many Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE only able to buy unarmed versions of American UAVs, even though those nations regularly purchase more technologically advanced weaponry like fighter jets from the United States. The State official noted that any change in the MTCR would not need to wait until the next plenary session, but could be introduced in some form as early as an April technical meeting. And at least one industry source was optimistic about the administration’s MTCR reform plan. “They’re taking a pretty smart process in not trying to tackle everything at once, but trying to get some of the language corrected in small bites,” the source said. “I don’t see this as being an overnight process. I don’t think we’re going to end up in the next six months with a brand new MTCR policy.” However, Horowitz warned that the nature of the MTCR, where any single country could veto such a change, means getting any changes will not be easy. Russia, for example, could block the move not on technical reasons but geopolitical ones, given relations between Moscow and Washington. If that happens, Horowitz noted, the U.S. could potentially look to apply the 650 kph speed definition on its own, something possible because of the voluntary nature of the MTCR.

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