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April 6, 2018 | International, C4ISR

In Army’s newest unit, everyone learns cyber skills


Prior to its deployment to Afghanistan, the Army’s newest unit received special assistance in cyber and electronic warfare techniques.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, is a first of its kind specialized group designed solely to advise and assist local, indigenous forces. As such, these units need specialized equipment and received training from Army Cyber Command on offensive and defensive cyber operations, as well as electronic warfare and information operations, Army Cyber Command commander Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone wrote in prepared testimony before the Senate Armed Services Cyber Subcommittee in early March.

The distinct makeup of the unit ― smaller than a typical brigade and lacking all the resources and technical expertise therein ― means the operators at the tactical edge have to do the networking and troubleshooting themselves in addition to advising battalion sized Afghan units. The command’s tailored support sought to advise SFAB personnel how best to leverage a remote enterprise to achieve mission effects, according to the spokesman. That means knowing how to perform electronic warfare and cyber tasks are part of every soldier’s basic skill set.

This was unique support with tailored training to meet the SFAB’s advisory role mission, an Army Cyber Command spokesman said.

Team members from Army Cyber Command specializing in offensive cyber and defensive cyber to serve as instructors during SFAB’s validation exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana in January, a command spokesman told Fifth Domain. Electronic warfare personnel from 1st SFAB were also briefed on how cyber capabilities in use in Afghanistan currently support U.S. Forces.

Specifically, the trainers provided the unit’s communications teams best practices to harden networks.

The Army Cyber Command team discussed planning factors working with down-range networks and mission relevant cyber terrain with the SFAB, specifically, the need to maintain situational awareness of the blue network and ability to identify key cyber terrain, the Army Cyber Command spokesman said.

The unit was also given lessons on implementing defensive measure using organic tools.

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  • Thales integrated sonar suite selected for Spanish Navys New Multi-Mission Frigates

    December 13, 2019 | International, Naval

    Thales integrated sonar suite selected for Spanish Navys New Multi-Mission Frigates

    November 12, 2019 - The General Directorate for Armament and Material (DGAM) and the naval shipyard Navantia have selected Thales technologies for the Spanish Navy's five new multi-mission frigates. The vessels' anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, based on two world-class sonars, the CAPTAS 4 Compact and the BlueMaster, and the BlueScan digital acoustic system, will be integrated through Navantia Combat Management System SCOMBA F110 and will enable the service to conduct maritime surveillance, search and protection missions in any theatre of operations. To protect their maritime territory and security interests around the world, States need to counter all types of threats in any environment or theatre of operations. Naval forces need reliable, high-performance systems to assert national sovereignty and accomplish their ASW missions with optimum effect. The choice of Thales technologies, which have been extensively proven in service with navies around the world, provides the highest levels of protection available today. BlueScan is a collaborative ASW solution that processes significantly higher volumes of sonar data from various different platforms to provide the operator with a complete overview of the acoustic situation in real time. The solution leverages Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies to bring naval forces a tactical advantage. Under this contract, key underwater acoustics technology will be transferred to Spanish industry, in particular for the supply of the TUUM-6 digital underwater communication system and acoustic arrays. “After two years of talks with the Spanish Navy and Navantia about this contract to equip five F110 frigates, we welcome Spain's decision to join other NATO countries (the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Norway) and Australia in placing their trust in Thales for their anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. To help their naval forces conduct their missions in today's heightened underwater threat environment, Thales has invested for many years in Australia, France and the United Kingdom to develop a unique set of digital sonar data processing and analytics technologies. Given the complexity of the underwater environment and the level of sophistication of the adversary, digitalisation and data fusion techniques are the only effective way to counter undersea threats in the 21st century. With our Spanish partners, and with Navantia in particular, we are very pleased to have the opportunity to strengthen our cooperation on this programme, in which local industry will play a significant role in producing, integrating and maintaining the systems alongside the Spanish Navy." Alexis Morel, Vice President, Underwater Systems, Thales •    Thales sonars and acoustic systems will provide the Spanish Navy's five F110 frigates with a latest-generation anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. •    The key components of the integrated suite are the BlueMaster (UMS 4110) and CAPTAS 4 Compact sonars, the TUUM-6 underwater communication system, and the BlueScan digital acoustic system already in service with other European navies. •    Spanish industry partners will supply some of the high-tech equipment under a decisive transfer of technology programme put in place by Thales. View source version on Thales:

  • Voici le tableau de bord “portable et virtuel” qui équipera un avion de chasse nouvelle génération

    October 9, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    Voici le tableau de bord “portable et virtuel” qui équipera un avion de chasse nouvelle génération

    par Yohan Demeure Abandonner les instruments traditionnels actuellement utilisés pour piloter, et adopter une planche virtuelle qui fera office de tableau de bord. Voici le concept qui équipera un avion de chasse nouvelle génération. Adieu boutons, cadrans, manettes, etc. Place au virtuel dans les futurs avions de chasse ! Il s’agit d’un projet développé par BAE Systems, une société britannique œuvrant dans les secteurs de la défense et de l’aérospatial. Selon un communiquépublié le 21 septembre 2018, il est question d’un tableau de bord vierge, sur lequel sera projetée l’intégralité des informations de vol depuis le casque du pilote, une sorte de cockpit portable (wearable cockpit). Le but est ici de permettre au pilote de ne plus lâcher le manche des mains en cours de vol, et d’éviter à ce dernier de se perdre dans une multitude d’informations. Le tableau de bord virtuel est équipé d’une intelligence artificielle et d’un système de détection du regard. Il est destiné à être reconfigurable à souhait, adaptable au contexte du moment, mais également évolutif (voir schéma ci-dessous). «Le point le plus important sera de déterminer l’objectif du pilote, et d’utiliser des systèmes intelligents pour assurer la performance des tâches et réduire la charge de travail du pilote. Nous voulons faire cela de manière à ne pas toujours demander la permission, car cela deviendrait rapidement très pénible, mais il est essentiel que le pilote sache clairement quelle est la tâche exécutée par le système intelligent », a déclaré Jean Page, responsable technique du projet. Il s’agit ici clairement de vaincre ce que l’on appelle la tunnélisation de l’attention(ou tunnélisation attentionnelle). C’est le fait que le pilote se focalise à 100 % sur un éventuel problème en cours de vol, ignorant les alertes des paramètres de vol. Cela peut même aller jusqu’aux manœuvres de pilotage les plus élémentaires, qui conduisent à la perte de contrôle puis à l’accident. Selon BAE Systems, ce nouveau dispositif actuellement en développement est destiné à équiper le futur avion de chasse Eurofighter Tempest, qui vise à remplacer l’Eurofighter Typhoon dès 2025. Il s’agit d’un avion développé par le consortium Eurofighter GmbH (Royaume-Uni, Italie, Allemagne et Espagne). Sources : New Atlas – Futura Sciences

  • US Air Force delays timeline for testing a laser on a fighter jet

    July 6, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    US Air Force delays timeline for testing a laser on a fighter jet

    By: Valerie Insinna  WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s long-planned test of an airborne laser weapon aboard a fighter jet has been delayed until 2023 due to technical challenges and complications spurred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, its program head said. The Air Force’s Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator program, or SHiELD, had originally planned to conduct its first flight demonstration in 2021, but the test has been pushed two years back, said Jeff Heggemeier, SHiELD program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory. “This is a really complex technology to try to integrate into that flight environment, and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do with this program, is demonstrate that laser technology is mature enough to be able to integrate onto that airborne platform,” he told Defense News in a June 10 interview. “But even things like COVID, and COVID shutting down the economy. That has impacts.” Beyond that, the future of using laser weapons aboard fighter aircraft is even more unclear. The goal of SHiELD was to give combat jets a way to counter missiles shot by an enemy aircraft or by air defense systems on the ground. But in May, Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, noted that he was “extremely skeptical” that an airborne laser could be used for missile defense. Asked what that meant for SHiELD, Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper acknowledged that the service is rethinking how it could best use directed-energy technologies. Perhaps the most optimal use for SHiELD wasn’t onboard a fighter, he said. “What I’ve told that team is, let’s have a dialogue,” Roper said during a June 9 event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “Let’s understand the different power levels and what they should correspond to, and let’s not make the highest power level that we can dream up and the mission that’s the sexiest be the thing that drives us.” “What I expect to get laser weapons to the goal line has been the humble, but important and very worrisome small drone threat. They continue to show up, they’re difficult to attribute — we don’t know who is sending them to our installations and tests and things of that nature, and we can’t afford to shoot missiles at them,” he added. “So this is a perfect threat to make laser weapons real, and once they’re real, we’ll do what the military does. We’ll look to scale the power.” Heggemeier said there are many ways the Air Force could spin off laser technologies developed by the SHiELD program, but it’s critical the service continue with development so it can gauge the maturity and usefulness of the capabilities. “I think it’s important for us to first remember what the whole point of SHiELD is. The whole point of SHiELD is not an acquisition program where we’re turning out hundreds or tens of these laser systems for operational use. What we’re trying to do with SHiELD is exactly answer those questions of: ‘Is laser technology mature enough to go on an airborne platform? Have we solved enough of those technical challenges that this is now a feasible thing?’ Because there is that concern.” He also drew a distinction between the tactical, self-defense capability a SHiELD laser would give combat aircraft versus a more powerful laser capable of intercepting highly-advanced ballistic missiles, as the Missile Defense Agency has proposed. “You’re not talking about these really, really long ranges. You’re talking about a shorter range and different targets just to protect yourself or your wingman,” Heggemeier said. “Missile defense can mean a lot of things. Some of those missile defense missions are very, very hard, and some of them aren’t quite so hard.” For now, at least, the Air Force’s investment in directed energy remains stable. The service’s budget lays out cash for high-energy lasers in multiple funding lines. For fiscal 2021, it requested $15.1 million for basic research and $45.1 million for applied research for high-energy laser technology, as well as another $13 million for high-power, solid-state laser technology. In FY20, the service received $14.8 million for basic research and $48.2 million for applied research for laser technologies. SHiELD is comprised of three elements: the laser itself, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin; the beam control system made by Northrop Grumman; and the pod that encases the weapons system, from Boeing. Heggemeier said the pod is under construction, with integration of the laser and beam control system planned to start next year. “A lot of the challenge is trying to get all of this stuff into this small pod. If you look at other lasers that are fairly mature, we have other laser systems that some other contractors have built that are ready to be deployed. But these are ground-based systems, and they are much, much more mature,” he said. In April 2019, the Air Force Research Lab conducted a ground test with a surrogate laser system — the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System, or DLWS, now in use by the Army. The demonstration involved the successful downing of several air-to-air missiles. “It turns out the DLWS system, when you take everything into account, is a really good surrogate for the laser power on SHiELD,” Heggemeier said. Because both SHiELD and DLWS generate similar amounts of energy on target — in SHiELD’s case, Heggemeier would only say that it amounts to “tens of kilowatts” — the surrogate test gave the lab a good idea how the laser physically affects a target. In 2019, the team conducted a flight test of a pod with the same outer mold line as the one under development by Boeing. The pod was mounted to an aircraft — Heggemeier declined to specify the model — and flown around Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to help measure how vibrations, the force of gravity and other environmental factors might influence the performance of the weapon. Air Force Magazine reported in 2019 that aerial demonstrations of SHiELD would occur onboard an F-15 fighter jet.

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