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  • Here’s the Philippine military’s wish list for its newly approved modernization phase

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Here’s the Philippine military’s wish list for its newly approved modernization phase

    By: Mike Yeo MELBOURNE, Australia ― The Philippine government has confirmed that the second phase of its military modernization plan has been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, clearing the way for the southeast Asian nation to replace some of its elderly and obsolete equipment. The confirmation by Philippine Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong on Wednesday will now allow the country to implement sorely needed recapitalization of some of its equipment, the oldest of which dates back to World War II. Andolong also confirmed that the budget for the five-year Horizon 2 modernization program, which will run from 2018-2022, has been set at some 300 billion Philippine pesos (U.S. $5.6 billion). According to sources in the Philippines, this amount will be split into $890 million for the Army, $1.44 billion for the Navy and $2.61 billion for the Air Force, with the rest of the budget going to the military's General Headquarters and the government's arsenal. The list of equipment the Philippines is seeking to acquire under the Horizon 2 program includes multirole fighters, airlifters, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy lift helicopters for the Air Force, while the Army is seeking more artillery, light tanks and multiple rocket launchers. The budget for the Air Force includes an amount set aside for combat utility helicopters. A contract signed in February with the Canadian government for Bell 412 helicopters was canceled after Canadian politicians raised concerns about the Duterte administration's human rights record in its ongoing war on drugs. The Philippines is reportedly now seeking to acquire the helicopters through a commercial sale, while an alternative option of buying the South Korean Korea Aerospace Industires Surion helicopter has also been floated. The Navy's priority will be the acquisition of two corvettes and a similar number of multirole offshore patrol vessels. Other items on its wish list include more anti-submarine helicopters and amphibious assault vehicles, the latter for the country's Marine Corps. Andolong also confirmed that the Navy wants to acquire an unspecified number of submarines under Horizon 2. However, this could prove difficult under a limited budget and because the country's has no experience operating and sustaining a submarine capability. The Philippines, which is an archipelagic nation made up of more than 7,600 islands, faces a myriad security challenges ranging from disputes with China and other southeast Asian countries over the ownership of islands and features in the South China Sea, to ongoing insurgencies with communist guerrillas and Muslim separatists that includes Islamic State-linked militants. In May 2017, the latter seized control of the city of Marawi in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, leading to a five-month siege by government forces, which resulted in large parts of the city being badly damaged during operations to recapture it. During the operation, the United States, which has a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, provided intelligence and surveillance assistance to government forces with its manned and unmanned aircraft. https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2018/06/21/heres-the-philippine-militarys-wish-list-for-its-newly-approved-modernization-phase/

  • US Must Hustle On Hypersonics, EW, AI: VCJCS Selva & Work

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    US Must Hustle On Hypersonics, EW, AI: VCJCS Selva & Work

    By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. WASHINGTON: China is besting the United States in key military technologies like hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare, Gen. Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs said today. We can still catch up, he predicted. What about Artificial Intelligence? That's too close to call, said former deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, so we'd better get a move on. Both men spoke at a CNAS conference on “Strategic Competition: Maintaining The Edge.” “I actually regret talking about the Third Offset Strategy, in hindsight,” Work said, referring to the high-tech initiative he launched in the Obama Pentagon. “It made it sound like we had the advantage and we had the time to think about it and go through the motions.... I wish I would have said, ‘we need to start about upsetting the Chinese offset, which is coming uncomfortably close to achieving technological parity with the US.' “At this point, I would think that the outcome is too close to call,” Work said. “It's time for the US to crack the whip. (Let's) hope it's not too late.” Hypersonics & Electronic Warfare So what are some of these shortfalls? The most high-profile is hypersonics, weapons designed to move through the atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound. Defense Undersecretary for R&D Mike Griffin has made hypersonics his top priority and has warned that China has conducted 20 times more tests than the US. China has demonstrated some impressive technology, Gen. Selva said today, but the race is far from over. “They haven't mass-deployed hypersonics or long-range ballistic missiles,” he said. “What they have done is proven the technologies, so they are able now to deploy those capabilities on a larger scale. “We are behind in the demonstration of many of those technologies,” Selva admitted, elaborating on a statement he made in January, “but we also can take asymmetric approaches and catch up. We are way ahead in a lot of the sensor integration technologies” — essential for telling the hyper-fast weapons where to go — “and we have to maintain that edge.” What about Electronic Warfare, I asked? Detecting, triangulating, and jamming enemy radio transmissions has long been a Russian strength and is increasingly a Chinese one, while the US disbanded many of its EW forces after the Cold War. Selva's answer got into technical nuances I hadn't heard before. “We're a step behind,” Selva said. “It's not hard to catch up, but as soon as you catch up the fast followers will actually leap over the top of you — and that's the dynamic that's set up by having digital radio frequency management capability.” DRFM, also called Digital Radio Frequency Memory, uses modern computing power to record enemy radio and radar signals, modify them, and copy them, allowing forces to transmit a false signal that the enemy can't tell from the real thing. It's a much more effective way of “spoofing” than traditional analog techniques, which suffered from telltale signal degradation. “We assumed wrongly that encryption and our domination in the precision timing signals would allow us to evade the enemy in the electromagnetic spectrum,” Selva said. It turns that that timing is everything in EW as well as comedy. While GPS is now part of daily life, a much less well-known feature is that GPS requires incredibly precise timing — within about three-billionths of a second — which can be used for other purposes, such as coordinating different radios as they switch rapidly from one frequency to another to avoid enemy detection and jamming. But apparently that wasn't enough to evade DRFM-based jamming, which can create a false timing signal that causes the entire network to fall out of synch. “We took a path that they have now figured out,” Selva said. “The Chinese and the Russians took an alternative path, which was to employ digitally managed radio frequency manipulation, which changed the game in electronic warfare. “We have done an in-depth study of where we are relative to the Chinese and Russians (across) the entire spectrum, and we've got some work to do,” Selva said. “We have to figure out alternative pathways for communications and command and control so it doesn't have to be an RF (Radio Frequency) game...It's an RF game because we chose to make it so.” He didn't specify what the alternatives to radio communication were, but there's been promising work using lasers to beam messages. (Breaking D readers will remember that we first reported the demise of America's lead in spectrum four years ago.) Securing our communications networks isn't enough, Work told me afterwards, because every weapon system now has chips in it that can be hacked into. “We have focused on securing network communications, but our biggest vulnerabilities now, Sydney, are in the DoD Internet of Things — the way you can crack into the network through platforms (e.g. tanks, aircraft, ships) and through components on platforms,” Work said. “The Russians and the Chinese understand these vulnerabilities and really try to exploit them.” So there are really three fronts in cyber/electronic warfare, and Work isn't sanguine about any of them. “Dominating the electromagnetic spectrum, and securing the DoD Internet of Things, and securing networks, all of these three things, in my view, we're well behind in,” he told me. The whole “Chinese theory of victory,” he said, is known (in translation) as “systems destruction warfare” because it focuses on electronically paralyzing command-and-control rather than physically destroying tanks, ships, and planes. Artificial Intelligence Now, artificial intelligence could potentially revolutionize electronic warfare. Computers can identify signals, trace them, and making jamming decisions much faster than human minds — a concept called “cognitive EW.” But that's just one of the many military applications of AI, from advising human commanders to coordinating swarms of combat robots. While Selva didn't address Artificial Intelligence, Work did; it's one of his passions and the central theme of the (now deprecated) Third Offset Strategy. So who's ahead in AI? Defense Innovation Advisory Board chairman Eric Schmidt, a former Google AI guru, told Work he had once thought the US was five years ahead of the Chinese, Work recounted. But after a recent trip to China, Work recounted, Schmidt changed his verdict: “If we have six months, we're lucky.” Schmidt said last year that the US lacks a coherent strategy to counter the Chinese in this area. The US has never been in a competition this intense, Work said. China has made AIan official national priority — something he thinks the White House should do here — and the Chinese have great coders. The Pentagon is now creating a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, something Schmidt's DIB proposed over a year ago, Work noted. “We've got a lot of advantages and we can do very, very well in this race but don't take anything for granted,” Work told me. Just as politicians are warned never to take victory for granted, neither should DoD. “It's a political rule to always run like you're losing, and that's what we have to do in this area....The Chinese are very clever and very capable competitors, and they're intent on surpassing us.” https://breakingdefense.com/2018/06/us-must-hustle-on-hypersonics-ew-ai-vcjcs-selva-work/

  • Here’s who will lead the DoD group that could decide the future of military shopping

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Here’s who will lead the DoD group that could decide the future of military shopping

    By: Karen Jowers A retired Army major general and former retail executive will lead a Pentagon task force that is examining the case for a possible merger of the military exchange and commissary systems, Defense officials announced Thursday. Keith Thurgood, who was also the chief executive officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service from 2007 to 2010, will start work Monday. If the task force business case analysis confirms that consolidation is the right approach, and if Defense Department officials back that finding, Thurgood will serve as the consolidated organization's executive director until the permanent position is advertised and filled, according to a May 29 memo directing the task force's formation. The retired Reserve major general has more than 28 years of military service and has held executive positions at PepsiCo & Frito-Lay Inc., Sam's Club, Overseas Military Sales Corporation, and MedAssets, Inc. He will take a sabbatical from his current position as clinical professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. He could serve up to two years on the task force. The task force will examine “back office” operations of the exchanges and commissaries, such as information technology, human resources and accounting. It will first determine whether the exchange systems ― AAFES, Navy Exchange Service Command, and Marine Corps Exchange ― could be combined with one corporate “backbone.” Then members will determine whether the Defense Commissary Agency could be merged into that system. Consolidation of the stores wouldn't necessarily mean that commissaries and exchanges would be combined into one store. Officials are also looking at keeping the individual branding of the exchange stores on military bases, as they combine behind-the-scenes operations. “With General Thurgood's leadership, understanding of the customer experience, and private sector experience in the retail space, the task force will evaluate our potential to generate efficiencies and scrutinize the above-the-store business aspects of the exchange system, with a goal of validating and defining our execution plan for the way forward,” said John H. Gibson, II, DoD's chief management officer, in the DoD announcement. https://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/2018/06/21/heres-who-will-lead-the-dod-group-that-could-decide-the-future-of-military-shopping/

  • Why the head of NATO says there’s ‘no guarantee’ that the trans-Atlantic alliance will survive

    June 22, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Why the head of NATO says there’s ‘no guarantee’ that the trans-Atlantic alliance will survive

    By: Jill Lawless, The Associated Press LONDON — The bonds between Europe and North America are under strain and there's no guarantee the trans-Atlantic partnership will survive, the head of NATO warned Thursday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for an effort to shore up the military alliance amid the divisions between Europe and the United States over trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. “It is not written in stone that the trans-Atlantic bond will survive forever,” Stoltenberg said during a speech in London. “But I believe we will preserve it.” NATO has been shaken by U.S. President Donald Trump's “America First” stance and mistrust of international institutions. Trump once called NATO obsolete and has repeatedly berated other members of the 29-nation alliance of failing to spend enough on defense. Ahead of a NATO summit in July, Stoltenberg said “we may have seen the weakening” of some bonds between North America and Europe. But he insisted that “maintaining the trans-Atlantic partnership is in our strategic interests.” Stoltenberg said the world faced “the most unpredictable security environment in a generation” due to terrorism, proliferating weapons of mass destruction, cyberattacks and an assertive Russia. “We must continue to protect our multilateral institutions like NATO, and we must continue to stand up for the international rules-based order,” he said. After meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing St., Stoltenberg praised Britain, one of a minority of NATO countries to meet a target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. He said that despite differences between the U.S. and Europe, NATO delivered “trans-Atlantic unity” every day. “We have had differences before, and the lesson of history is that we overcome these differences every time,” Stoltenberg said. Some European officials worry the Trump administration is cool on efforts to hold Russia to account for misdeeds including election meddling and the nerve-agent poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in England, which the U.K. blames on Moscow. At a G-7 summit this month, Trump suggested that Russia should be readmitted to the group of industrial powers, from which it was expelled over its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Some U.S. allies are concerned by reports that Trump plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin when the American leader travels to Europe for the NATO summit next month. But Stoltenberg said meeting Putin does not contradict NATO policies. “We are in favor of dialogue with Russia,” he said. “We don't want a new cold war. We don't want a new arms race. We don't want to isolate Russia.” https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/06/21/why-the-head-of-nato-says-theres-no-guarantee-that-the-trans-atlantic-alliance-will-survive/

  • Here’s what the Czech military wants to buy with its record $4.5B modernization program

    June 21, 2018 | Aerospace, Land, C4ISR

    Here’s what the Czech military wants to buy with its record $4.5B modernization program

    Jaroslaw Adamowski WARSAW, Poland — Lt. Gen. Ales Opata, the chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, has unveiled plans by the country to spend 100 billion koruna (U.S. $4.5 billion) on what he called the largest military modernization program in the Czech Republic's history. By 2027, the Czech military is to acquire 210 infantry fighting vehicles, 50 self-propelled howitzers, 12 multipurpose helicopters, two transport aircraft, and short-range air defense systems and combat drones, among other materiel. The purchases are to allow the Czech Armed Forces to replace a decisive share of its Soviet-designed gear. “Soldiers must feel that the Czech military budget is rising, and that the situation is starting to improve,” Opata said, as quoted in a government statement. The government also plans to acquire new 3-D radars. However, the pending purchase of eight ELM-2084 multimission radars from Israel's Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI, is currently under investigation by the Czech military police. The procedure was initiated on the request of Defence Minister Karla Slechtova amid concern over the equipment's interoperability with NATO infrastructure. This year, Prague's defense expenditure is to total 58.9 billion koruna, up 12 percent compared with 2017, according to government figures. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/06/20/heres-what-the-czech-military-wants-to-buy-with-its-record-45b-modernization-program/

  • How the Army will plan cyber and electronic warfare operations

    June 21, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    How the Army will plan cyber and electronic warfare operations

    Mark Pomerleau   With cyber playing a critical role in conflict going forward, the Army has begun to recognize the need to have organic cyber planners within a brigade's staff to offer commanders options related to cyber as well as electronic warfare. Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities, or CEMA cells, have been stood up in each brigade acting as planners to provide targeting options and capabilities to get at commander objectives just as an artillery planner would offer the commander choices related to their field for a pending operation. At the tactical level, these two disciplines – cyber and electronic warfare – have become intertwined. “When I talk to Army commanders and staffs, I try to make the point that I want you to worry less about whether it's a cyber or EW effect,” Lt. Col. Christopher Walls, deputy director for strategy and policy, at the Army's Cyber Directorate within the G-3/5/7, said at the C4ISRNET Conference in May. For example, Walls said for a river crossing mission, a commander might say he needs to buy a few hours to get a battalion across. The CEMA cell, in turn, would look across the capability sets in its portfolio and come up with a course of action. These cells potentially have the ability to allow the commander to target local internet service providers or local routers and prevent opposing forces from using them. The teams may also have an electronic warfare capability that can jam local area network protocols. Finally, these teams might know where mobile switching centers are by digitally geolocating them allowing physical strikes to take them out, Walls said. “I don't want the commander to worry about which of those three things, I just want him to talk to me in terms of desired objective and effects and then us, along with the staff, will determine which capability makes sense,” Walls said. “That's kind of the way we're thinking about the tactical fight.” The best choice comes down to understanding the commander's objectives and intent in order to offer the best solution. “What I would do is understand his intent, what effect he wants and what I'll do is submit that in a formal request and I'll let the higher echelons determine if they can provide that effect,” Capt. Daniel Oconer, brigade CEMA officer, told C4ISRNET during a recent visit to the National Training Center. “In general, all I really need to know for my planning processes is understand what the maneuver force wants to do,” he added. “How do tanks and Bradleys [move], how are the troops on the ground moving. Then, what is their mission? What is their objective? What is the commander's intent? Once I understand that I throw some CEMA flavor, so to say, onto it and then enable them to accomplish their mission.” Oconer is currently billeted as a 29 series electronic warfare officer. The Army will begin to transition these individuals into the cyber branch, or 17 series, so they will all eventually be cyber planners in the CEMA cell. “The way that we're transforming our electronic warfare professionals is they will become cyber operators. They will be the face inside our brigade combat teams and our maneuver formations for cyber operational planning,” Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, said during a May speech. “They're complimentary. You cannot look at electronic warfare professionals and cyber operators in isolation.” https://www.c4isrnet.com/electronic-warfare/2018/06/20/how-the-army-will-plan-cyber-and-electronic-warfare-operations/

  • CANADA TO ACQUIRE THALES ADVANCED GROUND SEGMENT TECHNOLOGY TO RESPOND TO DISTRESS SIGNALS

    June 19, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    CANADA TO ACQUIRE THALES ADVANCED GROUND SEGMENT TECHNOLOGY TO RESPOND TO DISTRESS SIGNALS

    • Canada has awarded Thales Canada Phase II of the MEOSAR (Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue) Ground Segment contract. • The contract includes the procurement of two MEOLUTs and maintenance services for five years with options for an additional five years. • Using Thales Alenia Space's powerful and compact MEOLUT Next phased array solution, Canada will benefit from the world's first space borne search and rescue system of this type. Canada has awarded Thales Canada Phase II of the MEOSAR (Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue) Ground Segment contract. It will support Canada's ability to respond quickly and effectively to distress signals from land, air and sea from coast-to-coast-to-coast; enabling Canada to meet its obligations under the International COSPAS-SARSAT Programme Agreement. The contract includes the procurement of two MEOLUTs and maintenance services for five years with options for an additional five years. Using Thales Alenia Space's powerful and compact MEOLUT Next phased array solution, Canada will benefit from the world's first space borne search and rescue system of this type. Thales Alenia Space designs, operates and delivers satellite-based systems for governments and institutions, helping them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere. Since its commissioning in 2016, MEOLUT Next has delivered unrivalled performance, detecting distress signals more than 5,000km away. This new capability saves lives. On July 2, 2017 at 6:30 a.m., 70 kilometres off the coast of Sardinia, a 12-meter sailboat with three people aboard triggered its COSPAS/SARSAT beacon when its rudder broke and its engine failed. Its VHF radio out of range, the sailors quickly realized they were in a critical situation with waves over four meters high and the wind blowing at 40 knots. MEOLUT Next was able to receive and process their distress signals in less than five minutes, providing accurate positioning to authorities. An airplane identified the boat less than two hours after the beacon was triggered and a helicopter airlifted the crew to safety, saving all three lives. “Thales Canada is proud to deliver world class solutions that will make life better and keep us safer,” said Jerry McLean, Managing Director and Vice President, Thales Canada. “From complex C4ISR systems to integrated maritime C3 and diverse aerospace solutions, this contract further reflects Thales' continued commitment to Canadian innovation.” “We are confident that our solution will meet and exceed Canada's MEOSAR expectations, offering Canada a decisive technology for its decisive moments,” said Philippe Blatt, VP Navigation France at Thales Alenia Space. “Today, MEOLUT Next is the only solution in the world capable of processing second-generation beacons in real time. Its operational efficiency was recently recognized by Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) for its humanitarian contributions”. Notes to Editor COSPAS/SARSAT COSPAS/SARSAT is an intergovernmental organization founded by Canada, the United States, Russia and France. In operation in 43 countries around the world, this satellite-based search and rescue distress alert detection and information distribution system is best known for detecting and locating emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships and backcountry hikers in distress. Today, some 500,000 ships and 150,000 aircraft are equipped with COSPAS/SARSAT distress beacons. To date, the COSPAS-SARSAT service has saved more than 37,000 lives. MEOLUT Next Conventional MEOLUT (Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminal) systems use large parabolic antennas and are limited by how many satellite signals they can receive. Thales Alenia Space's MEOLUT Next solution is compact, measuring less than six square meters, with the ability to track up to 30 satellites, significantly enhancing the distress beacon detection rate while expanding the coverage zone. Since there are no mechanical components, hardware maintenance costs are the lowest on the market. About Thales The people we all rely on to make the world go round – they rely on Thales. Our customers come to us with big ambitions: to make life better, to keep us safer. Combining a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, our architects design and deliver extraordinary high technology solutions. Solutions that make tomorrow possible, today. From the bottom of the oceans to the depth of space and cyberspace, we help our customers think smarter and act faster - mastering ever greater complexity and every decisive moment along the way. With 65,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €15.8 billion in 2017. About Thales Canada A national leader in research and technology, Thales Canada combines its more than 50 years of experience with the talent of 1,800 skilled people located coast-to-coast. With revenues of $500 million, Thales Canada offers leading capabilities in the urban rail, civil aviation and defence and security sectors that meet the needs of customers' most complex requirements across every operating environment. About Thales Alenia Space Combining 40 years of experience and a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space engineers design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments, institutions and companies rely on Thales Alenia Space to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimize the use of our planet's – and our solar system's – resources. Thales Alenia Space believes in space as humankind's new horizon, which will enable to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies' Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.4 billion euros in 2016 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries. www.thalesaleniaspace.com PRESS CONTACTS Cara Salci National Director, Public Affairs & Communications Thales Canada Tel.: 613-404-9413 cara.salci@ca.thalesgroup.com THALES ALENIA SPACE Sandrine Bielecki Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94 sandrine.bielecki@thalesaleniaspace.com Chrystelle Dugimont Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 74 06 chrystelle.dugimont@thalesaleniaspace.com Cinzia Marcanio Tel: +39 06 41512685 cinzia.marcanio@thalesaleniaspace.com https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/space/press-release/canada-acquire-thales-advanced-ground-segment-technology-respond

  • Strict export regulations may be costing US industry billions in foreign sales

    June 19, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Strict export regulations may be costing US industry billions in foreign sales

    WASHINGTON ― A new RAND report assessing the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles suggests existing export controls for drones may hurt the U.S. more than it helps. Limiting U.S. drone exports has left a hole in the global market for the technology, especially in historically U.S.-dominated Middle East markets, which has been readily filled by U.S. competitors — specifically China and Russia. The Trump administration recently unveiled a new set of export policies regarding military technology in an attempt to facilitate the transfer of military technology, but the changes do not change the status of drones under the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR. How does the MTCR work? The MTCR is a voluntary export control consortium of 35 nations designed to prevent signatories from proliferating longer-range cruise and ballistic missile technology. The arms control regime was extended to UAVs because early iterations of drones were considered a subset of cruise missile technology due to their active guidance system. The regime divides missiles into two categories. Category I items are capable of delivering a 500 kg payload more than 300 km. The sale of category I systems is restricted by a “strong presumption of denial,” meaning they are only exported in rare circumstances. The MQ-9 Reaper, RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4 Triton are well-known unmanned systems that fall under this category. Over the past several years, U.S. partners such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and UAE were denied requests to purchase American drones, and have since turned to China to purchase comparable systems. Trump administration officials have been attempting to alter the regime by adding new languagethat would drop any vehicle that flies under 650 kilometers per hour to category II systems. This would make all but the most advanced U.S. systems available for international sale. For example, the MQ-9 Reaper clocks in with a cruise speed of 230 mph or 370 kph, according to an Air Force facts sheet. Drone proliferation RAND found that 10 nations operate category I drones, and more than 15 operate near-category I systems that register just below the MTCR's payload and distance restrictions. The report says increased proliferation rates are due to a handful of countries, specifically China, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, who are not party to the MCTR. More countries are expected to procure drones, which pose a “growing threat to U.S. and allied military operations,” the report says. While category I systems can deploy missiles and other guided munitions, their main threat lies in “their ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations against U.S. forces prior to hostilities,” according to RAND. “Adversaries that would otherwise have difficulty detecting U.S. force deployments, monitoring U.S. operations, and maintaining targeting data on U.S. units can employ UAVs to maintain situational awareness of U.S. capabilities” The report identifies Russia, China and Iran as unfriendly nations that will seek to utilize drones to complicate U.S. military operations. For example, China and Saudi Arabia recently agreed to set up a UAV manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia for up to 300 new UAVs, and Italy will receive 20 Hammerhead UAVs from the UAE. The coproduction of regional drone factories “could further exacerbate the proliferation of large UAVs to the degree that these systems are exported to other nations,” according to RAND, and that hurts U.S. industry. A U.S.-sized hole Voluntarily restricting U.S. drone exports have allowed competitors to establish themselves in a market Rand expects to “grow from about $6 billion in 2015 to about $12 billion in 2025.” RAND expect export controls to have a negative impact on the U.S. industrial base, something those in industry already know. “What you are enabling the competition to do is not just to sell some hardware,” Linden Blue, General Atomic's chief executive, told reporters during an Aug. 16, 2017 roundtable at the company's headquarters in Poway, California. “You're enabling it to build a customer base for at least 20 years, I would say. You're enabling them to build a logistics system. It will take them many years to get to where we are right now, but you're helping them start out. They should be very thankful.” https://www.defensenews.com/newsletters/unmanned-systems/2018/06/18/strict-export-regulations-may-be-costing-us-industry-billions-in-foreign-sales/

  • Pentagon Grounds Marines’ ‘Eyes in the Sky’ Drones Over Cyber Security Concerns

    June 19, 2018 | International, Land, C4ISR

    Pentagon Grounds Marines’ ‘Eyes in the Sky’ Drones Over Cyber Security Concerns

    Gidget Fuentes The Marine Corps has shelved several new, small drones – at least temporarily – amid a Pentagon ban and assessment on the cybersecurity of commercial, off-the-shelf, unmanned aerial systems, a service spokesman told USNI News on Monday. The Department of Defense issued a ban last month on the purchase and use of all commercial off-the-shelf drones until the Pentagon develops a plan to mitigate security risks. The online site sUAS News obtained a copy of the May 23 memo written by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan ordering the temporary ban due to “unmanned aerial vehicle systems cybersecurity vulnerabilities.” Military.com reported on the memo's effect on the Marines last week. The Marine Corps officials are asking defense officials to exempt eight systems so Marines can continue to use and train with the drones, Capt. Joshua Pena, a Marine Corps Combat Development Command spokesman, told USNI News Monday. Pena said exemption requests were being drafted and reviewed by senior leaders and for submission to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for these systems: Black Hornet 2 and Black Hornet 3, manufactured by FLIR Systems, Inc.; SkyRanger (Aeryon Labs); InstantEye Mk-2 Gen-3 and InstantEye Mk2 Gen-5 (Physical Sciences Inc.); Indago (Lockheed Martin); and DJI Phantom 3 Pro and DJI Phantom 4 Pro (DJI). InstantEye is a centerpiece of the “Quads for Squads” initiative driven by the commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, to equip infantry units with innovative, high-tech capabilities to make Marines more lethal and effective in a cyber battle space, including micro and small drones. The small quadcopter, manufactured by InstantEye Robotics, a division of Andover, Mass.,-based Physical Sciences, Inc., is getting fielded to squads across the Marine Corps' three infantry divisions. Neller, speaking June 12 at the 69th Current Strategy Forum held at the Naval War College, touted the service's push to bolster its cyber capabilities to include using the small quadcopter, according to the Fifth Domain newsletter. But the Pentagon's decision has forced Marines to stop using InstantEye until it can get the green light from the Pentagon. It's considered a COTS product, Pena said, and “the system has been grounded.” The ban “also applies to all UAS ground command and control elements including smartphones or tablets with associated software and hardware,” he added. So far, the first battalions have received 600 of the Marine Corps' initial buy of 800 Mk-2 Gen-3 drones for the “Quads for Squads,” and the remaining 200 are pending shipment, he said. “The policy has not affected that schedule,” he added. In suspending all COTS unmanned aerial systems, Shanahan cited a May 14 DoD inspector general finding that “the DoD has not implemented an adequate process to assess cybersecurity risks associated with using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).” “Effective immediately, you must suspend purchases of COTS UAS for operational use until the DoD develops a strategy to adequately assess and mitigate the risks associated with their use. In addition, you must suspend the use of COTS UASs until the DoD identifies and fields a solution to mitigate known cybersecurity risks,” he wrote in the memo. Shanahan noted his authority to approve any “requests for exemptions, on a case by case basis, to support urgent needs.” He directed military officials and agencies to report to him within 30 days “to identify and account for all COTS UAS.” The memo doesn't indicate what prompted the suspension of the military's use of drones, which include some popular commercially-available drones sold to consumers and manufactured by U.S. or foreign companies. However, last month, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., wrote to Defense Secretary James Mattis about “a potential national security threat” in products manufactured by DJI, or Da-Jiang Innovations, a technology company based in China. In his letter, dated May 7, Murphy cited an Army decision last year to halt the use of DJI commercial UAS and an “intelligence bulletin” issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “asserting that DJI was using its products to provide critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.” “These vulnerabilities pose a tremendous national security risk, as the information obtained by the Chinese government could be used to conduct physical or cyber-attacks against U.S. civilian and military targets,” wrote Murphy, whose Senate committee assignments include appropriations and foreign relations. DJI, or SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd., as noted on the company's website, is based in Shenzhen, China, and manufactures drones, including several popular with consumers and drones hobbyists and used by military and federal agencies, and interest remains in recent UAS solicitations including by the Army. Murphy didn't cite any specific example of a security breach or hacking by DJI but raised concerns about vulnerabilities particularly with foreign-made systems. “I encourage you to, at a minimum, consider a DoD-wide directive banning the use of UAS owned or manufactured in a foreign nation until further threat-assessments can be completed,” he wrote. He noted the “deluge of foreign-made military equipment” the military has bought and opined that “if the hundreds of DJI drones purchased by the U.S. government in the last several years had been American-made, we would not have subjected ourselves to this massive potential intrusion and exploitation of sensitive U.S. sites.” Two years ago, security concerns about DJI products prompted the company to issue a statement that “DJI does not routinely share customer information or drone video with Chinese authorities' and cited its privacy policy. https://news.usni.org/2018/06/18/pentagon-grounds-marines-eyes-sky-drones-cyber-security-concerns

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