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  • DARPA wants to connect human brains and machines

    March 20, 2018 | International, C4ISR, Security

    DARPA wants to connect human brains and machines

    By: Daniel Cebul WASHINGTON ― As unmanned platforms, cyber systems and human-machine partnering become more prevalent in 21st century war fighting, the effectiveness of combat units will be determined by how quickly information can be processed and transmitted between air-breathers and machines. To achieve the high levels of brain-system communication that will be required on future battlefields, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new program to develop a noninvasive neural interface that will connect soldiers with technology. The goal of the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N³) program is to “pursue a path to a safe, portable neural interface system capable of reading from and writing to multiple points in the brain at once,” according to Dr. Al Emondi, a program manager in DARPA's Biological Technologies Office. “We're asking multidisciplinary teams of researchers to construct approaches that enable precise interaction with very small areas of the brain, without sacrificing signal resolution or introducing unacceptable latency into the N3 system.” Although technologies that allow for high-quality brain system communications exist today, these invasive techniques are not a practical solution for ubiquitous man-machine communication. Before soldiers can communicate with their R2-D2 units, DARPA scientists must overcome several significant scientific and engineering challenges. The most significant challenge, according to a DARPA press release, will be overcoming the physics of scattering and weakening of signals as they pass through skin, skull and brain tissue. If this initial challenge is surmounted, the focus of the program will shift to developing algorithms for encoding and decoding neural signals, evaluating system safety through animal testing and ultimately asking human volunteers to test the technology. While communication neurotechnology has a stronger foothold in science fiction than reality, Emondi believes devoting resources to the enterprise will spur breakthroughs. “Smart systems will significantly impact how our troops operate in the future, and now is the time to be thinking about what human-machine teaming will actually look like and how it might be accomplished,” he said. “If we put the best scientists on this problem, we will disrupt current neural interface approaches and open the door to practical, high-performance interfaces.” DARPA wants the four-year project to conclude with a demonstration of a bidirectional system being used to interface human-machine interactions with unmanned platforms, active cyber defense systems or other Department of Defense equipment. Recognizing the potentially wide ethical, legal and social implications of such neurotechnology, DARPA is also asking independent legal and ethical experts to advise the program as N³ technologies mature.

  • OTAN : les dépenses de Défense en hausse

    March 20, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    OTAN : les dépenses de Défense en hausse

    19 mars 2018 | Par Justine BOQUET L'OTAN a publié le 15 mars son étude sur les dépenses de défense des pays membres de l'Alliance transatlantique. Ce document établit un comparatif et étudie l'évolution de ces investissements militaires sur la période 2010 – 2017. L'année 2017 a enregistré une hausse des dépenses de Défense au niveau de l'OTAN, à hauteur de 4,87%. Les investissements réalisés par les Alliés dans le domaine militaire s'établissent dès lors à 917 Md$ (sur la base des prix et des taux de change de 2010). Ce montant est largement atteint gr'ce à la participation américaine, qui représente 618 Md$. A l'inverse, les Etats de l'OTAN situés en Europe et le Canada ont investit ensemble à peine la moitié du montant américain, soit 300 Md$. Cette hiérarchie se retrouve également au niveau des cibles OTAN à atteindre. Ainsi, au regard de l'objectif des 2% du PIB, les Etats-Unis sont loin devant avec des dépenses équivalent à 3,57% de leur PIB. Au sein de l'Alliance, seuls quatre pays membres atteignent cette cible. Aux Etats-Unis s'ajoutent donc la Grèce (2,36% du PIB), le Royaume-Uni (2,12%) et l'Estonie (2,08%). La France n'est pas très loin de l'objectif et a investit en 2017 1,74% de son PIB dans sa défense. Enfin, loin derrière on retrouve le Luxembourg, dont l'armée reste de taille relative. Ainsi, en 2017, le Grand-Duché consacre 0,46% de son PIB aux dépenses militaires. Au niveau de l'ensemble de l'OTAN, on atteint 2,42% du PIB de la zone. En terme de dépenses d'équipements, la tendance évolue. En effet, l'OTAN prévoit que 20% du budget militaire des Etats Membres de l'Alliance soit consacré aux dépenses d'équipement. Douze Etats atteignent cet objectif. Roumanie : 33,20% Luxembourg : 32,99% Lituanie : 31,09% Turquie : 30,40% Bulgarie : 29,54% Etats-Unis : 28,43% Norvège : 25,52% France : 24,17% Pologne : 22,14% Royaume-Uni : 22,03% Italie : 20,94% Slovaquie : 20,42% Loin derrière on retrouve la Slovénie, qui avec 4,01% de son budget dédié aux dépenses d'équipement est encore loin de la cible.

  • CS wins the first tender in France for anti-UAV system

    March 8, 2018 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    CS wins the first tender in France for anti-UAV system

    CS has been selected by the French MoD procurement (Direction Générale de l'Armement) to provide, to the entire armed forces, the first French systems for the detection, identification and neutralisation of illegal UAV Le Plessis Robinson – 5 March 2018 – The French Armed Forces Ministry has awarded the MILAD tender (mobile anti-UAV system) to the CS group following a competition. The system, whose performance is confidential, is designed to enhance protection of sensitive sites and aims to rapidly equip the armed forces with mobile systems for the detection, identification, and neutralisation of UAV. These resources are designed to equip the army, navy and air force, both in France and in theatres of operations. Within this framework, CS was selected on the basis of its economic performance, its experience, and the effectiveness of its solution. “CS is honoured to have been selected for this major project. It rewards two years of continuous innovative work by the group in this field, with the industrialisation of our ant-UAV system, BOREADES, already operational for national events security. We aim to constantly adapt our system as the threat evolves, to deploy the system in France and internationally,” says Khaled Draz, CEO of CS Systèmes d'Information. A propos de CS CS est un acteur majeur de la conception, de l'intégration et de l'exploitation de systèmes critiques. CS est coté sur le marché Euronext Paris - Compartiment C - (Actions : Euroclear 7896 / ISIN FR 0007317813). Pour en savoir plus : Relations presse Barbara GOARANT Tél. : +33 (0)1 41 28 46 94

  • Marine Leaders Don't Want New Tech to Weigh Grunts Down

    March 8, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Marine Leaders Don't Want New Tech to Weigh Grunts Down 7 Mar 2018 By Oriana Pawlyk Keep it small, keep it simple, make it work. It's what Marine Corps leaders want industry leaders and research and development agencies to keep in mind when making the latest and greatest tech for grunts on the battlefield, a top general said Tuesday. Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, said the service was interested in high-end electronics and robotics, but said he didn't want to increase the load of ground combat Marines by adding on advanced gear. "Technology is great, until you have to carry it, and you have to carry the power that drives it," said Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. Walters said members of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, the service's experimental infantry battalion, has been the first to test and field small tech and weapons. The service is interested in the new technology, but continues to keep the size and weight of new systems in mind, he said. "Reorganizing for the future is what's happening right now and robotics is clearly someplace where we're investing," Walters told audiences during the annual "Defense Programs" conference hosted by defense consulting firm McAleese & Associates. In a few months, 3/5 will debut its latest report on findings and lessons learned from using the newer tech, such as handheld drones and quadcopters, he said. "But we're not waiting," Walters said at the event in Washington, D.C. New, powerful equipment needs to be leveraged even more so than it is now, Walters said, adding, "they need to be more consumable." "We have 69 3D printers out and about throughout a mix of battalions," Walters said. This added gear, he said, has made Marines more agile when they need to replace a broken part or create an entirely new solution for an old design. "We have to have the speed of trust in our young people to seize and hold the technological high ground," Walters said. Amid the push for new tech, officials have been working to lessen the load for Marines who have been inundated with more equipment in recent years even as the service grows more advanced with streamlined resources. For example, program managers have said they're looking for a lighter, more practical alternative to the Corps' iconic ammunition can. Scott Rideout, program manager for ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, told industry leaders in 2016 that the rectangular can may be due for an upgrade. Rideout at the time made the case during the Equipping the Infantry Challenge at Quantico that emerging technologies -- such as the logistics drones that Walters mentioned Tuesday -- may also put limits on how much a future delivery of ammunition can weigh. The calculus is simple, Rideout said: "Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain." -- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

  • Federal budget shores up cyber defences but is silent on new jets and warships

    March 5, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Federal budget shores up cyber defences but is silent on new jets and warships

    By Murray Brewster, CBC News The new federal budget focuses on ones and zeros over tanks and troops by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into new and improved cyber and national security defences. Several federal departments will not only see upfront cash but promises of long-term spending to counter both the threat of hackers — state-sponsored and otherwise — and cyber-criminals. National Defence, by comparison, is seeing virtually nothing in terms of new spending on the nuts and bolts of the military, other than initiatives outlined in the recently tabled national defence policy. The 2018 budget is, on the surface, a tacit acknowledgement that the nature of threats to national security — the nature of modern warfare itself — is changing. The budget recycles the government's $3.6 billion pledge last December to provide veterans with the option of a pension for life and better services. But cyber-security was, by far, the headline national security measure in the budget. Finance Minister Bill Morneau's fiscal plan sets aside $750 million in different envelopes — much of it to be spent over five years — to improve cyber security and better prepare the federal government to fend off online attacks and track down cyber-criminals. More for CSE It also promises an additional $225 million, beginning in 2020-21, to improve the capacity of the country's lead electronic intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment, to gather foreign signals intelligence. The Liberals will soon pass new national security legislation — C-59 — and CSE will receive important new powers and responsibilities to disrupt global cyber threats. "These are brand new tools. They're going to need lots of resources — technological resources, personnel resources — to engage in those kinds of operations," said Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor and one of the country's leading experts on cybersecurity and intelligence, in an interview prior to the budget. The sense of urgency about getting the country's cyber-security house in order is being driven in part by the fallout from Russian hacking and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, said a former assistant parliamentary budget officer. "With what we've seen south of the border, I think cyber-security and cyber-threat has been elevated in this budget to a high-priority item," said Sahir Khan, now the executive vice president of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy. The budget creates two new entities to deal with online threats. The first, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, will assemble all of the federal government's cyber expertise under one roof — a plan that will require new legislation. The second organization will be run by the RCMP and be known as the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit. It will coordinate all cybercrime investigations and act as a central agency to which the public can report incidents. The budget also includes cash for Public Safety's National Cyber Strategy, which not only aims to protect federal government networks but is meant to collaborate with the corporate financial and energy sectors to boost their defences. Military procurement a work in progress The budget's dearth of new spending on the real-world military — at a time of significant global insecurity — is due to reasons that are partly political and partly organizational, said Khan. The former Conservative government's inability to deliver on promises of new equipment during its nine-year tenure was a political "albatross around its neck," he said. The Liberals may have produced a clear defence policy but they have yet to straighten out the procurement system, he added. The Trudeau government has promised a lot of military capital spending down the road. Khan said it seems determined to keep the issue out of the spotlight in the meantime. What's missing from the new budget is a clear commitment that National Defence will get the cash it needs as those needs arise. "I think there was a lot of clarity in the policy direction coming out of the government [defence] white paper," said Khan. "What a lot of us are trying to understand is whether the money ... is accompanying that change in direction ... so that DND has a stable footing to meet its needs." He said he still has questions about whether promised future spending on fighter jets and warships has been baked into the federal government's long-term fiscal plans. A senior federal official, speaking on background prior to the release of the budget, insisted that military capital spending is welded into fiscal plans going forward into the 2030s. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said repeatedly, since the strategy was released last June, that the defence plan was "fully costed" into the future. Up until 2016, National Defence produced an annual list of planned defence purchases. The Liberals promised to produce their own list of planned acquisitions and table it this year. Khan said it "needs to be presented to Parliament and the public." Training and retaining? The cyber initiatives in Monday's budget drew a mixed response from the high-tech sector. On the one hand, the Council of Canadian Innovators praised budget signals that suggest the Liberals are open to dealing with home-grown companies rather than buying off-the-shelf from major U.S. firms. "The imperative to build domestic cyber capacity is not just economic. It's existential," said Benjamin Bergen, the council's executive director. "Without a domestic capacity in cyber we risk becoming a client state. Innovators welcome the announcement of a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, which will allow for information sharing between the public and private sector." What the budget didn't offer was a clear commitment to training and retaining highly-skilled software engineers and IT professionals. "We would have liked to have seen a retention strategy. There wasn't one," said Bergen. "We know Canada produces amazing graduates but we're struggling to keep that talent here." The council estimates there will be up to 200,000 job openings in high-tech by 2020, which will put pressure on the industry and on the federal government as it bulks up its cyber capability. Adam Froman, CEO of the Toronto-based data collection firm Delvinia, was blunt when asked if the federal government will be able to fill all of the cyber-security job openings created by this budget. "They're not going to be able to. Plain and simple," he said. "Or they're going to have to outsource those jobs to foreign companies."

  • Small drones in the Middle East have become a $330 million problem

    February 22, 2018 | Aerospace, C4ISR

    Small drones in the Middle East have become a $330 million problem

    The threat of small unmanned aerial systems overseas – especially in Iraq and Syria – has been a key focus of top leaders from across the Department of Defense. Groups such as the Islamic State have not only curated a fleet of commercially available drones to use for aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but they have modified them to drop bombs resulting in a miniature air force. The problem has become so acute that top officials in the region have made counter-drones the top force protection priority. Such systems also threat installations as well, spying overhead or acting as flying bombs on one-way kamikaze missions. As such, the Army is asking for a total of $188.3 million in fiscal 2019 for counter-unmanned air systems. That request combines $69 million from the base budget and $119.3 million from the overseas contingency operations,, according to recently released documents. This strategy is part of a joint operational need statement created in 2017 for the Central Command area of responsibility totaling $332.2 million over the next five years, the line item in the Army's research and development budget states. The counter drone effort will work to identify, develop, test, evaluate and integrate technologies to provide an overall evolutionary capability to defeat drones, especially smaller group one and group two systems that can weigh up to 55 pounds. The effort also involves a phased approach to CENTCOM that will provide interim standalone capability within the first few months eventually achieving a full networked capability by the end of the operational need period. The program will involve kinetic – or what are known as “hard kill” – solutions, development of radar and integration of multi-function electronic warfare with a “full On-The-Move” capability. The anti-ISIS coalition has previously utilized electronic warfare capabilities in theater to counter drones by interrupting their command and control mechanisms.

  • US Army requests $429 million for new cyber training platform

    February 22, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    US Army requests $429 million for new cyber training platform

    In 2016, the Pentagon tapped the Army to lead development of a persistent cyber training environment, or PCTE, to help train experts from Cyber Command in a live-virtual-constructed environment. Since then, cyber officials have repeatedly said such an environment is among their top priorities. “The service cyber components have established their own training environments but do not have standardized capabilities or content,” Army budget documents say. In the Army's research and development budget documents, the service requested $65.8 million in fiscal 2019 for the training environment and $429.4 million through fiscal 2023. Under the various line items in the Army's research and development budget, the Army is looking to develop event scheduling for the environment. It also wants to develop realistic vignettes or scenarios as part of individual and collective training to include real-world mission rehearsal, on-demand reliable and secure physical and virtual global access from dispersed geographic locations. In addition, the Army is asking for $3 million in fiscal 2019 base budget money to find and close gaps in hardware and software infrastructure related to virtual environments needed for cyber operational training. Additional funds will go toward virtual environments such as blue, grey, red or installation control system that the cyber mission force use for maneuver terrain. Moreover, the documents indicate that the Army will use Other Transaction Authorities vehicles for contract awards. The program will be delivered through incremental capability drops. The document states a “full and open competitive contract will be awarded in FY20 for further integration of new or refinement of existing capabilities, hardware refreshes, accreditation, and software licensing.”

  • Rheinmetall-led consortium wins first European research contract

    February 20, 2018 | International, Land, C4ISR

    Rheinmetall-led consortium wins first European research contract

    FRANKFURT, Feb 19 (Reuters) - A consortium led by Rheinmetall has won the first contract relating to European Union defence research financed by the EU's European Defence Union, the German company said on Monday. The consortium will conduct studies into what could become EU-wide standardized soldier systems, including electronics, voice communication, software and sensors, it said. The other members of the consortium are Indra and GMV Aerospace and Defence of Spain, Leonardo and Larimart of Italy, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Poland's iTTi, the Portuguese company Tekever ASDS and SAAB of Sweden. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan, editing by Louise Heavens)

  • AI makes Mattis question ‘fundamental’ beliefs about war

    February 20, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    AI makes Mattis question ‘fundamental’ beliefs about war

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON – Over the years, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has cultivated a reputation for deep thinking about the nature of warfare. And during that time, he has come to a few conclusions about what he calls the “fundamental” nature of combat. “It's equipment, technology, courage, competence, integration of capabilities, fear, cowardice — all these things mixed together into a very fundamentally unpredictable fundamental nature of war,” Mattis explained Feb. 17. “The fundamental nature of war is almost like H20, ok? You know what it is.” Except, that might not be true anymore. During a return flight from Europe, Mattis was asked about artificial intelligence — a national priority for industry and defense departments across the globe, and one driving major investments within the Pentagon — and what the long-term impact of intelligent machines on the nature of war might be. “I'm certainly questioning my original premise that the fundamental nature of war will not change. You've got to question that now. I just don't have the answers yet,” he said. It's both a big-picture, heady question, and one that the department needs to get its head around in the coming years as it looks to offload more and more requirements onto AI. And it's a different question than the undeniable changes that will be coming to what Mattis differentiated as the character, not nature, of war. “The character of war changes all the time. An old dead German [Carl von Clausewitz] called it a ‘chameleon.' He said it changes to adapt to its time, to the technology, to the terrain, all these things,” Mattis said. He also noted that the Defense Innovation Board, a group of Silicon Valley experts who were formed by previous defense secretary Ash Carter, has been advising him specifically on AI issues. For now, the Pentagon is focused on man-machine teaming, emphasizing how AI can help pilots and operators make better decisions. But should the technology develop the way it is expected to, removing a man from the loop could allow machine warfare to be fully unleashed. Mattis and his successors will have to grapple with the question of whether AI so radically changes everything, that war itself may not resemble what it has been for the entirety of human history. Or as Mattis put it, “If we ever get to the point where it's completely on automatic pilot and we're all spectators, then it's no longer serving a political purpose. And conflict is a social problem that needs social solutions.”

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