November 30, 2011

Project Review: the Afghan Mission Network

All ISAF forces (~100,000 additional users) must move to a common network to more effectively share information and resources across Afghanistan
(General Stanley McChrystal, USA, COMISAF)

ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) was created in accordance with the Bonn Conference in December 2001. Afghan opposition leaders attending the conference began the process of reconstructing their country by setting up a new government structure, namely the Afghan Transitional Authority. The concept of a UN-mandated international force to assist the newly established Afghan Transitional Authority was also launched at this occasion to create a secure environment in and around Kabul and support the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

On 11 August 2003 NATO assumed leadership of the ISAF operation, ending the six-month national rotations. The Alliance became responsible for the command, coordination and planning of the force, including the provision of a force commander and headquarters on the ground in Afghanistan.

For the majority of organizations operating in Afghanistan, the problem was not data scarcity. This was particularly evident after the first years of operations and interaction with military units, local and national leaders, regional and global media, fact-finding teams, governmental and non-governmental survey organizations, and an alphabet soup of other international actors. Rather than scarcity of data, it was both data overload and the “glare” of ambiguous, contradictory, inconsistent, latent, and incomplete reporting that often caused ISAF forces to avert their eyes and diffuse their attention from the underlying dynamics and relationships of key actors and drivers that really matter in the Afghan operating environment.

Already in 2006 the U.S. and NATO embarked on an effort to establish mail exchange between the NATO and U.S. mission networks. The U.S. mission network at the time was the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (called CENTRIXS) Global Counter Task Force (GCTF) and NATO operations were conducted on ISAF SECRET. This project sought to enable email exchange between the two networks. Although the objective was achieved (mail was exchanged), the solution included various guards, firewalls and intrusion detection systems that made it difficult to use and administer. It was so difficult that the system failed for 35 days without even being reported.

The next notable effort in NATO-national interoperability in Afghanistan was the UK-led effort, OVERTASK. With the UK forces deployed to Regional Command South and Helmand in 2005, there was a requirement for UK forces to be interoperable with coalition partners. The solution to meet this requirement was OVERTASK which was based on an enclave within the NATO mission network, ISAF SECRET. A portion of the ISAF SECRET was dedicated for the use of UK forces. As the UK operated on the same network as NATO forces, interoperability was assured. However, operating on the same network requires centralised configuration control. This centralised control maked it difficult for individual nations to install and operate their own nationally-developed systems without considerable coordination.

The real genesis of the Afghan Mission Network can be traced back to 2008, when the Afghanistan campaign plan was revised and the U.S. brass began to look for a way to develop a true mission network for Afghanistan. At that point the U.S. was mainly operating on SIPRnet and NIPRnet, while NATO and the coalition members were on the ISAF secret network. NATO funded an effort to provide voice, chat and Web access over a United Kingdom network called Overtask. But there was still not a real capability for the U.S. to communicate with coalition members at the secret level.

In order to increase situational awareness, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, required each coalition nation to share information on a single information infrastructure, the Afghanistan Mission Network. On 7 April 2010, NATO’s resource committees formally approved the way ahead for the Afghan Mission Network project, which radically changed the way Nations contributing to the ISAF mission share information.

The Afghan Mission Network basically provided the connective tissue between the U.S. CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System), which is the theater version of SIPRNet, and NATO’s ISAF Secret network, to which the networks of the other ISAF nations connect. By law, SIPRnet does not allow access to non-U.S. users.

Initial operating capability for the network was declared in July 2010, signifying the availability of the network to at least 50 percent of all ISAF forces. AMN’s initial capabilities facilitated human-to-human contact that includes chat, VoIP telephone connectivity, e-mail, Web browsing, friendly force tracking exchange and video teleconferencing.


Tipycally, Coalition forces do not easily share information, and Commanders had to gather at a central location to discuss plans without the use of advanced technology. Often, one of their only viable alternatives is to share mission-related information via "Sneaker net". This cumbersome practice called for the warfighter to transfer information onto removable media and manually move it from one system to another, which often is not secure, is very labor intensive, and prohibits information from being shared in a timely manner.

The Afghan Mission Network marks a strategic shift in the sharing of data.

U.S. Defense leaders and their counterparts from other nations say a network infrastructure linking coalition partners in Afghanistan has fundamentally changed the way the multinational effort has been conducted over the last several years. NATO, the U.S. military and other national forces say the Afghan Mission Network (AMN) as it now exists has been a game changer for operations in Afghanistan. Earlier efforts didn't work so well. As already stated, one progenitor to the AMN, geared toward bridging simple email capabilities between U.S. and NATO, was so cumbersome and hard to use that it went out of service for more than a month and no one noticed.

From their respective secure networks, and at their individual discretion, separate Coalition forces can share data, situational awareness and Commander’s intent across the battlefield on a centralized network.

AMN is also an example of technology that allows expeditionary forces to move their data as they deploy. Divisions install the AMN in their headquarters, which allow them to virtually move data when they deploy. This keep the units from having to physically move their servers and there is in principle no lag in the data because it is constantly being updated.

Nowaday, the success of the AMN is spreading beyond the ISAF coalition. Civilian partners in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have expressed interest in being able to share information with the AMN.

AMN in brief

The Afghanistan Mission Network AMN is the primary Coalition C4ISR network in Afghanistan for all ISAF forces and operations consisting of the ISAF-Secret network as the core with national extensions.

The Afghan National Army furnishes the infrastructure to enable the U.S. and other Coalition forces to provide them with relevant, though selective, data and situational awareness, which does not compromise the security of any partner including the U.S. The Afghan National Army can then respond, making crucial decisions based on current and comprehensive data.

As already stated, the ISAF Secret Network provided by the NATO NC3A is the heart of the AMN. It is connected via six network interconnection points to CENTRIXS and to the networks contributed by Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada. “If Italy wants to talk to us, they can transition across the ISAF core from their network and talk to us over CENTRIXS,” said Lieutenant Colonel Andy McClelland, who is attached to NATO Allied Command Transformation headquarters in Norfolk. “The core is the glue the binds all of the networks together.

The AMN allows nations to operate their own network within the ISAF SECRET classification, which seamlessly connects to the ISAF SECRET core through a series of Network Interconnect Points (NIPs).

AMN enables the 45 nations of the Coalition to unite and fight the enemy as a single force, leveraging the combined strength of each partner.

Red, Blue, Green, White

Different national networks use different viewers to examine data, i.e. the Canadians use a system called BattleView, the U.S. uses Command Post of the Future and the British have a system called JADOCS. The firts task of AMN was to make data available to all these viewers. “Data is published on a server,” said U.S. Army Colonel Pete Gallagher, chief of the ISAF CJ6 branch, at ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, “and users subscribe to that data.

But while the common perception is that battlefield systems provide information about friendly and enemy forces - so called blue and red forces - in Afghanistan, it may be the green and white icons on the screen that make the real difference. Green is the color for the Afghanistan government and security forces, while white represents the local population centers. “We’re trying to separate the red and the white, the insurgents from the population, and insert the green between them, which is the Afghan government and the security forces,” said Col. Derek Orndorff, USA, the communications director for the ISAF Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan. “That information is not in the normal, everyday battle command systems that we just pull off the shelf. This is all stuff that is created from the bottom up, from the guys who are on patrol walking around in the bazaars, who had a key leader engagement with an elder in a village. That information has to get into the system in ways that we’ve never done it before. We’ve been getting after that here in Afghanistan.

One way of providing access to that information has been to add a wiki capability to the AMN that allows tip-of-the-spear forces to share vital human intelligence at all levels. By clicking on a particular city or region, for example, a commander can research local leaders, based on impressions and information provided by personnel who have had first-hand encounters.

Cyber Issues

The Conficker computer virus, which was first detected in 2008, reared its ugly head on April 2011 in Afghanistan, where it was detected on the Afghan Mission Network.

We had an older virus that showed up on the network, and when that older virus was discovered, we immediately isolated it, protected the rest of the network, identified what we needed to do, and in about five hours, everybody was operating normally again,” says Col. Derek Orndorff. “It was the Conficker worm. It was a success story from our perspective because our tools picked it up, we identified it, we protected the entire network, and we were able to defeat the challenge relatively quickly and get back to business instead of letting it become debilitating to us.

Col. Orndorff credited network transparency for helping to quickly stamp out Conficker. “AFN is a very open and flat network, so if a user on an ISAF machine wants to see something on the United Kingdom OVERTASK, there’s no login, no firewalls, no certificates, no passwords. There’s nothing. What that means is that everyone who is part of the network has a shared vulnerability. Everybody shares the same risks. So therefore, when we have challenges, we have to have transparency between all the different parts and pieces or you’re going have problems with it,” he explained. Without that transparency, CENTRIXS network operators could have chosen to remain mum about the Conficker vulnerability, which would have allowed it to spread. “This incident was a perfect example of why this is so successful, because everybody understands where their piece is in this so we can all work together.


On the battlefields of Afghanistan, AMN has transformed the way Coalition Commanders share information,” said Brig. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, PEO for C3T. “Independent discussions and planning efforts between separate Commanders of different nations have been replaced by data sharing across AMN.

References: (1,2,6,10), NATO (3,4), CimicWeb (5), AFCEA (7,11), Military Information Technology (8), KZO Innovations (9)

November 29, 2011

Contract Award: Thales and EADS to enhance the French Armed Forces' geographic database system

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, the French geographic Institute IGN (Institut Géographique National), acting as the contracting authority on behalf of the Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) of the French Ministry of Defence, has contracted Thales and Cassidian to carry out the second phase of the TopoBase Défense Operation. The goal of this operation is to produce data to feed into defence geographical databases.

The preparation and conduct of military operations require the Armed Forces to be able to rely on a cartographic reference that is pertinent and accessible to everyone in order to achieve an accurate shared assessment of the operational situation. For this reason IGN selected the Thales-Cassidian consortium with Thales acting as the prime contractor for the TopoBase Défense Operation. This operation is intended to set up an appropriate system for producing geographical data (e.g. vector databases, ortho-images, raster maps, etc.) to be fed into defence geographical databases.

The Thales-Cassidian consortium is responsible for the complete process, from receipt of requirements of the Armed Forces General Staff to quality control of the products. The process also includes drafting of specifications, definition of the production reference frame (procedures, tools, testing) and the management of subcontractors in order to guarantee the consistency and homogenity of the totality of TopoBase Défense products.

The purpose of the contract, which has a duration of six years, is to supply the French Armed forces General Staff with digitised geographical data required for the operation of numerous weapon and information systems. The use of data from the TopoBase Défense Operation, which guarantees consistency of geometry and format, also contributes to system interoperability.

The Technology

Today, modern Armed Forces no longer buy imagery alone, but a global capability to meet the specifications of complex products like DEMs (Digital Elevation Models), land-cover data and multiscale vector databases through internal or outsourced production lines. This guaranty is provided by Standalone, Multi-Source Data Kits, through which suppliers undertake to provide a coherent workflow able to generate a geospatial product or family of products.

This new approach was initiated in France by the DNG3D defence programme, starting in 2002 along with the launch of Reference3D©. This product contains a DEM basemap plus a highly reliable orthoimage that serve as a foundation for most subsequent value-added products. The DNG3D system takes raw data from a wide range of commercial and military observation sensors to provide national defence systems with high-quality, high-precision geographical data.

Since 2005, the TopoBase Défense Operation (within the frame of the Multinational Geospatial Co-production Programme), ensures the industrial-scale production of a complete range of raster and vector geospatial products using imagery from 12 civil and military satellites. TopoBase is primarily a vector database with an approximate scale of 1/50 000, which also includes background images and digital terrain models that can be used by existing weapons systems.

The Context

The technological revolution that has resulted from the explosion in the use of digital technologies in the civilian world has put information at the very heart of the instruments of power. Mastery of information is one of the major capabilities to be acquired. Knowledge of the terrain over which operations will be conducted is a prerequisite for their success; armed forces must therefore be able to gather, process and distribute the geographical information needed for the proper functioning of the command and weapon systems that equip the forces engaged; this applies equally to the projection of forces or of power, characterised respectively by the deployment or otherwise of a significant number of troops on the ground.

In this new context, armed forces are called on to operate at short notice with significant dispersion of their units in remote, little known and extended theatres. This means that availability of geographical information must be improved and a large database must be created to cover regions where even mapping data may be lacking.

In 1996 the French Defence Ministry responded to this requirement with the launch of a dedicated defence programme: DNG3D (Données Numériques Géographiques et 3 Dimensions = 3D Digital Geographical Data). The DNG3D programme aimed at offering a collection system from appropriate sources, including image sources, both civil and military (primarily satellite-generated); ourchase of off-the-shelf geographical products, as well as Inter-allied procurement of geographical sources or products.

The first phase of the TopoBase Défense Operation was awarded by the DGA to the Thales-Cassidian consortium in 2005 under the DNG3D programme.


"I am very proud that the DGA has renewed its confidence in the Thales-Cassidian consortium after awarding us the first part of the TopoBase Défense Operation and the Deployable Geographic Modules project," commented Jean-Michel Lagarde, Thales Vice-President, in charge of Protection Systems. "This success is attributable to the strong complementarity between the know-how of Thales and Cassidian, and to the creation of multiple partnerships with highly innovative European SMEs specialised in geomatics. A total of nearly 150 people are combining their skills to ensure the success of this operation."

"Global information control and knowledge of the terrain constitute a crucial force multiplier for the General Staff. That is why our company is particularly proud of the confidence displayed by the IGN through its selection," added Franck Calvet, Vice-President of "Integrated Systems" at Cassidian

References: EADS (1), (2), Thales (3), ixarm (4)

UK MoD to enhance integrated Aircraft Defence Capabilities

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, UK Ministry of Defence has begun a development programme to make aircraft better equipped in the hostile environments that UK aircraft are likely to encounter during future operations.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) working with UK industry, has brought together the country’s leading scientists and engineers to develop the Common Defensive Aids System (CDAS). This would allow air forces to more easily upgrade existing platforms with new technology and more easily reprogram such defensive aids systems (DAS) for different missions.

This development, CDAS Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP), is a project to establish that the concept works practically, and will be achieved through collaboration - a partnership between UK MoD and an industry team led by Finmeccanica's Selex Galileo, and comprising Thales, QinetiQ and BAE Systems.

The Technology

Defensive aids systems (DAS) consist of two parts, sensors, which identify the threat, and effectors, which employ appropriate countermeasures to defeat that threat, for example flare or chaff deployment. Historically, DAS sensors and effectors, sometimes different on different aircraft, have communicated through different, proprietary interfaces developed by the supplier companies.

CDAS represents a new systems approach, based on an ‘open architecture’ - components which can freely communicate with any other component regardless of manufacturer, to improve the modularity of sensors and effectors and coherence of the DAS across aircraft.

The CDAS TDP includes a current missile warning system built by BAE North America, a new infrared threat-warning system being developed by Thales, a developmental system for detecting hostile gunfire from the ground and a laser warning system, all feeding into the DAS controller. On the output side of the demonstrator system is a next-generation laser countermeasure built by Selex Galileo. Other countermeasures could include chaff (tiny pieces of material to confuse radar systems) or flares. A Qinetiq on-board planning system has also been integrated into the TDP.

The Context

John Bowker, Team Leader at Dstl said: “The ‘eureka moment’ really came along when we developed the new ’CDAS spine’ concept which now feeds into the MOD’s CDAS programme.

The CDAS spine concept, evolved from the battle proven Helicopter Integrated DAS (HIDAS) on UK Apaches, was recognised by Dstl scientists and engineers as the most effective model to input into the DAS upgrade on Chinook helicopters. The implementation of this upgrade was undertaken with the assistance of global defence specialists including Agusta Westland, Boeing Helicopters, Selex Galileo, BAE Systems, QinetiQ and UK MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), who drove the project.

The CDAS would also mean the UK MoD would be able to more fully exploit competition in the defence market because technologies built by different contractors could be used together. Integrating different systems would also enable the UK MoD to configure aircraft for specific missions without having to make major changes to the architecture.

In February 2010, the UK MoD awarded SELEX Galileo a 4 year contract to lead the Common Defensive Aids System (CDAS) Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) in support of the UK strategy for air platform protection. Under the TDP, SELEX Galileo is providing a coherent cross platform approach to both acquisition and support of defensive aids suites for both new build and legacy helicopters. The common architecture leverages the UK's existing investment in the Selex Galileo HIDAS (Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System) suite in service on the UK Army Air Corps' Apache AH.1 attack helicopter and the Project Baker DAS fit developed for the Royal Air Force Chinook fleet under an urgent operational requirement.

After 18 months of studies and a further 18 months of hardware development, DSTL has now put together a technology demonstrator programme (TDP) in partnership with four defence firms, showing how different sensors and countermeasures can work together under one DAS controller.

DSTL plans to conduct flight trials of the technology by the end of December, after which it will be up to the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) department to decide how the system will be manufactured and rolled out across the UK’s air fleet.


This collaborative approach allowed us to quickly find the best equipment solutions to improve protection to aircraft and personnel," said John Bowker, Team Leader at Dstl. "As MOD’s science and technology specialists, Dstl works with industry and academia to increase our knowledge base and develop effective solutions. The Chinook upgrade is a great example of this and is in Afghanistan right now helping to save lives. Sharing ideas is the most effective way of getting the best capability to the front line.

References: UK MoD (1), The Engineer (2), SELEX Galileo (3)

The UK Cyber Security Strategy

News Report

After a couple of postponements, the UK Government has finally published its Cyber Security Strategy, which details UK plans to secure critical infrastructure and improve the country’s cyber-defenses to protect national security and citizens from multiple cyber-threats. The UK government classified cyber-security as a "tier one" national security priority in 2010 and set aside 650 million pounds over the next four years to be used for cyber-defense.

The 2015 Vision

The goals of UK Governemnt on Cyber are ambitious. By 2015, the aspiration is that the measures outlined in this strategy will mean the UK is in a position where:
  • law enforcement is tackling cyber criminals;
  • citizens know what to do to protect themselves;
  • effective cyber security is seen as a positive for UK business;
  • a thriving cyber security sector has been established;
  • public services online are secure and resilient;
  • the threats to our national infrastructure and national security have been confronted.
To achieve this vision, 4 main objectives are identified:
  1. The UK to tackle cyber crime and be one of the most secure places in the world to do business in cyberspace.
  2. The UK to be more resilient to cyber attacks and better able to protect our interests in cyberspace.
  3. The UK to have helped shape an open, stable and vibrant cyberspace which the UK public can use safely and that supports open societies.
  4. The UK to have the cross-cutting knowledge, skills and capability it needs to underpin all our cyber security objectives

To achieve the above, UK Government has set aside £650 million of public funding for a four-year, National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP). This funding is intended to transform the UK Government’s response to cyber threats, and has been allocated to those departments and agencies that have key roles to play. UK intelligence agencies and UK Ministry of Defence have a strong role in improving reducing the vulnerabilities and threats that the UK faces in cyberspace. But the UK Home Office, the UK Cabinet Office and UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) are also receiving funding to bolster their specific individual capabilities.

The bulk of the funding will go towards the Government's efforts to detect and counter cyber-attacks. Specifically, around 65 percent is expected to be spent on capabilities, 20 percent on critical cyber-infrastructure, nine percent on cybercrime specifics, five percent on reserves and one percent on education.

Cyber Centres and Organizations

The new UK Joint Forces Command will take the lead in the development and integration of defence cyber capabilities from April 2012. At the same time, UK MoD is creating a new Defence Cyber Operations Group to bring together cyber capabilities from across defence. The group will include a Joint Cyber Unit hosted by GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) whose role will be to develop new tactics, techniques and plans to deliver military effects, including enhanced security, through operations in cyberspace.

The UK Ministry of Defence has already opened a new Global Operations and Security Control Centre, to act as a focus for cyber defence for the armed forces. A second Joint Cyber Unit embedded within this centre will develop and use a range of new techniques, including proactive measures, to disrupt threats to our information security.

As part of the creation of the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), UK Government will create a new National Cyber Crime Unit, drawing together the work currently carried out by the e-crime unit in SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) and the UK Metropolitan Police’s Central E-Crime Unit. The new unit will underpin the work of all four operational commands of the NCA (borders, organised crime, economic crime and Child Exploitation and Online Protection – CEOP) by providing specialist support, intelligence and guidance. The unit will act as the national capability to deal with the most serious national-level cyber crime, and to be part of the response to major national incidents.

UK authorities will also set up a simplified cyber-crime reporting system through the existing Action Fraud reporting center. Users will also receive training to increase public awareness of online threats. A voluntary code of conduct with Internet service providers will also outline how users whose computers are infected with malware will be notified and receive instructions on how to mitigate the problems.

The "Hub"

In February 2011, the UK Prime Minister met the heads of some of the largest companies from all sectors of the UK economy to discuss the cyber threat and their shared interest in getting the response right. In the months since, the private sector and UK Government have come together to design and build an innovative new approach for cyber security.

Within such context, the Cyber Security Strategy outlines a new public-private sector collaboration in which the government and businesses will exchange information on cyber-threats and responses. A joint public/private sector ‘hub’ will pool government and private threat information and pass that out to ‘nodes’ in key business sectors, helping them identify what needs to be done and providing a framework for sharing best practice. A pilot will commence in December involving five business sectors: defence, finance, telecommunication, pharmaceuticals, and energy. Lessons from this will be used to inform roll-out of the initiative to other sectors from March 2012.

Similar to the Defense Industrial Base Pilot launched by the United States Department of Defense, the "Hub" will allow organizations to receive classified details about cyber-attacks and information on how to counter them. The U.S. version of the program is limited to defense contractors and similar organizations. The British counterpart will include companies from the defense, finance, telecommunications, pharmaceutical and energy industries.

Business Considerations

Though the scale of the challenge requires strong national leadership, UK Government cannot act alone. It must recognise the limits of its competence in cyberspace. Much of the infrastructure they need to protect is owned and operated by the private sector. The expertise and innovation required to keep pace with the threat will be business-driven. UK Government will create a thriving market in cyber security products and services that can win the UK business abroad and contribute to growth. It will also enable to promote the UK as a good place to do business in cyberspace

For cyber security, UK Government is setting an expectation that at least 25% of the value of Government cyber security contracts go to SMEs, either by breaking contracts into lots or by including SME sub-contracting arrangements in contracts awarded to larger suppliers.


"The Cyber-Security Strategy document heralds a new era of unprecedented co-operation between the government and the private sector on cyber-security, working hand in hand to make the U.K. one of the most secure places in the world to do business," said Francis Maude, the Minister for U.K.'s Cabinet Office and Paymaster General.

"Just as in the nineteenth century we had to secure the seas for our national safety and prosperity, and in the twentieth century we had to secure the air, in the twenty first century we also have to secure our position in cyber space in order to give people and businesses the confidence they need to operate safely there," said UK Prime Minister David Cameron. "That is why today I am announcing - alongside our updated National Security Strategy - the UK's first strategy for cyber security".

References: UK Cabinet Office (1), eWeek (2), NTA Forensics (3), The Hacker News (4)

November 28, 2011

DRS unveils its BackPack MAGIC air crew situational awareness tool

News Report

As reported in a recent press release, DRS Defense Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica's DRS Technologies, announced that its Intelligence, Communications and Avionics Solutions (ICAS) business unit has successfully tested the man-portable backpack version of its MAGIC (Mobile Mapping of Air and Ground Intelligence Collection) Enhanced Situational Awareness airborne mission networking suite.

BackPack MAGIC bridges the situational awareness gap of mounted and dismounted troops to collect and share critical voice, intelligence, and data-link information during missions such as foreign internal defense (FID), personnel recovery, search and rescue, special operations, as well as operations requiring a low profile.

The System

DRS’s Mobile Mapping of Air and Ground Intelligence Communications (MAGIC) is a modifiable avionics mission system designed for air crew situational awareness. It is a scalable, open architecture avionics mission system that provides near real-time geo-located intelligence and sensor data on a moving map display to furnish aircrews increased navigational and situational awareness. MAGIC’s open architecture is optimized for integration of virtually any desired subsystem, including:
  • Intelligence Broadcast Receiver (IBR)
  • Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL)
  • MIDS/Link-16
  • PRC-117G/F
  • Full Motion Video (FMV) Links
  • Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) data sets
The open architecture of MAGIC also provides connections for carry-on systems (BAO Kit, JPADS, PRC-117, Rover, etc.) to the MAGIC bus. Once connected, the remote system user (Airborne Mission Commander, Direct Support Operator, team member, etc.) has access to all of the data, either selectively or fused.

MAGIC, which is expandable, is available in ground station, vehicle and aircraft configurations.

BackPack MAGIC uses commercial handheld display devices to process and display vital situational awareness information at the user’s fingertips via a wireless link to the backpack.  By using a proprietary government software suite, it is capable of receiving and transmitting in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight modes of operation. Capabilities include providing RF email, full motion video, IP data, voice networking and secure voice.  Packs may be networked in hard-wired or wireless configurations, allowing maximum flexibility.

Weighing in at 26 pounds and enclosed within a commercial soft-sided canvas backpack, this compact package gives the warfighter enhanced data, voice, intelligence, threat and Blue Force Tracking capability while using popular display devices.  All of the display options include night vision imaging system (NVIS) screen filters.

The pack is able to be shouldered and secured within one minute. The system can run for more than eight hours on its self-contained power source as well as draw power from other sources such as aircraft and ground vehicles.

References: DRS (1,2)

U.S. Army's updated Information Operations Primer focuses on Cyber

News Report

The U.S. Army recently updated the Information Operations Primer, which provides an overview of U.S. Department of Defense Information Operations (IO) doctrine and organizations at the joint and individual service levels.

Information Operations are the integration of capabilities involving information and information systems in order to gain a military advantage. This concept is similar to Joint Operations, which are the integration of service capabilities or Combined Operations, which are the integration of two or more forces or agencies of two or more allies. The integration envisioned within the IOs, however, is not mere deconfliction, but the synchronization of activities leading to action, and in turn, achieving desired effects that are significantly greater than the sum of the individual components.

Cyber Issues

Recognizing the importance of operations in cyberspace, the last IO update addresses the evolving nature of cyberspace, specifically focusing on its influence on, and implications for, all instruments of national power.
Below we report a few excerpts from the IO Primer, discussing interesting themes on Cyber Defence in the military domain.

As cyberspace becomes a contested global common, will this require new definitions for war and deterrence? No consensus answer to this question has emerged yet. There is no internationally accepted definition of when hostile actions in cyberspace are recognized as attacks, let alone acts of war.

Current U.S. military doctrine is developing along philosophical lines that distinguish between the warfighter role of cyberattack and the intelligence role of cyberexpolitation. Terminology to describe cyberspace operations in general, as well as specific concepts of attack, defense, and the electromagnetic spectrum, still varies among Services. Completion of the new Joint Publication 3-12, "Cyberspace Operations" and USSTRATCOM's Cyberspace Joint Operating Concept should enhance unity of effort.

Developing cyberspace deterrence is a complex and challenging task still in its infancy. Traditional Cold War deterrence experience should be studied, but its model of assured retaliation may have limited application in cyberspace, given the capabilities of nonstate actors as well as the possibility of cyberattacks originating from co-opted servers in neutral countries.


In July 2011, the U.S. DoD Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace was publically released as "the first DoD unified strategy for cyberspace and officially encapsulates a new way forward for DoD's military, intelligence and business operations." Such strategy is built upon five strategic initiatives:
  • Treat cyberspace as an operational domain to organize, train, and equip so that DoD can take full advantage of cyberspace's potential.
  • Employ new defense operating concepts to protect DoD networks and systems.
  • Partner with other U.S. government departments and agencies and the private sector to enable a whole-of-government cybersecurity strategy.
  • Build robust relationships with U.S. allies and international partners to strengthen collective cybersecurity.
  • Leverage the nation's ingenuity through an exceptional cyber workforce and rapid technological innovation.

These initiatives mesh well with the tenets of the June 2010 NATO Policy on Cyber Defence, which "provides a solid foundation from which Allies can take work forward on cyber security" emphasizing prevention, resilience, and non-duplication. The Cyber Defence Programme includes a NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) planned to be fully operational in 2012.

References: U.S. Army (1)

U.S. Army concludes the NIE 12.1

News Report

Here in this blog we have extensively covered the recent exercises that have been scheduled by U.S. Army within the Network Integration Evaluation process (NIE). Establishing the NIE helped the U.S. Army employ a new agile acquisition process, since the U.S. Army now has a strategy to keep pace with industry and technological network advances and accelerate the pace of network modernization to a rate unachievable by traditional acquisition strategies.

As reported by the U.S. Army, the second Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE 12.1, has now concluded. The three-week event, represented the first time that all of the components of the U.S. Army network to be fielded in fiscal year 2013 were united and evaluated in a realistic operational environment. Soldiers at the lowest echelons were brought into the network, communicating through text messages, digital photos and chat rooms. Company commanders made quick decisions using information received in real time while moving around the battlefield. New hardware and software was integrated for the first time outside of a lab, and put to the test in mountainous desert terrain that mirrors the communications challenges in rugged places such as Afghanistan.

The second in a series of semi-annual field exercises designed to rapidly integrate and mature the U.S. Army's tactical network, NIE 12.1 involved 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division evaluating dozens of systems in operational scenarios. Soldier feedback and test results from the NIEs are directly shaping the makeup of the U.S. Army's network Capability Set 13, which will begin fielding to up to eight brigade combat teams in fiscal year 2013. Additional brigades will receive the latest network assets as part of Capability Set 14. Those capability sets will include greater bandwidth to transmit voice, video and data across the battlefield, as well as the ability to bring situational awareness and mission command information down to the dismounted Soldier.

NIE 12.1 provided the means to test, evaluate, and conduct risk reduction on a number of systems. One of those systems is the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, i.e. the U.S. Army’s on-the-move, high-speed, high-capacity backbone communications network, linking Warfighters on the battlefield with the Global Information Grid (GIG). WIN-T introduces a mobile, ad-hoc, self-configuring, self-healing network using satellite on-the-move capabilities, robust network management, and high-bandwidth radio systems to keep mobile forces connected, communicating, and synchronized.

NIE 12.1 was also host to the Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS, Rifleman Radio program of record test. This radio, which is carried by platoon, squad and team-level Soldiers for voice communications, can connect with handheld devices to transmit text messages, GPS locations and other data. Soldiers with 2/1 AD also informally evaluated more than 45 other systems, including solutions proposed by industry to meet the Army's identified network capability gaps.

The Context

The NIE process was born of the U.S. Army’s recognition that its requirements, testing and acquisition processes were too slow, expensive and complicated. Moreover, it did not include the operator’s perspective. This realization was in itself a minor miracle. Credit for this epiphany goes to the outgoing Vice Chief of Staff, General Peter Chiarelli.

The U.S. Army is including the individual soldier in the NIE process. The solutions are not being imposed on them by a program office or acquisition authority. The soldiers in the field are telling the evaluators what works and what does not, what else they want and how they want to employ these new capabilities.

The next event, known as NIE 12.2, will take place in the spring and further solidify the Capability Set 13 network. The six-week event will include the formal operational test for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, known as WIN-T, Increment 2, the Army's on-the-move, satellite-based communications network, which was informally evaluated at NIE 12.1.


"We are getting a great look at connecting the Soldier to the network, and a fantastic look at mission command on the move -- for the first time in an operational setting," said Col. John Morrison, director of the Army G-3/5/7 LandWarNet-Battle Command Directorate. "For the first time we've got everything talking together, so now we can establish an integrated network baseline. It's just been phenomenal."

"Getting information technology to the field in a rapid fashion is what we're trying to do here," said Col. Dan Hughes, the Army's system of systems integration director. "Some of the systems that are here are systems that industry paid their money for, that they built, that they brought out, and are in the hands of Soldiers probably five to six years before they would be in the hands of Soldiers if we had gone through the regular (process). And they're getting feedback immediately."

"You can look back in history and think about how we commanded on the move," said  Brig. Gen. Randal A. Dragon, commanding general for the Brigade Modernization Command. "At one time we used messengers or runners. We've used flags while we were moving formations. We've used radios to be able to talk to one another. In this digital age, we're now able to pass information rapidly -- large quantities of information to create a common picture so that commanders can command effectively and get their Soldiers to the right place at the right time."

"It goes back to the basics of what we all do -- shoot, move and communicate," said Sgt. Ryan Moore. "All this equipment lets us do that faster. There's no shooting flares in the air to signal things anymore. I can call somebody, and everybody knows; we're all on the same page at the same time."

References: U.S. Army (1), (2), Defensemedianetwork (3), (4)

Exercise SUDARSHAN SHAKTI: Indian Army's biggest war game to date

News Report

As reported by Defense-Aerospace and other news sources, sixty thousand troops and 300 tanks of the Indian Armed Forces (IAF) are participating in the exercise codenamed 'Sudarshan Shakti', aimed at strengthening war fighting skills of army's Southern Command and IAF's South Western Air Command by bringing together all elements including air power on one single platform.  In this overall effort, Network Centric Warfare (NCW) is one of the crucial aspects being validated.

Spread over the "huge geographical area" in the deserts of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Pokhran and Pachparda, the exercise is going to ensure infusion of latest technology with the weapons and troops while providing a real-time information of the battlefront to the field commanders. The exercise will help the Southern Command to validate its war-fighting concepts while working towards 'capability- based approach' relying on a series of transformational initiatives, concepts, organisational structures and absorption of new age technologies, i.e. those in field of precision munitions, advance surveillance system, space and network-centricity.

The endeavour has been to validate and integrate the use of all available assets, including Satellites, UAVs and HUMINT to assist commanders in taking dynamic and proactive operational action in a fluid battlefield. Another important facet being validated is the real-time sensor-to-shooter loop, which enables commanders to take instant decisions even as information is shared among platforms and personnel to order the weapons to be deployed.

It appears as the first time that the Indian armed forces are going to test its new capability-based tactics in a battlefield scenario.  Under the new war-fighting concept, the entire combat resources and support elements will be managed through a single command centre at Pachpadra, which will use the latest technologies to get a complete picture of the battle. The battlefront will be managed seamlessly through the command centre or centres without the administrative “borders” of various commands slowing things down.

Once the efficacy of the doctrine has been established in the exercise, the theory would be implemented, paving the way for a radical re-structuring of the Indian command system as well as the Indian Army Headquarters.

References: Defense-Aerospace (1), (2), Pakistan Defence (3), Deccan Herald (4), Defence News (5)

November 15, 2011

U.S. Navy demonstrates UAV to Weapons interoperability through a Service Oriented Architecture

News Report

As reported by U.S. Naval Air System Command's website, the U.S. Navy recently completed a demonstration for its unmanned aircraft Common Control System (CCS) at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif. During the demonstration, operators used the CCS to control a simulated unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and associated sensors tasked by Special Operations Forces. The UAS identified and tracked a hostile moving target and sent images of the target to an air controller. The UAS data created a precise coordinate so that a Net-Enabled Weapon (NEW) could strike. The UAS and NEW controller were then used together to perform a battle damage assessment.

The Technology

Led by the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, CCS is a software-only solution with instantiations for fixed, mobile and dismounted hardware configurations. It is intended to address common requirements for current and future unmanned aircraft systems.

During the demonstration, the U.S. Navy’s CCS used a sample of services developed under the Office of Secretary of Defense’s UAS Control Segment architecture. Multiple vendors developed these sample services and the user interface, which were successfully integrated to provide modular capabilities within one software system. Some of the services used were:
  • Blue Force Tracker
  • Cursor on Target
  • Sensor Product Archive
  • Sensor Command and Control
  • Vehicle Flight Status
  • Video Stream Catalog
  • Meteorological and Oceanographic weather service.

Government-developed Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4586 service and electro-optical/infrared sensor model services, as well as an independently developed industry presentation layer, were also used in the demonstration.
The Context

A major objective of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is to make avionics and sensor systems lighter and smaller for the functionality required and to have a greater degree of component commonality with other, especially commercial, systems. The U.S. Department is moving away from federated avionics systems to distributed systems where common processor modules and shared apertures can be used with great cost and support advantage.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NavAir), since a few years started surveying industry for companies able to design and build a common control station for all unmanned vehicles operating on the ground, at sea, and in the air. An official request for information was issued on September 2010 to learn more about industry research, technologies, and existing programs that could support several different unmanned systems.


The demonstration verified that service-oriented techniques can help create a set of reusable, independently developed, software services for control of unmanned systems,” said Mike Paul, the Navy’s CCS program manager. “The flexibility of the CCS framework and the government led integration efforts allows the system to efficiently address similar requirements for unmanned vehicles, yet meet the unique requirements of each vehicle in a highly efficient manner.

The CCS approach leverages off of the investments and capabilities that exist today to smartly embrace a modular, scalable open architecture for unmanned systems,” said Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, PEO (U&W) program executive officer.

Futher Reading
  • UAS Control Segment Architecture (web link)
References: Navair (1), GlobalSecurity (2), Auvac (3)

November 14, 2011

Raytheon's WiPak

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, Raytheon completed testing and development of a new wireless method of integrating its combat-proven Enhanced Paveway precision-guided bomb on aircraft. The new integration tool, called WiPak, uses wireless technology similar to what is being used in many consumer wireless devices such as tablet computers. WiPak consists of a small wireless transmitter and pilot interface in the aircraft cockpit, and a small receiver affixed to the Paveway weapon.

Raytheon has integrated WiPak on the Embraer Super Tucano counterinsurgency aircraft and is in the process of testing and deploying the system on similar aircraft.

The Context

Raytheon's Paveway family of laser guided bombs has revolutionized tactical air-to-ground warfare by converting "dumb" bombs into precision guided munitions. Paveway bombs have been put to the test in every major conflict and proved themselves, time and again, as the weapon of choice by the end-users. Paveways made up more than half the air-to-ground precision guided weapons used in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Newer versions of Paveway include GPS/INS guidance capabilities. This innovation combines the accuracy and flexibility of traditional laser-guided weapons with the all-weather capability of GPS guidance,  resulting in a weapon that decreases the required sortie count and weapon inventory while simultaneously increasing the mission success rate.

"WiPak enables integration of Paveway on a variety of aircraft previously unable to carry the weapon, and WiPak does so without modifying aircraft wiring or changing flight and stores management software," said Harry Schulte, Raytheon Missile Systems' vice president of Air Warfare Systems. "With WiPak, aviators can easily and quickly employ Paveway for a small fraction of what it would cost to integrate Paveway through traditional means."

References: Raytheon (1,2)

The U.S. Air-Sea Battle Office

News Report

As reported by and other news sources, the U.S. Department of Defense announced last week the creation of a new office to integrate air and naval combat capabilities in support of emerging national security requirements, named the Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO).

The Air-Sea Battle concept will guide the services as they work together to maintain a continued U.S. advantage against the global proliferation of advanced military technologies and A2/AD capabilities (anti-access/area denial). Air-Sea Battle will leverage military and technological capabilities that reflect unprecedented Navy, Marine and Air Force collaboration, cooperation, integration, and resource investments.

The ASBO will oversee the concept implementation by facilitating coordination among the services, influencing service wargames, fostering development and integration of air and naval capabilities, and collaborating with the joint forces. The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps will each dedicate a minimum of two field grade officers or civil service equivalents to the ASBO.

The Context

Throughout the history of warfare, adversaries have endeavored to deny each other freedom of action and access to areas where operations could be mounted that threaten campaign objectives. This fundamental of warfare was vividly highlighted during Operation DESERT STORM in 1991, when the access granted by allies and partners was exploited by the overwhelming capabilities of the U.S. military to quickly liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. In the aftermath of DESERT STORM, it was apparent to many potential adversaries that it would be inadvisable to oppose the U.S. in a force-on-force conflict, and they explored how to disrupt U.S. power projection through means designed to complicate both movement to and maneuver within an area of mutual interest. These two elements of an adversary's comprehensive warfare strategy are referred to as "anti-access" and "area denial" or "A2/AD".

Over the past two decades, the development and proliferation of advanced weapons, targeting perceived U.S. vulnerabilities, have the potential to create an A2/AD environment that increasingly challenges U.S. military access to and freedom of action within potentially contested areas. These advanced systems encompass diverse capabilities that include ballistic and cruise missiles; sophisticated integrated air defense systems; anti-ship weapons ranging from high-tech missiles and submarines to low-tech mines and swarming boats; guided rockets, missiles, and artillery, an increasing number of 4th generation fighters; low-observable manned and unmanned combat aircraft; as well as space and cyber warfare capabilities specifically designed to disrupt U.S. communications and intelligence systems.

In September 2009, the U.S. Navy and Air Force signed a classified memorandum to initiate an inter-service effort to develop a new operational concept called the AirSea Battle. It emulates the successful AirLand Battle operational concept developed by the U.S. Army in the early 1980s. Only general features of the new concept are publicly known, but its focus seems to be to counter growing challenges to U.S. military power projection in the western Pacific and Persian Gulf. In particular, North Korea; the People’s Republic of China, especially because of its rapidly developing anti-access/area-denial capabilities; and Iran are considered potential threats.

In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates directed the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to develop a comprehensive concept to counter emerging anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) challenges. Specifically, the Quadrennial Defense Review noted that China is developing and fielding large numbers of advanced medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, advanced fighter aircraft, new attack submarines equipped with advanced weapons, increasingly capable long-range air defense systems, electronic warfare, computer network attack capabilities, and counter-space capabilities. Potentially, a major threat to the survivability of U.S. carriers in the western Pacific is the new 1,900-mile Dong Feng-21D antiship ballistic missile that reportedly attained initial operational capability in late 2010. The QDR 2010 also stated that Iran has in service large numbers of small fast-attack craft and plans to use swarming tactics aimed at overwhelming the layered defenses deployed by navies operating in the Persian Gulf. The growing anti-access capabilities of potential enemies, the QDR said, can be successfully countered by continuing modernization efforts plus adopting several developing technologies. The AirSea Battle concept appears to focus overly on integrating advanced technologies. While technology will certainly remain critical to winning, the human factor should never be neglected, or, worse, ignored. No military concept can be truly successful without properly integrating sound thinking and training with advanced technology.

On Aug. 12, 2011, Navy Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, and Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove established the Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO), creating a framework to implement the ASB concept.


A Background Briefing on Air-Sea Battle by Defense Officials from the Pentagon was given last November 9th. Here there are a few excerpts:

"Anti-access/area denial is about systems, it’s about technologies and capabilities.  It’s not about a specific actor.  It is not about a specific regime.  It’s about our ability to confront those systems and overcome them no matter where they are or how they're presented.  To that end, for example, we see state actors with well-funded militaries that possess the most advanced kinds of anti-access/area-denial capabilities and technologies -- in some cases, multilayered across all of the war-fighting domains. Some of the capabilities that we're thinking of (inaudible) spoke to and presented on the second slides"

"Some emphasize gaining information dominance, especially through electronic warfare, counter-space and cyber war.  Broadly speaking, these have been written about in the Western literature, but we see that what they do is they create asymmetric effect, asymmetric impact, and so air-sea battle addresses these things and how they are to be successfully encountered."

"It is about systems and innovations, it's about collaborative development and vetting them to ensure that we are complementary and appropriate, and redundant material and nonmaterial solutions have been mandated by capacitor requirements, we have interoperability, we have compatibility, and they're fielded with integrated acquisition strategies seeking efficiencies where they can be achieved."

References: (1), USNI (2), U.S. DoD (3), (4)

Contract Award: CACI to support modernization of U.S. defense medical logistic

News Report

As reported in a recent press release, CACI International Inc has been awarded four prime task order contracts, totaling $69 million, to continue the company's support for the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support system (DMLSS) at the U.S. Joint Medical Logistics Functional Development Center (JMLFDC) at Fort Detrick, Md.

DMLSS is an automated information system that provides medical logistics, facility management, and medical maintenance support for U.S. Armed Forces at medical facilities worldwide.

The first of CACI's four awards is the DMLSS Development and Sustainment Support task order. It is a $21 million award to continue providing software development and sustainment services to support the Defense Health Systems Support, Medical Logistics Division, and the Joint Medical Logistics Functional Development Center in system development, delivery, and sustainment. Work will include IT and information management assistance, concept exploration, requirements development, and support in business process reengineering and provide maintenance and sustainment support for the current DMLSS Automated Information

The Theater Enterprise-Wide Logistics System (TEWLS) task order is a $24 million, SAP-based integration effort to continue migrating theater level medical supply chain management into the DMLSS AIS. TEWLS provides a single, authoritative transactional database to manage theatre medical material assets and provide order and shipment status through standard DoD systems. This effort will lead to improved management of medical logistics in operational theatres worldwide.

The DMLSS Engineering Life Cycle Management task order is an $18 million award to continue providing a broad spectrum of system and software engineering life cycle and technical services. This contract provides overarching support to all Defense Medical Logistics applications and systems.

The e-Commerce DMLSS support task order is a $6 million award for new work to provide system and software development and sustainment services to improve the system's e-commerce electronic catalog. This effort will create a common transaction exchange format and messaging service to significantly improve the ordering, tracking, and financial capabilities within DMLSS.

The Context

The contracts were awarded by the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity under the Defense Medical Information System/Systems Integration, Design, Development, Operations and Maintenance Services (D/SIDDOMS 3) IDIQ contract vehicle.


According to Bill Fairl, CACI President of U.S. Operations, "For well over a decade, CACI has provided health and health IT services to a wide range of government customers. These new awards to support the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support system are the direct result of the deep mission understanding and outstanding experience our team brings to every aspect of the system's work."

Paul Cofoni, CACI President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Transformative healthcare IT solutions and services that enable the efficient delivery of vital medical services to our Armed Forces are key components of our future growth strategy. This wide-ranging work with DMLSS clearly demonstrates that the significant corporate investment in healthcare IT and the dedication of our senior management are resulting in a growing momentum for success."

Further Reading

An interesting report appeared recently on Jane's, discussing how the prospect of a lean decade of defence procurement investment in the U.S. has prompted defence contractors to pursue diversification strategies to ensure survival and to bolster investor confidence. In addition to export drivers to reduce reliance on the Department of Defense (DoD), a significant number of majors have sought to increase their presence in markets adjacent to defence. Chief among these in recent months has been the fast-growing healthcare information technology and services sector.

Read the Full Story

References: CACI (1), Jane's (2)

November 11, 2011

Harris introduces the new Falcon III handeld radio upgrade for network-enabled dismounted soldiers

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, Harris has introduced the Falcon III® AN/PRC-152A, the first and only U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) Type-1 certified handheld radio to put the power of wideband tactical networking-including the capability to send and receive voice, video, images and data-in the hands of the dismounted warfighter. The introduction of the AN/PRC-152A will transform tactical communications through the expanded use of network-enabled missions in areas such as mission planning, intelligence gathering, force protection and checkpoint security.

Harris began deliveries of the AN/PRC-152A after receiving Type-1 certification from the NSA. The radio is the next generation of the widely deployed AN/PRC-152(C) handheld and addresses wideband communication requirements of teams operating at the tactical edge of the battlefield. The Falcon III wideband handheld serves as an interoperable companion to the Harris AN/PRC-117G multiband wideband manpack radio.

The Product

The AN/PRC-152A is the wideband handheld radio that delivers IP-based mobile ad-hoc networking while maintaining interoperability with legacy narrowband waveforms. Using the AN/PRC-152A, dismounted operators have the ability to send and receive secure voice and data communications to users within the network. The AN/PRC-152A provides high-speed networked data using the Harris Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) and will be software upgradeable to support the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW).

ANW2 uses innovative intelligent protocols that do not require the presence of a designated network control station-each radio automatically discovers and joins an authorized network. Ad-hoc networking allows automatic and transparent relay through an available station. It also heals the network if a station leaves, ensuring network reliability. ANW2 provides situational awareness and data on demand, seamlessly linking dismounted soldiers with upper-echelon networks. The radio quickly and efficiently transmits mission-critical voice, data and video in the most challenging communications environments.
The AN/PRC-152A allows the U.S. Department of Defense to extend tactical networking across the entire battlefield and offers warfighters the broadest set of capabilities in a handheld radio. In addition to wideband networking provided by the Harris ANW2, the AN/PRC-152A operates SINCGARS, VHF/UHF Line-of-Sight (VULOS), HaveQuick, IW for tactical satellite communications and other combat net radio waveforms.

Covering the 30 to 512 MHz frequency range, the multiband radio also comes with an optional high band enhancement that increases the radios frequency coverage to 30-512 MHz and 762-870 MHz for select waveforms. Additionally, the radio supports wideband (e.g. 1.2 MHz Bandwidth) networking waveforms from 225 to 450 MHz.

The AN/PRC-152A features the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) operating environment, providing the optimal transition to software defined radio technology. SCA architecture enables the upgrade to future waveforms supporting the evolution of communications from legacy narrowband to network centric wideband operations. Secured with the Harris SierraTM II encryption module, the AN/PRC-152A provides voice and data security up to the TOP SECRET level.

The Context

Consistent with its investments under the JTRS Enterprise Business Model, Harris is in the process of adding the JTRS Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) to the AN/PRC-152A.

There are currently four different types of SRW-capable JTRS radios: HMS Production Rifleman Radio (PRR) developed under government contract by the JTRS program, as well as three commercial vendors’ radios, Harris’ Falcon III, ITT’s Soldier Radio, and Northrup Grumman’s Software Defined Multi-Function Device.


"The introduction of the AN/PRC-152A revolutionizes the effectiveness of the dismounted combat soldier," said Dana Mehnert, group president, Harris RF Communications. "This new radio extends the tactical network to the edge, allowing for reliable connectivity across all levels and delivering vital command and control, situational awareness and critical ISR information. With the introduction of the AN/PRC-152A, the Harris Falcon III family of vehicular, manpack and handheld radios now addresses networking requirements from brigade and battalion levels down to the squad."

References: Harris (1), NPS (2), Armed with Science (3)

New stovepipes are being added all the time

News Report

An interesting report appeared on National Defense Magazine, which provides some interesting observations on the way military stakeholders today look at the network-centric paradigm.

There was a time at the annual Milcom conference when "network-centric operations" was the buzzword and all that anyone talked about. Panels were devoted to the ultimate goal of making military communication systems work seamlessly together, pushing data collected by myriad sensors to whomever needed it. Organizations such as the National Defense Industrial Association devoted entire conferences to the topic. Generals in keynote speeches declared that "the days of stove-piped systems are over." Two days into the military communications industry's largest conference of the year, and not one speaker or panelist has uttered the word "network-centric."

Does this mean that the military has reached nirvana, and all non-interoperable systems have been eliminated? Hardly. In fact, new stovepipes are being added all the time, according to Lt. Gen. Charles R. Davis, commander of the Air Force's electronic systems center. "Most of the programs I deal with today have gone along the path of building their own complete infrastructure, their own complete hardware and software protocols, to be able to fit on the network because they are being held responsible for their performance in program A or program B," he said.

One of the problems is that every program has its own funding stream. Joint Tactical Radio System terminal programs aren't coordinated with the communication satellite programs, so there are delays in getting the technology to war fighters, he said. The defeatist strategy is to create gap-filler solutions, or patches, so they can link "because that is the only way the system knows how to react," Davis said.

Read the Full Story

November 10, 2011

Marshall Land Systems demonstrated improved network interoperability for UK MOD Forward Operating Bases

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, a team from Marshall Land Systems has recently deployed as part of Team Castrum on GBA2, a demonstration of network concepts and standardisation for Forward Operating Bases, held at Caerwent, South Wales. During the demonstration to the UK MOD and other interested observers the team showed a generic base architecture (GBA) which enables information to be freely moved around a secure network and between FOBs providing commanders from section level upwards with operational and logistic data.

During the exercise, Team Castrum, led by Finmecanica Battlespace Solutions, demonstrated a family of fully networked, sustainable and deployable bases all interacting with one another. Marshall Land Systems provided perimeter surveillance using its Trakker unmanned ground vehicle fitted with a 3 meter Clark Mast on top of which was Chess Dynamics’ OWL thermal imaging and video cameras. Fitted to the rear of the vehicle was a Roke Manor Resolve EW system.

Base security was provided from a Marshall SafeBase deployable armoured sangar fitted with a Selex Galileo remote weapon station. A sensor fit could also be deployed.

SafeBase is based on a 10ft Marshall shelter with a rising sentry position, which can be lifted into position in 30 seconds. Once deployed the space in the base of the tower can have multiple uses. It can for example serve as a mini operations room or as an RWS (Remote Weapon Station) control station.

Marshall provided a main briefing facility in an expandable shelter fitted with TV monitors and networked briefing stations. In other parts of the main FOB were a laundry unit and ablutions block provided by the company's Norwegian partner, CSI. These shelters were supported by a deployable incinerator provided in partnership with Inciner8. All of these units can be networked into the GBA and provide commanders with information on water and fuel usage and waste management and in the briefing centre an overall situational awareness picture.

The Context (GBA, FOBEX)

A Forward Operating Base (or FOB) is a military base which provides troops with a secure location to operate from in forward areas. A FOB may be used over extended periods of time and although not able to provide full support facilities, it provides the infrastructure troops need to survive in the field, including accommodation, living/dining quarters, even an airfield in some cases. Because of their remote locations a FOB must be self sufficient – in forward areas there are no power grids to plug into. The base must provide the power needed to support the all of the infrastructure. Currently all bases are powered by diesel generators, necessitating regular and hazardous resupply convoys.

Forward Operationg Bases should be modular and simply deployable. In their design they must conform where feasible to open standards, thus allowing greater flexibility of configuration, interoperability and portability of component parts. This reduces logistic footprint whilst maximising their utility. A systems approach should ensure their individual integrity and architectural commonality across the generic ‘family’. They should also offer climatic protection in extreme conditions, 24 hour and all-weather performance, and be deployable in complex terrain. The current design for such bases is heavily reliant upon networked information and intelligence to support command. Bases should be protected by layered local surveillance, operating across the electromagnetic spectrum.

GBA (Generic Base Architecture) and FOBEX (Forward Operating Base Exercise) is UK Defence’s future deployable Tactical Base (TB) capability in the land environment. The requirement for this development work is partly based upon emerging experience and operational requirements from Operation Herrick (the codename under which all British operations in the war in Afghanistan have been conducted since 2002). The generic base architecture project aims to develop the thinking of the tactical base as a system, rather than a collection of constituent parts, that will enable them to be easily adapted when the need arises, cutting the work in theatre, and reducing the operational burden.


"Team Castrum was a great partnership and all parties learnt a lot. GBA2 (FOBEX) has enabled us to demonstrate to a wide range of military and industrial customers, how Marshall Land Systems can integrate into an overall operating base concept. Working as part of Team Castrum has given us an even greater depth of knowledge of networking within a deployed environment," said Peter Callaghan, Chief Executive of Marshall Land Systems.

"The idea of FOBEX is looking at ways we can be more efficient. Having lighter and more portable kit, which is quicker to assemble and creates more of a standard base, will not only use less energy but save lives," said Captain Christian Hulme, of the UK Royal Engineers.

References: Marshall-LS (1), Finmeccanica (2), Connect (3), UK MOD (4)