March 9, 2012

Cyberweapons move a step forward

An interesting article on Aviation Week illustrates how cyber and network weapons could be used in the near future to execute air-to-air attacks. Electronic warfare specialists and senior U.S. service officials are saying that U.S. Air Force is developing network weapons to attack aircrafts, but at the same time also Chinese Armed Forces are already fielding advanced cyberweapons to attack high-value aircrafts used for early warning, electronic surveillance, command & control, and intelligence.

As reported on the article. Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, the deputy chief of staff for operations, recently said that “the Russians and the Chinese have designed specific electronic warfare platforms to go after all our high-value assets. Electronic attack can be the method of penetrating a system to implant viruses. You’ve got to find a way into the workings of that target system, and generally that’s through some sort of emitted signal. The Chinese have electronic attack means — both ground-based and aircraft-mounted — specifically designed to attack E-3 AWACS, E-8 Joint Stars and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft".

In such a context, Northrop Grumman (that was recently awarded of two important contracts in the domain of Cyber Security) has just issued a 136-page report to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, suggesting China is adamant in creating diverse and technically advanced cyberspace abilities, and specifying that Chinese military also has close relationships with large Chinese telecommunications firms, creating a path for China to penetrate supply networks for commodities used by the U.S. government, military and the private sector.

China’s cyber capabilities appear advanced enough to disrupt U.S. military operations in case of a conflict. “A few weeks before a potential conflict over Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army of China may mount a computer network attack on systems operated by the U.S. Pacific Command and Transportation Command to confuse the U.S. command and control picture,” the report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found.

According to the report, "computer network operations (attack, defense, and exploitation) have become fundamental to the People’s Liberation Army’s strategic campaign goals for seizing information dominance early and using it to enable and support other PLA operations throughout a conflict. During peacetime, computer network exploitation has likely become a cornerstone of PLA and civilian intelligence collection operations supporting national military and civilian strategic goals"

"Military operations have benefitted from the unlimited range and precision of network based weapons and intelligence collection opportunities. Holding an adversary’s logistics and communications capabilities at risk previously required kinetic options (accurate missiles, quiet submarines, special operations forces, or advanced maritime strike aircraft) to physically target key communications nodes. PLA leaders understand now that tactical level employment of computer network attack tools used with sufficient precision can achieve dramatic strategic outcomes with the potential to alter a campaign"

Reference: Aviation Week (1), TheNewNewInternet (2), China Defense Mashup (3), (4)

March 7, 2012

Contract Award: Northrop Grumman to implement Cyber Protection for U.S. DoD

News Report

Just a few days after being awarded the NATO NCIRC contract in partnership with Finmeccanica, Northrop Grumman announced the acquisition of a cybersecurity task order by the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to strengthen cybersecurity protections across all Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community networks by implementing the Host Based Security System (HBSS) as part of the U.S. DoD Information Assurance and Computer Network Defense contract.

The task order was competitively awarded under the Encore 2 contract vehicle and is valued at $189 million over a three-year base period with two one-year options. As prime integrator, Northrop Grumman will provide software license maintenance support, training, help desk and architectural infrastructure support personnel.

Under the terms of the contract, Northrop Grumman will provide support in architecting, engineering, maintaining, deploying and implementing the HBSS solution. This includes but is not limited to the Combatant Commanders, Services, Field Activities and Agencies and the intelligence community's networks and associated host platforms.

The Technology

HBSS is the U.S. DoD's commercial-off-the-shelf suite of automated and standardized software used to provide enhanced host based security – security on desktops and laptops versus at the boundary such as routers and switches – against both inside and external threats.

HBSS monitors, detects, and counters against known cyber-threats to U.S. DoD Enterprise. Under the sponsorship of the Enterprise-wide Information Assurance and computer Network Defense Solutions Steering Group (ESSG), the HBSS solution will be attached to each host (server, desktop, and laptop) in DoD. The system will be managed by local administrators and configured to address known exploit traffic using an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and host firewall. DISA PEO-MA is providing the program management and supporting the deployment of this solution.


 "Cybersecurity is one of Northrop Grumman's four core businesses due to its vital role in our nation's defense," said Karen Williams, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Defense Technologies Division. "The HBSS award reinforces Northrop Grumman's position as a top provider of defense-in-depth cybersecurity solutions across the DoD and intelligence domains."

"Our Northrop Grumman team brings a wealth of cybersecurity integration experience and capabilities to help ensure that all five million end-points are protected across the DoD and intelligence community," said Sam Abbate, vice president of defense enterprise solutions for Northrop Grumman. "We look forward to working with DISA to continue our support to these communities in this critical cybersecurity function."

The Context

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), at the request of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and in support of National Security goals established by the President; started the acquisition from industry of a capability that will develop and deploy an automated Host-Based Security System (HBSS) solution, that will provide network administrators and security personnel with mechanisms to prevent, detect, track, report, and remediate malicious computer-related activities and incidents across all U.S. DoD networks and information systems.

In October 2007, U.S. DoD mandated HBSS for eventual installation on all unclassified and classified networks. Full implementation of HBSS is critical to defending government networks from an increasing number of sophisticated cyber attacks. HBSS provides system administrators significant improvements in situational awareness and drastically reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of cyber attacks, ensuring vital network capabilities are available to warfighters.

Back in 2010, Mark Orndorff, director of PEO MA/NetOps, wrote that DISA was attempting to transform HBSS into a tool for continuous monitoring of DOD networks. “We’re building out an enterprise architecture to take what was originally designed to improve the security of end-points but then pull information from a system and correlate it to a DOD enterprise level so that commanders operating and defending the network will know the status of their security posture, giving us a readiness report card that’s machine-generated. It will give us the ability to collect and correlate alarms as attacks propagate around the network — essentially letting us know what’s on the network. It will also give us the ability to look for what we call rogue systems.

Northrop Grumman has been working on the deployment of HBSS since 2008. The company recently completed deployment of HBSS 3.0 across 263 active duty U.S. Air Force bases and Air National Guard sites around the world.

Currently, DISA is looking beyond HBSS for ways to more closely monitor DOD networks. One solution involves network appliances that perform deep packet inspection on data that crosses DISA’s networks. That capability allows DISA to move toward its goal of full situational awareness for traffic traveling along the Global Information Grid.

References: Northrop Grumman (1), DISA (2), DefenseSystems (3)

Contract Award: General Dynamics to enhance U.S. Air Force Cyber Network Defense

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems was awarded a contract to continue its cyber network defense, operations and exploitation support of the U.S. Air Force’s 35th Intelligence Squadron (35IS) Cyberspace Operations program Sensor Shadow.

The contract has a maximum value of $5 million over three years if all options are exercised. Through this contract General Dynamics’ analysts and engineers help to collect, analyze, produce and disseminate vital cyber intelligence to ensure the warfighter maintains information dominance in the cyber domain. This includes supporting the U.S. Cyber Command and other Department of Defense customers.

The Context

The 31st Intelligence Squadron is the United States Air Force component of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service-Georgia field site and subordinate to the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency. It conducts both national and tactical intelligence operations in support of combat operations, plans and forces for three joint combatant commands. The unit also conducts intelligence operations in support of the air component commanders, air forces and Airmen of those combatant commands.

The Sensor Shadow program team conducts in-depth analysis of network intrusions, threat profiling, all source intelligence analysis and long-term analysis of stored network connection data and supports operations across the globe.


The Sensor Shadow program is representative of our cyber security heritage. For two decades General Dynamics has been providing leading-edge cyber intelligence support to the Air Force through Sensor Shadow, dating back to Operation Desert Storm,” said John Jolly, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems’ Cyber Systems division. “Our close partnership with the 35IS allows us to effectively apply our mission understanding and in-depth expertise in the cyber domain to bring more capability to the cyber analyst toolset for more effective and timely analysis.

References: General Dynamics (1), Gordon.Army (2)

European Defence Agency validates a new SW tool for Crisis Response Planning

As illustrated in a recent news report, a new planning tool is going to be used in the support of European Crisis Response planning. The tool, named Intra-theatre Mobility Capability (ITMC), is a decision-support tool at Political-Military level (Ministries of Defence, European External Action Service, for instance) to evaluate deployment options and produce timelines, cost and other management information that could help inform to formulate a course of action for either military operation or civilian mission.

The ITMC tool, that was developed through EDA’s operational budget, went recently through a validation session to assess its capacity and suitability in the support of EU decision-making process. The session was attended by the representatives from EU Military Staff (EUMS) and Member States, and chaired by the EDA. Different deployment options and scenarios were run throughout the validation session (with fictitious areas of deployment) so as to thoroughly exploit the capacity of the tool and analyse the results.

Compatibility with the NATO's LOGFAS tool was tested by exporting data from and importing it into the ITMC tool. The interaction between ITMC and LOGFAS tool was successfully completed. ITMC is complementary to NATO’s LOGFAS tool as both are playing roles at different stage of the planning process. The ITMC comes to advise on which resources (financial, transportation assets, infrastructure) are needed to deploy the troops to a certain area, whereas LOGFAS software is designated to create detail deployment plan and to deconflict the deployment with Troop Contributing Nations.

References: European Defence Agency (1)

Australian Defence Forces evolve their Command and Control system for Joint Operations

News Report

As illustrated in a recent official media release from Australian DoD, Australian Defence Forces (ADF) have undertaken a $60 million modernization program aiming at increasing the ability of the Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) in Bungendore to plan and execute complex operations.

Whithin this program, two contracts have been awarded to Lockheed Martin Australia and Computer Sciences Corporation Australia as part of Joint Project 2030 Phase 8 (JP2030 Phase 8), Joint Command Support Environment (JCSE). Specifically, Computer Sciences Corporation has secured the JCSE System Integrator contract and Lockheed Martin Australia was awarded the JCSE Development Organisation contract.

The Context

The Joint Command Support Environment is evolving from the development and integration of several new and existing command support systems including the Joint Command Support System, Maritime Command Support System, Air Command Support System, Special Operations Command Support System and the Battlefield Command Support System (part of Project LAND 75). Previous Phases 1 to 6 (concluded) delivered a ‘core’ command support system to support the planning and conduct of joint operations. This system was delivered to strategic, operational and tactical level headquarters as well as selected ADF units. Phase 7 (in progress) is providing further roll-out and enhancement of the Joint and Air Command Support Systems.

JP2030 Phase 8 takes forward the cohesive and integrated Joint Command Support Environment (JCSE) at HQJOC, which coordinates major Defence operations on land, air and sea. The program is being implemented in three separate sub-phases called Evolutions that will incrementally deliver capability elements.

Evolution 1 was approved by Australian Government in June 2009 and provided for the accelerated acquisition of the Joint Planning Suite (JPS) and Joint Operations Portal (JOP) capability.

Evolution 2 was approved by Australian Government in September 2011 and will enhance the JPS and JOP capabilities implemented in Evolution 1 and add additional capability elements to the Joint Command Support Environment. These additional capabilities are in the areas of Situational Awareness-Common Operating Picture, Preparedness and a Special Operations Combat Net Radio Interface. Contracts for Evolution 2 have been signed on early March 2012.

Evolution 3 is being planned for Government Approval in late 2014.


Australian Minister for Defence Materiel, Senator Kim Carr, said acquiring this cutting-edge technology would significantly improve the ADF’s ability to plan and conduct joint operations. “This new technology will make planning operations more efficient and effective and increase the speed of decision making,” Senator Carr said. “I am pleased that these companies were judged best to further develop the command and control system. This demonstrates the capability of the Australian Defence industry,” Senator Carr said. “I am committed to working with industry to build and sustain these capabilities, which are so important for our national security.

References: Australian Department of Defence (1,2)

March 6, 2012

Contract Award: Raytheon to demonstrate innovative battlefield jamming tecnology

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, Raytheon was awarded a $3.8 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to allow armed forces to conduct jamming operations with minimal communication and control interference to friendly forces.

The High-Power Efficient Rf Digital-to-Analog Converter (HiPERDAC) program seeks to enable tactical platforms, such as maritime craft, ground vehicles, tactical aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as individual soldiers, to conduct battlefield jamming operations while minimizing frequency interference with friendly forces.

Under the two-year contract, Raytheon aims to produce a technology demonstration showcasing the ability to efficiently generate high-power, rapidly tunable, linear microwave signals across a broad range of frequencies.

The Technology

By generating signals that are both linear (that is, the ability of a signal to remain within a certain frequency) and efficient, HiPERDAC allows jamming across the frequency spectrum while providing precise gaps for communication frequencies used by friendly forces. Achieving signal linearity and efficiency has traditionally been very difficult, particularly at high power levels.


"Being able to maintain combat effectiveness while simultaneously disrupting enemy sensors and communication systems represents one of the greatest challenges in asymmetric warfare," said Joe Biondi, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business. "With extensive experience and expertise developing defense systems across the entire frequency spectrum, Raytheon is uniquely qualified to take on this challenge."

References: Raytheon (1)

March 2, 2012

Contract Award: Finmeccanica and Northrop Grumman to enhance NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC)

News Report

As announced in a recent press relase, Finmeccanica, through its controlled operating companies SELEX Elsag and SELEX Sistemi Integrati's VEGA, together with its partner Northrop Grumman, has been awarded a contract by the NATO Consultation, Command and Control (NATO C3) Agency to develop, implement and support the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) - Full Operating Capability (FOC).

The contract, worth around EUR 50 million, is for an extensive managed service which will provide information assurance to around 50 NATO sites and headquarters throughout 28 countries worldwide. The NCIRC will provide the capability to detect and respond to cyber security threats and vulnerabilities rapidly and effectively. The project is intended to meet the level of ambition of NATO Head of States as set out during the Lisbon Summit in November 2010.

This award is result of a competitive selection process for which NATO collected bids from more than 300 companies across its 28 member nations. The list of the bidders included some of the world's top defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin, IBM and SAIC.

The Context

Today, the NCIRC - Initial Operating Capability (IOC) already provides NATO’s Cyber Defence capability to respond to computer security threats and vulnerabilities rapidly and effectively. It provides the means for handling and reporting incidents as well as disseminating important incident-related information to system and security management. It concentrates incident handling into one centralised and co-ordinated effort, thereby eliminating duplication of effort. However, it does not yet protect all the networks within NATO.

The upcoming NCIRC - Full Operating Capability (FOC) aims not only at a technology refresh of the existing NCIRC IOC capability but will also introduce new technologies to improve cyber defence situational awareness and enhance NATO’s ability to respond to evolving cyber-threats.This upgraded capability, which will be implemented by the end of 2012, will lay out a strong foundation for cyber defence information sharing in a federated environment.

Later increments of the NCIRC FOC project will provide NATO with the means to further develop cyber defence situational awareness by dynamically assessing and managing the level of risk in its CIS thus providing the Alliance greater flexibility in its conduct of network centric warfare.


This outcome clearly demonstrates the ability of Finmeccanica to draw on leading capabilities across its group to provide leading-edge Cyber Solutions to such an important international organisation. We are delighted that this strong partnership, combining the capabilities, resources and expertise of both organisations spanning the UK, US and Italy has been selected to offer what we believe is the superior solution best meeting the requirements of this key NATO Programme which Finmeccanica is fully committed to delivering successfully” said Giuseppe Orsi, Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica.

We are pleased to be part of the team selected for this strategically important NATO programme,” said Mike Papay, Vice President Cyber Initiatives of Northrop Grumman Information Systems. “Northrop Grumman looks forward to bringing its talent, resources and decades-long expertise in building and operating national-level cyber security management centres, both in the U.S and U.K., to this programme to help protect NATO’s networks from advanced cyber threats.

References: Finmeccanica (1), C4I Technology News (2)

February 29, 2012

Defeating enemy Electronic Warfare through Tactical Data Links and Network Integration

News Report

An interesting article on DefenseNews illustrates how Tactical Data Links and network integration are expected to play a key role in defeating enemy electronic warfare efforts during future conflicts. Data-link networks allow aircraft and other systems to cross-check their information and allow war fighters to filter out bad information being transmitted by hostile electronic warfare systems.

One of the counters to some of the adversary electronic warfare capability is that network integration,” said recently Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, the U.S. Air Force’s deputy chief for operations, plans and requirements. “Even active electronically scanned array radars can be attacked, but it takes a dedicated effort to jam those systems. A combination of sensor fusion and networking could overcome such attacks however”.

The Technology

Tactical Data Links (TDLs) involve transmissions of bit-oriented digital information which are exchanged via message formats used in support of joint and combined operations. They can provides real-time, jam-resistant secure transfer of combat data, voice and relative navigation information between widely dispersed battle elements. Participants gain situational awareness by exchanging digital data over a common communication link that is continuously and automatically updated in real time, reducing the chance of fratricide, duplicate assignments or missed targets. Each participant in the communication link is able to electronically see the battle space, including assigned targets or threats.

In the recent years, several programs have been established (particularly in the U.S.) to transform conventional Tactical Data Links (e.g. Link 16, Link 22, and Variable Message Format) to comply with a modern net-centric vision. Within these programs, TDLs are being expanded to assess and transform joint data link communications to the net centric standards, and to ensure interoperability and seamless integration with Joint communication systems. The implementation of these network capabilities into the data link environment is expected to enhance the decision cycle between sensor-to-shooter; providing information-superiority, shared environment that enhances combat power by increasing speed of command, higher tempo of operations, greater lethality, increased survivability, and self synchronization. This transformation must balance the needs of the warfighters with the requirements for net centric operations.

In the U.S., an Advanced Tactical Data Link (ATDL) study was started in 2008 to evaluate various data link alternatives for contested and anti access airspace scenarios. This activity, that culminated in a public solicitation from the U.S. Navy, responds to a critical requirement for increased connectivity and capacity between the tactical and airborne domain to exploit complementary C2, ISR and targeting for greater mission effectiveness. Current tactical communication capabilities have limited throughput and scalability, insufficient AJ (anti-jam) and LPE (low probability of exploitation) capability, and high latency and network join times. Link-16, the most widely used airborne tactical data link, provides C2, SA, weapons coordination, electronic warfare, and other capabilities, but does not meet emerging throughput, scalability, and latency requirements, especially in high electronic attack environments. In this context, the ATDL aims at complementing existing links to support integrated sensing and weapons coordination and control across air, maritime and ground domains for both manned and unmanned platforms.

U.S. Navy is particularly interested in advanced tactical data link capability for the E-2D Hawkeye carrier-based maritime surveillance aircraft, the F/A-18G Growler electronic warfare jet, the F-35 joint strike fighter, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

References: DefenseNews (1), C4I Technology News (2), FBO.GOV (3), Military&Aerospace (4)

February 28, 2012

Contract Award: Cassidian to provide its Operations Support System for sustaining German Army's MedEvac missions

News Report

As reported in a recent press release, EADS's Cassidian will support the Forward Air Medical Evacuation (FwdAirMedEvac) mission carried out with NH90 helicopters of the German Army in the evacuation of ill and injured persons. For this purpose, the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) ordered a total of eight units of Cassidian’s mobile EUA operations support system for mission control, preparation and planning.

From the end of 2012, German Army Aviation will be in charge of providing forward air medical evacuation in Afghanistan using their NH90 helicopters. The FwdAirMedEvac helicopters will provide a solid base for emergency medical care for German soldiers in crisis areas.

The Technology

Cassidian's EUA operations support system combines operational command and control with technical logistic support. The system offers reliable support of on-board systems and avionics equipment with adaptable configurations for planning, updating and analysing the airborne operations. EUA covers all aspects from communication, tactical situation management, mission preparation, briefing up to mission restitution / debriefing and it offers support for maintenance planning for aircraft operation.

Its current adaptation complements its extension ordered in May last year for the support helicopter Tiger ASGARD (Afghanistan Stabilisation German Army Rapid Deployment) which, from October 2012, will also be used to support the German mission in Afghanistan. The EUA operations support system, developed by Cassidian, integrates the capabilities of the German helicopters into the integrated military command, which is ensured via the German Army C3I System (FüInfoSys H), for both MedEvac and armed support missions.

The new generation of the EUA with an updated software configuration allows the system to be used for all helicopter types of the German Army and Air Force: the support helicopter (UH) Tiger, the tactical transport helicopter (TTH), the light transport helicopter (LTH) NH90 and the transport helicopter CH-53GA. In future, the German Armed Forces will operate their helicopter fleet using a standardised operations support system which not only enables operational readiness to be increased, but also permits operating costs to be reduced.

From the end of 2012, the EUA will also be used to support the missions of the HAD and HAP variants of the Spanish Tiger helicopters.

References: EADS (1), ILA (2)

February 27, 2012

Contract Award: DRS to enhance critical situational awareness on Growler aircrafts

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, Finmeccanica's DRS has been awarded a $7.9 million contract from Boeing to further design, develop and integrate the Joint Tactical Terminal – Receiver (JTT-R) for the EA-18G Growler aircraft, for which DRS has been supporting with initial JTT-R integration since July 2009.

The Technology

Joint Tactical Terminal provides critical data links to battle managers, intelligence centers, air defenders, fire support elements, and aviation nodes across all services and aboard airborne, sea-going, subsurface, and ground mobile mission platforms.

The JTT-R provides the capability to receive near real-time threat, survivor and Blue Force Tracking data for presentation of critical situational awareness information to the user. It receives this critical data via Integrated Broadcast Service and Common Interactive Broadcast waveforms over UHF Satellite Communications links. The JTT-R can be mounted in fixed and rotary wing aircraft, surface, and stationary or mobile ground platforms and vehicles to supply the tactical data link to battle managers, intelligence centres, air defence, fire support and aviation nodes.

Within the terms of the contract, The JTT-R serves as a replacement to the legacy U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler's Multi-mission Advanced Tactical Terminal (MATT), which is reaching end-of-life with the impending transition to the common interactive broadcast (CIB) waveform.

The U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler is a variant of the combat-proven F/A-18F Super Hornet Block II that conducts Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) missions. It is the U.S. Navy replacement for its current AEA aircraft, the EA-6B Prowler. Growler missions are mainly electronic attack (EA) and suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD), particularly at the start and on-going early stages of hostilities.


We are honored to support Boeing and the U.S. Navy by bringing this increased, critical situational awareness capability to the EA-18G Growler,” said DRS ICAS president Logen Thiran. “The JTT-R will further ensure this aircraft remains the most advanced U.S. Navy airborne electronic attack platform.

References: DRS (1), Naval-Technology (2), argreenhouse (3)

Indian Army's Future Soldier Program F-INSAS enters into the procurement phase

News Report

A recent entry appeared on Army-Technology reviews the multibillion dollar Indian Army's programme that is aimed at transforming infantrymen into fully-networked, digitised, and self-contained 21st century warriors, named F-INSAS (Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System). The program, which is planned to be rolled out in stages between 2012 and 2020, has been described by Indian defence officials as similar in scope and objectives to infantry modernisation projects like the US Army's Future Force Warrior initiative.

In this context, news sources report that the Indian MoD has recently issued a global tender for the acqusition of new assault rifles, CQB carbines (Close Quarters Battle) and lightweight ballistic helmets with internal communication gear. Indian MoD is currently preparing RFPs for light-machine guns, modular bullet-proof jackets, holographic reflex weapon sights, soldier-wearable computers, communication and surveillance equipment.

The Program

Future Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS) concept is based on the lessons gained from conflicts worldwide and intends making the Indian soldier a "self-contained fighting machine". F-INSAS perceives a multi mission, multi role war fighter who is part of the system that contains numerous modular integrated sub systems. The concept identifies the need to provide infantry soldier with enhanced capabilities in terms of lethality, survivability, sustainability, mobility, communications, and situational awareness.

The F-INSAS roadmap, laid out by Indian defence officials at the project's outset, states that the new system will be supplied to eight to ten infantry battalions (up to 10,000 soldiers) by 2015, with all 325 battalions fully upgraded by 2020.

The first objective of the F-INSAS project is the development of a new standard-issue armament to replace the ageing INSAS (INdian Small Arms System) rifle, that was developed by India's Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and introduced by the Ordnance Factory Board in the late 1990s. To replace the INSAS, the Indian Army wants to develop or acquire a new modular, multicalibre suite of weapons. The primary weapon is planned to be a rifle capable of firing 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition with a new 6.8mm under-development. This first stage alone will reportedly cost up to Rs250bn ($5Bn).
In the later stages of the programme, however, the Indian Army intends to complement its new weapon platforms with a range of high-tech equipment for its infantry soldiers. This equipment includes a new helmet with mounted thermal sensors and night vision, as well as cameras and chemical and biological sensors. The helmet will have an integrated visor with a heads-up display (HUD) capable of outputting images with the equivalent space of two 17-inch computer screens. Other proposed accessories include a full battle-suit with a bullet-proof and waterproof jacket, health sensors and even solar charging devices. This kind of personal energy generation could be used to power the soldier's HUD and sensor systems, as well as a wrist-mounted Palmtop GPS system that will be used to increase battlefield awareness and act as a networked messaging system between battalions and their commanders.

In general terms, F-INSAS is divided into five sub-systems:
  • modular weapons;
  • body armour and individual equipment;
  • weapon sights and hand-held target acquisition devices;
  • communication equipment;
  • portable computers ("wrist displays'' for soldiers and "planning boards'' for commanders).
The F-INSAS is what the infantry soldier of the future will be equipped with. It will be a multi-function weapon system with several features integrated into its design. It would be able to fight at close quarters, tackle distant targets and monitor attacks coming from all directions and accordingly respond. It would also have detailed communication mechanisms. For example, the system would ensure that communication between the rifle and the soldier is done through electronic means,” said Surendra Kumar, director of Indian Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE).

The Context

In today's modern and evolving armies, the infantry soldier continues to play a central role in all kinds of operational scenarios and terrain. His mission spectrum is complex, it requires him to be enabled with enhanced capabilities, that would to sustain him in high mobility operations in difficult and unfamiliar terrain. The infantryman operating in urban areas and under extreme climatic conditions has to prepare to face asymmetric threats. To meet these operational requirements and to enable the soldier to fight better and survive, most of the armies worldwide are engaged in infantry soldier's modernisation programmes, and are equipping their soldiers with advanced versions of existing systems and emerging technologies. The most significant of these programmes are Land Warrior in the U.S., IdZ-ES in Germany, FIST in UK, Soldato Futuro in Italy, and FÉLIN in France.

References: Army-Technology (1), (2), The Times of India (3), Indian Defense Project Sentinel (4)

February 24, 2012

U.S. Army's plans for fielding Capability Set 13 on eight Brigade Combat Teams

News Report

As reported by U.S. Army, beginning early next year eight U.S. brigade combat teams will be equipped with an advanced, integrated tactical communications network. The U.S. service is now synchronizing the production, fielding and training for Capability Set 13, which is composed of vehicles, network components, and associated equipment and software. These technologies will for the first time deliver an integrated voice and data capability throughout the brigade combat team formation down to the tactical edge.

Capability Set Management

Capability Set Management (CSM) is the U.S. Army process for managing network capabilities as a cohesive portfolio and synchronizing all supporting activities.  This revolutionary new way of designing, procuring, testing and ultimately delivering Network capabilities to Soldiers should enable the Army to place new and emerging capabilities into their hands early and often. CSM evaluates the current operational environment, then designs a suite of systems and equipment, a “capability set”, to answer the projected requirements of a two-year period.  Instead of developing a capability and buying upfront enough to cover the entire force, the Army will procure only what is needed by units in the train-ready and deployment pools.  Every two years or so, U.S. Army will integrate the next capability set, which will reflect any changes or advances in technology realized since the last set was fielded.

Each Capability Set undergoes operational evaluations prior to fielding to assess the collective functionality and interoperability of the set, each component’s individual performance and compliance with architectural standards.  Soldiers participates in these assessments and their feedback shape how the U.S. Army determines operational requirements and will guide materiel development. Capability Set 13, in particular, has taken shape through the Network Integration Evaluations, or NIEs, a series of semi-annual field exercises designed to quickly integrate and mature U.S. Army's tactical communications network. The connectivity, architecture and components of the capability set will be validated and finalized at the NIE 12.2, which takes place in May at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and Fort Bliss, Texas, involving 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division executing realistic operational scenarios. Capability Set 13 will produce a tangible increase in U.S. Army network capability. 8 brigades will be equipped at the beginning of 2102, and ultimately at least 20 brigades will receive fully integrated network equipment suites.

The centerpiece of Capability Set 13 is the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2, a major upgrade to the tactical communications backbone that will enable mission command on-the-move and extend satellite communications to the company level. Integration and configuration of WIN-T Increment 2 equipment on combat vehicles is now underway at U.S. Army facilities in preparation for production and synchronized fielding. The formal operational test for WIN-T Increment 2 will take place in conjunction with NIE 12.2.

The Agile Process

The U.S. Army has leveraged commercial industry to achieve significant modernization of network capabilities through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan using the flexibility of contingency funding and operational necessity. The challenge has been to define a process that enables success within the current materiel enterprise framework. Under the NIE effort, U.S. Army has established a similar operational environment at Fort Bliss/WSMR, supported by laboratory analysis at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, to institute an “Agile Process” that will introduce and evaluate commercial technologies in a controlled setting.

The Agile Process is thus an effort to procure critical capabilities in a more rapid manner, while ensuring technical maturity and integration synchronization. The ultimate end state of the Agile Process, the NIE, is to procure and align systems that meet a pre-defined operational need or gap and demonstrate success through Soldier lead evaluations during the Network Integration Evaluation.

The U.S. Army is also working to formalize the precise mechanisms through which contracts can emerge from the NIE process. Earlier this week, in its first procurement action resulting from the NIEs and Agile Process, the U.S. Army issued a "sources sought" notice for a single-channel, vehicle-mounted radio. The radios, known as Soldier Radio Waveform, or SRW, will act as a conduit for voice and data between the dismounted Soldier, his unit and higher headquarters, increasing situational awareness and reducing fratricide. This procurement, planned in time for Capability Set 13, illustrates how the NIEs and the Agile Process allow U.S. Army and industry to work together to quickly fulfill network hardware and software capability gaps.

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

February 23, 2012

Harris' Falcon Networking System connects warfighters to the tactical cloud

News Report

As announced in a press release, Harris recently unveiled its new Falcon networking system, which is presented as the first end-to-end system for connecting warfighters in the field to the tactical cloud. The system broadens and simplifies the delivery of secure video, data and other crucial command and control applications over both wideband tactical and emerging cellular networks.

The Technology

Warfighters today face challenges accessing data when their missions take them beyond the range of command center infrastructure. The new system combines information technology resources, such as a computer server and Falcon wideband tactical radio, into an integrated, lightweight package that can be deployed to support missions at the tactical edge. By utilizing the Falcon networking system, tactical users can now access applications and other critical data files that were previously beyond their reach due to constraints in bandwidth and power. Designed for on-the-move operations, the Falcon networking system delivers assured wireless network connectivity, content and services to mobile and dismounted soldiers. The system enables reliable, persistent distribution of vital information between higher headquarters, through command vehicles, to the squad.

Building on the proven capabilities of the AN/PRC-117G radio, Harris' solution extends the network to the edge with the most complete mobile system available. The standard configuration of the system includes:
  • Tactical Radios, i.e. the Harris' Falcon III® AN/PRC-117G, the low-profile 50-watt vehicular amplifier adapter (VAA), which also provide Sierra™ II software programmable encryption and wideband data performance with the Harris Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) and the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW).
  • A Network Communications Server, i.e. a small, rugged and scalable network integration center which includes dual security enclaves with embedded routers and servers and standards-based interfaces to support radio cross-banding, distributed information routing, and hosting of mission-critical applications.
  • Tactical Cellulars. To help transform the user experience in military communications, Harris designed the Falcon networking system with a 4G tactical cellular module that will enable warfighters to use ruggedized smartphones and other lightweight devices on the battlefield. Tactical cellular service in the system adds capacity, speed and 4G LTE standards to the battlefield with all key components — antennas, filters, baseband and controls — contained in a rugged enclosure. The system contains an LTE Core that provides basic voice, data, video and network management through a standards-based solution compatible with commercial user equipment. Future enhancements will include roaming and composed security solutions.

"Harris is committed to developing technology that significantly enhances the utility of the tactical network," said George Helm, president, Department of Defense business, Harris RF Communications. "This system builds on our expertise in tactical communications and high-grade information security to deliver assured network connectivity, content and services, where and when they are needed. In short, our system delivers information to the right place at the right time in harsh and remote environments."

References: Harris (1,2)

February 22, 2012

DRS unveils its Android-based SCORPION family of rugged handheld computers

News Report

As illustrated in a recent press release, Finmeccanica's DRS Technologies announced that its Tactical Systems division will launch the Scorpion family of rugged handheld computers at the next AUSA ILW Winter Symposium and Exposition. DRS developed the Scorpion handheld computers for dismounted command and control and improved situational awareness for U.S. Soldiers and Marines.  The product, which is a result of a Broad Agency Announcement contract for the Joint Battle Command-Platform Handheld System, is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) handheld computer running the Android operating system and interfaces with tactical radios for the exchange of information on the battlefield.

The Technology

DRS' Scorpion family of handheld computers provides first responders and dismounted organizational leaders a task and mission configurable handheld computing solution. Configurable to meet the demands of the dismounted Warfighter, the computer features the latest Android operating system and is equipped with a dual core processor and robust memory and storage capacity. The modular design of the product allows for future enhancements and additions such as information assurance implementation, extended battery life, an RFID reader, and a Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) GPS.

Features of the Scorpion handhelds include a high resolution 4 inch multi-touch display which allows users to easily pan and zoom without the use of a function key, an 8 megapixel camera, and FlexCharge which provides the user the ability to charge the device while interacting with tactical radios.

References: DRS (1,2)

French Army's FÉLIN digitized soldier system participates in a Franco-British live exercise

News Report

As announced by French Army and then reported by Defence-Aerospace, soldiers of the French 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (8th RPIMa) and soldiers of the UK 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland took part on Feb. 13-17 in a bilateral Franco-British Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX). During the event, French soldiers operated the new digitized soldier system Fantassin à Équipements et Liaisons Intégrées (FÉLIN). The system was tested under tactical conditions intended to closely reproduce those normally encountered on theaters of operation on which the French army is likely to be deployed.

The Technology

Sagem's FÉLIN (Fantassin à Équipements et Liaisons Intégrées) is an integrated soldier system designed to enhance all the dismounted soldier’s operational functions: protection, observation, C4I, weapons use, mobility and support. The system is customized into five configurations for different levels of command, with the standard configuration including a portable computer, a voice and data radio, new combat clothing with body armour and a new ballistic helmet.

The individual soldier system is equipped with a radio and a GPS. The system exploits a dedicated voice and data network that connects the individual soldier to other infantrymen in the section and to the section commander, who is connected to the vehicle battle management system (Sagem's SITEL). FÉLIN's tactical radio is the "VHF-over-IP"  PR4G VS4 from Thales, which provides tactical internet connectivity and links the dismounted soldier to the vehicle's SITEL.

FÉLIN is one of the most studied soldier systems to date, in terms of integration. The French DGA (Délégation Générale pour L'Armement), Sagem and the French Army have worked to create something very close to the needs of the soldier in terms of ergonomics, integration and understanding the battlefield mission. Specifically, the DGA provided a target weight for the system of less than 25kg, to include the entire system, weapons, ammunitions, and 24-hour energy, food and water provisions. Effort was also directed to the selection of the energy supplies and the method of recharging batteries.

The Context

In 1996, the French French Ministry of Defence Procurement Agency (DGA, Délégation Générale pour L'Armement), placed a contract on an industrial team led by Thales for the development of a dismounted combatant equipment technology demonstrator (équipement du combattant débarqué) or FÉLIN. The system was tested over a two-year period from 1999 and 2001, when the DGA invited Sagem and an industrial team of Giat and Thales to carry out FÉLIN definition studies. The DGA selected Sagem as the preferred bidder in 2003 and awarded the FÉLIN V1 (version 1) contract in March 2004.

References: French Army (1), Defence-Aerospace (2), Defence-Talk (3), Army-Technology (4)

February 21, 2012

Contract Award: NSI to enhance U.S. Air Force Intelligence Analysis and Reporting capabilities

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, NCI has been awarded a competitive task order valued at approximately $5 million under its Air Force Network Centric Solutions (NETCENTS) contract to standardize and integrate the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) Analysis and Reporting Team (DART) system across the U.S. Air Force DCGS enterprise. The project has a 24 month period of performance.

This effort is part of the “DART Standardization Across the Enterprise” initiative focused on standardizing a set of Multi-Intelligence tools that are used in support of U.S. Air Force DCGS missions.

The Technology

DCGS is the U.S. Air Force's premier globally networked intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. DCGS is based upon a network centric system-of-systems architecture that conducts collaborative intelligence operations and provides both physical and electronic distribution of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.

The DCGS produces intelligence information collected by the U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator. The DCGS currently participates in operations throughout the world including those led by United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Southern Command operations throughout the world.

Within the DCGS, the DART mission is to improve the quality, responsiveness and relevance of the intelligence analysis that U.S. Air Force provides to its customers. The DART accomplishes this mission in three ways. First, it correlates and fuse data derived from the multiple ISR platforms and sensors that DCGS operates, manages or exploits. Second, it further combines the AF DCGS-derived information with other available intelligence data from non-DCGS sources to provide improved context in the weapon system reporting. Third, it provides a regionalized 24/7 customer focus that allows DCGS to rapidly adapt collection tactics, products, and dissemination methods to meet changing customer needs.

The DART analyst needs to be able to perform timely queries, to a variety of internal and external sources, correlate data, produce products, and post those products to the appropriate locations to enable the timely and effective exploitation of the ISR data.

The Context

Raytheon is the prime contractor for the U.S. Air Force DCGS contract, with Lockheed-Martin, L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman, Hughes, Goodrich and Houston-Fearless operating as major system contractors.

As already illustrated in this blog, Raytheon was recently awarded a $179.5 million follow-on contract by the U.S. Air Force to provide Contractor Field Service (CFS) support for U-2 sensors, data links and the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). Raytheon has been prime on the CFS program providing support to the warfighter since the original contract was awarded in 1999.

Under the terms of the last DCGS contract, NCI will partner with Raytheon to provide a unique solution for the DART standardization and integration requirement that not only eliminates unnecessary spending for duplicate systems, tools, and software, but also enables DCGS operators to perform DART functions smarter and faster.

References: NCI (1), U.S. Air Force (2), C4I Technology News (3)

General Dynamics demonstrates advances in on-the-move satellite communications

News Report

As illustrated in a recent press release, General Dynamics C4 Systems recently completed the first demonstration of secure voice and data communications via the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite-communications waveform. The demonstration used the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) two-channel networking radio (AN/PRC-155), running the MUOS waveform software, to transmit encrypted voice through a MUOS-satellite simulator to the MUOS ground station equipment that will soon be deployed in Sicily.

The Technology

MUOS is a is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed to significantly improve ground communications for U.S. forces on the move. The system will enable secure, mobile networked communications worldwide, in even the most-austere environments. MUOS consists of four geostationary earth orbit satellites with an additional on-orbit spare, and a fiber optic terrestrial network connecting four ground stations around the globe. Each satellite will feature two payloads that enable the system to integrate with the existing architecture while upgrading military users to the new wideband code division multiple access system, which will provide mobile warfighters point-to-point and netted communications services at enhanced data rates and priority-based access to on-demand voice, video and data transfers.

The new waveform is termed the MUOS Common Air Interface (CAI), a Software Communications Architecture compliant modulations technique for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) terminals. User terminals will be in fact provided by the U.S. military under the JTRS program, with an emphasis on handheld, soldier-worn units. For users, the MUOS system will provide familiar cellular phone-like services with the satellites acting as very tall “towers” to allow warfighters on the ground to communicate directly with each other and their commanders virtually anywhere in the world.

The flow of information between users when MUOS is operational will be much different than today’s systems. Users will communicate with the satellite via UHF WCDMA links and the satellites will relay this to one of four ground sites located in Hawaii, Norfolk, Sicily, and Australia via a Ka-band feederlink. These ground sites are interconnected to switching and network management facilities located in Hawaii and Virginia. These facilities identify the destination of the communications and route the information to the appropriate ground site for Ka-band uplink to the satellite and UHF WCDMA downlink to the correct users. Network management will feature a government controlled, priority-based resource management capability that will be adaptable and responsive to changing operational communication requirements. Additionally, MUOS will provide access to select Defense Information System Network services, a voice and data capability that has not been available to UHF MILSATCOM users on prior systems. For satellite telemetry, tracking and command, MUOS will use the existing control system operated by the NavalSatelliteOperationsCenter at Pt. Mugu, California with the Air Force Satellite Control Network as a back-up.

When MUOS is fielded it will serve a mixed terminal population. Some users will have terminals only able to support the legacy waveforms while other users will have newer terminal able to support the MUOS CAI. In anticipation of this, each MUOS satellite carries a legacy payload that will continue to support legacy terminals, allowing for a more gradual transition to the MUOS WCDMA waveform.

For the time being, development of the MUOS waveform remains on track for completion in the third quarter of 2012. By year-end, the MUOS capability will be available on the General Dynamics' AN/PRC-155 manpack radio, the first MUOS terminal that will be available to soldiers. The AN/PRC-155 is a two-channel, software-defined radio capable of network-centric connectivity and legacy interoperability, supporting advanced (SRW, MUOS) and current-force (SINCGARS, SATCOM, HF, EPLRS, etc.) waveforms.

General Dynamics' AN/PRC-155 Two-Channel Networking Manpack Radio
Other radio vendors are keeping close tabs on General Dynamics’ progress developing the MUOS waveform through the JTRS Open Information Repository, a resource designed to link vendors to open-source software initiatives. Harris, for example, plans to provide MUOS capability through its Falcon III AN/PRC-117G tactical satellite radios. Those software-defined, multiband radios used in ground vehicles and command posts were redesigned in 2010 to become MUOS-compatible. Once the MUOS waveform is ready, Harris will begin loading it onto approximately 10,000 AN/PRC-117G radios fielded..

The Context

Lockheed Martin is the MUOS prime contractor and system integrator, and was awarded in 2004 a $2.1 billion contract to build the first two satellites and associated ground control elements by the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) (competing against the Raytheon team).

General Dynamics is leading the development and deployment of the MUOS ground system that provides communications and control interfaces between the MUOS satellites and existing and future U.S. Department of Defense terrestrial communication networks. General Dynamics also is providing the wireless protocol for communication between those networks and the MUOS satellites.

References: General Dynamics (1,2,3), Gunter's Space Page (4), DefenceTalk (5), U.S. Navy (6), Space News (7)

February 20, 2012

SRI Sarnoff's TerraSight enhances data and information sharing capabilities for dismounted soldiers

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, SRI Sarnoff’s TerraSight video and information processing now includes a new salience-based compression (SBC) module which allows dismounted soldiers to view and communicate mission-critical information on handheld devices.

The Technology

SRI Sarnoff's TerraSight is a video exploitation solution that provides situational understanding, targeting, sensor cross-cueing, and forensic reconstruction. It addresses the increasing demand for air and ground video surveillance exploitation by utilizing real-time video from a variety of manned, unmanned, and ground sensors including Battle Command and Intelligence data. The TerraSight product suite enables C4ISR competency and increases mission effectiveness for a diverse group of end-users such as mission commanders, tactical operators, and imagery analysts.

The TerraSight suite is organized into a set of three core components (TerraSight Manager, TerraSight 3D Visualizer, and TerraSight Server) that provide image and data capture, dissemination, visualization, and archiving. Additional modules detect and highlight moving objects, support video analysis, and improve accuracy of geolocation.

The new TerraShight's SBC module reduces overall bandwidth requirements to 50 Kbps (kilobits per second) and below, enabling the distribution of relevant, full-motion video and data over existing, bandwidth-limited wireless communication networks. SBC makes it possible for soldiers on the ground to leverage key accurate data and information sent from forward operating bases. Soldiers can now select relevant areas of interest and update data for real-time two-way communication. The SBC module chooses targets based on motion, key infrared (IR) signatures, and operator selection.

TerraSight provides precise, context-rich information for sensor control, data storage, vision processing and 3D visualization. Since SBC can further compress pixels around a selected area, soldiers are now able to focus on a specific area of interest in the video or data sent to them. Using TerraSight with SBC, dismounted soldiers can access a list of cameras to control orientation and zoom, enabling them to better understand and execute within their tactical environment.

References: SRI International (1,2)

U.S. reshape their spending on Cyber Warfare

News Report

An interesting post on illustrates how the Pentagon spending on cybersecurity would largely remain flat under the U.S. Defense Department's budget proposal, in contrast with the global reduction of U.S. military budget, and in line with the fact that the cyber threat is escalating at a dramatic rate, and terror groups and rogue nations are trying to acquire the ability to breach, destroy or take control of critical networks and military systems.

"We are in the 21st century and we have to use 21st century capabilities," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told senators this week. "That's the reason this budget invests in space, in cyberspace, in long-range precision strike, and in the continued growth of special operations forces to ensure that we can still confront and defeat multiple adversaries even with the force structure reductions."

Spending on cybersecurity programs to $3.4 billion, roughly what it was last year. In this context, there will be added funding for U.S. Cyber Command, largely for operations and research into how the military should respond to the persistent cyberattacks and probes of its networks. And the budget for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, will also increase as the department invests more in high-tech research and equipment.

"We've identified efficiencies and redirected resources to better match mission-critical needs," said Pentagon spokesman George Little. "We're using our cyber dollars more wisely, and as a result, we believe this budget will allow us to further boost our cyber capabilities."

References: (1)

ITT Exelis' updated JTRS Bowman Waveform supports Battlefield Interoperability between U.K. and U.S. soldiers

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, ITT Exelis delivered an updated Joint Tactical Radio System Bowman Waveform (JBW) to the JTRS Information Repository as part of a $4.2 million delivery order that also included Soldier Radio – Multifunctional (SR-M) software-defined radios. The SR-M radios delivered to the JTRS Program Executive Office in this sale will be transferred to the U.K. government for upcoming assessment and trials for the JBW.

The JBW allows U.S. Forces to communicate directly and securely with U.K. allies using the Bowman VHF waveform on the battlefield.  JBW functionality enables users from both countries to work as a cohesive team during combat operations, sharing situational awareness information more efficiently and effectively, rather than using separate channels to pass information back and forth.

The JTRS Bowman VHF waveform software application was developed by ITT under contract to the JTRS Network Enterprise Domain. It is to enable operators of U.S. JTRS radios to participate directly in the U.K.’s Bowman network. With such waveform, U.S. and U.K. forces are able to communicate and share data, despite their different radio systems.


This radio-agnostic approach toward waveform development under the JTRS business model provides our government customer greater value and increased competition for radios,” said Ken Peterman, president of the Exelis Communications and Force Protection Systems business area. “At the same time, it also provides greater capability to U.S. and U.K. military forces through interoperability on the battlefield.

The Context

Back in 2002, representatives from the U.S. Defense Department and the U.K. Ministry of Defense signed an agreement to enhance battlefield interoperability via the U.K. Bowman communications system. Soon after, the JTRS program office awarded a contract to ITT to develop a Joint Tactical Radio System Bowman waveform, i.e. a software application that would allow JTRS users to add the U.K. radio system into the U.S. network. Since that date, U.K and U.S. are keep on working together to create a network in which U.S., U.K. and coalition units will be able to share information and situational awareness as if they were the flanking formations of the same nation.

Bowman is a tactical communications system integrating digital voice and data technology to provide secure radio, telephone, intercom and tactical internet services in a modular and fully integrated system. The programme includes the conversion of over 18,000 platforms. Specifically, as well as being man-portable, Bowman equipment fits into most UK military vehicles from Land Rover Wolf to the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, as weel as fixed HQ buildings, naval vessels, aircrafts (including the major helicopter types supporting land operations, i.e. Chinook and Merlin).

Bowman provides key improvements to capability in what has been dubbed the “three-legged stool” of voice communications, data services and situational awareness.

Bowman Command and Control provides an Automatic Position Location, Navigation and Reporting system (APLNR) which gives Situational Awareness to units throughout the digitised structure. The friendly forces picture can be configured to update unit and vehicle positions automatically. The tactical picture is shown on map displays on a variety of purpose-built data terminals – handheld, portable, vehicle or desk mounted. Key armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) are fitted with specialised equipments tailored to each vehicle type to facilitate use of the APLNR capability in the specific environment of an AFV. Bowman's Common Battlefield Applications Toolset (ComBAT) provides the main C2 interfaces for users of the Bowman system. This provides mechanisms for messaging, reports and returns. Battle Management capabilities include support for planning functions.

Bowman provides high levels of security based on the UK Pritchel crypto system together with its appliqué crypto and NATO Standard Operating Modes to allow interoperability with NATO allies. The Bowman Key Variable Management System (BKVMS) provides generation and distribution of cryptographic key material.

Bowman's IP-based tactical Internet provides connectivity through the local area system (LAS), the ITT's High Capacity Data Radio (HCDR) and Combat Net Radio (CNR) nets. Resilience is provided by the self-healing ability of IP. A new design of Bowman's gateway equipment also provides voice and data interfaces to existing wide area networking assets such as ptarmigan, SATCOM systems and the public and military telephone networks.
The Bowman Supply and Support contract was awarded to General Dynamics United Kingdom. A review of the program was undertaken in late 2004 and this provided the opportunity to better ensure that it would deliver a capability consistent with the UK MoD’s vision of achieving Network Enabled Capability. Bowman willoing to meet the tactical communications needs of those elements of the three UK Armed Services that take part in, or provide direct support to, UK land, amphibious and air manoeuvre operations until at least 2026. It is expected to provide a secure digital voice and data communications service, including situational awareness capability.

Since initial deployment of 12 Mechanized Brigade to Iraq in April 2005, Bowman has been employed on Operations TELIC and HERRICK. Other brigades have been converted and continued operational experience indicates that Bowman is delivering a battle winning capability.

References: ITT Exelis  (1), UK MoD (2), General Dynamics (3), National Defense (4), SIGNAL (5), Aviation Week (6)