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Archive for the ‘Digitization’ Category

Handheld Digital Targeting System Provides Fire and Air Support to Marines

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

A Marine Corps Systems Command fire support device will be one of several communication technologies demonstrated at Island Marauder 2019.

The Target Handoff System version 2.0 is a lightweight, fire control system that employs commercial off-the-shelf, shock-resistant tablets to perform various targeting functions. The man-portable technology helps ascertain global positioning coordinates and call for fire support.

It allows Marines to use a single system to control close air support as well as artillery, mortars and naval surface fire support missions.

“THSv2 is the digital fire support Program of Record for the Marine Corps,” said Jeff Nebel, Fire Support Coordination team lead at MCSC. “It is a modular equipment suite that provides the warfighter with the capability to quickly and accurately identify and locate targets, and transmit that information digitally to fire support systems or weapons platforms.”

Fielded in fiscal year 2018, THSv2 enables the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to view an updated satellite image of the topography of a location. The technology provides a platform for receiving and manipulating video information. It can also be used as a controller for unmanned and autonomous systems.

“The system decreases the probability of incorrect data transfer of the initial fire request by providing a digital communication link between the observer and fires platform,” said Nebel.

The Corps has leveraged electronic tablets—including the MAGTF Common Handheld—to support the warfighter. Like MCH, THSv2 is software embedded into a tablet. However, MCH is primarily used for situational awareness on the battlefield, while THSv2 feeds information to Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and other fire support and weapons platforms.

THSv2 is interoperable with several other technologies, including the AN/PRC-117 radio, Naval Fire Control System and the Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability. At Island Marauder 2019, Marines will demonstrate the interoperability of THSv2 with other communication systems, including Networking on the Move.

Engineers and analysts for the THSv2 emphasize its significance in completing missions on the battlefield.

“The Target Handoff System version 2.0 is important to the warfighter because it speeds up the kill chain and reduces human error by not requiring targeting information to be passed via voice,” said William Bensch, an analyst for THSv2. “Everything is done digitally.”

Since its fielding, THSv2 has received positive feedback from Marines who participated in various live-fire events and other training. Nebel hopes annual hardware and software updates will make the technology even more useful to the warfighter.

 “It’s a piece of the latest and greatest in cutting edge technology,” said Bensch. “The system is robust enough to be expanded upon. We’re looking to provide the warfighter with the best equipment to engage the enemy faster and more efficiently—and THSv2 does that.”

Story Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

Photos by PFC Taylor W. Cooper

Handheld Tablet Improves Situational Awareness for Marines

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

During Island Marauder 2019, Marines will demonstrate the effectiveness of several Marine Corps Systems Command technologies—including a handheld system that helps the warfighter navigate on the battlefield.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Common Handheld is a tablet-based communication system that enhances situational awareness on the battlefield. The device enables dismounted Marines to leverage commercial smart devices to plot and share locations.

The device includes pre-installed tactical applications to eliminate the need to juggle multiple technologies for various capabilities, lightening the load for the warfighter.

“MCH is essentially an interactive tactical mapping program with a GPS navigation software and a chat functionality,” said Maj. Richard Beeson, MCH project officer at MCSC. “The technology feeds the battalion’s current operational picture with real-time friendly force positions and allows this battlespace awareness to be shared down to the squad-leader level.”

The tablet feeds the information into Networking On-the-Move, while simultaneously transmitting it to the Combat Operations Center, where command leaders can use the information to make critical battlefield decisions.

Through MCH, commanders can disseminate orders, graphics and digital data, providing Marines the ability to visualize the commander’s intent and scheme of maneuver.

“It helps Marines to share enemy locations in real-time in an easily understood digital, moving map format,” added Beeson.

MCH enables warfighters to pass messages to one another in real-time—similar to text messaging—allowing the commander to make faster, more effective, decisions. It also assists the warfighter in deciphering whether an explosion was caused by enemy or friendly fire.

“MCH is a Command and Control situational awareness system that gives the squad leader and platoon commander a better understanding of the battlefield to make tactical decisions,” said Justin Meidinger, an engineer for MCH. “This system helps them have a better idea of what is going on around them.”

Earlier this year, the Corps fielded an early release version of the system to Marines. In fiscal year 2020, the warfighter will receive an updated version of the MCH that allows Marines to communicate with one another through several additional joint communication systems.

Later this month at Island Marauder, Marines will demonstrate the effectiveness and interoperability of MCH by linking it with other satellite technologies. The risk-assessment evaluation is intended to reduce miscommunication among Marines who use communication technologies. Beeson raved about the benefits of MCH and how the system supports the warfighter.

“MCH allows for communication, collaboration and coordinating among units,” said Beeson. “It helps everyone to be on same page. MCH increases the digital lethality of Marine infantry squads while reducing the risk of friendly fire.”

 

By Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

DSEI 19 – Electronically Enabled Textiles With Integrated Sensor Systems by Propel, LLC

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Propel developed Electronically Enabled Textiles with Integrated Sensor Systems for a US Navy Small Business Innovative Research Project to create wearable garments with embedded to monitor life signs of Navy SEALs while using submersibles.

What makes their technology different from others on the market is that they actually knit the sensors and cabling into the garment, unlike others who sew the sensors and cabling into the garments. Propel’s solution is more comfortable, durable and washable.

propel-llc.com

DSEI 19 – Juggernaut.Case Ejection-Seat Electronic Kneeboard Solution

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Juggernaut.Case’s Chris Stalzer showed us their Ejection-Seat Electronic Kneeboard Solution which recently passed testing. It features a two-strap configuration utilizing the new ITW Nexus GT-Cobra polymer buckle and a laminar-airflow mount-base that contours to the pilot’s leg to which the case is fastened to. This design also affords a stable platform on the pilot’s leg for tablet use. Paper maps and aluminum chart holders become an unnecessary addition to the cockpit, except for backup maps that are carried separately.

shop.juggernautcase.com/products/mount-ejection-seat-ekb-solution

Elbit Systems Unveils New Wearable Technologies for Infantry Commanders and Soldiers

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Haifa, Israel, September 10, 2019 – Elbit Systems DSEI 2019 display (booth S-2 120 and Royal Navy booth) will include new wearable devices for the dismounted warrior. As warfare becomes increasingly networked, Elbit Systems’ new devices address the requirement from infantry commanders and soldiers to enhance their interface with Command and Control (C2) applications, with other force members and with external sensing assets, thereby stepping-up situational awareness and combat effectiveness.

Expanding the Company’s DOMINATOR warrior combat suite, the newly launched set includes four devices that integrate seamlessly with radio systems and with Battle Management Systems: SmartEye – a head-mounted C2 display; Smart WristView – a wrist-strapped C2 display; SmartSight – a C2 add-on to weapon sights; and SmartNVG – a C2 add-on to Night Vision Goggles (NVG).

SmartEye is ballistic eyewear that provides dismounted commanders with a geo-oriented head-mounted C2 display. Projecting a see-through Augmented Reality (AR) symbology on the visor and enabling real-time image detection, SmartEye provides users with instant situational awareness. SmartEye interfaces with multiple visual sources, including weapon sights, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and input from reconnaissance units. 

Smart WristView is a compact, low-power, rugged wrist-strapped C2 display, providing warriors with a quick and convenient view of operational data in combat situations without altering weapon’s hold , further enhancing situational awareness and team-level C2 capabilities. 

SmartSight is a C2 add-on to most existing day and night weapon sights, projecting see-through AR symbology, laser rangefinder data and a compass onto the soldier’s weapon sight, greatly improving target acquisition capabilities and combat effectiveness.

SmartNVG is a C2 add-on to most existing NVGs providing superimposed AR navigation and operational symbology on any vision imaging system, significantly improving effectiveness in night operations. SmartNVG is compatible with both HDMI and Android.

The complete DOMINATOR warrior suite includes also the recently launched SmarTrack – a situational awareness system for dismounted forces in GPS denied environments.

www.elbitsystems.com

The US Army’s Adaptive Squad Architecture Initiative Treats Squad As Integrated Combat Platform

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

For too long, the Army has treated the Soldier like a Christmas tree, hanging pieces of equipment here and there. In total, it consists of 85 pieces of kit, weighing 122lbs with some of the burden owing to redundant power sources and connector cables. Adaptive Squad Architecture is going to change all of that.

To do this, the Army is preparing to undergo an 18-month effort to use a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) to create system-level Interface Control Documents (ICD) for the Adaptive Squad Architecture.

The Catalyst For Change

The catalyst for this transformation is the development of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System by Microsoft, a single system which allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse and Train. It integrates I2 with thermal IR cameras, overlaid with augmented reality information. Artificial environments and adversaries can be fed into the IVAS screen allowing for training and rehearsal. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence will offer a more dynamic foe who learns from the Soldier’s actions, like a real enemy.

It is such a leap ahead, a whole architecture had to be developed along with it, including comms links and power. The Army concluded it was time to look at not just the Soldier, but the Squad as a whole.

The goal is to begin using the ASA by January 2021 as the foundation for achieving the Soldier as an Integrated Weapons Platform and the Squad as an Integrated Combat Platform making them a peer with other major weapon systems. To get there, they’re going to need standards for industry.

Interfaces

Key focus areas of the ASA will be establishing common standards and Interface Control Documents for power management; data management (on each Soldier, between Soldiers in the Squad, and between Squads); physical equipment interfaces; and size, space, and weight management at the Soldier and Squad level. ICDs will be living documents, adapting as technology improves.

Although, this article is primarily focused on the development of ICDs, ASA will also offer an Architecture Assessment Tool (AAT) and a Configuration Management (CM) Database which looks at the Soldier and Squad’s configuration and includes a visualization tool. The AAT allows the small unit leader to configure a Soldier and Squad, alerting to incompatible equipment choices and load weight concerns.

The MOSA approach is also intended to reduce the weight carried by Soldiers/Squads by having an architecture that facilitates combining multiple capabilities into a single hardware device and eliminating legacy hardware by developing software applications that can be used on existing peripherals.

Problem Solving

Adaptive Squad Architecture may be the most important undertaking PEO Soldier has ever performed. The very fact that PEO Soldier invited the media to attend their Industry Day is indicative of this fact. The last Industry Day we were invited to by PEO Soldier was the Camouflage Improvement Effort In 2009.

The name is exciting, but the work will be tedious, for government and industry alike. They plan to create system-level ICDs for a government-owned technical architecture for the Soldier as an Integrated Weapons Platform and the Squad as an Integrated Combat Platform. The goal is to make the Soldier and Squad into digital platforms. I look at ASA as akin to a Software Development Kit for the Soldier.

Primary stakeholders for the ASA are the acquisition community which directly supports the Soldier and Squad, namely the Science and Technology (S&T) partners, the combat developers, the materiel developers, and industry partners.

Although many of the Program Executive Offices across the Army will contribute to this effort, the program is under the watchful eye of PEO Soldier, BG Anthony Potts. Yesterday, he addressed a crowd consisting of government and industry professionals to layout the effort.

His biggest concern is that the ICD is meaningful to industry. He believes that the Army will initially get it wrong, but is prepared to work with industry to get it right. Communication is key. He also wants to energize better relationships with smaller, non-traditional entrepreneurs who have interesting, innovative solutions, without having to go through larger companies.

General Potts wants to focus on problem statements rather than solutions. This will allow industry to design and build, loosely coupled, highly cohesive, severable modules. Another important goal is to reduce proprietary designs. The Army will establish the interfaces, the ability to plug-in and plug-out (electrical, mechanical interfaces), but its up to industry to come up with the actual capabilities.

Earlier, I mentioned the Christmas tree analogy. General Potts used this example. The Soldier is burdened by a bunch of heavy ornaments like a Christmas tree. The call comes to reduce weight and make the Soldier more maneuverable, more lethal. That increased maneuverability means that a Soldier can draw and fire his weapon first. Potts comes to his conclusion, “He who draws first, generally wins.”

Soldier Integration Facility

One of the primary ways the Army is dealing with this new way of looking at the Squad is the creation of a Soldier Integration Facility on Fort Belvoir as part of the Close Combat Force Enterprise. The SIF will operationalize technologies. COL Troy Denomy will be in charge of the SIF, referring to it as a collaboration tool even though it’s a facility. It should open 1 October and will become pivotal for every PM shop at PEO Soldier as well representatives from others.

But even before the SIF gets their hands on it, a new concept begins at the Soldier/Squad Performance Research Institute (S2PRINT) at Natick and are then refined at the SIF. Once they’ve come up with a solution, they’ll work closely with the experimental force at the Maneuver Battle Lab to prove it out.

PEO Soldier plans to be their own integrator, including coders on the team. The SIF will also include a business office to work with industry. General Potts envisions this office will help smaller companies work with larger companies, write awards, or purchase IP outright. They hope to set aside $1 million to get this effort moving. They’ll leverage OTAs, BAAs and other collaborative acquisition tools to invigorate solutions.

Down In The Weeds

“Obviously, a big challenge is power,” General Potts related, “there are too many batteries.” He discussed the upcoming Next Generation Weapons. They will power themselves with a powered rail which also moves data and the rail will run all of the electronic enablers on the weapon.

Another issue is the proliferation of communications devices. Currently, only three Soldiers per Squad have a radio. As IVAS is fielded, every Soldier in a Squad will have a data radio with IVAS. Moving from 128 bit to 256 bit encryption Secure Ultra Wide Band to move data around the Squad in a secure, but unclassified network. The end user device will be replaced by a “puck” but it will still rely on ATAK as the software environment.

This led the discussion to software management. The Army plans for a single ATAK software update per year across the enterprise, vice the four SOCOM currently accomplishes, but that decision is a function of organizational size.

In one of the boldest moves, they’re setting up a marketplace for apps to allow Soldiers to customize their software load based upon mission. The vision is that it works in a similar fashion to a phone app stores like iTunes. This concept will reward developers based upon actual use rather than the current model which creates software which may or may not be used. Under the developmental name Watchtower, the marketplace is in beta testing with an initial roll out in Q1 20 and FOC Q4 20.

More To Come

After he wrapped up with industry, General Potts and his team spent a few monitored with the media. He related that the creation of the SIF isn’t the only organizational change coming to PEO Soldier. We’ll see some renaming of the Program Manager shops to better describe their roles and additional capabilities will be added to the team once a full mission analysis is completed.

US Army Developing Battlefield Network Authentication Tokens

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

New wearable authentication more than a “token” gesture
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army Futures Command, or AFC, is developing wearable identity authentication and authorization technologies that will enable Soldiers to securely access network-based capabilities while operating on the move in contested, threat-based environments.

Photo: SPC Dustin D. Biven, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Since 2001, the Common Access Card, or CAC, has served as the de facto, government-wide standard for network and system security access control. However, CAC cards are not operationally suited for use in every environment.

Moreover, the Army lacks a standard way for Soldiers at every echelon to prove their identity when operating systems, devices and applications on Army networks.

With this in mind, AFC’s major subordinate command, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC, is researching and developing authentication technologies that will provide Soldiers with secure and simple ways to identify, authenticate and be authorized access to Army networks, operating systems, servers, laptops, applications, web services, radios, weapon systems and handheld devices.

Photo: Combat Camera, courtesy of CCDC C5ISR Center public affairs

CCDC’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C5ISR, Center is designing wearable identity tokens for Soldiers to use to log on to mission command systems, networks and tactical platforms. The tokens are wireless, lightweight, flexible and rugged, and they can be inserted in a Soldier’s pocket, attached to a sleeve or integrated into a wrist band like a Fitbit.

Conceptually, Soldiers wearing these tokens could simply approach a system to login, be recognized by that system, which would then prompt the Soldier to enter a PIN or use a biometric as a second factor, and be automatically logged out when they walk out of the system’s range.

“The Army is driving towards a simpler and intuitive tactical network, so we’re aligning our Science and Technology resources to explore the challenges associated with this mission space, inform senior decision makers of the lessons learned and deliver capabilities that support Army Modernization and address the Soldier’s needs — now and in the future,” said Brian Dempsey, Tactical Network Protection chief for the C5ISR Center’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, or S&TCD.

Photo: Douglas Scott

The wearable identity tokens combine the security of a public key-based credential — similar to the credential on the CAC — with cutting-edge advances in the commercial wireless payment industry and flexible hybrid electronics, explained Ogedi Okwudishu, project lead for the Tactical Identity and Access Management, or TIDAM, program.

“As part of the Army Futures Command, we’re looking to move at the speed of the information age. We want to be able to research, test, proof the concepts and integrate emerging IT capabilities from industry as they become available. There’s no point re-inventing the wheel,” Okwudishu said.

Under the current paradigm, tactical platforms would need to be retrofitted with specialized equipment in order to read new identity authentication technologies. Such deployments and retrofitting can be very costly. Wearable tokens, however, leverage already existing communication and protocol capabilities, Okwudishu pointed out.

“Soldiers should not have to take out a smartcard, insert it into a card reader and then remember to remove the card from the reader when they are done,” said Okwudishu. “Contactless identity tokens are not only easy to use, they provide a significant cost savings for the Army. You can continue to add authentication capabilities without needing to redesign, or deploy new, tactical hardware to every laptop, server, handheld device or weapon system in the field.”

Since beginning the TIDAM program in 2017, the C5ISR Center has worked closely with Soldiers and Program Executive Offices, or PEOs, Soldier and Command, Control Communications-Tactical, or C3T, to validate, demonstrate and mature the technology.

The center’s S&TCD is working with Project Manager Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, to finalize a transition agreement with PEO Soldier for wearable authenticator infrastructure technologies. In the meantime, the directorate is developing a wearable authenticator software provisioner that will enable the secure placement of credentials on the wearable tokens and the ability to do this “locally” at the brigade level and below.

S&TCD is also working from a roadmap it jointly developed with PEO Soldier to integrate the capability with various systems from PEO Soldier and PEO C3T. Currently, the goal for fielding the tokens is in FY 22.

“I think this is a really great idea,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Worthington, senior enlisted advisor for the C5ISR Center. “Nobody has done anything like this yet. If done properly, it will make the authentication process a lot easier and a lot faster. More important, it provides more reciprocity at the tactical level for log-ins, so you can track what people are doing on the network.”

By Douglas Scott

German Army Relies On Rohde & Schwarz

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

IDZ-ES and the PUMA infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the VJTF 2023 are making a start on the end-to-end digital command radio link over the first mile using software defined radios from Rohde & Schwarz.

Munich, July 22, 2019 – The seamless command radio link for the PUMA armored infantry system with the infantryman of the future (IdZ-ES) for the Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce (VJTF) 2023 is provided by Rohde & Schwarz. With the Budget Committee of the German Lower House of German Parliament (Bundestag) having given its approval for the armored infantry system service package at the end of June, the necessary contracts for procurement have now also been completed.

“This order is a milestone that we have reached after winning against international competitors in challenging trials and comparative tests set by the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in 2018 in Munster, Germany,” explained Hartmut Jäschke, Senior Vice President Market Segments Secure Communications Sales and Projects at Rohde & Schwarz.

Its basis is the intention of the Bundeswehr to be ready with the PUMA IFV/armored infantry system and the latest version of IdZ-ES for NATO VJTF (Land) in 2023. Rohde & Schwarz is a subcontractor of Rheinmetall Electronics, which is responsible for the IdZ-ES system, and will supply the latest tactical software defined radios (SDR) together with suitable waveforms, integration, training and services. The SOVERON family works with the high data rate and interference-immune SOVERON WAVE waveforms for tactical rugged use on the first mile, and is thus an exact match for the spectrum of requirements of a battle group for territorial and collective defense as well as for international crisis management operations. All members of the SOVERON WAVE family of waveforms offer mobile ad hoc network (MANET) functionality. Radios equipped with this capability function as routers within the IP network group, forwarding the information via other communication nodes and thus ensuring that a robust, interference-immune link can be maintained under all circumstances.

Rohde & Schwarz will supply the latest tactical software defined radios of the SOVERON family together with suitable waveforms, integration, training and services to the German Armed Forces for NATO VJTF (Land) in 2023. (Photo: Rohde & Schwarz)

The Rohde & Schwarz VHF/UHF radio systems selected for this project will establish and maintain the command radio link with simultaneous voice and IP data from dismounted troops up to the platoon and company level. The systems concerned are handheld (SDHR/SOVERON HR) and vehicular radios (SDTR/SOVERON VR) that are interoperable with the German Armed Forces joint radio system (SVFuA, series name: SOVERON D) that has already been commissioned by the Bundeswehr and the SDR waveforms procured with it. The first batch of SOVERON D commissioned for command vehicles will be delivered to the troops in the first half of 2020. This interplay is also of great importance for future viability in the context of the Digitalization of Land Based Operations/Tactical Edge Networking (D-LBO/TEN) major project for highly secure and trusted interoperable connections that will only come into effect after VJTF 2023. SOVERON D also provides backward compatibility with the analog SEM radio infrastructure that will be in service for some time yet even though it is obsolete. This capability was also recently demonstrated in further tests.

“With our innovative overall approach – SOVERON – we provide national trusted solutions that can be tailored to the customer’s needs but which, due to their open architecture, are compatible with established radio systems and architectures and, at the same time, will be viable in the future,” Mr. Jäschke continued. “It is an honor for us to bring into operation by the troops the latest state of the art for the VJTF. By doing so, we are not only paving the way for the next steps of D-LBO/TEN and for further strategic projects of the Bundeswehr. There are also significant synergies with the Telecommunications of the Army (TK A) project in Switzerland, comparable to the networking part of D-LBO/TEN. We are in the final round of a multi-year competition here.”