SIG Sauer Academy

Archive for the ‘Digitization’ Category

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.”

Juggernaut.Case Now Available On Amazon

Friday, July 12th, 2019

The rugged Juggernaut.Case series for phones and tablets is now available from Amazon.

SOFWERX – Next Generation PEO-RW Cockpit Capability Collaboration Event

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

USSOCOM PEO-Rotary Wing (RW) is interested in the next generation Special Operations Aviation (SOA) Cockpit. Join subject matter experts to ideate on potential solutions. This event will help participants understand the operational needs of the RW user community.

Focus areas include:
• Controls
• Voice Activation
• Heads Up Eyes Out Display
• Windscreen
• Display
• Communication/ICS
• Operational Flight Program (Operating System)

The event will ensure exposure to any technology that could increase aviator capability from the cockpit.

SOFWERX will hold an event on 16 July 2019 and the RSVP Deadline: 09 July 11:59 PM EST (sic).

For additional details, visit www.sofwerx.org/cockpit.

Cubic Awarded Contract to Develop Small Form Factor Radio for US Air Force

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Cubic Mission Solutions to deliver and demonstrate low-risk solution for Data Link Enterprise small form factor radio capability 

SAN DIEGO – June 10, 2019 – Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB) today announced its Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS) business division was awarded a delivery order from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for the development and demonstration of a Small Form Factor (SFF) Radio prototype for the Data Link Enterprise (DLE). The system is composed of one ground and one air component for improved communications capability, providing ground-to-air and air-to-ground real-time communications.

Cubic’s state-of-the-art solution is a lightweight, airborne and ground radio system delivering SFF capability in the most compact tactical radio prototype. In addition to a number of standard waveforms, Cubic’s system will demonstrate an internally developed, protected waveform known as “Boomslang.”

“We are very pleased to have been competitively selected by the USAF to develop and demonstrate our cutting-edge small form factor radio solution for the DLE,” said Mike Twyman, president, Cubic Mission Solutions. “Our system design is based on proven and mature technologies which we have implemented for a number of successful Department of Defense programs. We look forward to leveraging our expertise to provide the lowest risk and most capable solution for the DLE.”

Cubic’s SFF technical approach focuses on an architecture maximizing functionality and performance while minimizing the system’s size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) for both the ground and airborne systems. Cubic’s offering is modular, scalable and affordable with plug and play, open standard interfaces meeting Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) requirements.

“With decades of experience in developing systems for airborne and ground platforms, we are able to deliver a cost-effective solution, leveraging enhanced off-the-shelf technologies to build a prototype that will be ready for fielding in future follow on efforts,” said James Parys, program director, Cubic Mission Solutions.

CANSEC 19 – ICOM Common Operational Awareness Situational Application for Use with ATAK

Friday, May 31st, 2019

The new Common Operational Awareness Plug-In App for the Android Tactical Assault Kit From ICOM enhances situational awareness with Coalition Forces.

It integrates seamlessly into ATAK, offering real-time S/A as well as AES Encryption. Additionally, COA is compatible with Icom’s F3400D / F4400D Series, radios by US and Coalition Forces.

www.icomamerica.com

Wiring The Tactical Vest: SOFIC Debut

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Fischer Connectors continues to protect and defend special operations personnel with the Canadian debut of a new wired tactical vest at CANSEC 2019.  This fully-functional tactical vest on display in booth #525 features Fischer Freedom™ Series connectors sewn into the garment and connected to a distributed data and power bus that handles soldiers’ connectivity needs. The unique connectivity solution cuts weight from the vest while improving functionality.

Integrating a distributed data and power bus into the tactical vest eliminates the need for the external wires or break-out cables that currently weigh soldiers down.

Receptacles sewn into the vest and attached to the bus connect to devices and deliver power and signal, and a single battery pack powers all the devices. Communications gear, sensors, flashlights, cameras, viewfinders, GPS devices, and other essentials can be attached with matching plugs built directly into the device without the use of cables.

This approach to tactical connectivity is part of an overall trend to integrate more wearable technology into military gear to help reduce weight and simplify use.

Wim Vanheertum, Director of Product Management for Fischer Connectors says new connector technology is a critical element of the rapidly expanding market for wired tactical vests. “Rugged, low-profile connector receptacles sewn directly into the fabric and matching plugs built directly into devices can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, the use of cables. The award-winning Fischer Freedom™ Series connector used here has concentric rings on the receptacle that allow for 360° mating freedom, and a plug with a sealed membrane that protects the contact block with an IP68 rating.”

According to Vanheertum, sensors can be built into plugs, or plugs can be engineered directly into devices to eliminate cables entirely. The low-profile plug can also be cabled for communications gear and other devices such as cameras and video screens.

Several companies have already started building vests, devices, and sensors based on these concepts, and are testing them in multiple countries.

A SNEAK Preview of the smaller four-pin plastic version of the Fischer Freedom™ Series is available at SOFIC.. Please stop by to take a look at this unique connector series.

More information

Fischer Freedom™ Series | Fischer LP360™for Defense & Security

• Trend paper: Emerging Trends in Wearable Technology Across Several Markets