Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

New Research Shows Promising Future for Warfighter Communication

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

ADELPHI, Md. — Soldiers operate in remote wireless environments with limited bandwidth and unpredictable connectivity, making it challenging to receive timely and reliable information. Using novel communications software, Army researchers prove that a reliable data delivery system can be created that survives adverse network environments.

One of the capabilities in the U.S Army’s Multi-Domain Operations is rapid convergence of cross-domain capabilities, said Dr. Jade Freeman, a researcher with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

“Future operations against a threat require the joint force to conduct continuous and rapid integration of multi-domain capabilities to gain cross-domain overmatch,” Freeman said. “The Army strategy’s operating environment is a battlespace with congested, degraded and wireless networks, and the warfare dynamics and complexities are constantly changing at a fast pace.”

A report recently published by the lab proves that timely and reliable data delivery under adverse tactical network environments is possible.

Army researchers conducted a study on the communication technology that supports optimized information interoperability, mediation and convergence – the ability to rapidly converge effects from multiple domains – under the contested network environment.

In the study, the researchers show that Mockets technology-enabled Integrated Sensor Architecture, or ISA, achieved superior performance in data transaction in terms of timeliness and volume, compared to using the Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, based communication method under both stressed and wireless network settings.

ISA is the Army’s interoperability solution for sharing information between sensors and systems developed by the lab’s sister organization, the CCDC Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center. ISA uses the TCP communication method to transmit data between sensors and devices.

Mockets (Mobile Sockets) is a novel communications library developed by the lab, specifically designed for wireless networking scenarios to improve communications in mobile ad hoc network environments.

According to Freeman, Mockets design and implementation meets the needs of tactical military information networks, which are typically wireless, and ad hoc with low bandwidth, intermittent connectivity and variable latency.

“Tactical networking environments are often characterized as Denied, Intermittent and Limited, or DIL, bandwidth,” Freeman said. “Systems and applications linking sensors and tactical devices in operations can produce constant data stream. Such dissemination of information across domains and echelons is constrained by these challenges of network conditions, and a potential consequence can be a missed opportunity or an action based on outdated messages or even cost of lives due to the loss of mission-critical information.”

The primary objective of this experimentation, Freeman said, was to evaluate the performance of ISA data transfer with Mockets under various network settings.

The data transmission rates from the Mockets protocol were evaluated and compared to those from the traditional TCP in ISA under the wired networking environment (Ethernet Local Area Network), which provides the baseline results, and then in the Extensible Mobile Ad-hoc Networking Emulator, simulating a stressed wired communication.

Additionally, the protocols were experimented using military tactical radios simulating radio communications in a wireless environment.

The results show that the Mockets protocols outperformed TCP on ISA under every wireless setting in addition to stressed wired networking environments, Freeman said. On average, the latency using Mockets was reduced by more than one third of the transmittal speed of TCP on the stress network. Likewise, Mockets-enabled ISA achieved two-fold increase in throughput from TCP in a wireless setting.

For Freeman and her fellow researchers, the continuation of this study is crucial to the future operating environment and protection of our Soldiers in combat.

“We want ensure that our Soldiers are supported with communication tools so that they can conduct missions with vital information at the edge uninterrupted,” Freeman said. “Soldiers operate in remote, harsh and hostile locations, and we believe that Mockets middleware is an innovative communication technology that will ensure network resiliency and adaptability.”

Additionally, she said, this research will contribute to the Army’s pursuit in strategy “Information Dominance” against its adversaries, rapid convergence of cross-domain capabilities on seamless machine-to-machine, man-machine interface, and artificial intelligence.

As for next steps for this research, Freeman said it still remains to understand and evaluate many other functionalities of Mockets with command, control, communication, and information, or C3I, technology integration.

For example, she said, Mockets has a variety of tuning parameters adapting to network condition, optimizing the bandwidth and mobility support, as well as message tagging, prioritization and cancellation features to control network congestion.

The lab will continue Mockets evaluations as well as further enhancement with automated performance optimization according to message context and network conditions, which will benefit the Army’s Network Modernization effort.

By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

TYR Tuesday – CQB3A Shield Launch

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

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WATCH THE VIDEO:

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Innovate or Die® Tour Virtual Trade Show #IDTOURVTS returns next Tuesday.

US Army Selects Countermeasures Against Drones

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Army is leading a joint effort to align its counter-drone systems into a streamlined command and control architecture, officials said, enabling more “plug and play” technology on an increasingly joint battlefield.

All types of drone-zappers were assessed and evaluated on multiple criteria, said Maj. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, director of the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems office, or JCO, but the most prominent question remained: “Will it plug and play with emerging industry technologies?”

The Defense Department is bringing “an enterprise approach to a critical capability area, and providing the tools [needed] to enable U.S. forces to adapt when facing UAS threats,” Gainey said. “Our goal is to align existing and future technology solutions to operational needs while applying resources more efficiently.”

In November, the Army was tapped to be the executive agent for the Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft System, or C-sUAS, office to counter hostile drone systems. By January, when Gainey took command, the 60-person team started identifying and prioritizing joint gaps in readily-available systems.

By using a “system of systems approach,” Gainey said, the C-sUAS office initially gauged 40 systems needed to primarily detect, access, and engage with enemy drones. That initial list whittled down to seven defense systems, and one streamlined command and control, or C2, system. The official list was released Thursday.

However, currently fielded anti-drone systems not listed won’t be immediately scrapped. They will stay in use until they can be replaced with something from the approved list, Gainey said. “This method won’t just determine the selection of current systems today, but also future investments based on criteria such as effectiveness, usability, and integration.”

The phased selection process for the chosen systems was measured on an array of criteria that focused on a system’s ability to detect, track, and defeat threats along with their overall usability, sustainment, ease of integration, and relationship toward enduring solutions, Gainey said. The most important, however, was how the system operated on a C2 battlefield.

Armed with that criteria, the C-sUAS office worked with the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and put together a board represented by all the services, including the United States Special Operations Command.

The joint team came together and figured out which systems would be here for good, he said. Their final selections splintered into three target areas, including fixed and semi-fixed systems, mobile mounted systems, and handheld dismounted systems for troops on foot.

“Each service has each been assigned to sponsor one of those systems,” Gainey said. “So as we move this forward as a joint approach, we’ll coordinate the future upgrades of these systems and the contracting of these systems across the Joint Force.”

One of the fixed or semi-fixed systems chosen was FS-LIDS, which is a fixed site – low, slow, small unmanned aircraft system integrated defeat system. The FS-LIDS system is an Army-led “system of systems” approach, Gainey said, which means it’s not a standalone electronic system, but rather a kinetic capabilities system with multiple hardware and software parts that are interoperable.

As the Army takes responsibility to further develop the FS-LIDS system, the Navy opted to refine another fixed technology — CORIAN, a counter-remote control model aircraft integrated air defense network. Both systems are used to disrupt drone signals, and they are interoperable with each other.

The last fixed system chosen was the Air Force’s NINJA system, or Negation of Improvised Non-state Joint Aerial threats. Like the others, NINJA zaps radiofrequency communications between a UAS and its operator, and is interoperable with its counterparts.

Each of the three fixed or semi-fixed systems kinetically fuse, Gainey said, adding, “that’s what we found during this assessment. A ‘system of systems’ approach gives the best opportunity to defeat the threat as opposed to a single-system employed technology.”

When it comes to mounted systems, the LMADIS, or light-mobile air defense integrated system, was the single, go-to pick. The LMADIS is a portable jammer system, sponsored by the Marine Corps, and is capable of breaking up communications between drones and their operators from a mounted vehicle.

Only one of three mobile devices are currently sponsored, however all three are available for service use, Gainey said. SOCOM will sponsor the Bal Chatri, but the Drone Buster and Smart Shooter devices will not be sponsored. Each handheld device can be used while patrolling an area.

The guiding principle behind every selection is interoperability, Gainey said. “The command and control technology brings it all together. This initiative will bring an enterprise approach to a critical capability area and provide the tools warfighters [need] to better adapt to changing threats.”

The success of their choices relies on the service’s ability to embrace the command and control standards, or C2, Gainey said. “This will allow the plug-in-play of emerging technology from industry into our architecture.”

Regarding C2, the Army has FAAD-C2, Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control, along with its interoperable systems: the ADSI, the Air Defense System Integrator, and the MEDUSA C2, or Multi-Environmental Domain Unmanned Systems Application Command and Control. However, the MEDUSA C2 is still in the works to be interoperable with the FAAD-C2.

All that said, there is no interim timeline, Gainey said, despite the interim selections. As the C-sUAS office continues to work with industry, test new devices, and bring on emerging technologies to the DOD, “Our strategy is to continually improve the current capability we have, while testing and looking at the new technology to bring it on, not through this sort of slow, methodical way.”

Moving forward, the objective is clear: continually improving the systems with joint solutions. C-sUAS is working on a capability development document, or CDD, to lay out a blueprint for those emerging technologies. The first draft, slated for a fall release, will also open the door for industry to compete as the military moves forward, Gainey said.

Although unpublished, the initial draft of the CDD focuses on the interim capabilities identified in the assessment, and how it bridges the strategy of current system-to-objective joint solutions.

“We will continue to work with industry to bring these systems to full maturity or replacement with follow-on enduring solutions,” Gainey said. “Future research, testing and investment decisions on capability modernization will consider not only the most up-to-date existing technologies but, more importantly, those new and emerging technologies currently in development.”

By Thomas Brading, Army News Service

Shooting drill from Mission Spec

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Mission Spec sent us this shooting drill to challenge our readers. It’s called the “Innocent Balloon Drill.”

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Americans Navy

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

In the early 1770s, a Connecticut inventor David Bushnell started designing what would be the first submersible. It was a small egg-shaped and less than eight feet tall. Her hull was constructed from two oak shells held together by steel bands and waterproof with a thick layer of tar. It had ventilation tubes, a compass, and a device for determining depth. Attached to the exterior was a primitive bomb. The pilot entered the vessel through a hatch at the top. There were a couple of small glass windows that provided very light and visibility. It was operated by a hand crank that propelled it and a tiller that steered it. The operator also controlled the hand pump that regulated the ballast that submerged and surfaced the craft. Once submerged and the ventilation tubes were closed, there was about 30 minutes worth. It was called “Turtle” because of the two “shells” put together to make it. It is also referred to as Americas Turtle.

In the spring of 1776, about a year into the Revolutionary War, Bushnell wrote to General George Washington asking if the Turtle could be used in defense of New York City’s harbor. Washington accepted the offer. Around midnight on 6 September, the Turtle, piloted by Army sergeant Ezra Lee. That’s right, the first submarine action by the U.S. Navy was led by an Army guy.

It took Lee two hours to get to his target; a British ship named the HMS Eagle. Once he positioned himself beneath the vessel, he was supposed to drill into her hull using a bit attached to Turtle’s top hatch. Once the hole was deep enough, he would anchor his explosive device to the ship’s hull. He had about 30 minutes to get away from the Eagle before the charge would detonate. That was the plan, but Lee’s bit got stuck in a metal part of the hull. On his second attempt, the Turtle bobbed to the surface and he was spotted. As he headed for shore, Lee released his “torpedo,” which exploded harmlessly in the middle of the East River.

Even though Lee wasn’t successful in sinking or doing damage to the HMS Eagle (other than a small drill hole) it was the U.S. first attempt at underwater warfare, and it was one of the first in a very young countries Navy. Secondarily the failed attack ultimately forced the British to move their fleet of 200 ships to where they thought was a safer location. The threat of underwater attack kept the British fleet on their toes throughout the war and made them use more resources and manpower to protect their ships then they normally would have. Much like using Special Forces behind the enemy lines in modern warfare. So, it turns out it wasn’t as big of a failure as first thought. The basic principles used by America’s Turtle still remain valid in submarine warfare today. In recognition of Bushnell’s achievement, the U.S. Navy named two submarine tenders in his honor, one during World War I and one during World War II. Inevitably, the ships were nicknamed “Turtle.”

FirstSpear Friday Focus – FS Rash Guard

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Today we are getting a look at FirstSpear’s American Made short and long sleeve Rash Guards.

Built from a premium poly/spandex blend the FS Rash Guard is an ultralight compression fit garment that helps to protect against abrasion and rub commonly found in a maritime environment.

Quick to dry with natural sun / UV protection. Sloth flat seams, medium high collar, and integrated low profile thumb holes keep the sleeves in places when putting on equipment and other garments.

Available and shipping now in short and long sleeve in charcoal and ranger green. Order your standard t-shirt size for a compressed fit and consider stepping up 1-2 sizes for a more relaxed fit. 100% Made in America.

www.first-spear.com/rash-guard-7232

The State of SOLGW

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

What’s going on? What to look for? We will be releasing stripped receivers, but in limited quantities. And, we’re driving forward at an impressive speed…without EVER sacrificing the integrity of the brand. We make fighting rifles. That is our core purpose. When you get a SOLGW product it’s a known quantity and it’ll do what you ask of it. Despite growth or panic.

www.solgw.com

Soldiers Test New Night Vision Capabilities

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

FORT BENNING, Ga. – “Really good” was never really going to be good enough for the Army team developing the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular. Nine months after equipping the first unit with the ENVG-B, developers are testing the rigor of system enhancements at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., in order to assess new augmented reality technologies and the hardware that delivers them.

As a night vision device, the ENVG-B’s dual thermal and infrared sensing capabilities deliver unmatched clarity in situations where visibility is diminished, including the complete absence of light. It was fielded for the first time last fall as part of an initial Directed Requirement to get those next generation night vision capabilities in the hands of Soldiers at Fort Riley who have since deployed with them to Korea.

But that was just the beginning, said Maj. John Nikiforakis, the Assistant Product Manager for PEO Soldier. New applications are being tested and refined for delivery to the Close Combat Force.

“We put an incredible tool in the hands of Soldiers who need it now,” Nikiforakis said. “But the goal always is to treat the Soldier as a system, to equip Soldiers and squads holistically with weapons and system elements that work together to make them more lethal and more survivable. That’s what we’re doing here, testing the ENVG-B as a system.”

It’s a system that includes augmented reality capabilities and a heads-up display that integrates wirelessly with weapon optics. Those kind of capabilities make it possible for a Soldier to detect and even fire on a target around an obstacle with limited exposure to the enemy.

In what is called a reliability growth test (RGT), the first of three planned for the ENVG-B system, Soldiers from C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, put the system to the test during field training exercises throughout the month of June. After a week of classroom training with the systems, a week of marksmanship training on the range, and a week of nighttime situational training exercises, the event culminated in a 72-hour field training exercise with an opposing force. Thirty participants used the ENVG-Bs, and others used PVS-14 night vision devices in order for data collectors and observers to draw comparisons.

There was no comparison, said Capt. Will Hess, the C Troop commander.

“In terms of target detection and clarity, the difference between the (ENVG-B) and the PVS-14 is night and day,” Hess said. “The guys wearing the ENVG-Bs were taking targets out to 300 meters and even beyond, whereas our guys with 14s are having trouble seeing beyond 150. I can’t say enough about the ENVG-Bs. There’s really no comparison.”

Which doesn’t mean the tests all ran smoothly. By design, RGTs are iterative Soldier Touch Points that expose weaknesses in the software or hardware early and often throughout the development process in order to shape a final product that is beneficial to the Soldier and wholly accepted. That’s the Soldier Centered Design methodology employed by the Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team that leads the ENVG-B program, one of Army Future Command’s signature modernization efforts. Soldiers are involved in design and development every step of the way.

“The focus for this is getting it the hands of the Soldiers and just figuring out early on what are some issues with the device and how do Soldiers actually use it,” Hess said. “They developed it and tested it in the lab based on how they think Soldiers are going to use it. Now, we give to Soldiers and run them through our training and see how they actually use it and to test its durability, to see how it stands up to the kind of rigorous use Soldiers put it through in a dense, rugged environment doing dismounted squad maneuvers.”

The rugged environment at Fort Polk includes swamps, and swamps present Soldiers with a different kind of challenge.

“Snakes. Two water moccasins, two feet away,” said 2nd Lt Phillip Davis, who spotted the threat using ENVG-Bs in thermal mode. “The guys using the 14s couldn’t see them at all. There’s no comparison between the two. Just the difference in depth perception and clarity is drastic. The ENVG-Bs are incredible for situational awareness alone. Having that augmented reality with Rapid Target Acquisition allows us to make decisions quicker, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.”

With all the additional “gee whiz features” on the ENVG-Bs, like see-through map overlays and a compass, Davis said he needs more time with the goggle to prevent cognitive overload.

“The potential is astonishing,” he said. “These are capabilities I never thought I’d see in the Army, but it’s a lot like learning to drive a stick shift; we just need practice. Our guys are picking up on it very quickly, so I can see it being a great benefit a few months from now.”

In the coming months, the ENVG-B team will continue to conduct Soldier Touch Points, including RGTs, to address any issues identified during the exercise at Fort Polk, Nikiforakis said. It’s an iterative “test-fix-test” cycle.

“We rely on Soldier feedback to ensure the equipment we field is exactly what they want and what they need to be more lethal and more survivable on the battlefield,” he said. “The need to restore overmatch is urgent. The key to staying on track is keeping Soldiers involved every step of the way and finding ways to work around the challenge of the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

When employees of the two vendors manufacturing the ENVG-B prototypes were diagnosed with the virus, Elbit and L3 found work-around solutions, including telework and alternate schedules, to mitigate risk without delaying production.

“Everything we do is a team effort,” Nikiforakis said. “But nothing speaks to the ingenuity and dedication of the team like what we’ve seen over the past few months, as everyone from every corner of the (Army Modernization) enterprise has persistently found ways to succeed at a time when it would’ve been easy to hit pause. We just keep our eyes on the finish line, because modernization can’t wait.”

For more information about the ENVG-B, email [email protected].

Army Futures Command and its subordinate cross functional teams partner with ASA(ALT) and its PEO subsidiaries, CCDC, and multiple branches of the Army Modernization Enterprise to deliver the next generation capabilities necessary to establish and sustain a clear and decisive overmatch for the Army of 2028 and beyond.