Monthly Archives: November 2017

US Cyber Command falls short

In the years since Daesh first swept across Syria and northern Iraq the group has forced some the world’s largest militaries to dramatically re-evaluate their warfighting strategies and capabilities.

Daesh emerged as a thoroughly modern insurgency, exploiting the connected world to communicate securely, sustain its income, disseminate propaganda and coordinate local and global attacks.

In response the US had to rapidly formulate a strategy designed to disrupt the group’s cyber-based lifeline in conjunction with more traditional efforts to push Daesh out of its territorial strongholds.

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However, Ash Carter, Defence Secretary from 2015 to 2017 has voiced his opinion on the shortfalls of the US’ cyber war against ISIS in a damning report for the Belfer Centre.

During his tenure at the Department of Defence, Carter grappled with how best to confront the multifaceted threat posed by Daesh which included the launching of offensive cyber operations for the first time since CYBERCOM was established in 2009.

The results and effectiveness of such operations were, in his opinion, disappointing.

‘[CYBERCOM] never produced any effective cyber weapons or techniques…None of our agencies showed very well in the cyber fight,’ Carter stated in the report.

According to Carter the intelligence community unnecessarily delayed and disrupted CYBERCOM’s attempts to launch offensive cyber-attacks.

‘The intelligence community tended to delay or try to prevent its use, claiming cyber operations would hinder intelligence collection.’

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The issue of the ‘dual hat’ command has been one of the primary stumbling blocks to creating an effective CYBERCOM.

This dual hat has created friction between the two bodies on whether offensive cyber operations or the NSA’s intelligence gathering efforts should be prioritised.

Despite President Donald Trump’s August announcement that the command has been elevated to a unified combatant command, CYBERCOM continues to share its commander with the NSA.

The current Defence Secretary, Gen James Mattis is overseeing a review into the separation of USCYBERCOM from the National Security Agency (NSA) in an effort to streamline and centralise US cyber strategy.

It is likely that the review will recommend a split, however it remains to be seen whether such a move would end the conflict of interest between CYBERCOM and NSA which has so far neutered US abilities to wage effective offensive cyber operations.

 

Advanced defence technologies take centre stage

Among the highlights of Raytheon UK’s technology and innovation conference held last week was a demonstration of its Overseer platform and discussion of its tactical penetrator warhead – a key component of the company’s advanced technology programme.

Overseer

Funded by internal seed funding, the Overseer has been in development for the last five years and continues to be spoken of as a potential upgrade platform for the Royal Air Force’s Sentinel R1 aircraft.

The ISR mission system is sensor agnostic and compatible with maritime, ground vehicle and airbourne platforms. Raytheon say it has been designed specifically with ISR training and ISR customers in mind, with users able to analyse multiple data sets within one program.

Overseer 2

Outlining the development of the tactical penetrator warhead, chief engineer for weapons systems, T.J. Marsden, explained that the product had been developed to replace any potential capability loss from the Tornado fighter-bomber being taken out of service by the MoD. Marsden also confirmed that the warhead had been through its demonstration phase and is now into its qualification stage.

Beyond a focus on ISR and weapons technology, the event included a set of panel discussions centering on how to create a culture of innovation in the UK and what role collaboration could play in addressing aerospace and defence challenges.

Industry experts were particularly agreeable on the need for innovation to stimulate growth and acknowledged research and design environments should provide a ‘safe space for people to fail’.

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As the subject of Brexit was raised, OEM representatives made their bottom-line clear: Maintain membership of EASA and hold firm on the unrestricted movement of UK citizens to and from Europe. One panel member went so far as to say that without access to existing resources, funding and R&D capital ‘we don’t function properly’.

Taking a slightly different approach, one source further down the supply chain opined that the UK should concentrate on sourcing a greater array of products and services domestically and export to the international defence market.

Paul Everitt

The world according to Shephard: Week 47

Sunshine state showcasing the best in simulation and training

16,000 attendees are set to descend on Orlando, Florida from Monday onwards as the curtain is lifted on I/ITSEC 2017. As ever the Shephard team will be in position to report on breaking developments across the week. We wouldn’t dare keep you salivating for stories until then… Pre-event, the big news is that six C-130J weapon system trainer (WST) simulators are set to be delivered to various US air bases throughout 2020 and 2021.

For show coverage, make sure to check out the dedicated Shephard I/ITSEC news site here.

Sikorsky’s South American offshore springboard

Having studied the reform of the Mexican energy market closely, Sikorsky are anticipating that their trusted heavy S-92 type will see increased sales in the country. In their view, oil and gas companies remain prime candidates for developing offshore growth as the industry continue to buy up lease blocs for exploration purposes – further and further from the Mexican coast.

Croatian’s continue to test OH-58D firepower

The 93rd Croatian Air Force and Air Defence has been putting its Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior type through its paces by way of a tactical group live firing and rocket launching exercise. A range of weapons were used during the session as pilots – flying in pairs – used the 12.7mm machine gun, the Hydra 70mm unguided rocket, Hellfire missile, and Heckler-Koch G-36CV gun. Having taken charge of directing the exercise, US instructors will now take their leave of Air Base Zemunik.

Welcome Swedish steer for surface vessels

SAAB is working to create a fleet of new surface vessels for the Royal Swedish Navy and is confident the project will result in new maritime capabilities being delivered. Such confidence is supported by the process receiving the backing of Swedish FOI and FMV military design and procurement agencies. One platform to be publicised by officials at a Saab site, next to the Swedish naval base in Karlskrona, was a 100m stretched Visby-class corvette. Potential capability enhancement across the Visby class include surface, sub-surface and anti-air warfare.

Right move for Curtiss-Wright

US manufacturer Curtiss-Wright is in discussion with a number of customers as it looks to expand its display business in the ground vehicle sector. To such ends the company are now preparing customer demonstrations of its Ground Vehicle Display Unit. Customers can take their pick from a selection of LCD mission displays including a 18cm system, ideal for viewing a reverse camera feed, or invest in a larger screen that provides a complete situational awareness picture based on a variety of different camera feeds.

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like I/ITSEC

It’s that time of year again and no I’m not taking about Christmas! The Shephard team will be embarking on the annual jaunt to the sunshine state for military simulation and training’s biggest event, I/ITSEC.

Even though the show starts on Monday we have been giving you an early look at the news and what to expect at this year’s show.

Some of the major projects that we’ll be keeping an eye on include the US Air Force’s T-X programme, the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Program, TH-57 replacement, C-17 aircrew training system (ATS) requirement, Air Commando Training System and the USAF SCARS project, to name but a few.

The T-X programme has provided us with some twists and turns with Raytheon and Leonardo having decided they will no longer jointly bid on the programme while BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman pulled out altogether. Leonardo continues to pursue the programme with it’s T-100, Boeing has teamed with Saab and Lockheed Martin still in the race.

Meanwhile on the helicopter side of things the CHR programme continues to move forward as it proceeds to assembly, test, and evaluation of the Sikorsky HH-60W helicopter’s training systems.

The C-17 ATS is also opening doors for industry to re-bid for the solution which is currently supplied to the US Air Force, currently held by Link Simulation & Training which was awarded the contract in 2011.

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As well as the big programmes we will be bringing you the latest tech news from image generation to projection technologies.

New players are also set to enter the market such as FoxGuard Solutions, best known for its industrial computing capabilities, which is dipping its toe into the military simulation and training market.

For all the news from I/ISEC make sure you follow the team on twitter @ShephardNews and bookmark the dedicated I/ITSEC show news site.

Dubai Airshow 2017: What a week!

Back in the office after a week of Arabian sun the world can seem an altogether colder experience, less like warm evenings spent writing stories and crunching videos beneath Dubai’s glittering spires.

In a bid then to sooth the winter blues we’ve taken the entirely selfish decision to return again to the DWC flight line and massed ranks of companies, products and people in the exhibition hall.

Given that it was an airshow it is unsurprising that much of the material we gathered and mulled over during the course of the week concerned aircraft. From trainers to light attack, rotary to transport, the show had it all.

Among the most noticeable was Japan, keen to show off its C-2 and in simply travelling to Dubai managed to complete the trans-continental flight section of its test and evaluation process.

In-country manufacturing capability was also on the agenda, with the UAE looking to expand its industrial base to allow and enable domestic production of a range of platforms and systems. Among these was Calidus’ B-250 light attack aircraft.

Elsewhere, the UAS Summit, sponsored by Shephard, took in all the comings and goings in the UAE’s burgeoning drone industry. From applications to regulations, the panellists, keynote speakers and audience covered the topics length and breadth, concluding with minutes to spare.

One significant point was raised early on the first day touching on the UAE’s approach to the question of operator regulations.

Finally, after what was a tough but thoroughly rewarding week we came down to the final set-up and the wrap of some of the highlights on the flight line. By this time, around about the 60 hour mark of show coverage, our rotary editor, Helen Haxell, thought it apt to sign off in a style that is likely to become a signature all of its own.

Thanks to everyone that checked out the show site, read the stories and viewed the videos. We look forward to doing it again in two years.

The World according to Shephard: Week 46

Dizzying displays in Dubai

If you have struggled to keep pace with the news coming out of Dubai this week then check out Shephard’s full coverage of the air show here.

A commercial kick for UAS

The Zephyr UAS is to enter the commercial market at the end of 2018 as part of Airbus Ariel’s commercial services offering. The platform can be used for large area image gathering as well as a communications relay for companies looking for satellite capabilities but are unable to afford launch costs.

Another long range UAS originally developed for military applications, Insitu’s ScanEagle, has burst into the commercial market after securing a seven figure contract with Shell’s QGC business in Australia. The contract requires Insitu to collect, exploit and deliver data gathered by its ScanEagle during inspections of infrastructure and hardware.

Scan Eagle/Insitsu Frontiers shoot

However for a market experiencing exponential growth the question of how UAVs should be regulated and who is ultimately responsible for the enforcement of laws remains unresolved. At the Commercial UAV Show representatives from small and large companies voiced concerns about the extent of illegal and unregulated activity in the commercial drone industry.

The chiefs speak their minds

Concerns of a very different nature have been voiced by former defence chiefs in the UK as the government begins its latest national security capabilities review. Air Marshal Barry North warned the UK Defence Committee that assumptions made in the 2010 and 2015 SDSRs could leave the country exposed to significant military capability gaps. The ex-chiefs also argued that UK forces are twenty years out of date and are unprepared for modern warfare.

Preview

Chinese influence abounds

The Ghana Navy has commissioned into service four Chinese made fast patrol boats that were donated by the Chinese government as part of a $7.5 million grant to equip the Ghana Armed Forces.

Meanwhile Chinese hardware has appeared in Rwanda with new photos revealing that the Army is operating Chinese-made Norinco SH3 122mm self-propelled howitzer. This makes Rwanda the first known foreign users of the SH3 which until now was not known to have been exported.

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Norinco will also be delivering the first batch of 34 VN1 IFVs to the Royal Thai Army next year. The VN1 will be Thailand’s second Chinese-sourced APC after the commissioning the Type 85 in1987.

China shows no signs of slowing its search for export markets for its military systems as Chinese companies have pursued extensive research and development to hone their radar and identification, friend and foe systems.

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US SOF hungry for new tech

The US Air Force is in search of technology to support future personnel recovery activities against a background of increasingly sophisticated operational environments. The requirements are focused on three major areas: locate/authenticate; support for isolated personnel and execute recovery.

Meanwhile the US DoD Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office is to hold an Advance Planning Briefing for Industry. The expected 500 attendees from government, industry and academia will be provided with a look at anticipated requirements that may be funded in FY19.

U.S. Special Forces Fast Rope On Target

 

Dubai Airshow 2017: Space race heats up

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As temperatures in the Middle East soar, the UAE and Boeing have further turned up the heat this week at the Dubai Airshow, courtesy of their mission to mars programmes.

Both projects were displayed at the DWC and have captured the imagination of attendees.

The UAE’s (Emirates) strategy to conquer Mars is something of a high-wire act which – according to the company’s website – will depend on precision and the ability of its aptly named Hope aircraft to be ready for launch when the alignment of the Earth and Mars’ respective orbits are closest together.

Such an occurrence happens once every two years, meaning that Hope has a particularly small launch window from which to make its maiden voyage in July 2020.

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The expectation thereafter is that Hope will arrive on Mars in 2021. Four years of scientific observation are provisionally planned after arrival.

Before then the aircraft is expected to spend approximately 200 days on its journey from Earth to Mars – reaching a cruising speed of 126,000Km/h.

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Not to be outdone, Boeing is supporting NASA to ready itself for a similar expedition, with the collaborative project being marketed with echoes of Neil Armstrong’s ‘one giant leap for mankind’ moon landing speech.

‘Today’s children will be the first explorers of our neighboring planet with help from Boeing technology to discover ground humans have yet to see.’

Boeing is a key collaborator on NASA’s Space Launch System – a project that seeks to create ‘robust human space exploration from the Moon to Mars.’ Essential to the project is their Deep Space Gateway, a habitable structure near the moon.

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In April this year, Pete McGrath, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing’s space exploration division, outlined that the Deep Space Gateway was in its infancy. ‘The ability to simultaneously launch humans and cargo on SLS would allow us to assemble the gateway in four launches in the early 2020s.’

Boeing envision the Gateway as the core base from which missions to Mars can be launched and similar in style to the docking system successfully used by NASA’s International Space Station for its commercial operations.

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‘The transport vehicle would be equipped with a habitat specifically designed to protect passengers from deep space’s harsh environment…’ Boeing said in a company statement.

Other than an estimate of completion of the Deep Space Gateway itself, no firm timeframe has been publicised by Boeing or NASA in relation to when a voyage to Mars can be expected.

For more stories from the Dubai Airshow this week please see our free news website with videos too.

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