Tag Archives: AI

The perils of open source data

Military agencies are in an on-going battle to maximise the benefits of commercial open source data while avoiding the potentially devastating intelligence pitfalls.

The security risks associated with open source data were starkly highlighted by the release of Strava’s Global Heatmap.

The map, which shows the routes travelled by users of its exercise tracking product, inadvertently exposed sensitive information about American and allied military bases and troop movements in conflict zones across the world.

 

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The map highlights a number of well-known military bases across Iraq and Syria, where Western soldiers have been stationed as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

However, it is the movements of troops outside their bases, their patrol and supply routes and smaller camps not previously known about which could offer valuable information to enemy forces.

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At the recent Defence Geospatial Intelligence conference in London, military and industry leaders discussed how security challenges can be overcome to enable better exploitation of the vast reams of commercial data available to military and intelligence agencies.

However, as Maj Gen James Hockenhull, director of cyber intelligence and information integration at the UK MoD noted, the relationship between the military and industry requires improvement.

With incidents such as the Strava heat map, military users of commercial geospatial systems remain sceptical about the security and reliability of the data being collected and disseminated.

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However, the proliferation of commercial satellites offers a huge potential for militaries to access near real-time, high-resolution imagery within government spending constraints.

Further developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning algorithms have led to a significant leap in the efficiency, and outsourcing, of geospatial intelligence analysis to companies willing to invest heavily in the technologies.

These include companies such as Esri and DigitalGlobe who are developing deep learning algorithms to enable automated identification of a wide range of objects.

This could provide intelligence agencies with rapid and accurate strategic information, such as the movements of enemy military equipment, troops, or weapons testing locations, such as the site of the North Korean missile test pictured above.

 

 

 

The World According to Shephard: Week 3

A game of charades?

This week the Geobukseon dives into the possible repercussions of constitutional change in Japan, suggesting that the country has never really been a pacifist nation. Tensions in the region have reignited debate regarding the nature of Japan’s self-defence forces, with many claiming it is a military force by another name.

Meanwhile, Gordon Arthur reports on the strengthening cooperation between Japanese paratroopers and US Army Green Berets who have conducted a mass airdrop exercise.

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Qatar’s searches for new friends

Qatar’s Defence Minister has detailed plans to increase the country’s order of Hawk training aircraft from six to nine units. The announcement comes amid a rapid build-up of the Gulf-nation’s defence capabilities, in particular relating to its air force.

The minister also stressed that Doha is seeking to enhance and diversify its defence relationships with a wide range of ‘friendly’ nations. This was clearly demonstrated by the recent displays of Chinese and Turkish military equipment at Qatar’s National Day Parade.

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Helicopter orders fly in

The US Army has wasted little time in moving its purchase of 35 new UH-72 Lakota aircraft forward, it is even prepared to proceed without a competitive process. The announcement came one day after the army’s deadline for industry to respond to how they could meet the service’s requirement to purchase the H145M.

The Indian Army is facing the peculiar dilemma of having to stall deliveries of HAL’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) due to the unavailability of spares for the fleet already in service. There are more ALH aircraft on the production line than the army is willing to take as maintenance of the existing fleet remains a key concern.

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Indonesia’s military has also been receiving new aircraft, recently accepting two Airbus Helicopters AS565 MBe Panthers, three armed H125M Fennecs and a CN-235-220 aircraft. The Panthers, part of a November 2014 contract for 11 aircraft for the Indonesian Navy, are configured for anti-submarine warfare. Further deliveries of AS565s are expected in early 2018.

Finally, the Russian Air and Space Force (RuASF) has added 14 newly-built Ka-52 attack helicopters to its fleet. The RuASF now has a fleet of over 100 Ka-52s operated by its army aviation branch. The Russian MoD also expects to receive two enhanced Mi-28NM attack helicopters by the end of this year.

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Nightwarden sale looms

Textron is confident that the first sale of its Nightwarden UAV is on the horizon. Beth Maundrill reports that the first deal is likely to be an international sale and it is understood this would be a completely new customer for the company. It is also possible that Sweden may select the Nightwarden as part of a UAS upgrade.

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The future is here: quantum computing, AI and robotics

US Army leaders are seeking ways to capitalise on advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. The army’s top four-star general has warned that the military must address the ‘fundamental change in the character of war’. To this end, the service is working to develop new weapons systems to meet challenges posed by near-peer and peer threats such as Russia and China.

Meanwhile, the European Space Agency and its industrial partners are planning to launch two quantum key distribution satellites at the beginning of next decade to deliver commercial services to private and governmental entities. Quantum cryptography, which relies on encrypting data into the quantum states of particles is believed to be inherently unbreakable.

 

 

 

 

 

The World According to Shephard: Week 50

Kuwait all day for a fast jet…

Show news this week was dominated by GDA 2017 as industry brought their key assets to the Middle East’s premier aerospace event, held in Kuwait. Among the big stories we learned that final assembly of the Eurofighter Typhoon is anticipated to start early in 2018 with subsequent deliveries scheduled for 2020. In tandem, the ASR Captor-E continues to undergo testing.

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Meanwhile the Kuwaiti armed forces is to receive delivery of additional Patriot missile firing units imminently, according to industry officials speaking at the show. The Gulf country will retain two more systems from Raytheon, as a follow on to those they received in the early 1990s, as well as Patriot Advanced Capability-3 hit-to-kill missiles from Lockheed Martin.

As ever, a full rundown of all the news from the show, alongside video content can be found on our dedicated microsite here.

Notes on a shipbuilders scandal

Taiwan has cancelled a minehunter contract between the Republic of China Navy and Ching Fu Shipbuilding. The shipbuilder has suffered from a ‘serious financial crisis’ recently and has also witnessed the Coast Guard Administration take decisive action by rescinding a patrol boat construction contract – following Ching Fu’s failure to deliver boats in keeping with deadline. Twenty-eight 100t patrol boats were under contract in that deal with Ching Fu only managing to deliver 13.

Taiwan

The minehunter programme, formally known as Project Kang Ping Phrase II, dates back to 2014. Worth NTD35 billion ($1.16 billion), the project had been created to build six minehunters by 2025.

Lessors to enjoy wind in their sales

A new report from Waypoint Leasing has revealed that wind farms are increasingly turning to the civil helicopter market to support their transport needs. Two main reasons for the emergence of such a trend are identified by the report, namely, new wind farm projects being created further from shore and the strategic advantage offered by helicopters over crew transfer vessels.

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Moving from lessors to manufacturers, Leonardo has confirmed its received orders for eight AW139s. Two of the eight aircraft will be handed over to the Italian Coast Guard for SAR operations while the Italian Customs and Border Protection Service will take receipt of the other six – reserving them for patrol operations.

Ukraine revs up rocket firing tests 

Alex Mladenov reports that the Ukraine MoD has completed a rocket firing test campaign using its two new combat helicopter types – the Russian Helicopters Mi-8MSB and Mi-2MSB – with both aircraft also receiving upgrades from Motor Sich.

The testing included the Mi-2MSB firing a series of two, four and eight rockets launched simultaneously, with the demonstration used to evaluate aircraft and engine behaviour when using the powerful S-8.

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Talking about an AI revolution

China’s AI military capabilities have been examined in a new report from the Center for a New American Security. Wendell Minnick reports that author Elsa Kania ‘paints a disturbing picture of China’s AI military modernisation programmes,’ and one that could potentially wipe out the US military by 2030.

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According to Kania, the country is focusing its efforts on ‘impact and disruptive military applications of AI’ with the intention of becoming the leading superpower of the technology. Should such a target be achieved, it would represent a strategic capability shift between China and the US while altering the very nature of warfare itself.