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Russia to Build Network of Modern Naval Bases in Arctic – Putin

Russia will build a unified network of naval facilities on its Arctic territories to host advanced warships and submarines as part of a plan to boost protection of the country’s interests and borders in the region, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

“We need to strengthen our military infrastructure. In particular, to create in our part of the Arctic a unified network of naval facilities for new-generation ships and submarines,” the president said at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council.

He said that Russia should boost security at its Arctic borders.

Putin ordered the military in December to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region in 2014.

The Defense Ministry has already announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.

The military is also planning to form a new strategic military command in the Arctic, dubbed the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, by the end of 2014.

Putin reiterated that Russia is actively developing this promising region and should have all means for protection of its security and economic interests there.

“The oil and gas production facilities, loading stations and pipelines must be well protected from terrorists and other potential threats,” Putin said.

The Russian president called on experts to defend Russia’s territorial claims to the Arctic shelf, just like they did during this year’s successful claim to 52,000-square-kilometer area in the Sea of Okhotsk off Japan.

“Our experts must act similarly, for bilateral as well as multilateral consultations with Arctic countries’ governments, and safeguard each parcel of the continental shelf in the Russian part of the Arctic, and marine areas,” Putin said.

Moscow filed its claim to a part of the Artic continental shelf including the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges in 2011, but the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf said that it needed further scientific backing.

Scientists have to prove that the underwater ridges are extensions of the Eurasian continent, thus linked to Russia’s territory. The shelf, which is believed to hold some five million tons of hydrocarbon reserves, is a lucrative resource-rich zone.

In line with these territorial ambitions, Putin believes it is necessary to create a separate public body for the implementation of the Russian policy in the Arctic.

“We do not need a cumbersome bureaucratic body, but a flexible operationally working structure that will help better coordinate ministries and departments’ activities, regions and business,” Putin said.

The president tasked the government with ensuring that Russia’s goals in the Arctic are being solved and receive due financing.

“We are going to continue to invest serious funds in the Arctic, to solve tasks needed for social and economic investment of the Arctic regions, to strengthen security as demanded by our long-term national interests,” he said.

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China eyes ‘global monitoring network’ of surveillance satellites

To compensate the frustration over the endless search for missing the Malaysian airliner, Chinese scientists have doubled efforts to promote their project of a huge satellites network, which will enable Beijing to monitor the whole world.

As the mission to find the passenger jet MH370 which disappeared off the radars on March 8 with 239 people on board, 153 of them Chinese, is yet to yield to any substantial result, the space surveillance net project is gaining strong backing from key government officials in Beijing, the South China Morning Post reports.

China currently has satellites in the orbit but they largely focus on its region and surrounding area. The exact number of them is a state secret.

“If we had a global monitoring network today, we wouldn’t be searching in the dark. We would have a much greater chance to find the plane and trace it to its final position. The plan is being drafted to expand our regional monitoring capability,” Professor Chi Tianhe, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of remote Sensing and Digital Earth, told the SCMP.

After the Malaysian Boeing 777 went missing, the Chinese Academy of Engineering submitted a letter from senior scientists to state leaders advising them to begin building a global satellite-surveillance network.

If the project is given the green light by the Chinese government it could be up and running in as little as two years from now, says Chi. But it won’t be cheap, a satellite costs 400 million Yuan ($64 million) to build, this would mean the project as a whole would need a budget of at least 20 billion Yuan.

According to statistics from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists there are about 1,000 satellites currently orbiting the earth, but the vast majority of those are for communication and only about 150 are for observation, remote sensing and military-surveillance.

Professor Liu Yu, an expert at Peking’s University’s school of earth and space sciences, believes the project could be game changing for China’s ability to spy from space.

International earth-observation services today are dominated by the US and European countries, but if China launches more than 50 satellites for this purpose, the whole landscape will be changed,” said Liu.

But the project is by no means set in stone and it faces a number of technological hurdles. One of them is that the existing space centers in Jiuguan, Taiyuan and Xichang are involved in other missions, like manned space flights and plans to explore the Moon.

At the moment China launches about 15 satellites every year, but this would need to be at least doubled.

Space experts believe that with an upgrade at the Wenchang launch center in Hainan, which is now complete, it might be possible to increase China’s rocket capacity and thereby make the project possible.

While the quality of the imaging equipment also needs to be improved, says Liu.

Professor Zhao Chaofang, an oceanographer at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, also said that China needs to develop more ground stations, to ease and speed up sending data back to earth.

“Many Chinese satellites can only offload their data when they are flying over China, so the data we receive is sometimes only a fraction of the amount collected by the satellites. To build up a global monitoring network as efficient as that of the US, our ground stations overseas must be expanded as well,” he said.

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US Army consolidates network enablers to boost simplicity

As the Army moves to a streamlined and more user-friendly tactical network, the hardware, software and processes that keep it running and secure are realigning to reduce complexity and costs.

Together, these products serve as the critical enablers of the Army’s tactical communications and data network. They simplify network tasks and operations for warfighters and first responders; ensure the information transmitted is secure and reliable; and bring efficient delivery of hardware and software solutions to meet today’s changing technology needs.

This realignment, which took place in mid-February, brought several organizations under one roof and established the Project Director Network Enablers, or PD Net-E, managed by the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T.

“By reorganizing these project and product offices under one common Project Director Office, we’ll be able to facilitate secure and more user-friendly Army tactical communications from design through sustainment and modernization,” said Stanley Niemiec, director of PD Net-E. “This effort brings the network enablers under one common umbrella to unlock the power and simplicity of the tactical network infrastructure.”

Designed to improve the user experience and support a dynamic network environment, PD Net-E consolidated the offices of three former organizations to effectively manage the infrastructure burden of the network without sacrificing function or mission.

PD Net-E manages five product directors: Communications Security, or COMSEC, Cryptographic Systems, which procures, tests and fields COMSEC solutions to secure the Army’s information against cyber threats; Common Hardware Systems, which supplies the Soldier with state-of-the-art computer and networking equipment; Initialization, which delivers relevant network initialization capabilities to the Solider; Key Management, which provides encrypted key management solutions; and Tactical Network Architectures and Configurations – Current, which integrates the current force network and ensures interoperability of networking products and solutions.

“By combining the successes of these three organizations, we’ll provide a common axis of acquisition discipline and resource efficiencies to enable security, standards, policies, planning, initialization, and products while focused on the simplification of legacy and future data and tactical C4ISR network infrastructures,” Niemiec said.

The new organization will partner with all Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C4ISR, product teams, setting the standard for operational coordination.

As the Army transitions to a leaner, more agile force, this realignment of the network’s enablers strengthens information assurance and security, while bringing efficient and simplified solutions to continue to provide critical communications capabilities for Soldiers.

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Army network stays connected even when ‘jumping the TOC’

Brigade and battalion command posts, the heart of battlefield operations, are more mobile and agile than ever before, and through ongoing improvements in network capability, the Army is increasing their ability to move forward in the fight while retaining commanders’ critical situational awareness.

Current technologies such as Warfighter Information Network Tactical, known as WIN-T, Increment 2, the Army’s mobile tactical communications network backbone, and emerging solutions like the Modular Integrated Command Post, or MiCP — a vehicle that efficiently provides networking equipment and power to support a command post — are enhancing a commander’s ability to lead from anywhere on the battlefield.

“We are a maneuver unit that has to be mobile, lethal and expeditionary; if we are not able to move with our systems then we are really disadvantaged,” said Col. Thomas Dorame, commander for 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, the operational unit for the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, exercises. “Right now utilizing WIN-T Increment 2 and mission command on the move, I am able to extend the operational reach for the brigade, but more importantly, as units continue to move, to make contact with the enemy, we are able to provide them updated information from any location.”

As part of the Army’s modular expeditionary force, brigade Tactical Command Posts, referred to simply as TACs, replicate the critical mission command and communication systems found in units’ much larger Tactical Operations Centers, known as TOCs. Both TACs and TOCs are stationary and don’t possess full operational capability when in transit to new locations, but the TAC’s robust at-the-halt network capability can be torn down, moved and set up in a fraction of the time that it takes to reconstruct the full blown TOC.

The smaller TAC’s mission command and communications capabilities are tailorable and scalable and can be rearranged depending upon mission requirements. When the commander needs to move his main TOC forward on the battlefield, he will send the TAC ahead first to retain the unit’s operational network capability. Once the TAC is set up in its new location, the larger TOC can then move forward with minimal disruption to battlefield operations.

“WIN-T Increment 2 improves commanders’ flexibility since they can ‘jump’ their TACs and the TOCs much faster now, without loss of situational awareness,” said Lt. Col. LaMont Hall, product manager for WIN-T Increment 2. “They can simultaneously command and control from either location, or from their WIN-T Increment 2 -equipped vehicles.”

Fielded since 2004, WIN-T Increment 1 provides Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications down to the battalion level. WIN-T Increment 2, which began fielding last year, enhances these capabilities by providing an on the move network that extends down to the company level. Both increments are deployed in Afghanistan today as part of the Army’s interoperable tactical communications network architecture.

WIN-T Increment 2- equipped TACs and TOCs leverage Tactical Communications Nodes and advanced Satellite Transportable Terminals for satellite communications, which enable them to cover greater distances. In the past commanders could only jump their TACs as far as they could get their line-of-sight radio relay set up, approximately 10 to 15 kilometers. Now with WIN-T Increment 2′s beyond line-of-sight satellite communications, a commander can move his TAC an unlimited distance, Hall said.

“The commander is able to keep full situational awareness at all times,” said Lt. Col. Ernest Tornabell, brigade communications officer for 2/1 AD. “He can go from the stationary TOC or TAC into his WIN-T Increment 2 Point-of-Presence-equipped vehicle, which has virtually everything [communication and mission command capabilities] that he had at the stationary locations; it gives him the ability to be driving on the road at 25 mph and continue to command the fight.”

To help incrementally advance network technologies such as WIN-T, the Army leverages its NIEs, semi-annual Soldier-led evaluations in the realistic operational testing environments of Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The Army also uses the events to introduce emerging industry solutions that could potentially satisfy network capability gaps.

During NIE 14.1, which wrapped up in mid November, the brigade TAC was integrated into a new mobile command post based on a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle with expandable sides that could be set up or torn down in under an hour, making it even more maneuverable, scalable and agile than the traditional TAC tent. When the brigade TAC was set up in its stationary location, its communication and mission command laptops and screens were connected to the MiCP, an NIE system under evaluation, which provided the servers, network connectivity and power to the TAC. Since the TAC servers were located on the MiCP vehicle, they were always ready to be quickly reconnected with the network equipment in the TAC directly after a jump, instead of having to be torn down and set up again.

Integrated onto a survivable MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, the MiCP solution significantly reduces size, weight, and power — thermal and cost requirements. The capabilities of two legacy Command Post Platforms, currently used to provide the necessary communications equipment to operate and support a TOC or TAC, were combined into just one mobile platform. MiCP provides advanced communication through a modern suite of information systems, networking devices and tactical radios, as well as the unique ability to generate electrical power from its own transmission through its On Board Vehicle Power system. MiCP will also be evaluated at NIE 14.2 this spring.

“MiCP helps the commander be more flexible in where he can go and how quickly he can set up and establish [operations] at the halt by having to just connect a few cables instead of two sets of vehicles coming to the halt and setting up both of those,” Tornabell said.

As the Army continues to modernize its network and make it easier for Soldiers to learn and operate, the force will increase its agility and ability to conduct current, evolving and future missions. The depth and breadth of information available at Soldiers’ fingertips, both in and out of the TOC, is also increasing, facilitating collaboration down to the lowest echelons and across the entire brigade combat team.

“Operationally, we want to fight to the fullest extent with our great network and communication capabilities, and now we are able to extend out a lot further,” Dorame said. “We are able to receive back reports with a better clarity and fidelity to allow commanders at battalion and brigade level to make faster decisions with better resolution and less risk to the overall force.”

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Boeing Completes Deliveries of Processing Units for Army’s Air, Missile Defense Network

By on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Boeing has recently finished delivering more than 40 computer processing units that will support an integrated network of computer and communication equipment critical to U.S. Army air and missile defenses.

Boeing’s Plug and Fight Processing Units are the main computing assets that link together various Army weapons and sensor platforms with the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command Systems (IBCS), a single network with common command and control. Boeing is a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman on the IBCS program.

“By providing a centralized, secure processing architecture from which to manage data, these processing units will play a significant role in enhancing the effectiveness of the Army’s network of missile defense sensors and weapon systems,” said Allan Brown, vice president and program director with Boeing Strategic Missile and Defense Systems.

Boeing’s units will support the IBCS by efficiently processing a high volume of information exchanged among the various components in the Plug and Fight network.

This technology is significant to IBCS objectives for enhanced situational awareness and command and control on the battlefield, improved response time, and reduced costs.

These processing units, built and assembled in Huntsville, were produced to support the hardware and software development phase of the IBCS program. In a series of virtual demonstrations, Boeing has verified that these processors can efficiently connect multiple missile defense weapons to the IBCS.

Northrop Grumman will use the processors in system demonstrations later this year, in anticipation of transitioning to the test and integration phase of the program.

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Smaller satellite terminal solution being fielded following Network Integration Evaluations

By on Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Taking advantage of lessons learned through several Network Integration Evaluation cycles, the Army is fielding to its first unit a new, smaller ground satellite terminal designed to provide high-capacity, beyond-line-of-sight communications to newly digitized command posts at the company level.

“One of the main goals the Army had in creating the Company Command Post was the reduction of size, weight, and power consumption, referred to as SWaP,” said Lt. Col. Greg Coile, product manager for Satellite Communications, or PdM SATCOM, which manages the terminals. “We leveraged the NIE (Network Integration Evaluation) Process to inform a SATCOM solution that would reduce the Soldier’s burden and improve unit mobility.”

The Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Access Point 1.2 meter Lite, referred to simply as SNAP Lite, was chosen as one of the SATCOM solutions to meet the requirement for a small form factor terminal to support the enhanced communication and mission command capabilities of the Company Command Post, or CoCP. This very small aperture terminal is a rapidly deployable, pack-in-the-box solution that extends the Army’s network and improves situational awareness for maneuver companies.

An Expeditionary Signal Battalion, or ESB, is the first unit to be fielded under the Department of the Army-directed requirement for CoCPs. The unit is scheduled to receive SNAP Lites, followed by two weeks of new equipment training. ESBs provide communication connectivity to disadvantaged users, often in austere environments, and Army modernization efforts call for an increase in ESB transport capability to improve battlefield communication.

The ESB’s SNAP Lites will be used to support the unit’s worldwide contingency operations as well as potential NIE support in the future. Additional SNAP Lites for the Army’s CoCPs will be procured and fielded as funding is determined, while other CoCPs in theater will utilize the larger legacy SNAPs for their SATCOM requirements.

“In the past we have always relied on larger aperture satellite dishes, but now we are fielding one that is smaller, lighter and more compact and can fit inside a rapid force deployment,” said John Lundy, SNAP project lead for PdM SATCOM. “The reduction in setup time and SWaP makes the unit more mobile.”

Like the legacy SNAPs, SNAP Lites provide secure and non-secure satellite communications for the CoCP. The communications and mission command systems that make up the Army’s newly enhanced, digitized CoCP are intended to deliver a new level of advanced voice and data communications to the company level and improve the flow of critical battlefield information.

“CoCP users can take their mission command systems and plug right into the SNAP on both classified and non-classified networks,” said Michael Sidwell, SNAP systems integration engineer for PdM SATCOM. “With the addition of these beyond-line-of-sight capabilities, the CoCP becomes a hub in battlefield operations where users can exchange critical battlefield information from the Soldier on the ground on up to higher headquarters.”

SNAPs work in concert with both Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 1 and WIN-T Increment 2, which together make up the Army’s current tactical communications network backbone, essentially the Army’s Internet. In the past, Army maneuver companies did not have high-capacity entry into digital networks, and that reach-back to the network backbone is critical for today’s evolving missions.

“The introduction of SNAPs into the company level command post gives company commanders access to those high-speed digital networks,” Sidwell said. “The company command post connection completes an important part of the network architecture.”

The capabilities of SNAP Lite, along with other potential CoCP industry-proposed solutions, were evaluated during NIE 12.2 held in May 2012. The intent of the NIE process is to assess and integrate systems that meet an operational need or gap, primarily through Soldier-led evaluations during the semi-annual field exercises. The Army established a realistic operational environment at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., to conduct these evaluations. NIE systems under evaluation, such as the CoCP SNAP Lite, are submitted by government and industry and go through a selection process to participate in the NIEs to receive a full assessment.

The Army’s solicitation for a small form factor terminal to support the CoCP included required vendor participation in a demonstration held at the Joint Satellite Engineering Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Engineers from Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Communications Systems Design Center were also leveraged to review and ensure the validity of the demonstration’s technical data, Lundy said.

“The CoCP directed requirement demonstrated that we could evaluate the latest technology and capability through the NIE then complete that requirement to gain the best value for the Army,” Coile said.

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Raytheon Demos Radio-based Network in Afghanistan

By on Monday, June 17th, 2013

Raytheon Company’s jam-resistant, battlefield radio recently transmitted data securely over the air to more than 30 Stryker combat vehicles, proving that it could meet the U.S. Army’s need for a tactical wireless Internet via a vehicle-mounted mobile radio system.

The EXF1915, an upgraded version of Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) radios, completed several months of continual, sustained secure data transmissions for the combat vehicles of the 4th Brigade 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team, or 4/2 SBCT. Soldiers were able to send and receive e-mail and chat messages and access the brigade’s intranet-like Web portal, marking the first time 4/2 SBCT was able to tap into a secure wireless network.

EPLRS joined combat operations in Afghanistan following tests at Fort Irwin, Calif.

“The EPLRS Enhanced Services extended secure voice, data, and e-mail services to the Stryker vehicles of platoon through brigade-level leaders during combat operations forward of tactical bases,” said Col. Michael Getchell, commander of 4/2 SBCT. “Prior to the installation of the EPLRS ES network, this level of upper TI (Tactical Internet) communications were limited to fixed tactical operations centers using the pre-existing infrastructure on FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and COPs (Combat Outposts) in the Panjwa’I District of Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

Over 28,000 EPLRS radios have been purchased to provide “on the move” networking capabilities. These radios, already deployed in significant numbers aboard U.S. Army vehicles, can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost of a new radio system to support the lower-tier network requirements.

When connected to the Army’s middle- and upper-tier networks, the EXF1915, also known as the RT-1915, provides high-speed IP network services for an entire brigade of Stryker and other combat vehicles. These capabilities provide more choices and greater purchasing flexibility as the service seeks a lower-tier networking radio system.

“EPLRS has served the Army well over the years, and now it can be converted to the new EXF1915 to help the service quickly and inexpensively network a fleet of combat vehicles,” said Scott Whatmough, vice president of Integrated Communication Systems for Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business. “We’ve continually improved our radio technology and matured it to the point where we can offer a lower cost alternative for the thousands of already-equipped Army vehicles.”

Building upon the EXF1915 serving the lower tier, the MR-150, using the higher-bandwidth Next Generation Mobile Ad Hoc Network Waveform (NMW), could provide the Army with additional flexibility for its mid-tier networking requirements. The NMW network has undergone stringent testing at two Network Integration Evaluation exercises, has been deployed in theater, and has proven to be the highest-performing mid-tier technology.

The combination of the EXF-1915 and the MR-150 fills the data networking void with a low-cost, ready today, proven solution.

Raytheon Company, with 2012 sales of $24 billion and 68,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass.

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