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Defense

Advanced Systems Receives Contract Modification

August 2, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Advanced Systems Development Inc., Alexandria, Va., was awarded a $6,671,773 modification (P00037) to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, option-filled contract (W9124Q-11-F-0020) for information systems operations support services. The cumulative total face value of this contract is $19,681,425. The Army Contracting Command, White Sands Missile Range, N.M., is the contracting activity. 

Longbow LLC Receives Unmanned Aerial System Support Funds

August 2, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Longbow LLC, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $6,778,000 modification (P00035) to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (W58RGZ-10-C-0005) for services in support of the low-rate initial production of Radar Electronics Unit and Unmanned Aerial System Tactical Common Data Link Assembly. The Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. 

General Dynamics Awarded Information Technology Support Contract

August 2, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., Fairfax, Va., was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum value of $16,107,936 for the procurement of information technology and information management services. The Army Corps of Engineers, Winchester, Va., is the contracting activity (W91QUZ-06-D-0002). 

Bruker Detection to Provide Chemical Sensing Systems

August 2, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Bruker Detection Corp., Billerica, Mass., was awarded a firm-fixed-price, option-filled contract with a maximum value of $37,940,000 for the procurement of Improved Chemical Point Detection Systems and on-board kits. The Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W911SR-13-D-0002). 

DARPA Issues Contract Correction

August 2, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Burlington, Mass., is being awarded a $79,051,718 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (HR0011-13-C-0075). This award supports the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Insight Program, which is developing an adaptable, integrated human-machine exploitation and resource management system. This is a correction of a previously issued contract announcement. DARPA, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity.

C4ISR Has Come a Very Long Way 
for Government and AFCEA

August 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

 

My reflections on C4ISR are flavored by my recent reading of the book “From Pigeons to Tweets” (SIGNAL Magazine, April 2013, page 66) by Lt. Gen. Clarence “Mac” McKnight, USA (Ret.). In his book, Mac recounts the changes in every aspect of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the defense environment over the course of his long and distinguished career. Most prominent among these changes were the evolution of technology and capability, and what this meant to command and control and intelligence over time. If you haven’t read Mac’s book, I recommend it.

Through the lens of my nearly 44 years in and around C4ISR, I have seen the transition from paper maps, acetate and grease pencils for situational awareness and single-channel push-to-talk radio, as well as laying and retrieving field wire and multipair cable; installing and continuously reinstalling tropo and microwave multichannel radio; and using couriers and liaison officers for much of our information sharing. I remember using torn-tape relay for message traffic. But I also remember implementing the Army’s first email system and the Army’s first wide-area network. And I am awed today by the tremendous capability that exists in computing, big data, mobility, cloud variants and security. I am amazed at the incredible bandwidth available down to the lowest organizational levels. I also am impressed with the vulnerability that has resulted from all this progress.

Optimizing the Human Weapon System

August 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

 

One of the most frequent platitudes given by senior commanders to their subordinates is that “people are our most valuable asset.” While this very well may be true in the abstract, the U.S. Defense Department at large prefers to focus its efforts on more tangible items—namely, expensive weapons systems. Even in an era of rapid technological change, the human being remains the linchpin that determines victory or defeat. Yet, despite billions of dollars spent every year on cutting-edge research and development projects for equipment, very few programs are focused on optimizing the physical, psychological and intellectual capabilities of our warfighters.

This is ironic because personnel costs are fast becoming the largest portion of the Defense Department’s budget. Much of these costs stem from widely applied and necessary medical, salary and retirement payments. Yet, treating the human as a weapons system requires concerted research into the realm of pushing human performance to its very limits throughout the spectrum of capabilities. Defense planners currently do a very poor job at capturing these results.

Even the U.S. Army, which boasts a program executive office devoted to the human, does so with a view toward external capabilities such as night-vision goggles rather than getting the most out of the human itself, sans anything else.

The mind is the greatest strategic weapon ever created. More powerful than any computer, its mysteries have only just begun to be revealed. Training such an asset, and understanding the best way to impart relevant lessons, should be paramount. Yet, one of the biggest complaints from trainees is the poor state of military education.

Federal Budget Cuts
 Encourage a Niche Business

August 1, 2013
By Michael A. Robinson

With the nation facing a new atmosphere of austerity and mandated budget cuts, now would seem to be the absolute worst time to target the federal government for defense-related technology contracts. Yet, for one business, tight government funding is more of an opportunity than a challenge.

After all, the Pentagon faces two massive fiscal challenges. The first is the new lean approach to defense spending following the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq and its preparation to draw down forces from Afghanistan. The second deals with today’s complex political realities. Unable to fashion a bipartisan spending plan, Congress has allowed the process known as “sequestration” to kick in. Those automatic budget cuts are expected to take more than $40 billion out of Defense Department spending this year alone for a reduction of more than 7 percent.

And yet, Timothy Coffin is all smiles as he prepares to pick up more federal information technology contracts. A former U.S. Air Force officer, Coffin serves as president of iGATE Government Solutions, a wholly owned unit of information technology provider iGATE Corporation. As Coffin sees it, the era of tight Pentagon budgets actually provides a great growth opportunity for a contractor that understands the overarching theme of today’s spending environment.

Facing both financial and political headwinds, federal agencies have to take a more creative approach to managing their programs and cash flows. That means they no longer can continue to rely on the same old approaches that have served them for decades.

“I am pretty excited about some of the opportunities I see,” Coffin says. “I’m not going after the $10 million opportunities; I’m going after the $100 million, $200 million opportunities, and we’re getting quite a bit of interest from the government in what we consider our value propositions.

People Are the Future of Unmanned Systems

August 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

The U.S. Army is working to ensure the future of autonomous air platforms by reaching out to the emerging talent in the academic world. Earlier this year, soldiers signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Alabama in Huntsville to engage students with work in this field as part of their education. The program aims to develop an innovative and prepared workforce in the future. Graduates not only will have had a more specific focus for their studies, but they also will be prepared better for the job market. Shaping studies now helps ensure that necessary skills are available to and even present in the Army later, according to officials from both the military branch and the institute of higher education.

Through the memorandum, the groups will share goals and ideas so students can work on technology while gaining critical skills. Lt. Col. Robb Walker, USA, director of external programs in the Army’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Management Office, explains the approach is about talking to each other and explaining to the academics what the Army is pursuing.

Software Increases 
Unmanned Craft Survivability

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers and Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing new control software to reduce the vulnerability of unmanned systems to cyber attack. This effort is relying on new methods of software development that would eliminate many of the problems inherent in generating high-assurance software.

Unmanned vehicles suffer from the same vulnerabilities as other networked information systems. But, in addition to their data being co-opted, unmanned systems can be purloined if adversaries seize control of them. This problem also applies to human-crewed systems with computer-controlled components.

If the research program is successful, then unmanned vehicles will be less likely to be taken over by an enemy. Warfighters could trust that the unmanned vehicle on which they are relying will not abandon its mission or become a digital turncoat.

This security would extend to other vulnerable systems as well. Networked platforms and entities ranging from automobiles to supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems could benefit from the research. The vulnerability of SCADA systems is well-established, but only recently has research shown that automobiles can be co-opted through their computer-controlled systems. The program’s goal is to produce high-assurance software for military unmanned vehicles and then enable its transfer to industry for commercial uses.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program is known as High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems, or HACMS. Kathleen Fisher, HACMS program manager, says the program is aiming to produce software that is “functionally correct and satisfying safety and security policies.

“It’s not just that you’re proving the absence of a particular bad property from the security perspective,” she explains. “You’re actually positively proving that the software has the correct behavior.”

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