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International

Cobham to Supply Counter-IED Systems to NATO

March 15, 2013
George I. Seffers

Cobham, Wimborne, United Kingdom, has been awarded a £16 million ($24 million) order to supply NATO forces with leading-edge vehicle mounted Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection equipment. These systems will be delivered in 2013 by Cobham Antenna Systems. Cobham will deliver enhanced counter-IED detection capabilities, which can be safely deployed from within the protection of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.

EDA Inventories Military Communications Systems

March 8, 2013

To facilitate multinational operations, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has set a future communications project in motion to study the terrestrial and satellite communication network systems in European Union (EU) countries. In this initial step of what will be a four-phase project, the primary EU member states’ existing and future assets will be inventoried. During the first phase of the project, operational scenarios and capability requirements will be identified. The second and third phases will involve identifying the required technical specifications to support these scenarios and the potential capability gaps. During the final phase, radio frequency spectrum will be analyzed to determine which bands are available. The EDA will then make recommendations based on this information and specify the technical and operational resources needed to create a cohesive capability. The work aims at resolving incompatibility issues that the piecemeal development of communications capabilities has caused, hindering multinational cooperation and increasing reliance on other nations for interoperable assets or resources.

 

China Employs Ships As Weapon Test Platforms

March 1, 2013
BY James C. Bussert

A handful of designs serves to validate indigenous and reverse-engineered technologies.

The People’s Republic of China has been introducing diverse new classes of ships into its navy for decades, but it also has employed some as vessels for weapons trials. Three ships distinctly have served as test platforms for many of the new technologies that entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN. An examination of these trial ships can illustrate the next generation of technologies about to be incorporated in the navy.
 

The first nominal weapon trial ship was the 1,200-ton Yanxi class AGE hull 701 Hsun, built in Shanghai in 1970. It carried no systems other than anti-aircraft guns and radars, but it did support Soviet Styx surface-to-surface missile (SSM) launch and recovery during tests.

In March 1997, the Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai launched the 6,000-ton Dahua class ship Shiyan for testing modern naval weapon systems. The ship, hull 970 (experimental), initially was hull 909, which was built as a weapon range test ship. It deployed to the South China Sea test range in January 1998. The trial equipment tested included electronic countermeasures (ECM), a prototype vertical launching system on the bow and several copies of the Russian MR-90 Front Dome fire control radar to illuminate air targets. The 970 operated off of Japan in February 2000 as an electronic intelligence (ELINT) ship prior to PLAN East China Sea exercises.

The lead Dahua class ship frequently changed hull numbers. Launched as 909, the hull number was changed to 970 by the time of its completion in August 1997. The hull number was changed again to 891 as a weapon trial ship in October 2002. China’s changing of ship hull numbers and even names makes determining the actual history of one particular hull difficult, which certainly is a reason for this practice.

Next Generation Biometrics to be a Boon for Law Enforcement

February 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The FBI's Next Generation Identification (NGI) system will improve law enforcement’s capabilities as much as DNA analysis, according to Dave Cuthbertson, assistant director, Criminal Justice information Services Division, FBI.

The NGI advances the FBI’s biometric identification services, providing an incremental replacement of the current system while introducing new functionality. The NGI improvements and new capabilities are being introduced across a multiyear timeframe within a phased approach.

Increment three, which will be deployed in April, will improve accuracy in part by adding palm prints. About one-third of prints recovered from a crime scene are from the palm rather than the fingers, Cuthbertson reports, while serving on the Biometrics/Identity Management panel at AFCEA’s Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. “NGI will be to crime solving almost like DNA processing,” he stated.

The agency already has implemented the first two increments, which increased accuracy from 92 percent to 99.6 percent. Additionally, increment two allows officers in the field to use mobile devices to send back biometric data to be checked against information in the repository.

The fourth and final increment will add more than 13 million mug shots, which will be matched against fingerprints. Cuthbertson said the facial system likely will not provide law enforcement with one definite match but will instead provide a list of possible matches, which law enforcement officials will then have to analyze and investigate further.

Eleven states currently participate in the system, and 13 are working toward participation.

Researchers Organize to 
Share Data, Speed Innovation

February 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

To meet the challenge of implementing big data, a new international scientific organization is forming to facilitate the sharing of research data and speed the pace of innovation. The group, called the Research Data Alliance, will comprise some of the top computer experts from around the world, representing all scientific disciplines.

Managing the staggering and constantly growing amount of information that composes big data is essential to the future of innovation. The U.S. delegation to the alliance’s first plenary session, being held next month in Switzerland, is led by Francine Berman, a noted U.S. computer scientist, with backing from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Meeting the challenges of how to harness big data is what makes organizing and starting the Research Data Alliance (RDA) so exciting, Berman says. “It has a very specific niche that is very complementary to a wide variety of activities. In the Research Data Alliance, what we’re aiming to do is create really tangible outcomes that drive data sharing, open access, research data sharing and exchange,” all of which, she adds, are vital to data-driven innovation in the academic, public and private sectors. The goal of the RDA is to build what she calls “coordinated pieces of infrastructure” that make it easier and more reasonable for people to share, exchange and discover data.

“It’s really hard to imagine forward innovation without getting a handle around the data issues,” emphasizes Berman, the U.S. leader of the RDA Council, who, along with colleagues from Australia and the European Union, is working to organize the alliance. Ross Wilkinson, executive director of the Australian National Data Service, and John Wood, secretary-general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities in London, are the other members of the council.

Argon to Provide CBRN Detector Simulators to India

February 1, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Argon, Luton, Befordshire, UK, has won a contract from the Indian Army's Faculty of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection at the College of Military Engineering, Pune, Maharashtra. The order includes CAMSIM, ChemPro100-SIM and GID-3-SIM. 
 

Meet Col. Mike Warlick, USMC (Ret.), Vice President for Regional and Chapter Outreach

January 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Col. Mike Warlick, USMC (Ret.), always enjoyed running and found that it was a sport at which he excelled even though he preferred baseball. But although running the mile in 4 minutes 34 seconds is still his high school’s record, Col. Warlick’s personal and professional life has not been about running but rather building strong foundations.

Obstacles Loom for Pacific Realignment

January 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shift of U.S. power to the Asia-Pacific will not be successful without an infusion of new technology and a dedicated effort to defeat a wide range of adversaries. The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges, mandating solutions that run the gamut from technological capabilities to cultural outreach and diplomacy.

On the military side, direct challenges range from dealing with cyberspace attacks to providing missile defense in a large-scale conflict. On the geopolitical side, centuries of conflict and confrontation among neighbors must be overcome if a region-wide security environment enabling economic growth is to be implemented.

The technological response will require moving game-changing—or even disruptive—technologies into theater faster and more effectively. Strategically, both government and the military must build more extensive coalitions among a large number of nations, some of which historically have not trusted each other.

These points were among the many discussed at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 13-15. Titled “Rebalancing Toward the Asia-Pacific—Challenges and Opportunities,” the conference featured a multinational roster of speakers and panelists from across government, the military, industry and academia.

One challenge that faces modern military forces anywhere in the world is cyberspace, and the threat in that realm is extending into new areas with potentially greater lethality. A new type of player has emerged among cyber malefactors, and many traditional adversaries are adopting new tactics that combine both hardware and software exploitation. These threats no longer are confined to customary targets, as even systems once thought sacrosanct are vulnerable to potentially devastating onslaughts.

NATO Addresses Its Info-Centric Future

January 1, 2013

Challenges and solutions abound as the alliance puts its reorganization to the test.

The recent reorganization of NATO’s information organization represents the leading edge of a series of new approaches toward operations and procurement by the 63-year-old alliance. At the heart of this effort is NATO’s “smart defense” initiative, which seeks to do more with less. By design, it must involve industry and cooperative efforts early in the development of any program.

New technologies and capabilities highlight NATO’s latest thrust into information-centric operations, as the alliance has consolidated development, procurement and management functions into its NATO Communications and Information Agency, or NCIA. This agency is tasked with leading NATO into a future dominated by mobile communications, cloud computing and big data.

The gains envisioned by this reorganization and the smart defense initiative could be tempered by a number of traditional and new threats. As NATO moves into the cloud and relies on big data, the cyberthreat becomes more dangerous and a greater obstacle to be overcome, for example.

These and other points were discussed at TechNet International 2012, held in Rome, Italy, October 23-25. Organized under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Defense, the event was held in partnership by the NCIA and AFCEA Europe and included the NCIA Industry Conference. Titled “Creating Tomorrow’s C4ISR: Partnership–Imagination–Innovation,” the conference featured leaders from NATO, nations’ militaries and industry who offered candid assessments of the challenges and opportunities that are defining NATO’s new approach to command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

Military Tracks Earthquake-Related Radiation Contamination

December 6, 2012
By Max Cacas

To monitor the possible effects of radiation on Americans who were in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Army Public Health Command has launched the Operation Tomodachi Registry website. The site provides location-based radiation dose estimates for the approximately 70,000 department-affiliated adults and children who were in one of 13 mainland Japan locations at the time of the disaster, which included the release of radiation into the environment. It will serve as a public clearinghouse for information on the U.S. Defense Department's response to the crisis in which U.S. troops assisted their Japanese counterparts in relief efforts. The Operation Tomodachi website will be used to build a model for future exposure registries that could be used to manage a range of other events or activities where the potential for environmental exposure to harmful chemical or biological agents is possible. It will be managed as part of the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System. Names, locations and radiation exposure information for service members, civilian contractors, employees and their family members is contained in a secure database.

 

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