Cyberdefense and Information Assurance, Navy, tech

Navy 2nd Fleet drops own network for NMCI

The US Navy’s Second Fleet has migrated  the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) as part of its establishment of a Maritime Operations Center, according to a Navy spokesperson.  Second Fleet, which had a waiver from using NMCI because of its command and control mission,  will now operate both its unclassified but sensitive (NIPRnet) and secret-classified (SIPRNet) systems on NMCI, which is operated for the Navy by Hewlett-Packard’s EDS.

EDS’s NMCI contract ends on September 30, 2010. However, the Navy is still working on the procurement strategy for Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), the follow-on to NMCI–which will “in-house” operation of the Navy’s networks again–and the Navy is preparing to offer a no-compete contract to EDS to continue to operate NMCI’s services during a transition period to the new network.  The contract will also give the Navy access to the intellectual property EDS has generated around the operation of NMCI.  So while the NMCI contract is close to its end, the lifecycle of the NMCI infrastructure is far from over.  Migrating also helps Second Fleet save on network operation costs, and will probably improve overall security since the command will benefit from EDS’s patch management and information assurance operations, served up out of EDS’ enterprise Network Operations Centers in Norfolk, San Diego and Pearl Harbor. (A fourth NOC at Quantico serves the Marine Corps.)

The decision to move to NMCI was made by Commander Second Fleet  independent of the NGEN program. A spokesperson for NMCI characterized the move as being a purely operational decision. But it speaks to the maturity of NMCI, in its 10th year of operations, that a C2 organization would move to what was originally devised as a purely administrative network.  And  Navy CIO Robert Carey has been beating the drum for the consolidation of the Navy’s multitude of legacy and “waiver” networks into a smaller number of service-wide networks as part of his NNE 2016 vision for Navy IT — which Second Fleet’s move, while executed independently from the DON CIO’s office, conforms to.

Carey recently blogged about the value of “thinking like an enterprise” with the Navy’s networks in a discussion of the current Navy shipboard IT procurement, Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES).  “It is important for the Department of the Navy to think and act like an enterprise because of the potential to realize a number of important benefits including increased integration of our operating forces, improved interoperability, and consistent and improved information assurance,” he wrote. “These benefits are in addition to cost savings, cost avoidance and more effective use of the Department’s resources.”

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Space

As Discovery launches, word shuttle program may be extended

The space shuttle Discovery launched August 28,  to deliver, among other things, a new room for the International Space Station and a humorously-named treadmill.   As the shuttle prepared to launch, it was getting a boost from a report commissioned by the president, The Observer reports:

The US space shuttle, scheduled to be scrapped next year, could be thrown a last-minute lifeline this week. A reprieve is to be included as an option for rejuvenating America’s beleaguered space programme in a report commissioned by President Barack Obama.

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Contractors & Vendors, Lockheed Martin, Sensors

Lockheed Flying Intel Lab gets cleared for takeoff

Lockheed Martin's Airborne Multi-Intelligence Laboratory

Lockheed Martin's AML

Lockheed Martin’s Airborne Intelligence Test Bed has completed its maiden flight, getting an air-worthiness certificate from the FAA.  The Airborn Multi-Intelligence Laboratory (AML – a name clearly sculpted to avoid the AIL label) is a reconfigured Gulfstream III business jet loaded with sensors and computing equipment.

The AML has an ample radome on the bottom of the aircraft that can be crammed with various sensors and data links. “We’ve designed the AML so that we can easily test a myriad of sensors to advance the science and art of correlating diverse types of intelligence – with the goal of rapidly providing high-quality data,” said Jim Quinn, Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services-Defense’s vice president of C4ISR Systems, in a company statement.

Because of its reconfigurable, “plug and play” architecture for sensors and computing systems, the AML can be used for a variety of evaluations at the same time. The aircraft is currently slated to participate in the C4ISR On-The-Move exercise at Ft. Dix in New Jersey at the end of August.

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Coalition/Allies, tech

Italians to get first Reaper installment

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The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. won a contract for  $10,250,000 modified contract through the Foreign Military Sales Program  to cover the Italian purchase of MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. So far, $5,022,500 of that contract has been obligated.

The contract is in response to an Italian request last August for four Reapers, over 5 years, including ground stations, for $300 million.   The Italian Air Force currently operates  RQ-1A Predators in its 32nd Wing’s 28 Squadron at Amendola.

The Reaper is the follow-on to the Predator, a “hunter-killer” UAV that can carry over 1,000 pounds of ordnance and stay “on station”  for as long as 48 hours.  28 have been built thus far, the first deploying in 2007.

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Navy, tech, weapons systems

Boeing puts moving land targets in the SLAM ER

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The SLAM ER attack missile

Boeing has modified its SLAM ER air-launched attack missile to allow it to attack moving targets on land. The Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response was declared operational by the Navy in July, and now Boeing is preparing to roll it out to the fleet.

“Upgrading the SLAM ER’s system software to include LMT capabilities was a Navy Rapid Technology Transition effort to fill a critical need by making SLAM ER an effective weapon for destroying or disabling high-value land-based moving targets, such as missile launchers and mobile radar. The software enables F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet aircraft to continuously receive updated target coordinates from appropriate Command and Control platforms, on-ship radar, or other third-party targeting sources, and then transfer these updates to the SLAM ER in flight.”

“Third party” could, concievably, include Predator UAVs and other unmanned vehicles.  Theoretically, SLAM ER could be flown on the Raptor UAV, though that would require additional engineering.  A “man in the loop” mode allows the pilot or operator to adjust the impact point during the final approach to the target; doing that from a ground station would require additional bandwidth to the launching UAV, or direct control of the SLAM ER by someone on the ground.  But tying that capability to a long-range C4ISR platform like the Predator or Raptor would significantly extend their reach in supporting ground units in places like Afghanistan.

The SLAM ER is an evolution of the Harpoon antiship missile, which uses infrared terminal guidance to lock onto its target instead of the radar used by the Harpoon. It can be navigated by a combination intertial guidance and GPS navigation system, and has a range of over 150 nautical miles.

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Coalition/Allies, Defense Department, Policy, weapons systems

U.S. to shift ABM base focus from E. Europe to Turkey, Israel

A Polish newpaper has reported that the Obama administration will scrap plans for “missile shield” bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of a sea-based approach and potential bases in Turkey and Israel.

The move comes on the heels of Obama’s recent meeting with Russian leaders, and recent revelations that Iran’s latest ballistic missile could strike targets in Europe.  It may also have been bolstered by the progress of the Aegis ABM program, which has a much better track record thus far than the land-based ABM program.

Today, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, the director for the Missile Defense Agency, pointed to the successes of the program as a whole, in an interview at the Pentagon. “A few years ago the question was, ‘Could you even hit a missile with a missile?’ We have proven we could do that well over 35 times.”

O’Reilly said that 39 of the last 45 tries at stopping a test missile were successful. All but one miss were early in the program, and he said that one was because of a manufacturing problem, which was fixed as demonstrated by a successful test three weeks ago.

The Defense Department recently committed an additional $900 million toward fielding the Army’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mobile missile defense system.

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Army, Contractors & Vendors, Policy, tech

Roadmap for Army’s future combat vehicles coming

Jane’s reports that the US Army will release its new direction for ground combat vehicles in September. After canceling the majority of the Future Combat Systems program’s vehicles, the Army is taking a new look at what new vehicles should be built, and how current vehicles should be incorporated across the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).

The Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, hosted a workshop on June 15 at the National Defense University to bring together the Army’s ground vehicle thought leaders to hammer out the way ahead for a new ground combat vehicle. “We will work to include both lessons from the current fight and what we’ve learned from technology and build a better vehicle,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey.

While FCS was cancelled, it is expected that the FCS Network and the System of Systems Common Operating Environment (SoSCOE) Boeing developed for the vehicles will likely be incorporated into both the new ground combat vehicle and existing vehicles, according to people familiar with the program.

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