Afghan withdrawal exposes critical data management gaps
27 September 2021
by Carlo Munoz
Afghan crowds gather at the airport as US soldiers stand guard in Kabul on August 16, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)
The chaotic withdrawal of US armed forces from Afghanistan exposed a series of critical gaps in tactical-level data management operations, prompting senior US Department of Defense (DoD) leaders to reconsider whether American and allied forces are prepared to wage war on an increasingly networked battlefield.
The inability for US armed forces to have timely access to vital data feeds and sources, providing information on everything, from basic combat situational awareness to active threats facing US force protection units, was one of several battlefield information failures that faced American and allied units overseeing the pull-out from Afghanistan. Those failures and the subsequent challenges they posed to US armed forces on the ground in Kabul “exemplified what a future joint war fight might look like in terms of data”, said US Army Brigadier General Rob Parker.
UK Typhoon fleet to get new networked simulators in 2022
22 October 2021
by Tim Ripley
UK Eurofighter Typhoon pilots can begin using a new networked simulator system at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire from next August, as part of the first stage in a transformation of the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) approach to simulation and training.
The first of 10 new Typhoon simulators are slated to be up and running as part of a GBP220 million Typhoon Future Synthetic Training (TFST) programme being led by BAE Systems Air Sector.
Jez Milne, the company's head of Operational Training Delivery, told
in October that the new simulators would be an important part of the RAF's drive to migrate to an 80% synthetic, 20% live training mix.
The RAF's ambition is for the TFST sites at RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth to feed into the service's Gladiator simulation network to enable personnel operating simulators representing different aircraft types, at different locations, to carry out joint training over secure communications links. TFST will be the first component to link into the Gladiator network, which is also known as the Defence Operational Training Capability (Air) (DOTC(A)).
DARPA hosting final drone swarm demo in November, companies look for service buy in
21 October 2021
by Ashley Roque
Shown here is an image of Northrop Grumman participating in DARPA's OFFSET programme. Both Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN will attempt to have a single operator control 200-plus ground and aerial drones during a November demo. (Northrop Grumman)
The US Department of Defense (DoD) may be focused on finding technologies to down aerial drones, however, its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is also working with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN on ways a single operator can control hundreds of ground and aerial drones at once. While this developmental effort has been ongoing for years, it is scheduled to culminate in November when both companies head to Fort Campbell in Kentucky for a field experiment where each entity will test out their respective technologies.
Under the agency's Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) programme, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have been working as ‘swarm system integrators'. In this position, they have been developing the architectures, interfaces, and their own swarm tactics exchanges – this houses tools to help design swarm tactics by composing collective behaviours, swarm algorithms, and existing swarm tactics – to enable a single person to operate hundreds of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drones at once.
US Navy Naval Information Warfare Systems commander notes need for software development cultural shift
20 October 2021
by Michael Fabey
The US Navy (USN) shift towards the development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) mindset of updating software used in the commercial world will require a “cultural change”, according to Rear Admiral Douglas Small, commander of the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command.
“DevSecOps, the cloud, platforms – all are necessary, infrastructure-wise,” Rear Adm Small said on 19 October during a keynote address at the American Society of Naval Engineers Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium 2021.
“It's bringing developers and users together in a fast-moving cycle of software development and sustainment, so much so that the line blurs between what is development and what is sustainment,” Rear Adm Small said.
It offers benefits from an acquisitions perspective, he noted. Rather than waiting for several years for large baseline developments that yield a new capability, the USN can get smaller and more frequent software updates.
“That's the way the world works now,” he said. “We need to adopt that. It is a huge undertaking.”
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