AUSA 2021: US Army leverages data management lessons learned from Afghan pull-out

by Carlo Munoz

A US soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division secures a helicopter landing zone in southeastern Afghanistan in 2019. (US Army)

Senior US Army leaders are in the midst of incorporating the lessons learned from data management shortfalls that plagued the US withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year, saying anticipated advances in the service's combat networking construct will close those gaps.

An overloaded and overworked legacy network architecture, the inability to transmit time-sensitive data between US armed forces and allied units, coupled with commanders' incapacity to access data streams outside prescribed formats, all led to data management failures during the Afghanistan pull-out in August.

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UK Typhoon fleet to get new networked simulators in 2022

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 Janes 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)).

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DARPA hosting final drone swarm demo in November, companies look for service buy in

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.

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US Navy Naval Information Warfare Systems commander notes need for software development cultural shift

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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