Science and Technology News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Air Force stands up Task Force Cyber Secure



By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, / Published March 31, 2015

WASHINGTON, (AFNS) -- Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III signed a memorandum on March 20, establishing Task Force Cyber Secure, to address challenges of the cyberspace domain in synchronization, operations and governance within the Air Force and with those organizations it supports.

"This task force is fundamental to understanding the inherent risks within the cyberspace domain and instituting a culture change, in which our Airmen realize the impact cybersecurity has on all the Air Force core missions,” Welsh said.

Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, the Secretary of the Air Force chief of information dominance and chief information officer, outlined three main focus areas the task force will be responsible for.

“The task force will diagnose the extent of the cyber threat and the vulnerabilities that currently impact our core missions and will plan to develop a risk management plan that will allow the Air Force to fly, fight and win in a cyber-contested environment,” Bender said. “Finally, the task force will recommend investment priorities to the SECAF and CSAF for how best to address the cybersecurity challenges.

 “The Air Force focuses the majority of the cybersecurity effort on protecting the information technology we’ve always protected the last 20 years, but that’s only 20 percent of the problem,” Bender continued. He envisions a "comprehensive, enterprise-level look at the cyber threat as it relates to everything outside of that 20 percent."

 The concepts of mission assurance and cybersecurity were addressed and studied across the Department of Defense and the Air Force across multiple functional lines and major commands. A top priority of Task Force Cyber Secure is to be inclusive of all stakeholders who are working this cyber challenge already and to begin synchronizing and coordinating efforts for securing and mitigating operational risk to the most critical nodes and “centers of gravity.”

Pete Kim, the Cyberspace Operations and Warfighting Integration acting director, will lead the daily task force operations and direct an organization that will include cyberspace stakeholders throughout the Air Force.

“Many efforts for securing the core missions in cyberspace are currently distributed across multiple organizations and commands throughout the Air Force,” Kim said. “We have great leaders moving out on fixing ‘the problem’ within their functional areas, but the time is right to look into opportunities to synchronize and maximize resources at the corporate level in order to establish a foundational, consistent enterprise-wide approach in the future.”

 The task force efforts will inform Air Force strategic planning and programming for fiscal year 2017 and beyond. It will provide a governance plan for Air Force corporate board management and synchronization of cybersecurity investments of the future in the planning, programming, budgeting and execution (PPBE) process. The task force will also integrate multiple efforts and studies, attempting to address cybersecurity across the Air Force, focusing on Air Force core missions and provide a prioritized cybersecurity investment strategy for SECAF and CSAF.

 “We’re already seeing benefits of a focused task force standing up to address the cybersecurity challenge,” Bender said. “At a practical level, sharing information across the Air Force, education on the seriousness of the threat and the vulnerabilities, and connecting the dots are the benefits I’m beginning to see. We are also connecting with academia and commercial industry because we recognize their contributions as significant force multipliers in this domain.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

DARPA Uses Open Systems, ‘Plug and Fly’ to Boost Air Power



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2015 – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is unveiling a new program to boost U.S. air superiority by separating payloads such as weapons and sensors from the main air platform, and using open-system architectures to seamlessly integrate plug-and-fly modules into any kind of platform.

The program, called System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation, or SoSITE, aims to develop and demonstrate concepts for flying combinations of aircraft, weapons, sensors and mission systems that distribute air-warfare capabilities across interoperable manned and unmanned platforms.

The DARPA vision is to integrate new technologies and airborne systems with existing systems faster and at a lower cost than advanced adversaries can counter them, Dr. Nils Sandell Jr., director of DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office, told DoD News in a recent interview.

“We feel that the [Defense] Department is facing some significant technical challenges,” he said.

Threatened Technological Lead

“I talk to my friends and neighbors, and they take it for granted that [the United States] has air superiority and that we can impose our ability to project power anywhere we want to,” he said, adding that high-end potential adversaries have been systematically developing their own equipment and systems.

“Our technological lead is definitely threatened,” Sandell said. “The threats are not only external but also self-inflicted by the extreme degree of complexity being crammed onto massive military platforms.”

“Our systems are becoming so complex, so time consuming to produce, that we can't keep pace with commercial technology and we can't keep pace with the threat,” the director said.

Because fielding or upgrading advanced airborne systems can take decades and cost billions of dollars, he added, it has not been possible to modernize subsystems in the complex platforms apace with rapid advances in commercial technology.

System of Systems

“A system-of-systems approach could help overcome [the] inherent issue with high-cost, monolithic, multifunction platforms,” Sandell said.

Distributed air-warfare platforms have other advantages, he added.

“What we would like to enable is a future scenario in which a smaller number of manned aircraft would combine with unmanned aircraft to do [a] total job,” the director said. “They would be networked together … and the unmanned aircraft could venture into the more dangerous territory, providing some degree of risk avoidance for the pilots.”

The unmanned platforms would be simpler and could do individual jobs like carry weapons, electronic warfare systems or sensors –- the last allowing the manned aircraft to be silent and harder to detect, he said.

Distributed Air Warfare

“The fundamental idea is to take platforms that today are manned, monolithic and expensive, and distribute the capability over a much more heterogeneous set of platforms to perform similar functions,” Sandell said.

In such a configuration, the pilot becomes a battle manager, deciding what the small aircraft should be doing and how to orchestrate it, Sandell said, and DARPA has a suite of programs whose automation is designed to help pilots with the task.

“We’ve recently come out with [a program] called Distributed Battle Management, and that's exactly to provide the automation and decision aids to enable a pilot to be able to fly his jet and do these future tasks,” the director said.

It’s also important that the pilot is the decision maker, he added.

Communications in Contested Environments

“We're not talking about a totally robot army or something like that,” Sandell said. “The pilot has to be able to exert control [and] to be in communication with these platforms, so we have a communications program called Communications in Contested Environments that's working the issue of getting these platforms to talk to one another.”

DARPA’s vision is that the combination of robust communications and automation will be sufficient to allow the pilot to do those tasks, he added.

Sandell said he wants to be clear that DARPA is not trying to replace air platforms like the F-35 or the F-22, but rather to augment their capabilities.

“[The monolithic platforms] are going to be expensive,” he said. “We probably won't be able to buy as many of them as we would like to if history plays out, so we want to be sure that the services, who ultimately make decisions about what to buy, [have] an enriched set of options as they go forward.”

Open-architecture Approaches

For the SoSITE program, a second focus involves DARPA and the services’ engagement in open-architecture efforts to allow platforms to be upgraded with equipment that seamlessly plugs and plays.

Sandell said the legacy approach, which often involves a yearslong process to agree on standard interface, can limit the ability to integrate new technology that doesn’t fit within that interface. By contrast, he added, open-architecture tools more easily allow the integration of new technology when it comes along.

The Air Force has an effort called Open Mission Systems, and DARPA is collaborating closely with them, Sandell said. The Navy has an open-architecture effort called Future Avionics Capability Environment that DARPA works with, and they have recently shown impressive accomplishments, he added.

SoSITE Program Phases

The SoSITE program has two phases, and it is now in the two-year-long first phase, which has two technical areas, or TAs.

TA1 is architecture analysis, and TA2 is integration technology. The program is less than a quarter of the way through the first phase. In the second phase, the plan is for the two Phase 1 technical areas to come together for the program’s experimentation portion.

According to DARPA, the agency has awarded contracts to develop concepts for system-of-systems architectures and tools for rapid integration and testing.

Under those contracts, Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are developing and analyzing promising architectures and designing plans for flight experimentation with the architectures.

Apogee Systems, BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins are developing tools and technologies to enhance open-system architecture approaches.

Robustness Against Cyberattack

One of the limitations of open architecture is that it provides what Sandell said is known as “an increased attack surface” for cyberattacks.

“What we're doing on our program, in our development of system-of-systems integration technology, is building robustness against cyberattack into the design process, as opposed to putting it in as an afterthought,” the director said.

This involves things like building software into the system that is located in random places in memory so an attacker won't know where to go to find it, Sandell added. “There are techniques of that type we're building into the process,” he said.

Of the three contractors who are developing techniques to better integrate system of systems, at least two of them are addressing the cyber problem and coming up with all sorts of techniques, Sandell said.

Looking to the Future

“They draw on our [Information Innovation Office] folks here at DARPA, the primary folks who do cyber, so we're not doing research on cyber so much as making sure the state of the art in cyber protection is built into the system of systems design process,” he added.

Looking to the future, Sandell said that monolithic but sophisticated platforms like the F-35 probably will continue to have very high value.

“I think they will be part of a family of systems or of a system of systems and not single silver-bullet solutions by themselves,” the director said. “In particular, we think that any of the future platforms would be designed in much more of an open-architecture fashion, so although the platform may last for a long time and take a while to develop, the electronics in it can be upgraded much more rapidly.”

He said he thinks, in a sense, "the F-35 is the last of a kind. I don't think we'll develop anything that tightly integrated in the future.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

9th-generation GPS satellite blasts off from 'The Cape'

45th Space Wing Public Affairs

3/25/2015 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The Air Force and the 45th Space Wing supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket that roared to life from Launch Complex 37, March 25, 2015, carrying the Air Force's ninth Block IIF-09 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System at 2:36 p.m. EDT.

This launch is the fourth ULA launch this year and the 95th launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

GPS IIF-09 launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus (4,2) Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine, along with two ATK GEM 60 solid rocket motors.

The upper stage was powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with the
satellite encapsulated in a four-meter diameter composite payload fairing.

This launch marks the 29th Delta IV launch and the 57th operational GPS satellite to launch on a ULA or heritage launch vehicle. Delta IV has delivered numerous satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), as well as GPS satellites for the Air Force and weather satellites for NASA, according to a ULA media release.

Once again, the 45th Space Wing team of military personnel, government civilians, and contractors provided support to the ULA launch of the Air Force Space Command mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, and public affairs.

Created by the Department of Defense to enhance military warfighting capability, GPS is available for use, free of charge, to anyone with a GPS receiver. U.S. and allied military forces use GPS devices in virtually every system to improve their capabilities and effectiveness while reducing risk to their forces and non-combatants. From finance to farming to tracking packages, use by the civilian community continues to grow rapidly and new commercial applications are continuously being developed.

The GPS IIF system brings next-generation performance to the constellation. The GPS IIF vehicle is critical to national security and sustaining GPS constellation availability for global civil, commercial and defense applications. Besides sustaining the GPS constellation, IIF features more capability and improved mission performance.

"In over 20 years since the initial operational capacity on Dec. 8, 1993, GPS has never failed to deliver on its global PNT commitment," said Brig. Gen. Bill Cooley, Global Positioning Directorate director, during a pre-launch media telecom, March 20.  "On April 27, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of achieving full operational capability for GPS."

The 45th Space Wing commander was both proud and pleased with the team she works with here on the Eastern Range.

"First, let me offer my heartiest congratulations to ULA, Boeing, Space and Missile Systems Center, the Launch Systems Directorate, the Global Positioning Systems Directorate, and all the mission partners who made this happen," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority.

"What a treat -- and an honor -- it is to know that we have played such a significant part in something that we will celebrate two decades of helping people all around the world," Armagno said. "Every GPS satellite since the program's inception has been launched right here from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station safely and reliably by members of the 45th Space Wing."

"And that's because we continue to take a 'one launch at a time' mentality and focus on our number one priority - 100 percent Mission Success. I am so very proud to be part of Team Patrick-Cape."

Military reminds personnel to remain vigilant on social media

by Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


3/24/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The digital age is making the world a smaller place and the "bad guys" could be a lot closer than you think.

It continues to be dynamic and evolving. Now it's almost a cultural norm around the Air Force and globe to have social media as a part of everyday life. Those who use it, also have the responsibility to protect themselves, information and the Air Force mission.

Airmen should consider the risks associated with posting personal information on social media sites. It could potentially put themselves or their family in danger without them realizing it.

"Social media is all controlled by you," said Capt. Michael Cox, 22nd Operational Security program manager. "Think twice before posting something."

With the ease of uploading information to social media sites, it's easy to forget that unwanted eyes may be watching.

One way to maintain a safe social media profile is to scrub social media pages of any military affiliations. This is one of many avenues Airmen can take to minimize the information available to potential enemies of the U.S.

Department of Defense personnel are also advised to report anything that looks suspicious to law enforcement.

"You just have to look for things that are out of the normal," said Cox. "If you see something that you don't see every day, you should question it. It could be as little as seeing a person in the office hanging around that you usually don't see."

In order to maintain readiness, all units are advised to review work place and off-installation action plans to ensure effectiveness.

"There has been no information of potential local activity," said Staff Sgt. Christina Manella, 22nd Security Forces Squadron force protection intelligence analyst. "But we need to ensure on and off duty that we have heightened situational awareness."

Reporting suspicious activity and monitoring social media use are just a few ways to make it hard for enemies to collect harmful information. Other ways include not giving out vacation plans and being aware of where you go in uniform when not at work.

"Beware of your surroundings," added Cox. "Keep doing what you're doing but stay vigilant at the same time."

Every unit is assigned an OPSEC manager to ensure that all questions are answered and appropriate actions are taken.

If you have any questions or to report suspicious activity, call the McConnell Eagle Eyes at (316) 759-3976.

Monday, March 23, 2015

GPS message indexing issue identified



Release Number: 010315

3/23/2015 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A GPS message indexing issue was recently identified that affects a limited number of active GPS IIF satellites, but does not degrade the accuracy of the GPS signal received by users around the globe.

The result is an occasional broadcast not in accordance with U.S. technical specifications.  The issue appears to be related to the ground software that builds and uploads messages transmitted by the GPS constellation during regular system operations, although the Air Force continues to investigate all possible causes.

Although the issue was brought to light in the last few days, a close examination of archived GPS message data reveals that the message indexing error has gone unnoticed since 2013.  Air Force Space Command has implemented a workaround to prevent further message indexing violations and is taking steps to permanently correct the error.

If you have any questions, contact Mr Andy Roake at Air Force Space Command Public Affairs by responding to this email or calling 719-491-9451.  During normal business hours, call the Air Force Space Command Public Affairs main line at 719-554-3731.