Signals & Space Monthly Briefing

March 2019

Prepared by the CyberWire (Friday, March 1, 2019)

Space Force will be in the (Department of the) Air Force.

President Trump has made the outlines of Space Force clearer. Space Policy Directive 4 sets out a plan for the new Service that will place it under the Department of the Air Force. Thus the organizational model will be close to that of the Marine Corps, a distinct service administratively within a larger Service Department. As the Marines fall under the Department of the Navy, so will Space Force fall under the Department of the Air Force (Politico). This is roughly what the Air Force and the larger Department of Defense had recommended (Washington Post). US Strategic Command in particular sees itself as likely to play a big role in the new Service's mission (Military.com).

JEDI contract scrutinized over potential conflicts of interest.

The Defense Department's very large and much litigated $10-billion JEDI cloud contract has run into more difficulties. The US Court of Federal Claims has placed a stay on a lawsuit involving Oracle, Amazon, and the Department of Defense because potential signs of a conflict of interest were discovered. The Defense Department requested the stay, and neither Oracle (the plaintiff) nor Amazon opposed it (Nextgov). The potential conflict of interest the Department is now investigating involved a former employee of the Defense Digital Service who had founded a startup Amazon Web Services was interested in acquiring. The JEDI Contracting Officer had thought the employee in question had recused himself from JEDI. The court documents are heavily redacted, but it appears from what's available that this might not have been the case (Federal News Network).

Planning rapid technology acquisition.

The cloud will have tactical as well as administrative uses. The US Army is interested in pushing cloud access out to organizational and unit levels, and has a research program designed to enable doing just that (Defense One).

US military services, especially the US Army, are planning to move away from familiar, purpose-built and hardware-defined tactical radios to software-defined radios. They see several advantages in such systems. They're more affordable. They're relatively easy to upgrade, and that addresses the familiar problem of rapid obsolescence that has long troubled military communications and information technology. They offer multi-channel capabilities legacy systems could not. And their advanced waveforms make possible ad hoc networking that renders tactical communications more reliable, more flexible, and more robust (National Defense).

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) has issued a solicitation for Special Operations Deployable Tactical Satellite Communications (SATCOM) systems. The work covers about 2500 deployable systems with supporting infrastructure at some 90 sites. SPAWAR, by the way, is also getting a name change that suggests the way the services see the future: its centers will henceforth be known as Naval Information Warfare Centers (C4ISRNet).

The US Department of Defense plans to undertake joint, integrated demonstration of satellites and ground systems. They Services have for some time been troubled by perceived inefficiencies in the way ground station development lagged that of satellites. Highly capable satellites too often found themselves supported by sometimes less capable and imperfectly integrated ground stations (Breaking Defense).

Funding rapid technology transition.

Appropriations can induce the sort of rigidity into programs that sometimes militates against rapid innovation. The US Army says it's worked out a Shark-Tank-like approach to changing needs, however, that has enabled it to shift some $31 billion to better align with the Service's priorities (Defense News). This is less radical than it sounds at first, as it's all conducted within the budget process, but it does bring high-level attention to problems of needs shifting faster than requirements, and of technologies advancing more swiftly than programs of record. (And it offers a pleasant parlor game: which Army leader, for example, would be the counterpart of Shark Tank's Mr. Wonderful?)

Developments in the launch services and human space flight sectors.

United Launch Alliance and SpaceX may be sector leaders (Bloomberg), but they don't constitute a duopoly. Many start-ups are offering such services, among them Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, Relativity Space, Slingshot Aeropsace, and Virgin Orbit. The start-ups are increasingly turning their attention to supporting technologies. Network, communications, and ground-station systems and infrastructure are proving at least as important as the rockets themselves (TechCrunch).

One launch start-up, Stratolaunch, is thought by some observers to be pulling in its horns in the wake of its founder's death. The passing of Paul Allen may have induced the company to scale back its ambitions (Motley Fool via Yahoo! Finance). And Mars One, the visionary company whose goal was nothing less than colonization of the Red Planet, has gone under, declaring bankruptcy in February (Computing). But Virgin Galactic still seems to be on track. The company gave its first test passenger a suborbital ride this past month (Space.com).

Espionage indictment of former USAF intelligence specialist.

On February 13th, the US Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Monica E. Witt, now also known as Fatemah Zahra,  a former US Air Force technical sergeant who served as a counterintelligence specialist and Farsi linguist between 1997 and 2008. After leaving the Air Force in 2008 she continued to work as a Government contractor, first briefly at Booz Allen Hamilton, and then for around two years for Chenega Federal Systems. She's charged with having spied for Iran, having defected to that country after several visits.

The indictment indicates that there were six “manners, ways, and means” of the conspiracy by which Ms Witt is alleged to have committed espionage. She used her position as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to gain access to classified information. She traveled to Iran, where she identified herself as a US military veteran. She met with members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and expressed a desire to defect to Iran. She provided “bona fides” to the Revolutionary Guard to demonstrate her ability and willingness to pass them information that would interest them. She created target packages to enable the Iranian government to target US counterintelligence agents. Finally, the indictment says, she provided US national defense information to the Iranian government. 

Four Iranian nationals were also indicted. They’re referred to collectively as the “cyber conspirators,” because they acted against at least eight US operators—counterintelligence agents—using various social engineering techniques to compromise them and gain access to their organizational networks. The social engineering techniques includes spearphishing, fraudulent use of stolen identities, and at least one catphish (fictitious persona), “Bella Wood,” by name, complete with inauthentic Facebook account. These attempts seem to have been at least partially successful. All eight of the US agents whom the cyber conspirators approached had at one time, the Justice Department said in a public statement, “at one time worked or interacted with Monica Witt.” The threat group is known as "Charming Kitten," and it has a clear if plausibly deniable connection with the Islamic Republic and its Revolutionary Guard (Foreign Policy). 

The indictment alleges that after her defection Ms Witt created dossiers ("target packages") for Iranian intelligence services on her former colleagues in counter-intelligence, thereby contributing to the social engineering of US security and intelligence personnel. A target package, according to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, is “a document, or set of documents, assembled to enable an intelligence or military unit to find, fix, track and neutralize a threat.” A "human target package" of the kind Ms Witt is alleged to have prepared on her former colleagues, includes not only the targeted person’s official position, but “an analysis of personal vulnerabilities or other opportunities to exploit the individual, and confirmation of the identity and location of the individual.” It also recommends a “neutralization plan,” where neutralization might include “apprehension, recruitment, cyber exploitation, or capture/kill operations.” In this case the Cyber Conspirators are thought to have carried out such neutralization plans.

If one runs through the traditional acronym "MICE" (for Money, Ideology, Compromise, or Ego) that counterintelligence and security specialists use as convenient shorthand for the reasons insiders turn to espionage, Ms Witt's motivation appears to have been ideological, as she seems to have undergone radicalization driven by a growing revulsion for the "Hollywoodism" of American culture. Before she defected to Iran in 2013, the Washington Post reports, the FBI warned her she was probably the target of recruitment by Iranian intelligence, and she promised to be careful if she returned to Iran, and also promised not to give Iran classified material. The indictment charges, of course, that she went on to do exactly that. Ms Witt is not in US custody, and is believed to be in Iran.

US defense and aerospace sectors remain foreign intelligence targets.

The Witt case is splashy, especially in view of its tie to a single individual and the serious nature of the material allegedly betrayed, but foreign intelligence services, particularly those of China and Iran, are showing heightened activity. US suspicion that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear capability and the bite of harder sanctions is thought to have served as a spur to Tehran's intelligence services. Beijing for its part shows signs of renewed industrial espionage, with a particular interest in defense, aerospace, and tech. Boeing, General Electric Aviation, and T-Mobile are among the recent targets of Chinese intelligence services (New York Times).

Technological competition in space remains keen.

As the 2019 US National Intelligence Strategy observed, competition with international rivals in space and other military domains can be expected to sharpen. A Defense Intelligence Agency report, Challenges to Security in Space, issued on February 11th, highlighted the same four adversaries so often mentioned in the National Intelligence Strategy: Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. China and Russia have both, the report says, developed "robust and capable space services," especially with respect to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Their ability to find, track, and classify satellites is particularly noteworthy, given its application to counterspace operations. In this field both Moscow and Beijing are developing kinetic and cyber weapons for use against space assets. They're also active on the ground. Foreign Policy notes US concern about a deep space ground station China used to control its robotic mission to the far side of the moon. That station is in a remote corner of Argentina, and US planners think it could have less benign applications than lunar exploration. 

North Korea and Iran are less capable, but they haven't neglected this military competition either. One example of a new capability was on display at the end of February, when Iranian media announced that the country's navy had successfully launched a surface attack cruise missile from a submerged Ghadir-class submarine during the Velayat-97 exercise (Military Times).

Bringing in orbital debris.

Clearing trash out of low-earth orbit has been attracting some attention from policy makers and researchers for some time. Some universities are working on the problem. The University of Surrey had earlier tested the use of nets and LIDAR in its RemoveDEBRIS project. Its researchers have now deployed a harpoon capable of bringing in (and ultimately down, but that's the next phase) a large defunct satellite. Stanford University researchers are working on other aspects of the problem: classifying the various items circulating in orbit. 

Surrey has another research effort under way: developing methods of defending satellites against cyberattack. It's working with NCC Group to create the Surrey Space Centre and Surrey Centre for Cyber Security (Infosecurity Magazine).

Readers of the above-mentioned DIA report on Challenges to Security in Space will recognize that such technologies may have more applications than garbage collection and network reliability.

[1917]

 

Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting Argentina, China, the European Union, Iran, Israel, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Selected Reading

Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities (7)

Marketplace (38)

Products, Services, and Solutions (7)

Technologies, Techniques, and Standards (16)

Design and Innovation (2)

Research and Development (4)

Academia (1)

Legislation, Policy, and Regulation (18)

Litigation, Investigation, and Law Enforcement (4)

Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities

Tehran: Iran launches cruise missile from sub during drill (Military Times) Iran launched a cruise missile from a submarine for the first time during an ongoing annual military drill in the Strait of Hormuz, local media reported Sunday.

DIA releases report on challenges to US security in space (Intelligence Community News) On February 11, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released “Challenges to Security in Space,” a report that examines the space and counterspace programs that could challenge U.S. or partner int…

U.S. Military Warns of Threat From Chinese-Run Space Station in Argentina (Foreign Policy) Defense officials are worried about a remote compound Beijing says helped it land on the far side of the moon.

The U.S. Army's New Up-Gunned Stryker Armored Vehicles Have Been Hacked (The Drive) A Pentagon report says 'adversaries' launched successful cyber attacks against systems on the new 30mm cannon-armed vehicles.

The Army's upgunned Strykers have some serious firepower — and one critical weakness (Task & Purpose) The Army may have festooned its Stryker fighting vehicles with a slew of new armaments as part of the Pentagon's relentless pursuit of lethality, but the upgunned infantry carriers are apparently hobbled by a major deficiency that makes them especially vulnerable in a fight against Russia or China

Watch out for fake DoD websites like this (Reboot Camp) Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command identified a website posing as the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program this week.

U.S. Intelligence: Russia Tried to Con the World With Bogus Missile (The Daily Beast) The Russians hyped a cruise missile launch earlier this year. But a briefing by the CIA and a second agency determined that it was essentially a hoax.

Marketplace

JEDI cloud project is in trouble (Federal News Network) Pentagon decides to go ahead with another conflict of interest study. That can't be good.

DoD plowing ahead with JRSS despite recommendation to pause deployments (Federal News Network) The Defense Information Systems Agency acknowledges problems with DoD's Joint Regional Security Stacks, says it's working through "mission partner concerns" in five areas.

Contractors confused by DoD's new cloud strategy (Federal News Network) Earlier this month the Defense Department under Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy put out an 18-page cloud strategy that seemed to be little more than reaffirming what the department is already doing.

SPAWAR issues SATCOM RFP (Intelligence Community News) On February 12, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command released the request for proposals for SOCS SATCOM Support (Solicitation Number: N65236-17-R-0005). Solicitation N65236-17-R-0005 is here…

Here's the draft RFQ for that other multibillion-dollar Pentagon cloud procurement (Washington Business Journal) The General Services Administration has released its draft request for quotations for the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) procurement, one of the more closely watched and lucrative commercial cloud programs not named JEDI.

DoD tries to clear its cloud fog (Federal News Network) Tom Temin outlines why recent cloud strategies released by the Defense Department read more like a way of backing into what the department has already been doing in cloud computing.

Military, Industry Gung-Ho on Software Defined Radios (National Defense) Industry is moving to supply the U.S. military with new communications technologies that are more cost-effective and offer enhanced capabilities. Software defined, multi-channel radios are seen as the wave of the future as the armed services try to stay ahead of emerging threats.

Here’s how the US Army used a ‘Shark Tank’ approach to shift $31 billion in the budget (Defense News) The Army's undersecretary is shedding light on the

The Air Force’s JSTARS alternative has a new architect. Wait, what’s an architect? (Defense News) Prototyping efforts for the uber complicated program could begin as early as this summer.

KeyW Wins Contract Extension for Software Development and Systems Engineering Support (Nasdaq) The KeyW Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:KEYW) today announced a multi-year, prime contract extension with a national security customer to provide software development, systems engineering and integration support for automated and assisted radio frequency processing, analysis and reporting.

This Government Contractor Is Betting Big on Electronic Warfare (The Motley Fool) As consolidation surges among IT services providers, CACI International is hoping specialization will help it compete.

Lockheed Martin reorganizes around integrated cyber, electronic warfare and intelligence (C4ISRNET) Lockheed recently created a new business it's calling spectrum convergence.

SpaceX Splits Six Military Launches With Rival Lockheed-Boeing (Bloomberg) U.S. awards $442 million contract to United Launch Alliance. Musk’s SpaceX wins $297 million contracts for three launches.

SpaceX protests a $150 million launch contract NASA awarded to its chief rival, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture (Washington Post) The contract is for a mission to study asteroids near Jupiter. Elon Musk's company escalated its war with United Launch Alliance by filing a protest, saying it "offered a solution with extraordinarily high confidence of mission success at a price dramatically lower than the award amount."

Will SpaceX Shut Europe Out of the Space Launch Market? (The Motley Fool) How do you say "we're losing the space race" in French?

The WIRED Guide to Commercial Human Space Flight (WIRED) Everything you need to know about Blue Origin, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and what actually happens to your body if you go live in space.

As rocket companies proliferate, new enabling tech emerges as the next wave in the space race (TechCrunch) Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, Relativity Space, Slingshot Aeropsace, SpaceX and Virgin Orbit have raised billions of dollars to create new vehicles to launch payloads into space, but as the private space industry develops in the U.S. investors are beginning to back enabling technologies boost the next w…

Is This the Beginning of the End for Stratolaunch? (Yahoo) Without Paul Allen's billions to back it, the megaplane-for-space-launch company dials back its ambitions.

Mars One, the start-up that planned to colonise Mars, declared bankrupt (Computing) Mars One had plans to establish a permanent colony on Mars by 2027 - but not the kind of funding required to get there, let alone build a colony.

Moon Rush: NASA Wants Commercial Lunar Delivery Services to Start This Year (Space.com) NASA officials announced today (Feb. 14) that the first "task order" for a commercial lunar delivery will likely come out in a month or so — and that flight is expected to follow in relatively short order.

Air Force taps Engility with $655M contract for satellite-tracking systems (UPI) The U.S. Air Force awarded Engility Corp., which was acquired two weeks ago by SAIC, a $655 million contract for satellite-tracking services, replacing Lockheed Martin.

Northrop Grumman awarded $17.4M for space tracking system (UPI) Northrop Grumman was awarded a $17.4 million option for operations and sustainment of the space tracking and surveillance system, part of the U.S. missile defense system.

Northrop Grumman Receives $59M US Air Force Contract for Next-Generation Navigation System (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) a $59 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)...

Raytheon wins $406 million contract (Fort Wayne Business Weekly) The Army has awarded the Fort Wayne operations of Raytheon Co. a $406 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for ARC-231A radio systems.

Mercury Systems Receives $5.5M in Follow-on Orders from US Navy for DRFM Jammers (Nasdaq) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com) announced that it received an additional $5.5 million in follow-on orders against its previously announced $152 million 5 year sole-source basic ordering agreement (BOA) to deliver advanced Digital RF Memory (DRFM) jammers to the U.S. Navy.

Mercury Systems Receives $6.5M Order for Sensor Fusion Processing Subsystems (GlobeNewswire News Room) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com) announced it received a $6.5 million order from a leading defense prime contractor for switch routing subsystems to be used in a large sensor fusion application.

Mercury Systems Receives $3.1M System-in-Package Order for Weapons Application (GlobeNewswire News Room) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com), announced it received a $3.1 million follow-on order from a leading defense prime contractor for rugged system-in-package (SiP) devices embedding a processor and memory devices in a single, SWaP-optimized package.

Mercury Systems Receives $3.3M in Custom Microelectronics Orders for Weapons Application (Nasdaq) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com), announced it received follow-on orders of $3.3 million from a leading defense prime contractor for high-performance secure processing microelectronics integrated into an advanced weapons application.

Mercury Systems Receives $3.5M Order for Rugged Servers (GlobeNewswire News Room) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com) announced it received a $3.5 million order from a leading defense prime contractor for rugged servers to be used in a naval subsurface application.

Perspecta Wins New $905 Million Program to Provide Cyberspace Operations Support to the United States Army Cyber Command (PR Newswire) Perspecta Inc. (NYSE: PRSP), a leading U.S. government services provider, announced today that it has been...

Leidos Wins Task Order to Provide Warfighter Readiness Training (PR Newswire) Leidos (NYSE:LDOS) was awarded their first task order by the U.S. Army under the $37.4 billion Responsive Strategic...

Leidos lands $500m Defence intelligence integration gig (iTnews) Handed key SI role.

Leidos nabs what it calls a 'marquee' NASA IT contract (Washington Business Journal) NASA considers this a “transformational contract" enabling the nation's premier space agency to support its workforce in a "device-agnostic, mobile-friendly environment."

Capella Space Expands Team with Former Lockheed and Planet Executives (PR Newswire) Capella Space today announced it has added senior business and engineering leaders to the team. Scott Soenen,...

CIT GAP Funds Invests in NOVI to Further the Development of Small Satellite Market (GlobeNewswire News Room) The next generation of hardware and data analytics platforms will be used for Earth imaging, IoT, weather forecasting, high bandwidth connectivity and more

Microsoft Workers' Letter Demands Company Drop $479 Million HoloLens Military Contract (Slashdot) A group of Microsoft workers have addressed top executives in a letter demanding the company drop a controversial contract with the U.S. army. The Verge reports: The workers object to the company taking a $479 million contract last year to supply tech for the military's Integrated Visual Augmentati...

Army Refutes Microsoft Employees' Charge that New Awareness Tool is for Killing (Military.com) Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday that the service's main mission is to deter conflict.

Head of Google federal cloud leaves (Federal News Network) Aileen Black, Google’s executive director and industry lead and group leader for the U.S. government, left the company after more than two years.

Products, Services, and Solutions

Kratos EGS achieves TRL 8 for enterprise ground services system (Airforce Technology) Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has demonstrated the technology readiness level (TRL) 8 readiness of its Enterprise Ground Services (EGS).

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Spacecraft Successfully Concludes Mission to the International Space Station (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced that the company successfully completed its 10th cargo supply mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-1)...

Lockheed Martin to develop ‘Silent CROW’ for US Army Multi-Function EW programme (Jane's 360) Lockheed Martin’s recent deal to provide its Silent CROW podded system for the US Army’s Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) programme is part of a broader surge of interest in electronic warfare/cyber offensive capabilities, the company has told Jane’s . Lockheed Martin

Mercury Systems Unveils First Intel Xeon E5 Broadwell Architecture-based OpenVPX Blade Server (GlobeNewswire News Room) Server-class symmetric multiprocessing enables artificial intelligence and complex sensor fusion applications for greater platform autonomy and smarter missions

Curtiss-Wright receives encryption certification for secure data storage in trusted computing uses (Military & Aerospace Electronics) The Curtiss-Wright Corp. Defense Solutions division in Ashburn, Va., has received Common Criteria certification for the hardware and software disk encryption layers in the company's Data Transport System (DTS1) network-attached storage device.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Spacecraft Departs International Space Station (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced that its Cygnus spacecraft has departed from the International Space Station after an 81-day stay during the NG-10 mission. While docked, astronauts unloaded approximately...

Virgin Galactic Reaches Space Again, Flies Test Passenger for 1st Time (Space.com) Virgin Galactic's fifth powered test flight lifted off from the Mojave spaceport on Feb. 22, two months after company pilots crossed into space for the first time.

Technologies, Techniques, and Standards

USAF works to mitigate early Next-Gen OPIR delay after Congress partially denies reprogramming (InsideDefense.com) The Air Force's strategy to develop the next generation of missile warning satellites on an aggressive schedule using new acquisition concepts and resiliency standards hit a snag last fall when Congress partially denied funding for a reprogramming request, delaying the start of payload development by about four months, according to a service official.

Will AI give the Army a secure ‘Snapchat of information’? (C4ISRNET) Ted Maciuba, the deputy director of robotics requirements at the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, discusses working with industry on machines that could give an outsized advantage to infantry.

The Navy plans to test its new electronic warfare drones this fall (C4ISRNET) The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman envision using a swarm of drones that could fly ahead of strikers to scout out for radar and other battlefield emitters and to potentially jam enemy sensor networks.

Watch a space robot capture a runaway satellite with its net (Quartz) Nets, harpoons—we're talking mini-Moby Dick in space.

Harpoon successfully captures space debris (University of Surrey) The RemoveDEBRIS satellite, one of the world’s first attempts to address the build-up of dangerous space debris, has successfully used its on-board harpoon-capture system in orbit.

SpaceX launches moon lander, lands booster despite tough conditions (Mashable) The Falcon 9 booster rides (and lands) again.

Air Force to take the lead on a coalition network (C4ISRNET) The Air Force is taking over for the mission partner environment.

Trade group pushes DoD to get on the same page with industry on cybersecurity standards (Fifth Domain) The message to DoD is one of a handful from the Aerospace Industries Association to encourage what CEO Eric Fanning called “smart regulation” during a media briefing about AIA’s 2019 agenda.

Whither Nuclear Command, Control & Communications? (Breaking Defense) Most of the system that allows the president to launch nuclear weapons and to know what the enemy is doing with theirs is ancient. No one yet agrees what it must replaced with. And no one knows how much it will cost, although late last month the Congressional Budget Office issued an estimate of $77 billion.

US Army Aims to Put Cloud Data In Troops’ Hands (Defense One) The Army Research Lab is funding tech that could put the computing power of the cloud in the hands of individual soldiers—and ultimately bring more artificial intelligence to the battlefield.

It’s time to modernize traditional threat intelligence models for cyber warfare (Military & Aerospace Electronics) When a client asked me to help build a cyber threat intelligence program recently, I jumped at the opportunity to try something new and challenging

Mars cubesats fall silent (SpaceNews.com) The twin cubesats that played a key role in NASA’s most recent Mars lander mission have been out of contact with the Earth for more than a month.

Black Market Fisherman Have a New Problem: Tiny Satellites Are Watching Them (Popular Mechanics) SpaceX's December launch kickstarted a new era of global surveillance.

Lockheed to develop cyber/EW podded system (Shephard Media) Lockheed Martin has received an $18 million contract to design, develop and test a cyber/EW podded system for the Air Large component of the US ...

All Services Sign On To Data Sharing – But Not To Multi-Domain (Breaking Defense) “We need to have any sensor connect to any shooter at very rapid machine-to-machine speed,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said, “if we’re going to multi-domain operations.” But aye, there’s the rub: Are we?

The military wants many systems to share one language (C4ISRNET) Leaders from the Army, Navy and Air Force signed a memorandum to increase interoperability between future weapons systems.

Design and Innovation

The Pentagon Needs to Woo AI Experts Away From Big Tech (WIRED) Opinion: Without more DOD investment, there just aren’t enough incentives to lure talent away from high-paying jobs with great benefits into a life of public service.

No, the Pentagon Is Not Working on Killer Robots—Yet (Foreign Policy) A strategy plan for using AI is more focused instead on firefighting and preventative maintenance.

Research and Development

Joint Demos Try To Better Coordinate Ground Control & Satellites (Breaking Defense) The Air Force and other services, after decades during which America often built a highly capable military satellite but didn’t have the ground equipment to use it, are trying to claw back years and dollars of often wasted effort by holding joint experiments to test satellites and ground equipment at the same time.

Northrop Grumman Completes Next Critical Launch Milestones of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Spacecraft (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Spacecraft Element (SCE) successfully completed acoustic and sine vibration testing at Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) in Redondo Beach. Acoustic and sine vibration...

Stanford looks to AI for Orbital Garbagemen (C4ISRNET) The AI that will identify space debris may also power autonomous visual navigation in orbit.

NASA rover finally bites the dust on Mars after 15 years (AP NEWS) NASA's Opportunity, the Mars rover that was built to operate for just three months but kept going and going, rolling across the rocky red soil, was pronounced dead Wednesday, 15 years after it landed on the planet. The six-wheeled vehicle that helped gather critical evidence that ancient Mars might have been hospitable to life was remarkably spry up until eight months ago, when it was finally doomed by a ferocious dust storm.

Academia

Surrey Uni and NCC Group Team Up on Space Infosec (Infosecurity Magazine) Partnership promises high-impact research into evolving satellite threats

Legislation, Policy, and Regulation

Offutt crew resumes aerial photography flights over Russia (Omaha.com) The OC-135B flew from Offutt Air Force Base to Japan late last week. On the way there, they picked up a team of monitors from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Trump approves plan to create Space Force but puts it under Air Force control, as Pentagon officials wanted (Washington Post) Trump initially pressed for a new military department, complete with its own service secretary.

Trump to approve lean Space Force (POLITICO) The presidential directive will set the groundwork for a subsequent legislative proposal for Congress.

The US Air Force Has Won Control of the Space Force (Defense One) Six months ago, service leaders said they were being cut out of the planning process. Now they’re being put in charge of it.

STRATCOM Will Get a Piece of Space Force Mission, General Says (Military.com) "We are going to continue to perform a lot of the mission for Space Command in the STRATCOM headquarters," Gen. Hyten said.

Navy renames system centers to information warfare centers (C4ISRNET) SPAWAR Systems Centers will now be known as Naval Information Warfare Centers.

The Navy Turns a Sharper Eye Toward Information Warfare (SIGNAL Magazine) The U.S. Navy is consolidating its information warfare efforts to ensure effective operations across the breadth of the fleet and its ashore assets.

What the Pentagon’s new AI strategy means for cybersecurity (Fifth Domain) The Pentagon’s AI strategy shows how the American military will rely on artificial intelligence as a defensive tool for cybersecurity.

Why the Army wanted a Combat Capabilities Development Command (C4ISRNET) The Army aligned it's main research and development command, now called the Combat Capabilities Development Command, under Futures Command.

Army R&D Chief: ‘I Don’t Think We Went Far Enough’ – But Futures Command Can (Breaking Defense) For Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, when the organization he’s led for 31 months changed its name, its mission, and the four-star headquarters it works for, it finally found the answer to a question it – and the entire Army – have been struggling with for at least 16 years.

Army Futures Command's new approach to weapons dev may be harmful (Federal News Network) On time and on budget — that's really never been the case for new military weapons systems. But it's not that they don't try.

Why the new Air Force’s cyber and information strategy is a return to the past (Fifth Domain) What is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the Air Force's cyber and information plan is a return to previous plans.

Huge Intel Leadership Shifts: New Directors For NRO, NGA (Breaking Defense) NGA HQ: The low grading noise you could barely hear yesterday was the sound of the tectonic plates of American intelligence shifting as the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Agency got new directors.

Here’s the leader of new combined intel and cyber office (Fifth Domain) The Air Force is organizing cyber effects within its existing ISR shop.

Army begins study to change its talent management system to fit the future (Federal News Network) The Army tasked its science board with looking into how the service can change talent management for future conflicts.

Trump's Next Defense Secretary Could Be a Woman (Military.com) Multiple women are well positioned for the nomination.

Army to get new leader for electronic warfare programs (C4ISRNET) The Army’s primary program office for electronic warfare and sensors is getting a new boss and it's a familiar face.

DoD’s network defenders get new deputy commander (Fifth Domain) Cyber defense hub Joint Force Headquarters-DoDIN is getting a new No. 2.

Litigation, Investigation, and Law Enforcement

Intel: How an Air Force vet’s indictment reveals US vulnerability to Iranian cyber-espionage (Al-Monitor) The Justice Department handed down a 27-page indictment today charging a former Air Force intelligence officer with passing classified information to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The indictment also charges four hackers allegedly linked with the Tehran-based military command. Why it matters: Today’s indictment shows increased Iranian interest in cyberespionage....

Judge Puts Hold on Lawsuit on Pentagon’s JEDI Cloud Contract (Nextgov.com) The battle over the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract just got more interesting.

DoD's new JEDI investigation is focused on one Amazon employee, court filings say (Federal News Network) The government's motion indicates DoD has new reasons to suspect JEDI was afflicted by an improper conflict involving Deap Ubhi, who worked for AWS both before and after his employment at the Defense Digital Service.

New Evidence Of Conflict of Interest In JEDI Contract (Breaking Defense) The massive and troubled $10 billion cloud contract the Pentagon has been pursuing has run into another snag. DoD revealed Tuesday it has obtained “new information” pointing to potential of conflicts of interest in the competition, already widely criticized for favoring Amazon Web Services.

 
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