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  • Electronic and Cyber Warfare Are Winners in 2012 Defense Budget Proposal
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 3:20 PM on Feb 15, 2011

    “There are a number of new areas where we are beginning to invest,” Defense Sec. Robert Gates said in rolling out the 2012 budget proposals at the Pentagon.

    Among the modernization procurement programs “that went above the original program of record [were] a new bomber for the Air Force [that will serve as a surveillance platform, and] we’re asking for a half-billion dollars for Darpa [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency]. There may not be big procurement dollars, but they are big investment dollars.”

    Into the EA, EW and cyber pots also went $1.1 billion for the EA-18G which will carry the Navy-developed Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) and $197 million to start development work on the Long Range Strike program which senior Air Force officials have described as being focused more on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and precision-targeting than on its strike capabilities. The 2011 request asked $1.7 billion for the program.

    Darpa’s cyber-plus-up will include funding to set up a cyber test range so that both offensive and defensive tools can be tested and evaluated.  An example of the need for such facilities was demonstrated when an Iranian centrifuge system for enriching uranium was duplicated and then attacked in preparation for loosing the Stuxnet virus into several Iranian facilities, according to a new report by Symantec Corp.

    “In cyber[operations], one of our real challenges is situational awareness,” says Paul Kaminski, a former senior Defense Dept. official and now chairman of the Defense Science Board. “I haven’t seen a network yet that can’t be penetrated. [The problem then becomes:] “How do you know when the network is being penetrated? What is the extent of the penetration? How can you isolate it? How can you develop a ‘limp home’ mode that allows you to conduct some piece of your operation – a  reserve capability. Gaming the situation is a very important piece.  That’s what we’re talking about in terms of exercising and training [on a cyber test range].

    A cyberrange also would allow the Pentagon’s current leadership to look at cloud computing with virtualization and greater use of simulations.

    “They are thinking about moving over to that during the Pentagon’s next four-year [IT] refresh cycle,” Kaminski says.

    Two DSB task forces will look at the pros and cons of the cloud. The other will try to define meaningful metrics for determining the success of missions that are dependent on supporting IT systems. The metrics will try to judge resilience of the cybersupport and monitor both input and output.

    U.S. Navy officials have acknowledged that the NGJ – designed for the EA-18G and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter –will feature a network invasion capability. Air Force budget briefers were unable to confirm whether the Air Force would participate in the NGJ program.

    “I can tell you what has changed from the next generation bomber two years ago,” says Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, dep. asst. sec. for budget in the office of the Air Force comptroller. “There has been a further review of options. This is now being approached as a family of systems. The bomber is the centerpiece, but there will be ISR, electronic attack and it will be optionally manned.” He also noted that the notional force would consist of 80-100 aircraft.

    Others see a role for separate manned and unmanned aircraft.

    “The potential melding of the two may overlook the value and virtue of having both,” says former USAF intelligence chief,  Lt. Gen. (ret.) Dave Deptula. “You have many advantages with a remotely piloted aircraft to conduct ISR [and EA] in denied and contested airspace. You don’t want to expose the crew and there is also the issue of persistence.”  But he agrees with the concept of modularity, and “and the ability to achieve a variety of roles by physically changing they characteristics of the aircraft.”

    Other Pentagon officials described the bomber design as “open architecture hardware” that would allow various payloads to be slipped in and out of the design as required for missions that penetrate heavily-defended enemy airspace to attack air defenses with jamming or with data beams designed to exploit networks. The payloads would then offer open architecture software to further tailoring of an attack or surveillance mission.

    Tags: ar99, EW, EA, cyber, Darpa

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