The tactical communication solution is promising


Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, smart radio, and artificial intelligence applications all have the potential to deliver advanced military capabilities to tactical environments. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Julia Andrusenko, Chief Engineer, Tactical Wireless Systems Group, and Mark Simkins, Program Manager, Resilient Tactical Communication Networks.

Andrusenko has been a research engineer for 20 years at the PLA for radio frequency (RF) propagation and prediction, and electromagnetism-focused communications, on the side of physical systems, tactical networks, antennas, radio, artificial intelligence and machine learning. I study related applications. .. As chief engineer of the Tactical Wireless Systems group, Andrusenko is responsible for the technical quality of the project on behalf of US military clients.

For some Pentagon sponsors, Andrusenko is exploring the potential of software-defined networks, leveraging architectures that use digital and cloud-based network configurations to optimize network performance. The flexibility and scalability of software-defined networks is attractive for tactical applications, says the chief engineer.

“Software-defined networking is the whole concept of creating this type of individual pipeline as needed,” she explains. “For example, some of my applications don’t require a lot of bandwidth, others require live video streaming, and the flexibility of the core network is the Pentagon. It sounds really appealing to Pentagon sponsors. “

Andrusenko also plans to connect to cognitive electronic warfare (GE) solutions and cognitive radio networks. Such cognitive systems allow electronic warfare devices or radios to intelligently determine when and where to transmit or operate in the spectrum. The system, of course, requires sophisticated spectral situational awareness.

“I just finished the Cognitive EW book manuscript project,” she suggested. “We are looking at all cognitive systems, but there is a lot of overlap because all cognitive radio networks require spectral situational awareness,” she said. “I was looking for what machine learning methods could be applied to these cognitive systems, especially if they had limited computing power.”

At scale, smart wireless networks and the way they work together will be an even bigger challenge, he added.

“It’s a multi-agent problem,” says Andrusenko. “And we run into problems of cooperation, coordination and communication. And how to integrate the radio? It’s the same with wireless sensor networks. This is the mission, how the system works, and depending on what you are trying to accomplish, the cognitive network can observe or learn the specter and then send, detect or perform the required cognitive EW, defensive or offensive. But they all have separate goals. The main thing is how to pre-train the system and the radio. Recognize the different signals present in the field and make certain decisions according to the mission. How do you train to give? “

The Pentagon is also interested in how to exploit data at the forefront of tactics, but again, “this is a very complex problem,” adds Andrusenko. “Right now, our military sponsors have so much data that they want to access it and access it quickly with as little delay as possible,” she explains. “If you have access to multiple data sources and they are not consistent, data fusion is a consideration. And to understand your environment, you need to know how information travels through your system. There is. “

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will be the cornerstones of cognitive systems, continues Andrusenko. “From an AI perspective, AI and machine learning can probably be applied to all aspects of smart system design,” she says. “And it will help fighters by removing the mental burden of having to process and make decisions with all the information coming from different sources of all kinds.”

In addition, the PLA is investigating how the Department of Defense can use Commercial Low Earth Orbit Satellite (LEO SATCOM) communications for tactical military applications. “”[We] We are currently considering using a commercial SATCOM LEO broadband system. It could be used not only as a primary communication and primary link, but also as a backhole solution, ”she said.

It cannot be used directly for tactical combat edge applications, but the use of domestic 5G communications is also very interesting. “The Pentagon has announced 12 5G test beds,” Andrusenko said. “Repeat, because this is a commercial technology, it may not meet all military needs, especially at the tactical level, but it may vary by developing some of the test bed use cases. . I support a Pentagon sponsor. One of the projects I’m involved in is trying to develop a 5G use case focused on spectrum sharing, as spectrum tightness is always a real issue. . “

Leverage a classified commercial solution, known as CSfC and published by the National Security Agency and the National Security Systems Commission, uses 5G networks outside the continental United States (O-CONUS) 1 It are two possible ways.

“The use of 5G by O-CONUS and the use of 5G at the tactical edge all depend on the objective of the mission,” she stresses. “If you’re in an urban environment and have an existing infrastructure, there’s probably a way to leverage your existing infrastructure on a working commercial device and load an app that provides the level of security you need. It all comes from the use of classified business solutions. I’m now trying to see with some of the companies that make tactical communication gear and how it works at the cutting edge of tactics. I look to see if there are any. “

She says the Department of Homeland Security plans to use CSfC in 5G in remote environments. “Therefore, it could be a solution that uses tactical business communication with CSfC to provide a level of security.”

As APL’s Program Director, Simkins is responsible for specific U.S. Army sponsorships to ensure APL meets its technical research needs in the areas of resilient radio frequency communications, networking, and defensive security. networks. I go. It collaborates with Army and Air Force Tactical Network program managers, intersectoral teams and service research organizations such as the C⁵ ISR Center of the Army Combat Capability Development Command of Land and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“As part of elastic tactical communication, I’m part of a larger program called communication. [communications] And networking, and my job is basically focused specifically on battlefield communications and networking, ”he explains. “I have a few expressions that I want to use. I call my program “Unbreakable Network and Unstoppable Communication”. “This is my goal as a sponsor. “

To work in a highly contested environment for fighters, Simkins studies radio frequency communications that are less likely to be detected and intercepted, such as directional solutions and antenna technology. “There is this urgency in how we can hide and control the spectrum in the world,” he says. “We are looking for a solution that allows the enemy to hide in undetectable and clear visibility and intelligent methods of communication. In other areas of research, what the enemy does involves using non-traditional modulation so that you can’t tell who you are, and you don’t want your enemies to be afraid of it. use or turn on the radio. We also want to automate many of these processes. “

The Simkins Group is looking for ways to increase spectrum access, reflecting Andrusenko’s commitment to bandwidth usage. “There’s this insatiable need for bandwidth,” says Simkins. “You have fighters, weapons, and everyone needs some of their bandwidth. There are several ways to deal with this. One is to improve the efficiency of the spectrum you own. That’s why dynamic spectrum access technology is our priority. Another way is to free up more spectra. The number of these millimeter wave or terahertz communication technologies and approaches is also a way to solve this problem. “

Modeling, simulation and analysis of network traffic load is also the subject of research. “The sum of all the people who might be using the Tactical Network on any given day far exceeds the bandwidth, so you need to be smart about your critical data and how it travels through your system. . “He’s adventurous.

In addition, Simkins is studying advanced antennas for tactical use. “Even the tip of an RF lance, an antenna, our people have been in the Navy for decades and are really good at antenna openings and digital networks at the basic level. [solutions] This is very interesting in terms of directional networking and protection against hostile jammers. Something like a metamaterial that can actually create a passive antenna or modulate an incoming signal and reflect it elsewhere is beneficial as well. “

On the tactical networking side, APL’s research explores automated systems and autonomous networks and applies “some” artificial intelligence and machine learning. Such applications can detect and react to hostile behavior, reconfigure or shut down portions of the network, Simkins said.

“Part of our effort is to make sure that the sponsor base has the idea that the network is a weapon system, which needs to be as secure as the weapon system,” he stresses. Make.

According to engineers, network cyber defense, both on the RF side and on the baseband side, is of course a matter of defense, but also of patience. “It’s not just a defense, it’s a way to make sure that an attacker breaks into or sneaks into your network, so how can you overcome it,” says Simkins. “We cannot eliminate or completely circumvent threats, but we can fold, but we cannot break them.

“Imagine a situation where there is a network or the sensor detects something that may not be linked to the network. It is linked to an adjacent network or to a dynamic threat that has occurred and is of a particular type. Traffic may be necessary. It will be prioritized on the network, ”he continues. “And the idea that you have the brain of this network can send that kind of information to the network, whatever domain it sees, so what’s your priority now? Tell me, you can team up with others Move things from point A to point B in the next network. A lot of work is being done in this area as well. “

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