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US Navy spends millions to develop a solar-powered UAV

Most branches of the United States military operate drones in one capacity or another. Some drones are used for short-term surveillance while others loiter over a target site for extended durations keeping an eye on the ground from above. The United States Navy is looking for an uncrewed air vehicle with a much longer duration than what’s currently possible. To … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/us-navy-spends-millions-to-develop-a-solar-powered-uav-10685957/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Satsuki Then

DARPA’s PROTEUS program gamifies the art of war

The nature of war continues to evolve through the 21st century with conflict zones shifting from jungles and deserts to coastal cities. Not to mention the rapidly increasing commercial availability of cutting-edge technologies including UAVs and wireless communications. To help the Marine Corps best prepare for these increased complexities and challenges, the Department of Defense tasked DARPA with developing a digital training and operations planning tool. The result is the Prototype Resilient Operations Testbed for Expeditionary Urban Scenarios (PROTEUS) system, a real-time strategy simulator for urban-littoral warfare.

When the PROTEUS program first began in 2017, “there was a big push across DARPA under what we call a sustainment focus area, and that included urban warfare,” Dr. Tim Grayson, director of DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office, told Engadget, looking at how to best support and “sustain” US fighting forces in various combat situations until they can finish their mission.

PROTEUS screen

DARPA

The PROTEUS program manager (who has since departed DARPA), Dr. John S Paschkewitz, “came to the realization that the urban environment is really complex, both from a maneuver perspective,” Grayson said, “but also going into the future where there’s all this commercial technology that will involve communications and spectrum stuff, maybe even robotics and things of that nature.”

Even without the threat of armed UAVs and autonomous killbots, modern urban conflict zones pose a number of challenges including limited lines of sight and dense, pervasive civilian populations. “​​There’s such a wide range of missions that happen in urban environments,” Grayson said. “A lot of it is almost like peacekeeping, stabilization operations. How do we… help the local populace and protect them.” He also notes that the military is often called in to assist with both national emergencies and natural disasters, which pose the same issues albeit without nearly as much shooting.

“So, if someone like the Marines or some other kind of sustainment military unit had to go conduct operations in a complex urban environment,” he continued, “it’d be a limited footprint. So, [Paschkewitz] started looking at what we refer to as the ‘what do I put in the rucksack problem.’”

“The urban fight is about delivering precise effects and adapting faster than the adversary in an uncertain, increasingly complex environment,” Paschkewitz said in a DARPA release from June. “For US forces to maintain a distinct advantage in urban coastal combat scenarios, we need agile, flexible task organizations able to create surprise and exploit advantages by combining effects across operational domains.”

PROTEUS itself is a software program designed to run on a tablet or hardened PDA and allow anyone from a squad leader up to a company commander to monitor and adjust the “composition of battlefield elements — including dismounted forces, vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), manned aircraft and other available assets,” according to the release. “Through PROTEUS, we aim to amplify the initiative and decision-making capabilities of NCOs and junior officers at the platoon and squad level, as well as field-grade officers, commanding expeditionary landing teams, for example, by giving them new tools to compose tailored force packages not just before the mission, but during the mission as it unfolds.”

But PROTEUS isn’t just for monitoring and redeploying forces, it also serves as a real-time strategy training system to help NCOs and officers test and analyze different capabilities and tactics virtually. “One of the beauties of [PROTEUS] is it’s flexible enough to program with whatever you want,” Grayson said. It allows warfighters to “go explore their own ideas, their own structure concepts, their own tactics. They’re totally free to use it just as an open-ended experimentation, mission rehearsal or even training type of tool.”

But for its design flexibility, the system’s physics engine closely conforms to the real-world behaviors and tolerances of existing military equipment as well as commercial drones, cellular, satellite and Wi-Fi communications, sensors and even weapons systems. “The simulation environment is sophisticated but doesn’t let them do things that are not physically realizable,” Grayson explained.

The system also includes a dynamic composition engine called COMPOSER which not only automate the team’s equipment loadout but can also look at a commander’s plan and provide feedback on multiple aspects including “electromagnetic signature risk, assignment of communications assets to specific units and automatic configuration of tactical networks,” according to a DARPA press release.

PROTEUS EMSO Wizard

DARPA

“Without the EMSO and logistics wizards, it’s hard to effectively coordinate and execute multi-domain operations,” Paschkewitz said. “Marines can easily coordinate direct and indirect fires, but coordinating those with spectrum operations while ensuring logistical support without staff is challenging. These tools allow Marines to focus on the art of war, and the automation handles the science of war.”

Currently, the system is set up for standard Red vs Blue fights between opposing human forces though Grayzon does not expect PROTEUS to be upgraded to the point that humans will be able to compete against the CPU and even less likely that we’ll see CPU vs CPU — given our current computational and processing capabilities. He does note that the Constructive Machine-learning Battles with Adversary Tactics (COMBAT) program, which is still underway at DARPA, is working to develop “models of Red Force brigade behaviors that challenge and adapt to Blue Forces in simulation experiments.”

“Building a commander’s insight and judgment is driven by the fact that there’s a live opponent,” Paschkewitz said in June. “We built ULTRA [the sandbox module that serves as the basis for the larger system] around that concept from day one. This is not AI versus AI, or human versus AI, rather there is always a Marine against an ADFOR (adversary force), that’s another Marine, typically, forcing the commander to adapt tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and innovate at mission speed.”

“PROTEUS enables commanders to immerse themselves in a future conflict where they can deploy capabilities against a realistic adversary,” Ryan Reeder, model and simulation director, MCWL Experiment Division, said in a statement. “Commanders can hone their battlefield skills, while also training subordinates on employment techniques, delivering a cohesive unit able to execute in a more effective manner.

Technically, DARPA’s involvement with the PROTEUS program has come to an end following its transfer to the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab where it is now being used for ADFOR training and developing new TTPs and CONOPS. “My guess is they will mostly use it for their own purposes, as opposed to continuing to develop it,” Grayson said. “The Warfighting Lab is less focused on technology and more focused on our future force, concepts and what are our new tactics.”

Source: https://www.engadget.com/darpa-proteus-program-gamifies-the-art-of-war-162033175.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Tarantola

Over 100 warship locations have been faked in one year

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Abuses of location technology might just result in hot political disputes. According to Wired, SkyWatch and Global Fishing Watch have conducted studies showing that over 100 warship locations have been faked since August 2020, including the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and the US destroyer Roosevelt. In some cases, the false data showed the vessels entering disputed waters or nearing other countries’ naval bases — movements that could spark international incidents.

The research team found the fakes by comparing uses of the automatic identification system (AIS, a GPS-based system to help prevent collisions) with verifiable position data by using an identifying pattern. All of the false info came from shore-based AIS receivers while satellites showed the real positions, for instance. Global Fishing Watch had been investigating fake AIS positions for years, but this was the first time it had seen falsified data for real ships.

It’s not certain who’s faking locations and why. However, analysts said the data was characteristic of a common perpetrator that might be Russia. Almost all of the affected warships were from European countries or NATO members, and the data included bogus incursions around Kaliningrad, the Black Sea, Crimea and other Russian interests. In theory, Russia could portray Europe and NATO as aggressors by falsely claiming those rivals sent warships into Russian seas.

Russia has historically denied hacking claims. It has a years-long history of using fake accounts and misinformation to stoke political tensions that further its own ends, though. And if Russia is connected, the faked warship locations might be a significant escalation of that strategy. Even though such an approach might not lead to shooting matches, it could get disconcertingly close.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/warship-fake-locations-221800228.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Fingas

Read the Pentagon’s Big Declassified UFO Report Right Here

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The truth is finally out here. On Friday, the Pentagon released its highly anticipated report summarizing previously classified information about the military’s research into UFOs—or as it prefers to call them, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). What bombshell revelations does the report contain? Well, it’s only…

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/read-the-pentagons-big-declassified-ufo-report-right-he-1847175792
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Rhett Jones

Navy Still Has No Idea What Mysterious Drones That Stalked Its Ships for Days Were

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The U.S. Navy still has no idea who sent a swarm of drones to buzz warships off the coast of California in July 2019, or really even what kind of drones they were or what they were doing, NBC News reported on Monday.

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/navy-still-has-no-idea-what-unidentified-drones-that-st-1846629629
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tom McKay

Microsoft lands $21 billion contract to arm US soldiers with futuristic augmented-reality headsets

The Pentagon will pay Microsoft billions of dollars to build augmented-reality headsets for its soldiers. The devices will be backed by the tech firm’s Azure cloud computing services, which was compromised by hackers last year.

The contract was announced on Wednesday and could earn Microsoft up to $21.88 billion over 10 years. Back in 2018, the US Army gave Microsoft $480 million to develop a prototype headset built around the company’s HoloLens technology. Based on its performance, Microsoft will now provide up to 120,000 of the headsets, dubbed the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS.

The IVAS can project holographic video-game style maps, thermal and night imaging, and target-identification information to soldiers. It can also show where the soldier’s weapon is aimed, and monitor vital statistics like their heart rate.

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However, the project is not without its problems. A CNBC reporter tested the prototype headset in 2019 and described it as “a bit buggy,” saying that it needed to be restarted during a demonstration session. Several months later, the military was still reporting glitches with the devices, including GPS and imaging errors, and “poor low light and thermal sensor performance.”

While Microsoft will have a decade and more than $20 billion to iron these issues out, there could be more potential snafus on the horizon. The headsets will be linked to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, a service that the company said was hacked last December, leaving 911 emergency lines down in multiple US states. Even before that particular breach, security researchers were finding flaws with Azure, with one branding it a “cloud security nightmare.”

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FILE PHOTO.Police departments across US report ‘nationwide’ 911 OUTAGE, possibly caused by Microsoft cloud glitch

Despite this, the US military seems confident. Microsoft was awarded a $10 billion cloud computing contract by the Pentagon last October, beating out rivals Amazon and Google in the competition. Amazon has since filed a lawsuit, arguing that former President Donald Trump – a fierce critic of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – intervened to land Microsoft the deal.

Back in 2018, Microsoft President Brad Smith pledged the company would “provide the US military with access to the best technology… all the technology we create. Full stop.” However, not all of his employees felt as enthusiastic.

While Smith described the military as “ethical and honorable,” more than 90 Microsoft employees signed a letter in early 2019 protesting the development of the IVAS headsets. 

Also on rt.com

© AFP / Justin SullivanMicrosoft staff protest over Pentagon contract for augmented reality tech ‘designed to kill people’

“The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill,” they wrote. “It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.”

The employees said that they “did not sign up to develop weapons,” and demanded more control over “how our work is used.”

Whether Microsoft persuaded or ignored these disgruntled employees, the IVAS project is now a reality, and worth 44 times as much money as the prototype. Yet as Big Tech and the military grow ever closer, similar campaigns within Microsoft’s competitors have been more successful. Google dropped out of an AI contract with the Pentagon in 2019 after employees spoke out against their software being used to help target drone strikes. Employees at Apple and Amazon have also pressured their bosses not to help the US military.

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Source: https://www.rt.com/usa/519777-microsoft-pentagon-virtual-headsets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS
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The Article Was Written/Published By: RT

Watch AI-controlled virtual fighters take on an Air Force pilot August 18th

f8aa32e0-d956-11ea-befe-b046ce451f8eDue to the coronavirus pandemic, DARPA will no longer hold an in-person event for its third and final AlphaDogfight Trial that’s scheduled to take place from August 18th to the 20th. It’ll be held virtually instead, and both participants and viewers…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/darpa-alphadogfight-championship-043711508.html
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