Desk Iron Dome. Make it happen. Ash is going to be SO jealous!
If you throw pens at Leon Panetta’s desk, the small Iron Dome replica he received as a gift from Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak won’t shoot to intercept. Panetta hid his disappointment gracefully but he would not say whether the anti-rocket system (marketed at full size by Raytheon in the US) would end up on the FY14 budget request. Joint press conference transcript.
“Feeding those dreams is the Pentagon’s realization that it no longer controls who manufactures the components that go into its increasingly complex systems. A single plane like the DOD’s next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, can contain an “insane number” of chips, says one semiconductor expert familiar with that aircraft’s design. Estimates from other sources put the total at several hundred to more than a thousand. And tracing a part back to its source is not always straightforward. The dwindling of domestic chip and electronics manufacturing in the United States, combined with the phenomenal growth of suppliers in countries like China, has only deepened the U.S. military’s concern.”
Readers who follow the tech press may be familiar with the concept of quantum computing. Computers use binary bits: on/off, yes/no, represented by 0 or 1. A quantum bit, or qubit, can be 1, or 0… or both. Whereas 111 = 7 in binary, and each number is a single choice among all the possibilities in the number of binary digits, 3 qubits can hold all 8 possibilities (0-7), which means you can do calculations on all of them at once. The more qubits used, the more computation, so 32 qubits theoretically gets you 2 to the 32nd power computations (about 4.3 billion) at once – much more power than conventional computing, and it keeps on rising exponentially.
It’s worth noting that quantum computing has limits, and areas where it will not be suitable for computing tasks. They are not fully understood yet, but have been shown to exist at the theoretical level. So far, all we can say is that certain kinds of problems will be solved much, much more quickly. The uses of such a system for searching large domains of information, cracking codes, creating codes, or running simulations that include the quantum level (as a number of modern physical and medical science applications do) are clear. As an additional benefit, quantum cryptography methods benefit from quantum principles. Eavesdropping is not only incredibly difficult, it will create noticeable interference.
Various American agencies continue to be interested in the field, which has also begun finding commercial applications.
In June 2012, US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic in Charleston, SC issued 14 multiple-award contracts to help secure and defend American military networks and data. These 14 contractors may compete for the task orders under the indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, performance-based, multiple award umbrella contract, with provisions for fixed-price-incentive and firm-fixed-price orders.
Contract options which could bring their cumulative value to $98.7 million, and extend the timeframe from June 2013 to June 2017. The winning firms were all small business qualifiers under US government rules, and include:
NATO and Pakistan have not found an agreement on reopening transport routes out of Afghanistan. The fact Pakistan tried to increase the price per truck by a factor of 20 might have something to do with it. If allied combat troops are to withdraw by mid-2013 and don’t want to leave most of their equipment behind or ship it back at an outrageous cost, this will need to be resolved.
Switchblade UAVs to launch from subs? While they could retain their kamikaze capabilities, the reality is that sub-launched UAVs are going to be 1-shot items at first. Why not adapt an existing UAV designed for that?
InnoCentive offers a $15,000 reward for a concept or design of a medical transportation device that would enable a rescuer to quickly and safely transport an injured person away from an active combat site.
At least the US Navy is not facing a fire on one of its nuclear submarines, unlike its Russian counterpart yesterday.
Thursday was not a good day for the Russian military since they also had a Su-24 crash. These crashes have happened like clockwork over the years [in Russian]. Nobody died in either incident yesterday though some people appear to have been injured in the submarine fire.
Yet another cybersecurity acquisition for Raytheon: Henggeler Computer Consultants, Inc. It’s the 2nd this month and the 10th in the last 4 years.
The US DSCA managed [PDF] $28.3 billion in Foreign Military Sales cases in FY 2011, and another $6.5 billion were made through Direct Commercial Sales, etc. Top 10 buyers were Afghanistan ($5.4 billion), Taiwan ($4.9 billion), India ($4.5 billion), Australia ($3.9 billion), Saudi Arabia ($3.5 billion), Iraq ($2.0 billion), the United Arab Emirates ($1.5 billion), Israel ($1.4 billion), Japan ($0.5 billion), and Sweden ($0.5 billion). Afghanistan is basically US donations, so it shouldn’t really count, but it’s an eye-opening figure.
Another interesting turn of events in Afghanistan: the country has vast mineral resources (including copper and gold) that the US DOD and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have helped map. The Afghan Mining minister has just opened a tender process to tap these deposits.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, CT to defend the principle of a sustained industrial base. EB announced earlier this month that it will lay off 52 people next January.
The FY12 defense authorization bill is still hung in the US Senate because of detainee policy. The White House threatened a veto if they don’t get language they like. The Senate approved a related bill introduced by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reducing the Air Force’s strategic airlift aircraft inventory minimum from 316 to 301 aircraft.
While the Pentagon updated is cyberspace policy report [PDF] to Congress a few days ago, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is trying to append cybercrime language to the aforementioned authorization bill, just in case it was not stalled enough already. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to debate more comprehensive cybersecurity legislation in early 2012. A couple such bills have been in the work for several years. Even the SEC has an opinion.
It looks like the 3% contractor tax withholding law is going to stay dead after it was repealed unanimously in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Acquisition lingo clarification: though “program of record” is widely used to describe programs that passed milestone B and will get funded, it is not an actual official DFARS term.
Deakin University’s Centre for Intelligent Systems Research in Australia is showing their new motion simulator with an eye of flight simulation thanks to its ability to rotate continuously and simultaneously around 2 axes, as per the video below:
In response to the growing threats to US military and civilian networks, the Pentagon has unveiling its first formal cyber strategy.
This follows a series of events over the last few years that have escalated cyber attacks against networks and infrastructure to warlike events. For example, an unidentified foreign national penetrated the internal networks of the Department of Defense (DoD) with an infected thumbdrive in 2008. In 2009, a virus known as Stuxnet, suspected of being the product of Israeli-US government collaboration, shutdown an Iranian nuclear power plant. And in 2011, defense contractor Lockheed Martin suffered a major cyber attack that was suspected of being carried out by the Chinese government.
While the Pentagon has struggled to combat these threats, it has also had to fight some within its own ranks, as well as other agencies, for authority in cyberspace. This article focuses on the growing cyber threat to US military and civilian infrastructure and the efforts being made by the Pentagon to deal with these threats.