Tactical communication solution provides promise

Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, intelligent radio, and artificial intelligence applications have the potential to deliver advanced military capabilities to a tactical environment. Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University (APL) Julia Andrusenko, chief engineer of Tactical Wireless Systems Group and Mark Simkins, program manager of sustainable tactical communication networks.

Andrusenko is a 20-year-old research engineer at APL for the propagation and forecasting of radio frequencies (RF) and communications focused on electromagnetics by physical systems, tactical networks, antennas, radio and artificial intelligence, and machine learning. I’m researching related applications. .. As chief engineer of Tactical Wireless Systems Group, Andrusenko is responsible for the technical quality of the project on behalf of US military clients.

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

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

Andrusenko is also considering linking to cognitive electronic warfare (EW) solutions and cognitive radio networks. Such cognitive systems allow EW devices or radio stations to intelligently determine when and where to transmit or operate in the spectrum. The system, of course, requires advanced spectral situational awareness.

“I just finished drafting the manuscript for the cognitive RH book,” she suggested. “We look at all cognitive systems, but there are a lot of overlaps 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 have limited computing power.”

On a large scale, smart wireless networks and the way they work together will be even more challenging, he added.

“This is a problem with many agents,” Andrusenko said. “And we face problems of cooperation, coordination and communication. And how to integrate the radio? It’s the same with wireless sensor networks. This is the mission, the functioning of the system, and depending on what you are trying to achieve, the cognitive network can monitor or learn the spectrum and then send, detect, or execute the necessary cognitive REB, defensive or offensive. But they all have completely different goals. The main thing is how to train the system and the radio in advance. Recognize the different signals present in the field and make some decisions depending on the mission. How do you train to give? “

The Pentagon is also interested in how to use the data on the tactical edge, but again, “this is a very complex issue,” Andrusenko said. “At the moment, our military sponsors have so much data that they want to access it and access it as quickly as possible,” she explained. “If you have access to multiple data sources and they are not the same, data aggregation is a consideration. And to understand your environment, you need to know how information is distributed throughout your system. There is. “

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will be the cornerstones of cognitive systems, Andrusenko continues. “In terms of artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence and machine learning can probably be applied to any aspect of intelligent system design,” she says. “And that will help the 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 APL is investigating how the Department of Defense may use low-Earth commercial satellite communications (LEO SATCOM) for tactical military applications. “”[We] We are currently considering the use of a commercial LEO SATCOM broadband system. It can be used not only as a basic communication and basic connection, but also as a reversing solution, “she said.

It cannot be used directly for tactical applications on the battle front, but the use of internal 5G communications is also very interesting. “The Pentagon has 12 announced 5G test sites,” Andrusenko said. “Repeat, because this is a commercial technology, it may not meet all military needs, especially on the tactical front, but it can vary, developing some of the cases of using the test bench. I support a Pentagon sponsor. One of the projects I am involved in is trying to develop a case of using 5G focused on spectrum sharing, as the spectrum crisis is still a real problem. . “

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

“The use of 5G by O-CONUS and the use of 5G on the tactical edge depends on the purpose of the mission,” she said. “If you’re in an urban environment and have an existing infrastructure, there’s probably a way to use your existing infrastructure on a working commercial device and load an application that provides the level of security you need. It all comes from the use of classified commercial solutions. Now I’m trying to see with some of the companies that make tactical communication equipment, and how it works on the tactical edge. I see if there is. “

She said the Home Office was considering using CSfC in 5G in a remote environment. “Therefore, this could be a solution that uses commercial tactical communication with the CSfC to provide a level of security.”

As APL’s program manager, Simkins is responsible for specific sponsorships from the U.S. military to ensure that APL meets its technical research needs in the areas of sustainable radio communications, networks, and security network protection. I will. He collaborates with Tactical Army and Air Force program managers, cross-sectoral teams, and research organizations of services such as the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C⁵ ISR Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“As part of resilient tactical communication, I am part of a larger program area called communication. [communications] And networking, and my work is essentially focused specifically on communications and battlefield networks, ”he explains. “I have several expressions that I want to use. I call my program “an indestructible network and unstoppable communication. “This is my goal as a sponsor. “

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

Simkins’ group is exploring ways to increase access to spectrum, reflecting Andrusenko’s commitment to bandwidth use. “There’s this insatiable need for bandwidth,” Simkins said. “You have fighters, weapons and everyone needs a piece of their bandwidth. There are several ways to deal with this. One is to improve the efficiency of your spectrum. That’s why dynamic spectrum access technology is our big focus. Another way is to release more spectra. How many of these millimeter waves or terahertz communication technologies and approaches are also a way to deal with this problem. “

Performing network traffic modeling, simulation and load analysis is also the focus of research. “The sum of all the people who could use the tactical network on a given day far exceeds the bandwidth, so you need to be smart about your critical data and how it passes through your system. . “He is adventurous.

Simkins is also investigating advanced tactical antennas. “Even the tip of the RF copy, antenna, our people have been working in the fleet for decades and are really good at antenna holes and digital grid-level elements. [solutions] This is very interesting in terms of both a targeted network and protection from hostile interference. Something like a metamaterial that can actually create a passive antenna or modulate an input signal and reflect it elsewhere is also advantageous. “

On the tactical network side, APL research examines automated systems and autonomous networks and applies “some” artificial intelligence and machine learning. Such applications can detect hostile behavior and respond to it by reconfiguring or disconnecting parts of the network, Simkins said.

“Part of our effort is to ensure that the sponsorship base has the idea that the network is a weapon system that needs to be as secure as the weapon system,” he said. To do.

According to the engineers, the network cyber protection of both the RF and the mainband is, of course, related to defense, but also to patience. “It’s not just protection, it’s a way to make sure the attacker invades or penetrates your network, so how can you overcome it,” Simkins said. “We cannot completely eliminate or circumvent the threats, but we can bend, but we cannot break them.

“Imagine a situation where there is a network or the sensor detects something that may not be connected to the network. It is associated with an adjacent network or dynamic threat that has arisen and is of a certain type. Traffic may be required. It will be prioritized in the network, “he continued. “And the idea that you have the brain of this network can send that kind of information to the network, regardless of the domain it perceives, so what’s your priority now?” Tell me, you can communicate 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. “