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February 7 2015

February 9, 2015

7 February 2015


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Kendall Unveils 6th Gen Fighter Strategy

By Aaron Mehta 10:18 a.m. EST February 2, 2015


WASHINGTON — Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall unveiled part of his strategy for procuring a next-generation fighter for the Air Force and Navy in congressional testimony last week.

The core of the strategy, Kendall told members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), is called the Aerospace Innovation Initiative.

“What it will be is a program that will be initially led by [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency]. But it will involve the Navy and the Air Force as well,” Kendall said. “The intent is to develop prototypes for the next generation of air dominance platforms, X-plane programs, if you will.”

The initiative will also include work on a next-generation engine, Kendall said, adding that more details about the plan will appear in the fiscal 2016 budget request being unveiled this week.

Whereas the F-35 joint strike fighter was billed as one plane that can fit the needs of the Air Force, Navy and Marines, the next-generation fighter will instead be two planes that share common parts.

The Navy and Air Force have offices looking at a next-generation fighter that would replace the Navy’s F/A-18s and the Air Force’s F-22s, respectively. An Air Force official told Defense News in September that he hopes to have Milestone A acquisition activity started in fiscal 2018.

The 6th generation initiative will be a “fairly large-scale” program, and one that Kendall said was designed with the industrial base in mind.

“The only reason the department’s doing that is to preserve the design teams that can do this next-generation of capability in that area, because once those design teams go away, we’ve lost them and it’s very hard to get them back,” Kendall said in response to a question by HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.

“In very specialized areas, like you mentioned electronic warfare, that’s a very special skill set and you can’t develop somebody who is an expert at that overnight; it takes time,” Kendall continued. “And you get that expertise by working on programs, by developing new cutting-edge things.”

Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, said the emphasis on protecting design teams is smart, especially as other major programs are winding down.

“There are a lot of people working diligently on the Long Range Strike-Bomber. When that decision is made [in the spring], that will let go of some people,” he said, adding the future of the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike program is also unclear. “People can only be kept so long without a contracting path. At its essence, it really gets down to preserving these design teams that will dissipate.”

Timing will be a key question with the initiative, Callan said. If the program takes 10 years to develop a prototype, it is much less effective than if this Initiative is targeting a five year window.

What other specialized technologies might be involved in a 6th-generation fighter are unclear, but there may be some hints in comments made by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work at a Jan. 28 Center for a New American Security event.

Work said upcoming budgets will feature funding lines to invest “in promising new technologies and capabilities, including unmanned undersea vehicles; sea mining; high speed strike weapons; an advanced new jet engine; rail gun technology; and high energy lasers.”

The announcement of the initiative could also be a warning shot at Lockheed Martin, whose F-35 is just now gearing up to go operational. If the company doesn’t keep costs down on the program, Callan said, the Pentagon could consider moving future funding for F-35 procurement over to this next-generation system.

“I think by injecting some alternatives back into the mix, at the very least Kendall is going to have a pricing tool,” Callan noted. “He has to keep Lockheed on its toes, because Lockheed obviously wants to keep F-35 as relevant as it can, so they’d better keep coming up with good ideas for future software releases, for continuing to drive down the airplane’s cost, and just make it relevant.”

It is assumed that Boeing and Lockheed are working on concepts for sixth-generation, while Northrop has confirmed it has teams assigned to developing a new design. Interestingly, Northrop’s setup mirrors that of the initiative, with coordination over shared systems but two teams assigned to developing a pair of different designs.



Bomber Leads Way on USAF RDT&E Request

By Aaron Mehta 4:16 p.m. EST February 2, 2015


WASHINGTON — The US Air Force’s single biggest research program is also its most mysterious.

In the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request, the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program is budgeted for $1.2 billion in research and development funding, making it the largest system under the Air Force’s $17.9 billion research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funding request.

RDT&E funding for the bomber will continue to escalate over the future years defense plan (FYDP), with a planned request of $2.2 billion in fiscal 2017, $2.8 billion in 2018, $3.6 billion in 2019 and $3.7 billion in 2020. Those figures do not reflect money that is hidden in the “black” budget as well, which could dramatically increase the cost of the program.

The LRS-B program is targeting a production line of 80-100 planes, with an estimated cost of $550 million each, although critics of the program warn that is not a realistic figure. It will eventually replace the fleet of B-52 and B-1 bomber fleets. Although technical specifications are largely unknown, it is expected the design will be stealthy, with optionally manned capability.

A down-selection will be made this spring or early summer, with initial operating capability planned for the mid-2020s. Nuclear certification will follow two years after that.

After the bomber comes the KC-46A tanker at $602 million requested and the F-35A engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) phase at $589 million. Unlike the bomber, those RDT&E funding profiles will likely track down, as both those programs are close to going operational. The F-35A goes operational in 2016, with the KC-46A in 2017.

Following that is the GPS III-OCX ground station program, a contract awarded to Raytheon, at $350 million, then the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) EMD phase at $292 million and the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system at $228. The costs of those three space programs aligns with what Gen. John Hyten, the head of Space Command, has been saying about needing to drive down the development costs of satellite systems.

Science and technology accounts receive a $2.3 billion request, at a time when the service is emphasizing scientific development as a way to keep up with growing high-end threats from nations such as China.

However, that dollar value is at risk if Congress does not agree to raise budget caps imposed under the Budget Control Act. The service has warned that one option it will exercise if BCA cap levels are not raised is to cut science and technology funding by 10 percent.




Northrop Grumman Will Tease Top-Secret Stealth Bomber With a Super Bowl Ad

Firm is battling Boeing-Lockheed for defense contract

By Tim Nudd

February 1, 2015, 7:38 AM EST


You can advertise a lot of things on the Super Bowl, from a bag of Doritos to … a next-generation bomber that will cost half a billion dollars per aircraft to build.

Northrop Grumman is working on a design for the latter—it’s battling Boeing-Lockheed for defense contract to build the U.S.’s next-gen bomber—and will tease the aircraft on the Super Bowl with the 30-second spot below, a rep for the company confirmed to Adweek.

Breaking Defense, a leading news site on defense, first broke the news Saturday. Running a Super Bowl ad is a first for Northrop, and is believed to be a first for any defense company.

The ad has been on YouTube since Thursday and already has more than 300,000 views. According to Breaking Defense, it begins by showing various famous Northrop aircraft—first the YB-35, then the B-2 bomber, then the X-47B.

Finally, the new mystery plane is shown at the end, shrouded in a giant sheet, as an airman walks toward it and grins slightly. (Breaking Defense says there’s a chance the aircraft is the so-called sixth generation fighter for the Air Force and Navy, which Northrop also has design teams working on.)

The bomber program will be enormously expensive. Research and development alone is expected to cost $25 billion. Then, each plane is likely to cost $600 million to build—and the Air Force plans to buy 100 of them. If Northrop gets the contact, the $4.5 million NBC buy will have been a drop in the bucket.


Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

USAF Slips Next Joint Stars, Opens Door to GPS Competition

Feb 2, 2015 Amy Butler | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


The U.S. Air Force is restructuring several key efforts — delaying a follow-on to the Joint Stars ground surveillance aircraft program, adding a three-year extension for U-2 operations and a setting up a possible competition for more GPS satellites — as part of its $167.3 billion budget request for fiscal 2016.

The request is up from $152.8 billion provided by Congress for fiscal 2015.

The procurement and research and development (R&D) plan would increase in the fiscal 2016 budget request by $8 billion compared with levels enacted by Congress in fiscal 2015. In the $25.3 billion procurement request and $17.99 billion R&D request, the service is maintaining a focus on its three top procurement priorities: the F-35, KC-46 aerial refueler and the Long-Range Strike Bomber.

The F-35 consumes a large portion of the Air Force’s investment budget — as well as the Navy’s. In fiscal 2016, the Pentagon is requesting about $11 billion for F-35 development, purchases and spares and associated equipment; that is $2.4 billion higher than enacted in fiscal 2015. Much of the spike would pay for a proposed increase in production rate from 38 to 57 aircraft (16 more for the Air Force and 3 more for the Navy). This boost has been long sought by Lockheed Martin and is part of an effort to reduce the per-unit price of the single-engine, stealthy fighter. That amounts to a request of 44 conventional take-off-and-landing Lockheed Martin F-35As for the Air Force, up from 28 in fiscal 2015. Fourteen of those would be cut if Congress forces the Pentagon to adhere to cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act.

Likewise, the request seeks to boost the purchase to 12 of Boeing’s KC-46As in fiscal 2016, up from seven in fiscal 2015; that increase is likely only if the company manages to achieve its first tanker flight in April as planned, despite earlier delays associated with designing wiring bundles for the aircraft.

The service also plans to continue development of a next-generation, stealthy bomber. The fiscal 2015 budget of $914 million increases substantially in this request to $1.25 billion. The Air Force plans to announce a winner between the Boeing/Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman teams this spring. If a protest is lodged, it should be resolved by the fall, the start of the new fiscal year.

By contrast, the Air Force is planning to delay procurement of a next-generation Joint Stars airborne ground surveillance aircraft by one year to fiscal 2023; the first four Joint Stars follow-on aircraft were expected in fiscal 2022. The Air Force is planning to retire the existing Boeing 707-based E-8Cs from 2025-2026 to help pay for the new program. Another offset is the planned retirement of the E-8C test aircraft in fiscal 2016. The new aircraft are expected to be housed on a much smaller business jet to allow for decreased sustainment cost and increased efficiency on missions.

The Air Force also is delaying the retirement of seven E-3 Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2019 to support combatant commander requirements.

Another change to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance plan in the fiscal 2016 budget is the Air Force’s reversal on the U-2. Slated for termination in last year’s budget, it is now expected to continue flying for as least three more years — until fiscal 2019. The Air Force is still investing substantial funds in modifying the Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk to continue operations beyond fiscal 2023; it was the U-2’s planned replacement. However, the service says that if the Budget Control Act remains law, it will slice funding from sensor upgrades efforts for the Global Hawk Block 30 program.

The Air Force plans to stabilize operations at 60 combat air patrols (CAPs) for the Predator/Reaper unmanned aircraft. Sixty-five CAPs are now operating. The Air Fore plans to buy 29 MQ-9 Reapers, up from 24 in the fiscal 2015 budget. However, 20 of those would be sliced if the Budget Control Act remains in place. The goal remains to phase Predators out of service and move to an all-Reaper fleet.

The Air Force plans to finally settle the debate about how to replace the aging UH-1N helicopters used to support nuclear operations in the vast intercontinental ballistic missile fields operated by the service. The Air Force will convert old Army UH-60As to L models. “The Air Force has not yet determined the phasing of these replacements,” says Capt. Melissa Milner, a service spokeswoman.

The budget includes substantial R&D for he next-generation Air Force One fleet to replace the current fleet of two VC-25As. The fiscal 2015 request included $1.6 billion for R&D, including the first 747-8 on which the new flying White House will be built.

The Air Force’s space budget includes some changes as well. Perhaps most notable is a plan to reopen competition in the Global Positioning System III with space vehicle 11. Lockheed Martin won what was described in 2008 as a “winner-take-all” contract and is developing and building the precision timing and navigation satellites now. However, its performance was marred by poor oversight of the first timing and navigation payload developed by Exelis, which was nearly a year late. Boeing, a legacy GPS satellite provider, has been eager to restart its work since the Air Force announced the 2008 win. A new competition shows an aggressive approach by the Air Force after the Lockheed Martin slip up; its original intent was to “have a long-term relationship with one partner,” as described by former GPS program director Col. Dave Madden in 2008. At that time, GPS III was envisioned as potentially a 30-satellite constellation.

The service also is sticking to its plan to explore alternate architectures to those now established for protected, nuclear-hardened satellite communications with the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite and the Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) early missile warning spacecraft. Both are developed by Lockheed Martin, and the plan is to continue with purchases of six satellites for each constellation. Beyond that, industry is likely to have opportunities to win work for far simpler, more resilient satellite architectures in these mission areas. Budget documents do not lay out the timing of these projects, though.

The service also plans to propose once again to retire the A-10 fleet in light of the F-35’s planned introduction into service in December 2016 and the use of other platforms – such as the B-52, B-1, F-15E and F-16 for close air support missions. The service plans to retire 164 of them in fiscal 2016, with the entire fleet following three years later.



The Pentagon’s Adoption of Cloud Technology Is Finally Taking Off

February 3, 2015 By Frank Konkel Nextgov


As the Pentagon transitions to use more cloud-based services, its systems still have a long way to go in improving how they collect, distribute and share information.


Rarely has the Defense Department dedicated the kind of time and resources to talking emerging technologies as it did Jan. 29 at an industry-day event, parading a who’s-who of top tech officials to explain the Pentagon’s plans for cloud computing.

Held at the Commerce Department headquarters, the event served two purposes. The first was to explain how DOD has advanced its cloud strategy. That explainer alone was enough to retain a standing-room-only auditorium for eight hours – a mind-boggling feat considering no lunch was served and networking opportunities were limited.

The second goal for DOD and Defense Information Systems Agency officials appeared to be the outlining of the Pentagon’s vision for making use of emerging technologies in the near future.


Behold the Data Distribution Center

DOD Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen says he hates the term “data center,” or at least the connotation people get when they hear the term – that is, of a siloed set of servers somewhere that don’t share information as well as they seal it away.

As the Pentagon transitions to use more cloud-based services – either from commercial providers or internal efforts such as its milCloud service – Halvorsen stated systems would have to improve how they collect, distribute and share information collectively. Optimal data distribution requires a common infrastructure, sensors and data exchange, and it’s not a problem limited to the Pentagon’s internal operations.


“There’s a responsibility on the industry side, too,” Halvorsen said. “Industry has to figure out how it will share data with other industry partners. There won’t be one single cloud environment. The only way for it to work is if we share common data.”

DOD already collects a huge amount of information from sensors, open-data sets and myriad other entities, but making maximum use of those growing data sets in the coming decade simply won’t be possible under DOD’s current data center-focused approach.

DISA Chief Technology Officer Dave Mihelcic used the industry day to echo similar comments he’s made recently about DOD’s need tostrategize for the future.


MilCloud ‘Not Getting a Free Pass’

MilCloud is DISA’s internal answer to commercial cloud providers, offering a cloud-services portfolio to DOD customers. Milcloud was initially deployed for sensitive, unclassified information on the NIPRnet and later configured for the SIPRNet, too. It’s oft-criticized for poor performance and high costs – commercial cloud services executives are especially critical of milCloud, deeming it inferior in performance and security to their offerings.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, vice director at DISA, used the industry day stage to defend milCloud, noting its costs have come down and customer engagement has improved via the creation of a customer engagement center.

MilCloud has been deployed in two Defense Enterprise Computing Centers – in Montgomery, Alabama, and Oklahoma City. Lessons have been learned along the way, he said, and DISA is modifying processes to address customer feedback to develop additional features for milCloud.

“The discussion is more on how much do we want to push out to commercial industry and how much can you drive costs down,” Lynn said. “If you can drive cost down, we’re interested. Bring us your best offers.”

But is milCloud’s rate competitive with industry? Without exact numbers, it’s tough to tell – alas, a cost comparison was not displayed among the gratuitous number of PowerPoint slides presented that day – but Halvorsen did indicate that milCloud still has significant room to improve.

“MilCloud’s rate has decreased, but not low enough,” Halvorsen said, noting that milCloud is “not getting a free pass.”

“[Lynn] and the team are continuing to look hard at how to drop those costs,” Halvorsen added.

Halvorsen noted there are “things in milCloud,” which, because “times have changed,” could potentially migrate to commercial cloud. His statements indicates that commercial cloud providers are beginning to meet increased security requirements in the cloud, with various pilot programs – dominated by Amazon Web Services – already handling sensitive DOD workloads.

Yet, he defended milCloud as an important tool in storing or processing data, which “for all kinds of risk reasons, we want to keep inside government” to mitigate, financial, technical and political risks.


A Hint of Future Partnerships?

It’s not reality yet, but Halvorsen alluded to the possibility of a “contracted data distribution center,” in which a vendor provides hot-ticket items, such as on-demand cloud services while the military provides physical security.


As a joke, Halvorsen added that most private security companies “can’t roll tanks up to provide security” to a commercial data center, indicating the lengths at which DOD would go to ensure its data centers – at least physically – are nearly impenetrable.

“Why couldn’t we put what amounts to be a commercial data distribution center on government property in government buildings?” Halvorsen said. “I’m waiting for that proposal with all the costs associated with it. Maybe it becomes the first federal cloud computing center? There are a growing number of customers who want the same level of protection.”

When asked by reporters what industries might want to partner up to store highly sensitive data on a managed DOD premises, Halvorsen replied “financial institutions,” but added that such developments are not close to be carried out yet.

“We are not there yet, but that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.



U.S. FAA grants 8 more exemptions for commercial use of drones

by Press • 4 February 2015


The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had granted eight more exemptions for commercial use of small drones as the industry eagerly awaits new agency rules on the remote-controlled aircraft.

The agency said it issued new exemptions to Total Safety U.S. Inc for flare stack inspections; to Slugwear Inc for aerial photography and surveys; and to Team 5 LLC, Shotover Camera Systems LP, Helinet Aviation Services LLC, and Alan D. Purwin for film and television production.

The FAA also amended the exemptions previously granted to Pictorvision Inc and Aerial MOB LLC to let the companies fly additional types of small drones.

The FAA is developing specific regulations for unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds (25 kg). The agency has effectively banned their commercial use except when operators are granted special exemptions.

The FAA, which has received 342 requests for exemptions for use of commercial drones, has granted a total of 24.

Businesses have been clamoring for rules to allow commercial drone flights, fearing the United States is falling behind other countries in developing a multibillion-dollar industry.

The FAA turned a draft of the rules – the first major overhaul of the regulations – over to the White House on Oct. 23, and had said it expected them to be published in 2014.

Last month, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters the rules were close to being issued.


Two US Army Events Explore COTS

By Joe Gould 5:06 p.m. EST February 4, 2015


WASHINGTON When it comes to modernization, the US Army has come to recognize it does not always need to reinvent the wheel — or the router, server stack or tactical radio — especially when the commercial sector has ready or near-ready technology.

Two of the service’s try-before-you-buy emerging technology events feature, or at least weave in, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) gear, according to Army officials. These are the massive bi-annual Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), and the Army Expeditionary Warfighter Experiment (AEWE) at Maneuver Center of Excellence’s battle lab, Fort Benning, Georgia.

“We’re not hung up on the TRL [technology readiness level],” said Harry Lubin, chief of the battle lab’s live experimentation branch. “If it has a capability that TRADOC [Training and Doctrine Command] might be interested in, go ahead and bring it. We’ll employ it within the constraints of its current capability. If it isn’t hardened and can’t get wet, still bring it, and we’ll use it when we can.”

While the NIE is less tolerant of immature technologies, one of its acquisition partners, the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control Communications Tactical (PEO C3T), has made use of COTS and modified COTS across all of its major programs, according to PEO C3T director of public affairs, Paul Mehney.

“Today, as both commercial and military sector network capability continues to rapidly mature, we plan to leverage new technologies as they emerge in the commercial sector instead of encouraging developers to begin with a blank slate by designing a system or capability from the beginning to end,” Mehney said.

The program office, which is seeking both hardware and software, employs commercial software applications, routers and server stacks in programs that have appeared in the NIE. For example, the NIE uses a modified Android computing environment for tactical situational awareness and mission command apps, called the Mounted Android Computing Environment.

As for hardware, COTS is in use within the Army’s developing tactical radio programs, its network backbone, called the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), and particularly in its satellite communications systems.

The Army’s first networking waveform radio, known as the AN/PRC 117G, is a single-channel COTS radio that provides wideband networking capability and interoperability with fielded waveforms. The 117G was evaluated at the NIE and in the field. It and several other COTS radios were deployed by the US and coalition forces, including the AN/PRC 148, AN/PRC 150 and AN/PNC 152.

A significant amount of COTS or modified COTS gear appeared in both WIN-T Increment 1, which provides soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity communications down to battalion level at-the-quick-halt; and Increment 2, for operations on-the-move.

When WIN-T’s 4G/wireless command post is evaluated during future NIEs, COTS technology will feature prominently, Mehney said.

A decade old, the AEWE differs from the NIE in a few key ways. In scale, the AEWE is much smaller and focuses primarily on units below battalion, while the NIE includes brigade and higher echelons. Lubin called the AEWE the “farm system” to the NIE’s “major leagues,” because the NIE aims to field to a near future brigade “capability set,” while the AEWE offers a forgiving test-fix-test environment.

Both use soldiers and scenarios designed to simulate real-world conditions.

At the end of each AEWE, the Army’s testing agency will highlight technologies that would be ready for the NIE or worth a look by related Army proponents. Each vendors is given a report on its technology’s performance in the AEWE, as well as direct feedback from the soldiers throughout the experiment.

At worst, participation can yield a learning experience, and at best, it can mean business. After the AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggles participated at Fort Benning a few years ago, the Army purchased 2,300 of them and fielded them to Afghanistan, Lubin said.

The AEWE, which began in 2004 with seven pieces of gear, was intended to see how emerging technologies could protect small combat units and make them more lethal. Retaining much the same mission, it has evolved into TRADOC’s annual outreach to industry, and this year it involves 66 technologies, Lubin said.

The Army’s research and development organizations have increasingly offered their Army-developed technologies to the AEWE. The arrangement allows vendors a sense of how ready their technology is and the Army a chance to work with cutting-edge technologies.

“At the start, it was 90 to 95 percent industry, and industry has remained the majority of the systems we look at, but we have seen a growing number of government technologies over the last several years,” Lubin said. “A number of government and industry technologies use AEWE as a risk-reduction venue, knowing full well the next stop will be NIE.”

To integrate the various technologies, many of them unmanned vehicles and sensors in recent years, the AEWE employs engineers from the Cyber Center of Excellence. Because there is no standing network, engineers will use vendor input to tailor-build the experiment’s network each year to handle the various radio and video signals.

Critics say such experiments force companies to shoulder more of the up-front research and development costs, an unreasonable burden for small businesses. Lubin acknowledges that industry “underwrites a huge chunk” of the AEWE because their gear must be certified as safe for soldiers to use, and the companies must bring the gear to Fort Benning, train the soldiers on it and maintain them throughout the experiment.

But in return, Lubin said, vendors get access to a flexible testing environment, as well as valuable input about where to focus tech development dollars and what soldiers will accept. It also allows vendors to connect with each other and possibly associate their efforts.

“The smaller companies don’t have a lot of exposure with the Army, so it gives them a better taste of working with the Army and what their path forward would be,” whether with program offices, or research and development organizations, Lubin said.

“You can see how a tech provider who looks to leverage this venue can really move their technology forward because they have that constant engagement with the soldier who’s using it in a tactical environment,” Lubin said.

COTS in the Field

The Army is employing a range of COTS satellite terminals, some the size of a carry-on bag and all aimed at providing soldiers with access to global communications in austere locations and terrains.

Deployable Ku-Band Earth Terminal: Uses commercial and military satellites to provide long haul, high-capacity transport both within and beyond the Afghan theater. The system is for headquarters-level, network-hub connectivity.

Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point (SNAP) V1 & 2: Transportable in the back of a truck, these use commercial- and military-band satellites to provide high-capacity beyond-line-of-sight SIPR, NIPR, coalition networks and voice capability to remote company and platoon outposts.

• Global Rapid Response Information Package: Suitcase sized and used by small teams, it can be set up in minutes for secure and unclassified communications.

Ground to Air Transmit and Receive Inflatable SATCOM Antenna: An inflatable ground satellite antenna enabling high-bandwidth network connectivity, this antenna connects soldiers to WIN-T.

• Transportable Tactical Command Communications: Satellite dishes that deploy in a suitcase to support small detachments and teams, and larger transportable satellite dishes to support company-sized elements. Enables soldiers to connect to WIN-T.



Next-Generation Fighter Will Be Less Reliant on Stealth

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

Posted: February 4, 2015 11:40 AM


WASHINGTON — The chief of naval operations (CNO) said the next-generation fighter — notionally named F/A-XX — may be less reliant on stealth and more reliant on suppression of enemy air defenses to carry outs its missions and needs a “manned and unmanned feature.”

In response to a question while speaking Feb.4 to a forum audience at the Naval Future Force Science & Technology Expo sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the American Society of Naval Engineers in Washington, ADM Jonathan Greenert warned that “stealth may be over-rated.

“If something moves fast through the air and disrupts molecules in the air and it puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be — it’s going to be detectable,” he said.

Greenert said that the next-generation strike fighter should have manned and unmanned options of operation, noting that it had to be “interchangeable.”


It has to be in also had to have a payload capacity for a wide spectrum of weapons, he said, and gain access “probably by suppressing air defenses. Today it’s radar but it might be something more in the future.

“I don’t see that it’s going to be super-duper fast,” he said. “You can’t outrun missiles. You can’t be so stealthy that you become invisible. You are going to generate a signature of some sort. You have to be able to deal with that and be able to employ weapons that are going to have longer range and be smarter and more of them, … overwhelming of defenses—confuse it–or suppress it.”


DoD Needs Commercial Tech, but How To Get It?

By Paul McLeary 5:13 p.m. EST February 4, 2015


WASHINGTON— As commercial and small technology firms move ever faster to develop next-generation software, communications and hardware solutions to push into a tech-hungry marketplace, governments find themselves struggling to keep pace.

The issue was highlighted earlier this month when an inebriated government employee inadvertently crashed a small, commercially available drone onto the White House grounds, calling into question the ability of the Secret Service to protect the president and his family against such small — but real — threats.

While the White House issue makes a good punchline, government officials are worried, and they say they’re trying to reach out to the commercial tech sector to do something about it.

“The explosion of research and development in the non-defense sector means DoD must devise new means of pulling in commercial technology,” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told a Center for a New American Security conference in Washington on Jan. 28.

This all falls in line with Work’s so-called “third offset” strategy that is taking its place alongside other urgent reform initiatives percolating in the Pentagon, including “Better Buying Power 3.0,” a plan by the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, that in part pushes for more commercial and dual-use technologies in DoD weapon competitions.

The two projects themselves fall broadly under the Defense Innovation Initiative, which is urging the building to revamp its entire training, education, development and acquisition enterprise to stay ahead of the advances being made by peer competitors like China and Russia, while also holding the line against the vast amounts of advanced commercial technologies now available to non-state actors for little cost.

Seated alongside Work at the CNAS event, Gen. Jean-Paul Paloméros, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, agreed that the alliance “can no longer contend that we maintain the advantage” in the realm of cyber or even some forms of tactical communication or the exploitation of social media for tactically relevant information.

Speaking across town on Jan. 28 at a special operations conference, Matthew Freedman, senior adviser at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that while the exploitation of social media is something that needs to be studied, the US military “needs to rethink its acquisition strategy from requirement of things to an acquisition of capabilities” when it comes to other communications and surveillance technologies.

He said this doesn’t mean the Pentagon should fall back on doing what it has always done: launching a slew of expensive and time-consuming programs to develop new technologies out of whole cloth.

“Sometimes allocating resources means retrofitting existing systems at much lower costs instead of building new systems,” he said.

Except for several wartime rapid acquisition programs that some in the Pentagon are fighting to keep as a more permanent part of the building’s bureaucratic infrastructure, the DoD’s acquisition system isn’t built for speed. Freedman said that a different model needs to take hold, since “sometimes we need to get software developments to the war fighters within 90 days,” and the system as currently structured just can’t handle that.

Robert Newberry, director of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, added that targeting terrorists via social media is an area in which the US intelligence agencies — and especially the military — is still struggling. “We’re studying it to death,” he said, “but I’m not sure coming up with any grand solutions.”

These issues are no less prevalent with larger, more traditional systems, many of which, like the US Air Force’s fighter and bomber fleets, have been in the inventory since the 1980s or earlier.

“We came out of the Cold War with a very dominant military,” Kendall told the House Armed Services Committee on Jan. 28. “And no one observed more carefully the dominance we displayed in 1991 more closely than the Chinese.”

As such, the Beijing government, among others, has been busily developing a suite of capabilities that are explicitly intended “to defeat the American way of doing power projection [and the] American way of warfare when we fight in an expeditionary manner far from the United States.”

Testifying with Kendall was Lt. Gen. Mark Ramsay, the Joint Staff director for force structure, resources and assessment, who promised the House committee that “we’re looking at the whole soup and nuts” of the rapid advancements being made by potential US foes, and how best to offset them.

In particular when it comes to US expeditionary operations, Pentagon planners are concerned about the strength and security of their communications and satellite backbone. And there, the military expects to lean on private industry even more in the future.

“The big issue is there’s certain things we have to do that are very protected, very secure, that may not have the bandwidth commercial satellites do,” Ramsay said. “But we really are very much wedded to the commercial backbone, and I do see that increasing over time. But it’s finding that right balance in the future.”


Full budget details on cyber, cloud, networks

Amber Corrin, Senior Staff Writer 1:29 p.m. EST February 4, 2015


The Defense Department’s ongoing move to enterprise-wide IT services got a boost in the form of President Barack Obama’s proposed 2016 defense budget, with the Pentagon’s leading enterprise IT effort receiving more than a six-fold increase in spending.

Funding for the Joint Information Enterprise under the Defense Information Systems Agency’s budget grew from $13.3 million in 2015 to $84 million in 2016, part of DISA’s nearly quadrupled procurement budget of $1 billion. DISA is leading the DoD-wide move to JIE.

DISA’s Defense Information Systems Network, the military’s backbone for network communications, saw an increase in procurement funding as well, up from $80 million last year to $141 million, as the network undergoes upgrades.

As DoD pushes ahead with JIE, enterprise IT services and IT infrastructure upgrades, some legacy efforts saw significant funding decreases, including DISA’s net-centric enterprise services program, which fell from $3.7 million last year to a mere $444,000 in 2016.

In the Navy, procurement funding for enterprise IT jumped from $87 million to $99 million.

Cybersecurity spending in the 2016 largely remained flat under research, development, testing and evaluation, with some shifting of funds going on within the more than $149 million in funds specifically labeled as cyber.

In the Air Force, cyber operations technology development gained $82 million in RDT&E money, an effort that was new in the 2016 budget. Air Force RDT&E defensive cyber operations investments grew from $5.6 million to $7.7 million, while offensive cyber operations fell slightly from $13.3 million to $12.8 million. Likewise, RDT&E money for the Air Force rapid cyber acquisition lost $1 million on the year, with a $3 million allocation for 2016.


Across DoD, defense-wide cyber intelligence funding fell slightly from $6.7 million to $6.5 million, and some cyber programs appeared to go unfunded in 2016, including a line item for defense-wide cybersecurity advanced research.

Network-centric warfare technology was a winner in RDT&E spending, growing from $360 million to $453 million as part of DARPA’s $1.3 billion budget for advanced technology development.

Elsewhere in RDT&E – a area of the DoD budget that grew by half a billion dollars in 2016, to $13.5 billion – Navy unmanned systems development received more than $350 million across several programs, including $227 million for RQ-4 Global Hawk R&D. Last year, that category received only $45 million. However, funding for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike dropped off from $400 million to $134 million.

At the Missile Defense Agency, research and development for command, control, communications and computers (C4) fell to $10 million, after receiving $13 million in 2015 and $35 million in 2014. Defense-wide C4 interoperability funding, however, inched up from $63.5 million to $65 million under DISA’s RDT&E budget. Across DoD, a new line item for unmanned aerial vehicle integration and operation allocated nearly $42 million.

In the Army, signals modernization funding more than doubled from last year’s $21 million in procurement funds to $50 million in 2016. The Army’s Defense Enterprise Wideband SATCOM Systems also increased from $118 million to $196 million. The Joint Tactical Radio program received a $25 million increase to $65 million, while WIN-T procurement spending grew from $664 million to $783 million.

The Army’s ongoing installation IT modernization effort received a boost in the new budget, with installation information infrastructure modernization growing from $80 million to $103 million.

In the Army and the Navy, each service’s version of the Distributed Common Ground System saw a plus-up in funding, with DCGS-A growing from $192 million to $314 million and DCGS-N increasing from $24 million to $32 million. However, the Marine Corp’s version was practically defunded, with their program dollars shrinking from $20 million to $1.9 million.

The Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network budget increased significantly as the service executes its transition from the Navy-Marine Corps intranet, with procurement funding for NGEN growing from $2 million in 2015 to $67 million in 2016.

Elsewhere in the Navy, tactical/mobile C4I systems funding fell from $16.7 million last year to $13.6 million in 2016, while C4ISR equipment funds remained essentially flat at just under $10 million. A line item for Navy SATCOM systems included a jump of nearly $20 million on the year, to $31 million, while funding for the Navy multiband terminal fell off from $248 million in 2015 to $118 million in 2016.

Spending on the Navy’s Rapid Technology Transition program, designed to quickly field new technologies to meet emerging and urgent naval requirements, more than doubled to $18 million in the proposed budget.

In the Air Force, investment in strategic command and control procurement doubled from $140 million to $287 million, while general IT funding fell from $43 million to $31 million, and mobility equipment funds were cut in half to $62 million.

Across DoD, investment in military manufacturing science and technology jumped from $90 million last year to $157 million in 2016 as Pentagon officials seek emerging manufacturing capabilities and other advanced technologies.



The Pentagon’s Weapon Wish Lists Could Disappear

February 4, 2015

By Marcus Weisgerber & Molly O’Toole


The military’s billion-dollar wish lists for weapons that did not make it onto the Pentagon’s budget might disappear as lawmakers decide whether they’re worth it.

Long live the Pentagon wish list? Lawmakers this year might not ask the military services to send them wish lists of weapons, that on-again, off-again practice of informally requesting items not included in the Pentagon’s official budget proposal.

Aides for both the House and Senate Armed Services committees say members of the panels have not decided whether they will request the unfunded priority lists. Traditionally these lists, which are closely watched by defense firms and lobbyists, are chock full of expensive programs that fell just below the cut line.

In the past, the military brass from services compiles the lists, at the request of lawmakers. It’s seen as a way for service chiefs to go around the administration’s budget request and ask Congress to fund or put back items they want.

“Actually I’m not really big on unfunded priority lists,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Defense One Wednesday. “I think they’re sort of a backdoor way of getting things done.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, has not yet decided if he will request lists from the services, said committee spokesman Claude Chafin. “[Thornberry] recognizes the utility of the information, and it’s certainly something we need, he just doesn’t have his heart set yet on the vehicle for that information.”

McCain said he’s ambivalent right now, but would talk to Thornberry this weekend at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Michael Amato, spokesman for Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking Democrat on the House panel, said unfunded lists have not been discussed but the committee would probably not request them from the services.

“From our perspective, the budget is the document that matters and if the services want to send a letter, that’s all and good, but we are focused on the formal budget request and removing sequestration,” Amato said.

While the 2016 budget proposal was released in its entirety on Monday, defense firms closely watch for the wish lists, which are customarily sent to Congress a few weeks later. If a company’s program is included on the list, it gives their lobbying effort more stock, since they could point to the military’s desire for the item.

Often times, Congress will find a way to squeeze these items into the budget, albeit not always at the levels requested.

That was the case this year with the Navy’s EA-18G Growler. The Boeing-made Growler is a F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet that carries special wing pods that jam enemy radio signals. The Navy did not request any Growlers in its 2015 budget proposal, but included 22 in its unfunded priority list. In the end, lawmakers added $1.46 billion for 15 jets in the Pentagon’s budget.

The Pentagon has gone back and forth over wish lists. Sometimes, it is referred to as unfunded requirements, more often, unfunded priorities. The list grew in length and dollar value last decade. At one point, the Air Force’s list topped $20 billion. This came despite military spending already being at an all-time high.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was not a fan of the lists, and pared them back substantially. By 2013, they were no longer produced. They reemerged last year after the Pentagon submitted its 2015 budget proposal.

On Monday, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said he “would assume that the chiefs would probably continue past practice, but for me … it’s too early to comment about what people don’t like about it already.”

Ashton Carter, who had his nomination hearing Wednesday to become defense secretary, said in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee the he would allow the military’s service chiefs to submit the wish lists. But it’s up to Congress to request them.


Operator of Drone That Crashed Outside White House May Be Charged

by Press • 5 February 2015



WASHINGTON — Secret Service agents investigating the man who operated the drone that crashed on the White House lawn last week believed there was enough evidence to charge him with a crime, and they have presented the case to federal prosecutors, according to law enforcement officials.

But the decision on whether to indict the man, Shawn Usman, has been a vexing one for the prosecutors because laws designed to protect the airspace around the White House were written for manned aircraft like planes, long before unmanned ones, like drones, became popular toys.

There is also a question of whether Mr. Usman should face charges for something he contends happened because of a malfunction with the drone.

According to aviation experts, the law’s ambiguity highlights a larger legal issue that has emerged in recent years as regulations for unmanned aircraft have not kept pace with their increased use by hobbyists and companies.

If the prosecutors decide against criminal charges, Mr. Usman may face civil charges from the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency has opened an investigation into Mr. Usman, according to a senior official there. Under F.A.A. regulations, it is illegal to operate a drone in Washington because of national security concerns at landmarks like the White House and Capitol, the official said. The penalty for such an infraction can be more than $1,000.

Mr. Usman, 31, has worked at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which uses satellites to gather information for the Defense Department. But it is not clear whether he has continued to work there while the government decides whether to charge or fine him.

In recent days, James M. Garland, a lawyer for Mr. Usman, did not return several messages seeking comment. But after his client’s name was posted online Wednesday night, he released a statement saying that Mr. Usman was “an accomplished scientist and dedicated public servant.”

“Many of the public reports of his actions with respect to this incident are inaccurate,” Mr. Garland said. “He has cooperated fully with the Secret Service’s investigation and looks forward to putting this unfortunate episode behind him.”

In an interview with Secret Service agents, Mr. Usman said that around 3 a.m. on Jan. 26, he had been playing with the drone — a 2-foot-by-2-foot quadcopter called the DJI Phantom — in the living room of his apartment a little less than a mile from the White House.

Mr. Usman, who said that he had been drinking earlier that night, told the agents he had opened a window and flown the drone outside. He then flew the drone, which belonged to a friend, back into the apartment through the window and back out again. After guiding the drone about 100 feet outside the window, Mr. Usman said that he lost control of it. The drone hovered for several minutes before shooting up several hundred feet in the air and disappearing.

Mr. Usman called the friend who owned the drone. They realized that there was nothing they could do, and Mr. Usman went to bed without knowing where the drone had landed.

When Mr. Usman woke up, he saw the news reports that a drone had been found at the White House. He spoke with one of his bosses, who told him to call the Secret Service.


Anthem hack will shake up market for cyber risk insurance

By Adam Rubenfire | February 5, 2015


The cyberattack on Anthem, which affected 80 million people, likely won’t do immediate financial damage to Anthem’s bottom line because it had cybersecurity insurance coverage, J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Justin Lake said Thursday.

What the attack will do is impact the market for such cyber security insurance for healthcare providers, payers and others. Small and medium-sized healthcare organizations that have not considered such coverage may now do so, while insurers will be re-evaluating underwriting standards and likely premium levels in the wake of the Anthem attack, insurance experts said.

Larger healthcare institutions can purchase cybersecurity coverage in excess of $100 million, in some cases for as high as $300 million to cover the costs associated with recovering from an attack, said Evan Fenaroli, cyber product manager at Philadelphia Insurance Companies, which has clients that include small physician practices and regional health systems. His average healthcare client has a $1 million policy, but the company can write policies of $5 million to $10 million.

Premiums for a $1 million plan are generally $5,000 to $10,000 annually, though that can vary based on several factors, including the company’s revenue, cyber-risk management efforts and the coverage chosen, Fenaroli said. For hospitals, premiums can be much larger—sometimes more than $100,000 or even $1 million for larger health systems, he said.

Larger organizations are more likely to purchase coverage than smaller ones, he said, because they often have access to risk managers, in-house IT security and sophisticated insurance brokers. Smaller companies, like physician practices and local clinics, don’t have access to these resources and are less likely to recognize their vulnerabilities and so see coverage as too expensive or unnecessary.

“However, as data breaches continue to be publicized in all industries, we are seeing more of the small and mid-sized organizations actively seek out this coverage,” Fenaroli said.

Most policies provide broad coverage for what constitutes a privacy breach, Fenaroli said, whether it stems from a hacker, unauthorized access by an internal rogue employee or a laptop that was lost or stolen and gotten into the wrong hands. Optional coverage can include underwriting for costs or lost revenue associated with a denial of service attack, in which a network is made unavailable to users, or for cyber extortion, where hackers access a network and demand a ransom in exchange for not stealing data (a lot of companies would rather pay the ransom and make the problem go away).

Some of the largest healthcare breaches have been handled by Beazley, which underwrites cybersecurity coverage, but also contracts services that include forensic analysis, customer notification, call center operation, credit monitoring and crisis communications. The company also has an internal team of lawyers that advises clients and represents them in class action lawsuits.

The cost of insurance coverage and breach response is minimal compared to the legal and regulatory costs associated with a massive attack that can wreck a company’s coffers if the response isn’t adequate, said Katherine Keefe, global head of British insurer Beazley’s breach response team and a former deputy general counsel for Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross.

“You’re making a meaningful, legally compliant breach response that lessens the chance down the road of class action and regulatory compliance issues,” Keefe said.

Mac McMillan, a healthcare security expert and founder of CynergisTek, an Austin, Texas-based security consultancy, said he’d heard a steep estimate of $100 million on the Community Health Services hacking incident last year in which 4.5 million records were compromised.

Cybersecurity insurers have yet to address coverage for intellectual property theft because it’s hard to determine the value of ideas and trade secrets, said Fenaroli. Devicemakers and pharmaceutical companies are in particular trouble in this regard, since they spend billions of dollars on research and development.

“The number would be potentially so high that it really wouldn’t’ be insurable,” Fenaroli said. “But I think that’s something that the insurance industry as a whole will evolve to provide some kind of coverage.

Chinese hackers who infiltrated CHS’ computer network last year were believed to be looking for intellectual property on medical devices and other equipment, but instead stole data on patients who sought care from its physician practices, the company said in August.

Any large, well-publicized breach such as the one that struck Anthem will affect the market for cybersecurity insurance, Fenaroli said, by influencing coverage terms, making underwriting requirements more stringent and increasing coverage prices, especially for healthcare companies as the industry sees more large-scale breaches. Such has been the case in the retail industry following major attacks on Home Depot and Target.

“What was acceptable five years ago is no longer going to be adequate protection from these types of attacks,” Fenaroli said. “That’s the challenge we as underwriters face, and the challenge the industry faces.”


France Seeks Drone Interception System

February 6, 2015


A French national security and defence agency under the prime minister closed the books on a call for bids to fund a drone interception system. It hopes to have at least some drone defences operational in the next 18 months. “We have made a proposal to the scientific community to see what best emerges,” said Karine Delmouly, a project manager at the National Research Agency, or ANR, which is vetting the proposals. She declined to discuss specifics or say how many companies made bids. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones – either temporarily or permanently – with the least collateral damage possible, the ANR said in its call for bids. As for the options, the sky may be the limit.

Anti-drone devices could include pinpoint radar systems to track drones the size of a breadbasket or even smaller (and distinguish them from birds), high-tech lasers to destroy the unwanted intruders or telecommunications-scrambling systems to block the remote controls that direct them. Interception drones could be sent up into the sky to fight back and low-tech solutions such as sky-high netting or fences could also work, officials say.

Last year in France, authorities faced a series of illegal small drone flights above atomic power plants and the military port of Toulon on the Mediterranean Sea. Last month one was spotted above the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. The Secretariat, which oversees the country’s security systems including cybersecurity, put 1 million euros ($1.1 million) on the table to get a system that will keep drones far from atomic plants, President Francois Hollande’s office and even landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. While it would be too costly to create a radar system to detect drones across the country, the French government is studying where and how to install scramblers and low altitude radars. Some “Vital Service Operators” — a classified list of about 200 companies key to run France’s transport, energy or health care — may be among those that will use the systems the Secretariat wants up and running within 18 months. For now, French skies are vulnerable to small drones because French military radar systems aren’t adapted to detect those flying at low altitudes, General Mercier said.

On, an image-sharing website of footage gathered by amateur drone operators, a user called “toniorapido” posted a 9-minute video of a fly-over the business district of La Defense last July. In the video, a drone flies nearby the headquarters of nuclear energy operator Areva, oil giant Total, and the country’s nuclear power plants operator Electricite de France. The drone also flew under the Arche de la Defense, a landmark of the country and above the nearby mall. La Defense has been a no-fly zone since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. “We must keep calm. Most drones are harmless,” said Francis Durufle, vice president the Civilian Drones Federation. “But we have to be vigilant. It’s like cars had appeared overnight and you had to understand the scope of changes and dangers instantly, from privacy to spying or attacks or one falling on your head.”

The Defense Ministry declined to give details on the sort of drones spotted above its nuclear submarine base in Brittany. Authorities said they didn’t capture the crafts. The Elysee palace also declined to give more details about the drone spotted above its courtyard. “We take this very seriously,” Gaspard Gantzer, a spokesman for Hollande, told Bloomberg News. “But we have to take it with sang froid.” –

See more at:


Robotics-law expert Ryan Calo weighs in on drone regulations — and ‘drunk droning’

by Press • 5 February 2015


Hard cases, said a long-ago Supreme Court justice, make bad law. The startling outliers shouldn’t be the yardstick for crafting routine criminal law. When a tipsy off-duty employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency lost control of his friend’s drone last month and smashed it onto the White House lawn, the cry went up for more drone regulation. But the incident was an oddity; the real legal questionsabout drone regulation have to do with privacy, policing, commerce and other uses. Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, specializes in robotics. The White House drone flew right onto his radar.

The White House crash had even the president asking if we were doing enough to regulate drones.

I worry … that there isn’t the expertise in government to deal with robotics, whether it’s drones or driverless cars.- Ryan Calo, University of Washington law professor who specializes in robotics issues

You can’t fly a drone around D.C. — it’s unlawful — so I’ve been confused by calls for additional legislation. What’s been interesting is the company that manufactured the drone. It’s fair to say they overreacted by creating a firmware update to prevent using that drone in the region.

Why is it overreacting?

We shouldn’t impose heavy restrictions on what amount to toys, let alone require their firmware to restrict flight. Basically, when you lock down drones for one purpose, you set a bad precedent of taking control away from innovators and owners. I think that the FAA should be more permissive about the commercial use of drones. They want commercial drone operators to hire a professional pilot. That seems like overkill.

In the past, how did the law cope with new technology, like cars, that one person controlled but that affected others?

With cars, a lot of early case law involved people scaring horses, because a new technology has unintended consequences. The law will strike one balance, and then we’ll get comfortable [with the new technology], and the law will strike a different balance.

The three big challenges for robotics laws are, one, that software can suddenly touch you; it’s not just your computer losing your homework but [doing someone] physical harm. Two, that these things will behave in ways that are useful but surprising. Three, that there’s a social valence where we react more viscerally to such technology, and the law has to take that into account.

Technology always seems to outstrip our ability to legislate its consequences.

The pace of change is faster than the pace of legislative or judicial change. These are difficult things for legislators to predict. People put restrictions on Segways, but it ended up that the Segway wasn’t a big deal. The Electronic Communication Privacy Act passed in 1986, based on technology in which storage of digital stuff was very expensive and systems would routinely purge information to make room for new information. Today we store everything indefinitely; this law has been outdated for 10 years.

You regard drones as a catalyst for privacy laws. Where are the boundaries? If I saw one hovering at my window, I’d be inclined to take a baseball bat to it.

Tort law is going to look at you taking a baseball bat to a drone as two different claims: your claim against the drone operator for trespassing, and the operator’s claim against you for trespassing on his chattels. So you’re going to end up potentially suing each other. If the drone were to fly at your face, you’d be excused under the defense-of-self doctrine. But you can’t just take a bat to something.

Privacy law is not as protective as it should be. It’s hard to sue people for spying on you in your back yard. It’s hard to get police to exclude evidence from a drone or aerial photography. And it’s not exclusively about drones; drones are a good example but not the only example.

Aren’t crime and terrorism the big drone fears?

Almost every credible threat you could accomplish with a drone, you could accomplish with a football. There are certain things drones make easier. If the concern is about an explosive too close to the White House, walking up to the gates and throwing a football full of explosives is one way to accomplish that; another is with a drone. Why ban drones but not balls? If the scenario is as horrific as you’re imagining, those people will not be dissuaded by additional laws.

Arguments about gun regulation often go this way: “Why not regulate butter knives? You can kill with those too.” Butter knives are made to spread butter; guns are made to put holes in things. Likewise, balls are made for sports, drones to get into places where humans cannot and maybe should not go.

I take your point. It’s harder to characterize drones as being an entirely innocuous tool, the way you would with a butter knife, nor do I think it goes so far as being like a gun. Certain activities are made easier by technology, in some cases so easy that we’re made uncomfortable.

[But] artificial intelligence and robotics are interesting precisely because of what they allow people to do. That’s what makes them empowering. Let’s say you want the best surgeon; that surgeon could be in Tokyo. You could get surgery in L.A. from that surgeon through robotics.

What is the answer? New laws? Industry self-regulation?

I think it’s very unwise to disallow a whole platform from doing certain things. You are curtailing the prospects of innovation.

And it’s a slippery slope. If there’s a protest, and police have the ability to affect your drone at a distance, all of a sudden you can’t exercise your 1st Amendment rights to monitor the police. This sort of thing has happened. [San Francisco’s rapid transit system shut down cellphone service on its train platforms to head off a potential protest in 2011.]

A better way to manage this is to throw the book at people who endanger others with their drones. A Pepperdine colleague, Gregory McNeal, says we have these two-ton machines that can veer off and run into each other — and we protect against that with a line of paint.

Driverless cars are another emerging robotic technology; California is still trying to come up with standards for them too.

I worry, and I’m not alone, that there isn’t the expertise in government to deal with robotics, whether it’s drones or driverless cars.

The legal liability issues around driverless cars are going to be pretty easy. If you build a product to get from point A to point B safely, and it doesn’t do that, you’re going to be liable.

It becomes tricky when you have an app-enabled platform, like your smartphone. Imagine you run a third-party app, and that app ends up doing something problematic. It’s no longer the manufacturer or the operator that is responsible. It’s [app] code that literally anybody in their basement, anybody in Russia could have written.

The optics suggest you should sue the manufacturer because its robot ran into you and hurt you. But [the injury] is in part a product of a third-party app. I have proposed immunizing manufacturers of open robotic systems for the apps people run but also being more careful in selecting what apps to sell.

What was your first thought when you heard about the “drunk droning” incident at the White House?

Thanks a lot, one person, for sending us in the wrong direction. We’re now talking about locking down platforms and extra regulation just because of one guy.

On Twitter, some of us had this hashtag going, #drunkdrone songs. Remember that Jimmy Buffett lyric, “Why don’t we get drunk and screw?”? My first one was, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw Up Drone Policy in the United States?”


Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Things are heating up for America on several fronts overseas, and voters don’t like what they see.

In its latest atrocity, the radical Islamic group ISIS burned a captured Jordanian pilot to death earlier this week. U.S. voters say President Obama has not been vocal enough in criticizing the heinous acts of this group and believe overwhelmingly that those involved should be tried for war crimes.

The president is expected to ask Congress any day now to authorize the use of more military force against ISIS up to and including ground forces. We’ll let you know early next week how voters feel about boots on the ground again in Iraq.

Most voters think it is likely the United States will be forced to send combat troops to fight ISIS but strongly agree that Obama needs Congress’ approval first.

Voters are cool to the president’s plan to send additional military aid including weapons to Ukraine to help it fight pro-Russian separatists. After all, only 38% consider Ukraine a vital national security interest of the United States.

By contrast, most voters consider Israel vital to national security, but 44% believe the U.S. relationship with Israel has gotten worse since Obama took office.

Meanwhile, the number of voters who think the United States needs to spend more on the military and national security has risen to its highest level in several years of regular surveying.

Perhaps in part that’s because belief that America and its allies are winning the War on Terror has fallen to its lowest level ever.

But there’s the rub. Most voters continue to call for across-the-board spending cuts, but that support drops if the military budget or entitlements are taken off the cutting block. Generally speaking, Democrats want to cut defense spending, while Republicans want to cut entitlements. The president has already warned the GOP-led Congress that he will not accept a budget that increases defense spending but cuts his domestic priorities.

Obama began the week by proposing a near $4 trillion budget to Congress that includes spending and tax increases. Republican leaders declared it largely dead on arrival. In theory at least, most voters prefer to cut spending and don’t see a need for higher taxes.

Voters want the president and Congress to work together: The problem is that, depending on their party, voters want them to do completely different things. So where do we go from here?

Maybe the president’s getting some credit after all for the economy’s improving performance. His daily job approval ratings remain several points higher than they were before Election Day, and his monthly job approval hit 49% in January. That’s up a point from December and ties his high for 2014. Forty-nine percent (49%) also disapproved, but that his lowest negative since October 2013.

Democrats have a two-point lead over Republicans on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot. They have now led for four of the first five weeks of 2015.

The federal government’s jobs report, released yesterday, showed another month of healthy hiring, although the unemployment rate slipped back slightly. The Rasmussen Employment Index which measures worker confidence also slipped a point in January, but that follows two months in a row of six-year highs.

Americans seem to be relatively content with their current jobs since nearly half believe staying put affords them the best opportunity to get ahead.

But 15% also now say they’re among the working poor, the highest finding since July 2012.

Daily consumer and investor confidence are down slightly from their beginning-of-the-year highs but remain ahead of levels seen for the last several years.

Of course, there’s still a lot of nervous anticipation about the impact of the new national health care law on businesses this year. Just over half of voters again view Obamacare unfavorably, and support for government-mandated levels of health insurance coverage continues to fall.

Americans also remain highly skeptical about the ability of the public schools to produce high school graduates ready for college and the workplace.

Keep in mind, too, that only 34% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction. But then again, believe it or not, that’s more optimism than we’ve seen in the last couple years.

In other surveys last week:

— Following reports of a measles outbreak in 14 states, Americans overwhelmingly support requiring children to be vaccinated before being allowed to attend school.

Support for capital punishment in America remains steady, despite lingering concerns about wrongful executions and uncertainty as to whether the death penalty deters crime.

— Most think the man who killed 12 and wounded 70 in a Colorado theater mass shooting should get the death penalty, but there’s less support for punishing a suspect who’s proven to be mentally ill.

— An overwhelming majority of Americans say they receive good service at the restaurants they visit, and they tip accordingly.

How do Americans rate the way the media covers the weather?

— Oops! The Seattle Seahawks were the fans’ favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX.


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