Whether on the battlefield, assisting with disaster relief, or deployed in peace-keeping operations, soldiers need the ability to continuously share information and understand where potential threats lie. Communications and information sharing have always played pivotal roles in hostile environments, but as mission requirements have evolved over time, so too has the need to provide the necessary security and intelligence to support a mission or event of any size.
Hear from Nick Robinson, Principal Network Engineer and Chand Svare Ghei, Chief Engineer at Airbus Secure Communications as they discuss the key changes to Deployable Communications and Information Systems (CIS) in the past 5 years, the current challenges, and what we can expect to see in the future for deployable military communications.
How have deployable communications changed in the past 5 years?
The capabilities, performance and interoperability of Deployable CIS are continuously enhanced to meet advancing initiatives such as Federated Mission Networking (FMN) and the NATO DCIS Cube Architecture. FMN, by nature, is ever evolving and each development (Spiral) is changing both horizontally and vertically as new and enhanced security measures are introduced. On one side, the federation capabilities are building upwards in the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) stack, while on the other side, more capabilities are continuously being added on site. In comparison, the NATO DCIS CUBE 2.0 Architecture initiative (built on the NCI Agency DCIS Target Architecture in partnership with Airbus) is a high tempo driving force introduced to innovate and improve the technical solutions for Deployable CIS into the modern era. Recent focus has been around sharing of information in near-real time without compromising security, integrity and authenticity, as well as the migration from traditional IT platforms to modern cloud technologies, all of which are key functions within the Airbus solution delivery.
Operational challenges are continuously changing in accordance with the geopolitical picture. In order to support and sustain any possible scenario, Deployable CIS solutions are required to deliver higher computing capacity and flexibility in conjunction with lower physical footprint and weight. Maximizing usage of high-tech COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) solutions is also needed to faster introduce technological advances, hyper converged infrastructure and environmentally friendly features, while tailoring is required to meet the specifics of operating in potential hostile areas. Furthermore, to support increasing agile environments and expose fewer soldiers on the ground, the presentation of ICT systems to the user needs to be simplified.
What are the current challenges around Deployable Communications and Information Systems?
There is a common misconception that Deployable CIS are outdated. Enhancement of technology, in particular Artificial Intelligence (AI), in recent years has meant that Deployable CIS solutions have had to drastically adapt to the changing environment in order to stay relevant. Many of the cloud and AI enabled COTS solutions are not useable in a deployed and tactical environment without heavy engineering and tailoring, with Secure DevOPS development. This has led to Deployable CIS solutions undergoing continuous technological development, incorporating new and innovative ways to ensure mission and solution success.
Traditional delivery models of CIS infrastructure are changing as too are customer needs. We are seeing a shift to service based models as the customer requires exactly the capacity and capabilities required at any given time, replacing the legacy systems approach. Likewise, there is an exponential growth of disruptive concepts and technologies that are continuously enhancing and changing the concepts of operation. These new and exciting features of current improvements and future enhancements build on the existing frameworks and Deployable CIS solutions, maximizing the re-usability and effectively reducing not only the financial footprint, but optimizing and lengthening the lifetime of Deployable CIS investments.
What are the future trends you see for Communications and Information Systems?
While there have already been significant improvements in ICT and Deployable CIS, there is much more to come. As we move into a world of hyper-converged infrastructure, the physical portion is taking the form of modules, typically consisting of Compute, Storage, Network and Memory, building upon a virtual infrastructure. To meet the stringent need to function under harsh conditions, anywhere in the world, environmental protection, facilitators and hardware encryption are required. These building blocks will evolve to meet new challenges, including distributed AI to enhance on site data analytics, and Quantum technology to increase computation power and provide a new grade of encryption security. To enable no-fuzz, extreme high speed data transfers, layer 1 and 2 encryption gain increasing importance, and the networks will in larger degree utilise segment routing.
To enhance utilisation of the physical infrastructure, minimize costly overhead and operate with a greener profile, networks and network security will utilise micro-segmentation, optimising network and security flows down to the physical interfaces. Multi-Level and Multi-Tenant security will ensure protecting, correct handling and release of classified information on all levels of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) stack, reducing the need for additional hardware, enabling multiple classification and interest areas on the same device.
As the world of Military IoT (Internet of Things) expands, the nature and number of end-user terminals and equipment will change and the media to connect will be focused on virtual ends. Even for classified information, we will see a higher degree of military grade secured virtualised desktops, allowing users to access applications and information on any device, anywhere. The Airbus Deployable CIS solution supports the future Combat Cloud enabling: access to core HQ operational VPS/cloud, cloud extension to the tactical edge and C2 control of an asset to be passed securely with full level authentication in microseconds. The cloud enabled deployable CIS, will in turn, change the delivery of Deployed CIS to a service based model, dynamically delivering what is needed, when it is needed.
Next generation Deployable Communications and Information System
Airbus has developed the next generation Deployable Communications and Information System, providing the necessary security and intelligence to support a mission or event of any size. Designed for military missions, anti-terrorist actions, disaster relief, exploration and peace-keeping operations, the Airbus deployable communications solution is a complete IT, cybersecurity, network, audio and video collaboration system that supports multi-security level communications and intelligence exchange.
Built on NATO C3 Taxonomy, it comprises modular IP networks and information infrastructure components tailored to the CIS requirements of the mission, in a hybrid service approach, PaaS, IaaS or SaaS. Its Deployable CIS capabilities, performance and interoperability are continuously enhanced to meet advancing initiatives such as FMN and the NATO DCIS Cube Architecture providing solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
Maximising usage for high-tech COTS capabilities and components, the Airbus Deployable CIS solution provides customised tailoring to meet the specific needs of the deployable and tactical areas, enabling rapid adoption of new capabilities into the architecture without the delay and overhead of building dedicated components.
Want to find out more?
Download our whitepaper or get in contact to find out how the Airbus Deployable Communications and Information System solution can be tailored to meet your mission requirements.