- By George I. Seffers
- Apr 23, 2001
The Navy needs contractors to build prototypes of Dragon Eye, a 4-pound
reconnaissance plane described as "low-priced, hip-pocket aerial reconnaissance
for the troops."
The Naval Research Laboratory has built and demonstrated a model of
the robotic airborne sensor system. It is equipped with a video eye and
designed to be carried by Marine Corps scouts in backpacks. It can be assembled
and launched in less than five minutes and comes with a portable control
station. Although considered expendable, it will come when called and has
the radar signature of a bird.
The new motto for Marine Corps scouts: A bird in the backpack makes
you better in the bush.
Although the Pentagon has cranked out many documents in recent years
outlining computer-warfare doctrine and instructions, it has yet to establish
an effective policy for protecting software-controlled weapon systems, such
as the next-generation F-22 fighter jet, from computer attacks. That's the
opinion of Lt. Col. Lionel Alford, a computer programmer and aeronautical
test policy manager with Air Force Materiel Command.
In an article in CrossTalk, an authorized Defense Department journal
for those in the software community, Alford pointed out that most modern
weapon systems are controlled by software and, therefore, vulnerable to
intruders. But DOD doctrine focuses on information systems, especially those
used for command and control. "The F-22 is not a closed system; external
information systems update and integrate F-22 combat op-erations during
flight," Alford writes. And yet "current doctrine does not address software
as the major element of a military fighting system."
Contents of CrossTalk are not necessarily the official views of DOD.
In this case, it must be true.
More than a few eyebrows were raised earlier this month when two senior
Navy officials were seen strolling around California's Mojave Desert looking dare I say it? like fish out of water. The pair observed the Army's
massive Division Capstone Exercise, starring the service's first digitized
division from Fort Hood, Texas.
Rear Adm. James Strav-ridis, a member of the joint requirements board,
which has a say in buying multiservice systems, explained that the Army's
networking initiatives have implications for all the services to better
share battlefield information. One system the board is especially interested
in is the next-generation narrowband UHF satellite, Strav-ridis said, noting:
"Coming out here and seeing the Army operations very much helps me appreciate
how important that system is and will help frame the decisions we have to
make about when to put up the satellite, what kind of capabilities they
will represent for the services."
Aura-metrics? Forget It
DOD always wants the latest, greatest information technologies being
developed in the commercial world. Biometrics technology, for example, is
an area of growing interest. Biometrics is the use of such things as fingerprint
or iris scans to identify those with access to facilities or networks. But
DOD will likely never invest in some technologies, according to Jeffrey
Dunn, chief of the Identification and Authentication Research Branch for
the National Security Agency.
Vendors have approached him hoping to sell biometrics technologies using
the pattern of blood veins in fingers, fingernails, body odor and even personal
auras, those shimmering patterns of light that psychics claim surround each
of us. Although it wasn't clear if Dunn was joking, he stressed that the
Pentagon's interest in biometrics obviously doesn't extend to the "outer
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