Despite a climate of what defense officials love to describe as "fiscal uncertainty," the Pentagon's 2014 budget request includes $4.7 billion for increased "cyberspace operations," including dozens of cyber attack teams, the Defense Department announced today. To give you some sense of just how much cyber has increased in importance over the last year, the DOD’s 2013 budget overview mentions "cyber" 47 times while the 2014 overview mentions it 153 times. Last year's budget provided $3.9 billion for cyber according to DOD Comptroller Robert Hale. This money will be used to "increase defensive capabilities and develop the cyber Joint Force," according to the budget proposal.
What's that mean in English? The billions will support the Pentagon's previously announced plan to field dozens of cyber-combat teams that will protect the country from devastating cyber attack.
Thirteen of these teams -- called "defend the nation" teams -- are geared toward offensive operations aimed at deterring cyber attacks. Twenty-seven teams will support battlefield commanders around the globe by giving them cyber attack capabilities. The remainder will focus on defending DOD's networks from cyber attack.
These teams will be composed of a mix of civilian and uniformed personnel at locations across the country.
The increased funding "provides manpower, training and support costs for regional cyber mission teams to be located in Maryland, Texas, Georgia, and Hawaii as well as other Combatant Command and military service locations," the budget proposal says. "In addition, manpower at the National Security Agency continues to be funded to provide both cyber security and intelligence support to the USCYBERCOM teams."
Continued investment in cyber is listed as one of the "Key Priorities" in the budget, along with missile defense, space programs, science and technology efforts, personnel pay, and funding National Guard and reserve forces.
Here are the other cyber highlights of the 2014 budget as listed by DOD:
- Continues to support the construction of the Joint Operations Center for USCYBERCOM at Fort Meade, Maryland. Planned construction begins in FY 2014 with occupancy scheduled in FY 2017.
- Provides funding to develop tools to automate vulnerability detection on classified networks.
- Provides funding for commercial software for data monitoring of defense networks that will identify and isolate suspect files for analysis.
- Continues to robustly support cyberspace operations Science and Technology programs.
- Continues to support defensive cyberspace operations providing information assurance and cyber security to the Defense networks at all levels.
- Provide funding to enhance cyberspace range capabilities by increasing capacity, improving pre- and post- exercise analysis, and mainstreaming and sustaining capabilities of the National Cyber Range developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under the oversight of the Department's Test Resource Management Center.
U.S. Air Force
U.S. military commanders around the world are discussing how to integrate cyber weapons with all the other tools in their arsenals, according to the chief of the Navy's cyber forces.
Doing this will give battlefield commanders the ability to choose which weapon they want to use to achieve a desired effect.
"Whether we do that through the spectrum [via electronic warfare], we do that through the network [via cyber] or we do that through something kinetic [bullets and bombs], what we want to be able to do is be able to tee up to the commander, multiple options," said Vice Admiral Michael Rogers during the Navy League's annual Sea Air Space conference just outside Washington today. Then, "the commander can make the decision about what's the best tool to use. . . . I don't get any pushback on that idea at all."
"If we think we're going to do cyber off in some closet somewhere we have totally missed the boat on this thing," Rogers noted.
At the same time, the lines between traditional electronic warfare -- radar jamming, electronic eaves dropping, etc. -- and cyber warfare are containing to blur, at least in the U.S. Navy.
"I see those lines blurring increasingly There is great convergence between the spectrum [EW] and the cyber world at the moment which I think just offers great opportunities, as a SIGINT [signals intelligence] kind of guy by background, I just lick my lips at the opportunities that I see out there in that arena," said Rogers.
While Rogers didn't elaborate on the type of combined cyber-electronic warfare missions he envisions, a fellow admiral noted that the Pentagon is looking at non-cyber ways of shutting down an enemy's ability to fight without firing a shot. (Remember, cyber-philes often point out that cyber weapons can cripple a nation without a single missile being launched.)
"Cyberspace can be an enabler but there's [other] non-kinetic ways to disadvantage the enemy in cyberspace that don't require a cyber activity; [electronic warfare] capability, and other things like that," said Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, deputy director of the special programs cross functional team on the Joint Staff, during the Navy League's annual Sea Air Space conference just outside Washington today.
Click here to read an example of a type of non-cyber electronic weapon that's capable of shutting down an enemy's electronics systems without blowing anything up.
Happy Monday. We're celebrating the nicest day of 2013 so far in Washington by showing you the most high-res photo of China's J-31 stealth fighter we've ever seen.
The J-31 is China's second, smaller stealth fighter after its J-20. The J-31 strongly resembles a cross between Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor and its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Some speculate that the J-31 is being built as a smaller attack jet meant to compliment the large J-20 -- a plane that may be a high-speed interceptor meant to keep enemy planes far from China's shores. Others think the J-31 could be China's attempt to build a carrier-based stealth fighter given its small size and dual-wheeled nose landing gear. Though, as you can see in this photo, Chinese engineers clearly have yet to add a tail hook to the jet. Despite the close-up nature of this shot, we still can't make out the outlines of the J-31's weapons bays. Though we do notice a pair of what look like rather unstealthy, circular running lights on the bottom of the wingtips
Enjoy, and get out of the office already if you live in DC.
Hat tip to Alert 5.
It's not every day that you get to see a new stealth jet unveiled, but today Lockheed Martin's famed Skunk Works division posted these artist's renderings of its bid for the Navy's next attack jet at its booth at the Navy League's annual Sea Air Space conference just outside of Washington.
Remember, the Navy is trying to field a fleet of stealthy, unmanned fighter-sized jets that can launch from an aircraft carrier, fly through enemy air defenses and do everything from bomb targets to spy on them under a program called Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike or UCLASS.
Last summer, Lockheed showed us a very unrevealing drawing of what it said would be its UCLASS bid, nicknamed the Sea Ghost. These pictures offer a far better look at the jet.
The plane above looks remarkably similar to Lockheed's super-secret RQ-170 Sentinel spy plane, nicknamed the Beast of Kandahar by reporters after grainy photos of it operating in Afghanistan emerged in 2008. (A Sentinel was famously captured by Iran in late 2010, giving the world its first close-up view of the jet.) When yours truly pointed out the similarities between Lockheed's UCLASS bid and the Sentinel to a company spokeswoman, she just smiled and said she had no idea what I was talking about. It makes sense for Lockheed to base the airplane on an existing stealth drone since the Navy wants UCLASS operating from carriers by the end of this decade.
While the spokeswoman couldn't say anything about the plane beyond that it will be flying sometime around 2018 to 2020, she did provide Killer Apps with a quick fact sheet.
Lockheed says the jet will be based on its existing manned and unmanned planes and will feature a "maximum reuse of hardware and software," according to the factsheet posted below. (This means the plane will incorporate technology developed for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well as the RQ-170.) Still, the jet will need to have a tail hook added, wings that fold (to fit on a carrier's crowded deck), and have its airframe strengthened to withstand the pressures of catapult launches and arrested landings, as well as the corrosive sea air,
As you can see from these pictures, the plane doesn't feature the RQ-170's two large humps, which likely sensors contain communications gear, on the top and bottom of its fuselage. This is likely because the Sentinel was designed a decade or more ago and sensor and comms technology has shrunk in size dramatically since then.
Like all modern stealth jets, Lockheed's UCLASS bid features "signature control," meaning it doesn't just rely on a stealthy shape to remain undetected. It will feature a combination of radar absorbing coatings, heat-masking technology, and various ways of protecting its electronic emissions (radar, satellite communications, etc.) from detection by an enemy, according to the factsheet.
Finally, one operator aboard an aircraft carrier or ashore will be able to control multiple jets as they carry out missions. This last attribute is a key tenet of the UCLASS program, which seeks to field a fleet of semi-autonomous drones that can do everything from land themselves on aircraft carriers to refuel in midair with a pilot simply supervising the mission.
Despite reports that are beginning to circulate on the Internet, the U.S. is not sending B-1 Lancer heavy bombers to its massive Pacific Ocean base on Guam.
"They're not at Guam," a U.S. Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman just told Killer Apps. "They definitely didn't even stop through."
The U.S. constantly rotates B-2 stealth bombers and B-52 Stratofortress bombers through Anderson Air Force Base, Guam under a scheme meant to maintain a constant heavy bomber presence in the Pacific. Last week, the U.S. sent six B-52s from Minot AFB in North Dakota to Guam. Also last week, a pair of B-2s also flew a 13,000-mile round-trip mission from Missouri to South Korea to perform a practice bombing run over the peninsula -- the North Koreans loved that.
B-1s, however, often deploy to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or to a base on the Persian Gulf, where they are used to provide air support to troops in Afghanistan.
"They're pretty concerned with the desert, so they're pretty busy over there," added the spokeswoman when asked if the B-1s ever deploy to Anderson as part of the Air Force's "continuous bomber presence" mission.
U.S. Air Force
By now, everyone is familiar with Distributed Denial of Service attacks -- the relatively primitive cyberattack that takes down a website by flooding it with visits. Well, there's a new denial of service trend that takes advantage of VoIP technology to target phone lines instead of websites.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a confidential warning to first responders, warning that hackers may try to flood emergency call centers with phone calls, overwhelming them and preventing legitimate calls from getting through. Instead of a DDOS attack, it's called a Telephony Denial of Service (TDOS), attack.
Dozens of attacks in "multiple jurisdictions" have targeted these public safety lines -- which are not the same as 911 lines -- according to the DHS-FBI announcement, a copy of which was put online this week by cybersecurity researcher, Brian Krebs.
"These attacks are ongoing. Many similar attacks have occurred targeting various businesses and public entities, including the financial sector and other public emergency operations interests, including air ambulance, ambulance and hospital communications," reads the March 16 bulletin, which was for immediate dissemination to "public safety answering points and emergency communications centers and personnel." The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a little-noticed warning about TDOS attacks in January.
The DHS-FBI announcement describes the wave of attacks as part of an extortion scheme whereby an individual -- who usually speaks with a thick accent -- calls an organization and asks to speak with a current or former employee and then demands collection of a $5,000 payday loan. When the victim tells the caller to get lost and hangs up, the attackers launch the TDOS attack using hacked VoIP automated dialing systems to flood the call center.
"The organization will be inundated with a continuous stream of calls for an unspecified, but lengthy period of time," reads the bulletin. "The attack can prevent both incoming and/or outgoing calls from being completed." The attacks can continue intermittently over weeks or even months.
TDOS attacks are meant to intimidate victims by flooding their employers with debilitating phone calls. Sometimes those employers happen to be emergency call centers. But the bulletin also says, "It is speculated that government offices/emergency services are being ‘targeted' because of the necessity of functional phone lines."
In another variant of this extortion scheme, perpetrators claim that an arrest warrant has been issued for the victim's failure to pay the loan. "In order to have the police actually respond to the victim's residence, the subject places repeated, harassing calls to the local police department while spoofing the victim's telephone number," the January notice said.
I'm no extortionist, but aren't there plenty of ways to shake someone down without bringing first responders into the mix? What could possibly go wrong for the criminals there?
This is interesting. It's an illustration from a 1945 Life magazine article all about what a nuclear war would look like (though it wasn't the cover story -- that space was reserved for a piece about women with "big belts"). This particular drawing shows that the U.S. has been thinking about how to shoot down missiles with radar-guided missiles for nearly 70 years now.
"The only defense now conceivable against a rocket, once it is in flight, is illustrated above," reads the article. "It is another rocket fired like an antiaircraft shell at a point where it will meet its enemy. Once it had been launched, such a rocket might detect the attacking machine with radar and make its own corrections."
Sound familiar? The U.S. just announced that it's positioning Aegis-radar-equipped, missile defense destroyers off the in the waters off the Korean Peninsula. Those ships are armed with SM-3 missiles that once airborne, receive constant data about the location of their target, an enemy missile (or satellite) from the ships' radars until they slam into their target with 30 megajoules of kinetic energy, or the "equivalent of a 10-ton truck travelling at 600 mph," as SM-3-maker Raytheon says.
The U.S. Army meanwhile is deploying Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles to Guam. Again, these are radar-guided missiles designed to take out ballistic missiles just as they are set to reenter the atmosphere on the final leg of their voyage.
Interestingly, the Life illustration shows just such a scene.
"The enemy rocket, coasting through space with its fuel exhausted, is beginning to fall toward the U.S. The defensive rocket, racing upward under full power, is incandescent from the friction of its short passage through the Earth's atmosphere. When the two projectiles collide, the atomic explosion will appear to observers on Earth as a bright new star."
(It’s important to note that modern ballistic missile defenses wouldn’t actually set off celestial nuclear explosions, pretty as they sound. Instead, the warhead would just break apart.)
Keep in mind that hitting a missile with another missile is extremely difficult, and as FP's Kevin Baron points out in Killer Apps sister blog, The E-Ring, THAAD has seen its share of teething problems.
Then-Army Air Force chief Gen. Hap Arnold, a man who would go on to become the first ever five-star general of the Air Force, told Life just how difficult shooting missiles down would be.
"Although there now seem to be insurmountable difficulties in an active defense against future atomic projectiles similar to the German V-2 but armed with atomic explosives, this condition should only intensify our efforts to discover an effective means of defense," said the general.
Seventy years later and we're still trying to perfect such a defense.
Hat tip to Alex Wellerstein for posting the article over at Restricted Data.
As tensions on the Korean Peninsula rise, the Defense Department officially told Congress that the U.S. may sell 60 stealthy jets to South Korea.
Last Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency -- the arm of DOD that handles foreign military sales -- announced the possible sale of 60 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for $10.8 billion or 60 Boeing-made F-15SE Silent Eagles for $2.4 billon to the Republic of Korea.
The two U.S. defense giants have been pushing their premier export fighters on Seoul for years under the South Korean air force's effort to replace its ancient F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tigers with a 21st century fighter, a contest known as FX III.
The U.S. jets are competing against the Eurofighter Typhoon, one of the most advanced operational fighters in the world.
"The proposed sale will augment South Korea's operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to ground self-defense capability, provide it with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region, and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces," reads DSCA's April 3 announcement of the possible F-15SE sale. "The Republic of Korea Air Force's F-4 aircraft will be decommissioned as F-15SEs are added to the inventory. Korea will have no difficulty absorbing this additional equipment and support into its inventory. "
The April 3 notice of the possible F-35 sale has a nearly identical paragraph with an additional sentence that reads: "The proposed sale of F-35s will provide the Republic of Korea (ROK) with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces."
While the fighter contest has been going on since 2012, the notification to Congress comes as tensions are running high between the U.S. and North Korea. Last week U.S. F-22s and B-2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. Navy sent two additional destroyers to the region, and the Pentagon announced that it is sending missile defense units to Guam. Seoul was supposed to pick a winner in the FX III contest last fall, but the decision has been pushed back to mid-2013.
Boeing's Silent Eagle is an upgraded version of its venerable F-15 Eagle/F-15E Strike Eagle, featuring V-shaped tails, internal weapons bays, and radar absorbent material in an effort to make it stealthy. Unveiled in 2009, the Silent Eagle is being offered by the Chicago-based company as a low-cost alternative to the F-35. It has no buyers yet, but South Korea's Korean Aircraft Industries is teaming with Boeing to develop the F-15SE's weapons bays.
The Korean air force already flies 60 F-15E Strike Eagles, known as F-15K SLAM Eagles due to their ability to carry SLAM-ER cruise missiles.
Still, the South Korean government has stated that it wants a modern stealth fighter such as the F-22 or the F-35 and even expressed interest in the Russian-made Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA stealth jet. While the F-15SE is stealthier than a regular F-15, it's not as stealthy as a plane designed from the start to be stealthy.
John Reed reports on the frontiers of cyber war and the latest in military technology for Killer Apps.