ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 4, 2020) – The Army will use a series of assessments to improve network and communications resiliency during a field experiment this summer.

The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – a component of Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) – will examine potential vulnerabilities within systems being developed for use by the Army during this year’s Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX 20), taking place at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, from July 20 through Oct. 2.

As the C5ISR Center’s annual accountability event, NetModX uses field-based experimentation to inform acquisition decisions, Army science and technology specifications, requirements and strategies. This year, the C5ISR Center partnered with CCDC’s Data and Analysis Center (DAC) to create a working group of engineers tasked with detecting and analyzing vulnerabilities within government and industry communications systems still in the developmental phase.

“We’re working hand-in-hand with government and industry technology developers to develop their systems and assess the systems’ capabilities when faced with novice, near-peer adversary and future-threat scenarios,” said Alexis Sietins, DAC’s chief electronic warfare engineer for NetModX. “Addressing future-threat scenarios is paramount to stay ahead and ensure the Army maintains battlefield superiority in the coming years.”

Through the use of modeling and simulation, proactive troubleshooting done in the laboratory prior to the event and field-based risk reduction during the event, NetModX 20 offers a fail-safe environment that gives government and industry technology providers an opportunity to learn how their systems perform mission command tasks in an operationally-relevant environment.

“We work with science and technology project leads to understand the technology, design specific threats and develop experiments around the improvements their systems are planning to provide,” Sietins said. “The result allows the project lead to show directly how well their system improves upon traditional solutions with the goal of providing operational overmatch.”

The outcomes of the experiment will enable the C5ISR Center’s collaborative partner, Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), to make decisions regarding Capability Set 23 – a collection of network capability enhancements informed by experimentation, demonstration and direct Soldier feedback, scheduled to be fielded in 2023.

“The program community, partnered with the Network Cross-Functional Team and the C5ISR Center, leverages experimentation venues such as NetModX to help inform network design decisions and assess prototypes that may become part of future capability sets,” said Paul Mehney, a spokesperson for PEO C3T.

During the experiment, engineers will gather data to evaluate the technological readiness of the systems by comparing them against the nine readiness levels used to describe the maturity of Department of Defense technologies. This ensures they are properly aligned with the Army’s requirements before they are placed in the hands of Soldiers for operational testing. In most cases, transition agreements between the C5ISR Center and its program-management partners require a technology readiness level of six, which represents prototype demonstration in an operationally relevant environment.

The C5ISR Center has the ability to share data from the assessments with industry through previously established Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, which are legal agreements between a federal laboratory and a non-federal party to conduct specified research or development efforts. Dr. Michael Brownfield, the C5ISR Center’s Future Capabilities chief, said sharing feedback with vendors can help them mature their systems so they are able to meet the Army’s requirements.
“We have an extensive understanding of our near-peer adversaries’ abilities to disrupt our communications,” said Brownfield. “We can replicate those electronic attack capabilities against vendor-developed technologies and iteratively mitigate their vulnerabilities as a team.”

Army senior leaders and industry partners who are interested in receiving reports generated by the experiment or who would like to participate in events related to NetModX 20, can do so by contacting the C5ISR Center's Future Capabilities Office at usarmy.apg.ccdc-c5isr.mbx.stcd-ost-fco@mail.mil.

For more information regarding NetModX 20, contact the C5ISR Center Public Affairs Office: usarmy.apg.ccdc-c5isr.mbx.pao@mail.mil.

The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.

The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

Media inquiries may be directed to the C5ISR Center Office of Strategic Communications & Engagements.

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