MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Air Force Association-sponsored Air, Space and Cyber Conference at National Harbor, Maryland.
Battelle is expanding the technology baseline for its DroneDefender counter-UAS device. At the same time the company is strengthening BARRICADE – its internal research and development effort to eliminate the risk of clone or counterfeit chips making their way into aerospace or defense systems, critical infrastructure and other critical systems.
DroneDefender V2 unveiled at AFA builds upon customer feedback from the product’s earlier siblings – V1 and V1LF. “One of the main improvements is eliminating the backpack so there are no longer any wires connected to a backpack. Everything, including the batteries, are included in the weapon itself. This treamlining involved going to more custom components, which required more innovation and testing to go along with it,” Kimberly Stambler, PhD, Sales and Business Development Leader in the Mission and Defense Technologies Group at Battelle, said. Drone Defender is sold to the US government (Departments of Defense and Homeland Security), and to several unspecified non-US militaries under International Traffic in Arms Regulations provisions.
The V2 model remains lightweight (15lbs [6.8kg]), uses directed energy to defeat UASs and has an effective range of 400(+)m (1,2312 feet). DroneDefender V2’s target sets remain Group 1 and 2 UASs [US DOD nomenclature for smaller, lighter less expensive vehicles – quadrotors, for instance]. “We’re working on V3. We continue to integrate feedback from our customer – in particular – monitoring the next small classes of UAS,” the industry expert concluded.
Whispers on defence conference floors and a 2010 US Commerce Department study about clones and counterfeit devices in the US DoD supply chain led to a 2012 US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the topic. Fast forward to 2017. Battelle is in its third year of refining its BARRICADE internal science and technology (S&T) programme, designed to add rigor to the effort to improve the department’s logistics readiness. “We leverage power analysis to examine an integrated circuit device and determine its authenticity based on its power signature. We use similar techniques, like side-channel power analysis being used to extract information from a microprocessor and pivoted the technique to develop a ‘signature’ for what an authentic device should look like based on power consumption. This is not a simplistic comparison, like examining, ‘does a power level or profile match’,” Tom Bergman, Program Manager for Cyber Innovations at Battelle, explained. “We’re taking an integrated circuit component, putting it into the system, applying power, stimulating the part with a test vector, and then collecting and digitizing the current going into the power pin of the device.”
Battelle then develops a signature based on what authentic components of a certain part number (or class) have in common with one another, trains the system so one can see differences even down to those found between a date-lot code of a particular part. “If we can do that, we can easily separate manufacturers’ from one another, and counterfeits and clone devices from that,” Bergman added.
Next on this Battelle BARRICADE roadmap is to engage with an early-adopter partner with a Pentagon entity – for example the Air Force or Navy which is invested in trust and assurance of microelectronic devices. Bergman concluded: “Ultimately what Battelle wants to do with this is find a license partner – a component manufacturer, a company in the test and evaluation industry, or someone else like that – to further develop this technology and take that next step – taking it to market.”