By Meg Carpenter, PEO C3TApril 3, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (April 9, 2013) -- When the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) was having an issue with its satellite communications network radios, it approached the Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center (CERDEC) for assistance.
Kim Le, a CERDEC Cryptographic Modernization (CryptoMod) engineer who supports Product Director Communications Security (PD COMSEC), doesn't normally work with satellites or radios. This didn't stop a determined Le from marshaling a team of experts, products and facilities from the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Center of Excellence to develop a solution.
"EUCOM came to CERDEC because they wanted an official confirmation that their radios were not working and I told them that it sounded like they should work," Le said.
With Le in the lead, Army engineers developed and tested a CryptoMod solution for EUCOM's unique critical satellite communications network, the Companion Ultra High Frequency (UHF) TACSAT System (CUTS). CUTS is a UHF Demand Assigned Multiple Access satellite network comprised of UHF Manpack satellite communication (SATCOM) terminals and associated automated data processing equipment.
Matt Lazzaro, the branch chief for CERDEC's CryptoMod Lab, and Le first thought that EUCOM's radios would need to be replaced, which would have cost an estimated $1.98 million in radio purchases alone.
The AN/PSC-5D radios EUCOM uses were embedded with a legacy cryptographic algorithm that needed to be replaced with modern crypto technology. Instead of replacing these older radios, Le and Lazzaro took a different path. They determined they could replace the crypto component of the AN/PSC-5D with the modernized KIV-7M.
KIV-7Ms are Type 1 link encryptors that operate using bit-by-bit encryption and provide transmission and communications security capable of protecting top secret and below information. The KIV-7M is a universal encryptor that will replace 16 devices the Army had been using. This will lead to decreased sustainment costs for the Army in the future because the logistical footprint will be much smaller. The KIV-7Ms are existing equipment in the Army inventory that Tobyhanna Army Depot had available.
"We strive to be stewards of the taxpayers' money," said Dennis Teefy, product director for PD COMSEC's Cryptographic Systems. "We are committed to modernizing the Army's cryptographic systems as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Le designed a custom interface to adapt the KIV-7M to the existing radio infrastructure. The team also ascertained the cable configuration and then sent the schematic to Tobyhanna Army Depot where the cable was made and sent to EUCOM.
C4ISR Center of Excellence Provides Testing Environment
Le started to prepare a team to travel to EUCOM; however, she and Lazzaro realized they could troubleshoot from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., at the C4ISR Center of Excellence facilities. The EUCOM architecture was emulated at the CryptoMod Lab. A set of AN/PSC-5D radios and an antenna were borrowed from Product Manager Network Systems, part of Project Manager Tactical Radios.
When it was time to test the radio and encryption via satellite connection, Le's team members transported a 90-pound AV-2011 antenna and the AN/PSC-5D radio up to the roof on CERDEC's building. The radio needed to be set up on the roof so its antenna could be pointed at the UHF satellite system to establish communication with it.
"We didn't just test in the labs, we went live over the satellite constellation," Le said. "It was very easy to make it work in the lab. Using the satellite system makes it exponentially more complicated because you have to deal with changing weather conditions."
Her team also helped EUCOM achieve system certification for Defense Information Systems Agency approval and helped submit a test package for Emergency Action Message certification.
"We were challenged to solve one problem for EUCOM -- how do we hook up the radios to the KIV," Le explained. "After we were successful making the radio-KIV connection, EUCOM asked for additional assistance in other areas. New requirements started to come."
What makes the project's success that much sweeter is that Lazzaro and Le are not familiar with radio equipment. "I had never really worked with a radio before," Le explained. "Our main focus is crypto, not equipment."
Lazzaro finds it gratifying that the team was able to accomplish all of this without having to send anyone out of the country or purchase new radios.
"The PD COMSEC solution set took only 75 days, enabling EUCOM to field a materiel solution and migrate to a modern encryption technology while meeting Department of Defense Chief Information Officer National Leadership Command Capabilities office timelines," said Eric J. Kimery, Nuclear Command, Control and Cyber Systems SATCOM Planner for EUCOM. "PD COMSEC's support was essential to EUCOM's successful crypto modernization implementation."