EDF-2021-SPACE-D-EPW: European protected waveform and accompanying technologies for resilient satellite communications against jamming
Space is one of the global commons and an emerging operational domain at the same time. It provides unique options to deploy capabilities, which deliver services increasingly indispensable for military purposes and operations. This situation is going to produce specific new threats and challenges. The access to space has to be duly monitored and eventually protected as well as the capabilities already deployed and operating in orbit.
In today’s military applications supported by satellite communications, security, resilience, information assurance and link efficiency technologies are inextricably linked. Military operations are becoming more complex as conflict areas grow more dispersed on a global scale, with a growing need to support a diversity of on-the-move, on-the-pause and fixed platforms. At the same time, security threats are becoming more apparent, raising concerns that nations, terrorist groups, criminals and individual hackers can jam, interrupt and endanger military operations. The challenge is to meet, in a secure and guaranteed way, the increased demand for raw capacity generated by continuous growth in space data rate requirements for military purposes. This covers the trend of higher mobility as well as the filling of current coverage gaps (e.g. over the Polar Regions).
The Commission will pay particular attention to the other R&D and dual-use on-going initiatives at Union level to avoid unnecessary duplication.
The complexity of diverse and dispersed military operations translates into requirements to have access to complex global satellite communication networks with a mix of different satellite constellations, networks and services to support a wide variety of military applications. Security and resilience, as key features in today’s military use of space, have to be paired with efficient technologies in order to cope with the increased data demand through high-bandwidth consuming services that need to be supported by satellite communication, such as ISR and situational awareness, the growing use of drone applications, and the need for seamless and real-time end-user connectivity during operations. However, these wide-ranging and complex requirements face an increased risk of ill-intentioned acts including cyber- attacks against military satellite communication networks such as jamming, signal detection and spoofing and interception attempts.
The key element to tackle these security challenges is the implementation of an integrated multi-layered security and resiliency approach for next-generation defence satellite networks with a fully European protected waveform and accompanying technologies for satellite communications resilient against ill-intentioned acts. This European Protected Waveform (EPW) must respond to the operational requirements and the identified security challenges, and considerably enhance interoperability during joint operations with allies whilst assuring seamless operations and protection of the satellite link.
The great majority of Member States do not have autonomous access to secure satellite communication waveforms, although they also engage in military operations in a national or multinational context (EU, NATO, UN peacekeeping, etc.). The investment for developing a protected waveform cannot be carried out by a single nation alone and requires a multinational development approach in a European context with the aim to establish an interoperable European Protected Waveform.
The European Protected Waveform is fully in line with and would contribute to the EU ambition to set up resilient satellite communication services for governmental and institutional security users and to achieve increased EU autonomy in space, as outlined in various documents from the Space Strategy for Europe, to the EU Global Strategy and the current EU Space Programme for 2021 to 2027. In the EU Capability Development Plan (CDP) of 2018 space has been identified as one of eleven EU capability development priorities. Following the CDP, in the Strategic Context Case for Space Based Information and Communication Services, established with and approved by the EDA participating Member States, a European Protected Waveform has been identified as a gap and the development of an EPW has been agreed as a short-time activity to fill this gap. More recently, in the Commission Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries satellite based secure communications and connectivity was again identified as a key activity and future flagship action with focus on standardisation and innovation, aiming at providing a ‘resilient connectivity system allowing Europe to remain connected whatever happens, including large-scale cyber-attacks’.
The proposals should address the development of an EPW for satellite communications as well as the complementary ancillary technologies addressing security and resilience that can be used by different EU Member States individually or together in a joint operational context (EU, NATO, multi-nation missions).
The EPW must be able to operate in the complex military operational environment described in the specific challenge and bring a solution to the corresponding challenges. The proposals must not be limited to the work towards the development of a waveform but must also include complementary ancillary technologies to provide an integrated multi-layered security and resilient approach to military satellite communications.
The proposals must keep the following five (5) key considerations in mind:
The EPW development must not just be a copy and paste of existing waveform solutions, licenses and technologies. The proposed EPW must be ambitious and innovative, combining the individual strengths of different Member States or associated countries and of different members of the European satellite communication industry. The EPW program must be open to support future requirements and capability needs.
2/ European autonomy and cooperation between Member States
The EPW must be capable of increasing the autonomy of the Union and of reducing the dependence on non-European satellite communication technology for military operations with mission critical and sensitive information. At the same time, it must allow for interoperability between Member States in a joint operational context in order to exchange mission critical information and improve the efficiency of the operations.
3/ Affordable and efficient satellite services
The EPW must be affordable and include the most efficient satellite communication waveform, networking and equipment technologies to reduce OPEX (e.g. bandwidth, planning resources ) and CAPEX (equipment cost) compared to current existing expensive (proprietary) military satellite solutions. The EPW must include already available innovative Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) satellite communication technologies (e.g. DVB-S2X waveform standard) in combination with the latest security and resilience technologies. There must no longer be a trade-off between the efficiency of the waveform and security. As such, high throughput demands must be achieved even with small satellite terminals using a limited amount of satellite bandwidth (in contested and/or congested environments).
4/ Flexibility and scalability
The EPW must be portable on different software defined modems with different form factors (board, modem, terminal), different platforms (fixed, on-the-move, on-the-pause) and be used across multiple types of satellite communication networks, different types of multi-orbit satellite constellations (LEO, MEO ,GEO, HEO, high- and very-high throughput satellites, spot beams, regional and global beams) and different network architectures (VSAT, point-to- point, mesh) also considering possible extension to future EPW processed satellite transponder employment. At the same time, the EPW must be operational in different satellite frequency bands (at least C-band, X-band, Ku-band and (mil- and civ-) Ka-band) with extension to Q-/V-band to support future military constellations of communication satellites and exchange, broadcast, multicast, unicast or relay a large range of satellite services and applications from low to very high data rates. Interrelations with the ESSOR (European Secure Software defined Radio) project must be investigated in order to avoid unnecessary duplications and maximise synergies between these projects.
5/ Multi-layered security and resilience
The EPW must be embedded in an integrated multi-layered secure and resilient approach to increase the protection of mission critical military satellite networks. Based on different threat analysis and Concept of Operations (CONOPS) scenarios, the EPW development must focus on building satellite networks that are resistant to the increasing security threats in terms of jamming, interference, interception and cyber. In addition, satellite link outages caused by rain fade, atmospheric conditions or on-the-move communication challenges must be reduced to a minimum. The EPW activity must investigate how different security levels can be offered towards different military end users depending on their security requirements and their daily operations (as well as the budgets available).
The scope must be extended to anti-jam, multi-band/multi-frequency terminals, network diversity and network security technologies to ensure end-to-end secure and resilient military satellite networks, fostering the possibility to exploit dedicated EPW processed transponders (e.g. on board frequency de-hopping, re-hopping capability) in order to even protect user access to satellite resources.
The proposals must cover the following activities as referred in article 10.3 of the EDF Regulation, not excluding possible downstream activities eligible for development actions if deemed useful to reach the objectives:
- Studies, such as feasibility studies to explore the feasibility of new or improved technologies, products, processes, services and solutions;
- The design of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology as well as the definition of the technical specifications on which such design has been developed which may include partial tests for risk reduction in an industrial or representative environment.
In particular, the proposals must cover the following tasks:
- Feasibility study, use cases, and CONOPS definition.
- Threat and vulnerabilities assessment, risk analysis, and identification of counter measures and security requirements (g. anti-jamming, network diversity, multi- band/multi-frequency terminal and network security solutions).
- System specification, Detailed Requirements Review (DRR) and architecture definition; benchmarking of existing solutions in the market.
- Detailed design of the system, including the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and finishing with the Critical Design Review (CDR).
- Development of an EPW simulator to de-risk the development of subsequent technological demonstrators.
- The development of small-scale technological demonstrators to support decision making during the design phase. The demonstrators must:
- Demonstrate the functionality of the waveform used in different operational use cases alongside the adjacent security and resiliency technologies (multi- frequency terminals etc.) allowing testing against multiple instances of interference, jamming and interception etc. but also in context of different satellite types, different architectures, and platforms (on-the-move, on-the- pause and fixed). The use of drone technology to test the terminal and waveform technology is encouraged.
- Reproduce the operational environments in terms of usage and threats;
- Be set-up initially a lab environment, but should then be followed by a real satellite test with outdoor satellite terminals simulating operational use cases. Military end-users should be invited to witness the demonstrations and to provide feedback;
The end state must be an EPW standard for satellite communication, a so-called Blue Book, comparable to other communication waveform standards that can be implemented by industry on their baseband solutions (terminals, modems) and integrated in the Member States military networks. It must take into account the accompanying anti-jamming, network diversity, multi- band/multi-frequency terminal and network security solutions, based on traditional and new generation satellite systems that could implement the EPW communication standard in SW defined radio solution on board.