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The Military Wireless Networking

US Begins Sophisticated Wireless Jamming Project 157

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the space-jam dept.
coondoggie writes "Looking to begin developing algorithms and other technology to automatically learn to jam certain new wireless transmissions that may threaten US military personnel, BAE Systems recently got about $8.4 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to begin work on what's known as the Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE) system. According to DARPA: As wireless communication devices become more adaptive and responsive to their environment by using technology such as Dynamic Spectrum Allocation, the effectiveness of fixed countermeasures may become severely degraded. The BLADE program will develop algorithms and techniques that will let our electronic warfare systems automatically learn to jam new RF threats in the field."
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US Begins Sophisticated Wireless Jamming Project

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  • This doesn't sound like a lot of money to develop a system that seems like it would be fairly novel and revolutionary.
    • I wish they'd spend 8 million to get Cell phone jammers at theatres. If there is ONE place where reception should not be possible its half way into a great drama.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        You can buy cell phone jammers over the counter (where legal), and some places, theatres have them.

        Fine dining restaurants should also have them, IMO. How important it is for you to be reachable shouldn't affect my being able to enjoy peace and quiet.

      • No you don't. You wish people'd be more considerate.

        The difference is a cell phone jammer won't stop a PSP/DS/Watch/iPod etc.

    • by jittles (1613415)
      Seems like a lot of money to me. A friend of mine once created an 802.11a jammer out of a cordless phone and it only took him a day or two. The first go around his reprogrammed phone would block a specific channel. With the second iteration it would find what channel you were on and block it out so that you couldn't do frequency hopping. It would even take out a broad spectrum cordless that was using multiple channels at once. Granted they want something that blocks more than just one frequency range,
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Heck, couldn't he just jam something in the door switch for his microwave and leave the door open?
      • by jank1887 (815982)

        so why didn't he submit a proposal to the BAA? i mean, it's gotta be a simple solution, right? I'm sure all the military's worried about are non-adversarial civilian signals. I'm sure they're just worried about narrowband low power transmissions with a clear IEEE spec.

        • by jittles (1613415)

          Now I could have been mistaken but I thought this was to jam signals that threatened military personnel, and I made the assumption that they were referring to IEDs. I know that they do not depend on jamming signals for IR or RF missiles.

          AFAIK they only use COTS components to create these IEDs, though I suppose they could use more sophisticated military grade comm systems. Heck even police departments are getting into more sophisticated realms w/ regard to radio comm.

          But based on my knowledge of government

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Keep in mind that they want to jam ALL of the enemy (and civilian) wireless transmissions, but none of their own. That's a little more complukated.

      • Re:Only $8 Million ? (Score:5, Informative)

        by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:25PM (#34756294) Homepage

        It's actually pretty complicated. I used to be a military communications officer, so I have some idea of what they're trying to do here. The way modern military radios work is they take an entire spectrum and jump frequencies around a hundred times a second (that's what the US radios do, I assume enemy technology to be on par) based on an algorithm, a frequency plan, and a randomly generated salt which is a shared secret between all the radios. Unless you have all three pieces or you can use something like this adaptive "smart jammer" they want to develop, you can't jam the radios without jamming the entire spectrum. That's possible of course, but a) it takes a lot of power and b) it typically jams your radios too.

        The trick here is that you don't want to create a radio "dead space" you want to jam enemy communications while leaving your own untouched. Your friend created a broad spectrum jammer. It crudely killed anything in the immediate area that was trying to use any frequency close to the one he was broadcasting on. Since there's a fairly limited number of channels that wifi runs on, and they're published frequency ranges, it was fairly trivial to scan each channel (which a WAP is doing anyway) to jam the correct one, or just broadcast on all of them. Now imagine your trying to jam a device that can use any frequency in the VHF range, has a list of 10,000 freqs it may be using, is changing freqs once every .001 seconds, and is jumping in away that appears random without the algorithm and salt. You probably have the algorithm, but the salt is only stored on secure devices that self wipe after either a certain number of failed password attempts or any attempt to access the internals. On top of that, since the enemy is almost certainly using more than one channel to communicate, you have to sort which devices are one which channels. All of which are that complicated. Finally, you have to do all of this without impacting your own communication systems which are doing the same thing on the same freq band.

        Still seem easy?

        • Jam everything but the channel in your time splice. (Almost certainly harder than it sounds)

          • That'd be hella complicated. One thing to remember here is that a radio net is a shared resource. Only once person can talk at a time. With a large unit, say a Division, it's impossible to allow any percentage of the necessary traffic to happen on one net. Therefore there are many nets. Each one is created by using either a different freq plan or the same freq plan with a different salt (so the radios are rarely if ever trying to use the same freqs). Very large commands have two dozen or more nets for

        • by IICV (652597)

          Yes.

          Take an array of directional antennas, figure out where the target signal is coming from, and throw a missile at it.

          Signal jammed.

          Repeat until there are no more signals to jam.

        • Yes. You use your own salted frequency-hopping gear, and rig a jammer to it. The jammer sends out digital noise on every frequency _except_ the one currently being used by your gear. Result: A jammed spectrum except for a very specific F-H tunnel that your comms sails right through.
    • by raymansean (1115689) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:57PM (#34755976)
      to quote the summary: "$8.4 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to begin work on what's known as the Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare..." This is likely a phase 1 or 2 porject were they have to show proof of concept. This is the DOD we are talking about, I am sure that before BLADE is done that the total cost will be in the 100's of millions.
    • by jank1887 (815982)

      DARPA does basic research. that's actually fairly sizable. the effort will likely focus on the basic science and technology implementation. when the "System" gets funded, expect 3 more zeros at the end.

    • by Americano (920576)

      8 million dollars will pay a few salaries for a year - rule of thumb at my work is each engineer costs 250-300k per year, in terms of space, equipment, salary, benefits, infrastructure. So, figure that pays a team of 10-12 people, with plenty of money left over for some hardware purchases for a prototype.

      The summary is pretty clear that this is "to begin work on developing" a new system, it's not for the entire system - think of this as proof-of-concept phase. Somebody has a few smart ideas and says, "if

    • Jamming has been going on since the second day after radio was developed. New technologies are developed to adapt to jamming conditions, then jammers get more complex to go after the new tech.

      I learned many jamming techniques and countermeasures in a few graduate level courses on receiver design back in the mid 80's. What was being done was very complex, and we were only exposed to the "SENSITIVE NOFOR" security classification of what was going on. "Gating" a radar was developed back in WWII, frequency hopp

    • Indeed that is nuthin' in the world 'o Defense Contracting. That wouldn't even cover the cost of documentation alone.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:46PM (#34755846) Homepage

    "I've lost the bleeps, I've lost the creeps, and I've lost the sweeps!"

    (or watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXKOsajNZY4 [youtube.com])

  • Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE)

    Acronym fail? Or did they realize quickly that BLAEW would be pronounced "blew" and saw what happened when the FBI created the WTF?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Behavioral Learning for ADaptive Electronic warfare

      Military-types like to get creative with which letters they pick for their acronyms.

    • Behavioral Learning for ADaptive Electronic warfare, and yes, even a bureaucracy can learn to avoid being embarrassed in public.

      Besides, this is the DoD - they want an acronyms that sounds like a weapon anyway.

    • Re:BLADE (Score:4, Funny)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:58PM (#34755994) Homepage Journal

      I'm convinced that they come up with the acronym first and then backronym it into a phrase. The military acronyms usually have names that an 8-year old would think are pretty cool for some GI Joe toys.

      The thing I still wonder about, though, is whether they first pick the acronym, then pick the phrase, then invent a need and a project to fit the phrase.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      The Cocaine Importation Agency was the one that created the Wikileaks Task Force, unless you're referring to another WTF within the Famous But Ineffective.
    • Hey ... the guys at the Tactical Advanced Acronym Research Division don't take kindly to having their work disrespected.
    • Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE). Acronym fail?

      No, it's a case of bending the name or the way the acronym is made up, to make an acronym sound clever. So it's "Behavioral Learning for ADaptative Electronic warfare".

      Uncyclopedia calls it a case of TTHTMAFPCW [wikia.com]. The US government has been trying really to TTHTMAFPCW lately ("USA PATRIOT Act" for instance)...

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Does it make those who deploy these systems Blade Runners?

    • So they can leave the Warfare out. Or is there an 147st Mobile Pizza Baker Infantry? Or a 139th Airborne Flower Pickers? Warfare is the military's core competency, so they can leave it out of the acronym.

      Plus, folks with lots of weapons can choose whatever acronym they damn choose.

    • No, this is a military-style acronym, where you drop words that don't fit and use abbreviations instead of initials where convenient, just to get a cool-sounding word.

      Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic warfare. BLAdE.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        "Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic warfare"

        Then why not just go with:

        behavioral learning for adaptive elecTRONic warfare" => TRON

        and called it a day? Way more hip than blade...

        Personally, though I think...

        behaVIoRAl LeaRning for ADaptIve electrOnic WarfARe. => VIRALRADIO

        is more memorable than yet another "BLADE" system.

  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:54PM (#34755942)

    ... Hedy Lamarr [wikipedia.org] now that we really need her?

  • by t00le (136364) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:02PM (#34756030)

    This technology has been around since the 60's and was used before the Vietnam war, as well as during the Vietnam War makes this non-news.

    Do a little research and you will find out that during the Apollo moon mission that Army Intelligence at Ft Hood jammed a frequency outside of the listed bands. Apparently they were field testing high powered multi-frequency jammers before being deployed into Vietnam. The field manual was very light and they were instructed to avoid certain bands that were coded red. It turned out to be a private frequency for NASA, which caused a two minute loss of communication with the Apollo team. The reason they knew about the Apollo comm link was two truckloads of intelligence spooks arrive at the site of their outpost. They were interviewed and informed that they had inadvertently knocked Houston's comms down and caused a two minute panic because the primary frequency and the backup frequency were unavailable for communication with the Apollo astronauts.

    VFW halls, best halls.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention Picard and his crew used this to weaponize the Enterprise's deflector dish to weaken the Borg.

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      The occasional EW mishap is legendary, fleeting, and cautionary. Everything from NASA to AT&T has been hit by this. British telecom has a few stories to tell, as well as most of Europe. Darned pods go off at the drop of a wrench.

      But this is definitely NOT something that's been around since the 60s. We think of EW traditionally as an anti-radar weapon, until we realized that jamming communicaitons from the radar to the launch control trailer was just as effective at neutralizing SAM threats. Still p

      • The occasional EW mishap is legendary

        I most certainly did NOT jam the Ft. Stewart, GA Burger King drive through for two hours in 1996.

        • by rickb928 (945187)

          Pfft. You can jam drive-throughs with a car battery and a bracelet.

          Now shutting down the phone systems in East Anglia in 1974, that was purely an accident. The water main incident was an accident too.

          • I also claim no part in accidentally jamming the Deutschewelle re-broadcast of the 1991 Super Bowl...(that is indeed far more impressive than jamming the Burger King from a mile away!)

            • by rickb928 (945187)

              That wasn't an accident. Deutschewelle ran that as a test to validate their system to jam BBC Radio 1-3. Sadly, it failed. They ignored BBC Radio 4 for obvious reasons.

              And we still have Serie A on the air, in some small part due to that failure, no doubt. Cannot someone devise a system? Please? Spark gap? Numbers? Darts? Please?

    • Tell ya what... I don't fell like typing my response to a previous and similar comment out again, so click my name and read it. Suffice to say this is WAY more complicated. Modern frequency hopping radios are impossible to jam without taking out the entire spectrum. Which tends to screw with friendly comms.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Yep. I did this in the eighties and it was pretty much the same thing. The only possible difference is that besides brute force jamming we also had to capture and analyze the signals (often bouncing and wobbling among several frequencies) and attempt to mimic them, in a short enough time to be useful. (Like, before the missile hits you.) My first programming job (all in assembler).

    • During *which* Apollo moon mission? There was more than one you know. Not to mention that precisely none of the antenna's used were anywhere near Ft Hood. Not to mention that the terrestrial antenna's that were used were highly directional.

  • If you are putting our self-sacrificing service men and women in harm's way, you damn well better be doing EVERYTHING you can to try to protect them. This is a trivial amount of money compared to what we are pissing away every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if the desired goal is something of a long shot.
    • by Jawnn (445279)

      If you are putting our self-sacrificing service men and women in harm's way, you damn well better be doing EVERYTHING you can to try to protect them. This is a trivial amount of money compared to what we are pissing away every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if the desired goal is something of a long shot.

      Agreed. So how about spending some money to keep our promises to take care of them AFTER their service is completed. Funding for various VA programs is pathetic, and every jagoff who utters the phrase "...our self-sacrificing service men and women..." should be ashamed to do so without acknowledging that fact.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LanMan04 (790429)

        Agreed. So how about spending some money to keep our promises to take care of them AFTER their service is completed.

        Why? They applied for a dangerous, dirty job and got paid for it. If you don't feel the existing pay and benefits are enough of an incentive to possibly be killed, DON'T JOIN THE MILITARY.

        They should be treated like any other person who is permanently injured...apply for state and federal disability.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:08PM (#34756102)

    Somewhere in my Garage is an old Amana RadarRange from the 70s. I think the old leaky magnetron in it will sufficiently wipe out all RF spectrum for a 5 mile radius. I'll sell it to the government for only $1M Dollars! All you have to add is a burrito and a 120V power source and you're done!

  • And do we really need it?

    How about we concentrate on creating something like the Internet instead?
    • Should have thought of that when they were building a supersonic VTOL stealth fighter, when they already had both transonic VTOL fighters and supersonic stealth fighters.

      I guess you need both VTOL and stealth on your supersonic fighter jet for fighting some dudes hiding in caves.

  • An existing encrypted/unencrypted wireless datastream received & retransmitted/boosted with data intact with additional "errors" inserted (wireless steganography) decrypted by a matching hardware unit, the enemy would have to jam their own frequency(s) to interfere.

    Comments?

  • Something quite Orwellian, think about it, when a Gov. goes rogue the first thing they want to control is the information stream!
    Like in Burma & Iran, the world could see what was going on, with this tech. you could seal up and keep secret the violent repression
    of the civilian population!

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