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FY15 STUDY TORS

Posted 9/8/2014 Printable Fact Sheet

USAF Scientific Advisory Board
2015 Study, Beginning January 2015

Cyber Vulnerabilities of Embedded Systems on Air and Space Systems
Terms of Reference

Background
The Air Force relies heavily on embedded systems for a wide range of functions in its air and space systems, and will increasingly do so in the future. Embedded systems are used for aircraft flight control, control surface actuation, radar or EW system operation, munitions interfaces, spacecraft system control, and numerous other key functions. Although embedded systems are not typically connected to the Internet, they may still be exposed to cyber vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may be introduced as a result of the supply chain, through maintenance connections, via programming interfaces, by direct physical attacks, or through RF signals and other means. Aside from a broad awareness of embedded system vulnerabilities, there is currently only a limited understanding of the set of vulnerability mechanisms, how prevalent they are, which systems present the greatest mission risks, and what likely operational impacts are. The USAF needs to better understand embedded system vulnerabilities and risks, and the steps that can be taken to mitigate them.

Charter
The study will:
  • Survey the use of embedded systems across USAF air and space systems and categorize the types of embedded systems employed, how prevalent they are, and ways they are being used.
  • Identify any prior attacks on USAF embedded systems, describe the effects produced in the affected systems, and characterize the actual or potential mission impacts of those attacks.
  • Assess potential cyber vulnerabilities and specific attack vectors that could affect each major category of embedded systems, the difficulties to an adversary in implementing such attacks, and identify how such attacks might be detected and the likely resulting mission impacts.
  • Categorize resulting relative risks to a representative set of key USAF air and space systems, highlighting those of with high impact and/or high likelihood of occurrence.
  • Identify potential means for reducing embedded system vulnerability for each attack vector, including approaches taken to reduce risk in other areas, such as critical infrastructure and commercial applications, and assess their applicability to Air Force embedded systems. Identify any immediate steps that should be taken to reduce cyber vulnerabilities in existing air and space systems.
  • Develop a roadmap for technology development to enable less vulnerable embedded systems in the near, mid, and far term.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2015. Publish report in December 2015.

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USAF Scientific Advisory Board
2015 Study, Beginning January 2015

Enhanced Utility of Unmanned Air Vehicles
In Contested and Denied Environments
Terms of Reference

Background
Air Force use of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) such as the MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk for ISR and strike missions increased significantly over the past decade, but has primarily been limited to highly permissive environments. Future operations may require employing UAVs in contested environments or anti-access/area-denial environments having highly capable integrated air defenses, where survivability of typical UAVs greatly limits their utility. While signature reduction is one potential means for achieving increased survivability, there are other approaches that could potentially offer various levels of enhanced utility, either by increasing survivability or by other means. Potential approaches include electronic support from other assets to enhance UAV survivability, on-board electronic countermeasures, cooperative interaction among several UAVs, disaggregating UAV functions across multiple platforms, reducing UAV cost so low that survival is not an issue, or even deploying UAVs in numbers that substantially complicate an adversary's defensive capabilities. The relative levels of survivability and utility enhancement enabled by such approaches depend on characteristics of the operating environment and must be weighed against their cost. Ensuring the future utility of Air Force UAVs requires an understanding of how these factors interrelate and which combinations of such approaches enable effective operation in various levels of contested or denied operating environments.

Charter
The study will:
  • Identify potential future missions for UAVs in contested or denied environments, including ISR, strike, and other roles in integrated operations.
  • Assess anticipated defensive characteristics across a range of potential future operating environments, from weakly contested airspace to anti-access/area-denial environments.
  • Characterize expected survivability of current UAVs across these environments and compare to the performance of alternative approaches employing manned aircraft.
  • Identify approaches other than signature reduction that may enhance the survivability of current and future UAVs across these environments and assess their relative efficacy.
  • Assess the technologies needed to enable these approaches, identify current technology gaps, and assess the magnitude of the effort needed to fill those gaps.
  • Make recommendations regarding the most valuable approaches for achieving enhanced utility of UAVs in contested and denied environments and across the range of potential future operating environments.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2015. Publish report in December 2015.

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USAF Scientific Advisory Board
2015 Study, Beginning January 2015

Utility of Quantum Systems for the Air Force
Terms of Reference

Background
A number of new technologies are emerging that leverage principles from quantum mechanics to enable systems that could be relevant for USAF applications. These include the use of quantum computers for rapid decryption, quantum key distribution for encrypted communications, quantum communication via entangled quantum states, quantum sensing, and quantum-based precision clocks and inertial measurement sensors. Advances in the underlying science and their application in new types of quantum-based systems are being pursued globally. This is opening a wide range of applications for quantum systems, some of which have potential military significance. In order to develop an appropriate coherent Air Force research program and to avoid technological surprise, it is important for the Air Force to identify the relevance of various quantum-based systems and to assess the maturity of the technologies needed to enable them.

Charter
The study will:
  • Catalog relevant emerging quantum-based technologies, develop an understanding of each technology and describe its basics, and assess the maturity of each technology. Survey on-going U.S. and international activities in government, industry, and academia.
  • Assess the potential utility to the Air Force of each identified technology. Determine possible military applications and compare current and projected performance achievable with quantum-based systems to performance from more conventional technologies.
  • Identify science and technology research efforts of particular importance for enabling Air Force uses of quantum systems, including technologies needed to make such systems robust enough for fielding.
  • Compare the identified research efforts with on-going and planned work elsewhere in the U.S. Government, and identify those areas in which the USAF should lead in supporting technology development, maturation, and transition.
  • Provide USAF leadership with an assessment of the benefits of research in these areas.
  • Develop roadmaps for those technologies with promising USAF applications, including technology development plans, potential transition opportunities, and partnerships with other USG organizations.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2015. Publish report in December 2015.







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