22 July 2021

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime. 

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

China’s Cyber-Influence Operations

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

… With its growing assertiveness in the international arena, China uses new technologies to achieve its foreign policy goals and project an image of responsible global power … spending billions on influence operations across the world ... fits in with China’s larger aim of expanding its soft power alongside its growing economic and military power … reach of Beijing’s overseas media is impressive and should not be underestimated. But the results are mixed ...

U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan face daunting, dangerous mission with little military backup

Missy Ryan, Karen DeYoung and Dan Lamothe

The conclusion of the Pentagon’s two-decade effort in Afghanistan lays bare the challenges facing U.S. diplomats and aid workers who remain behind, as a modest civilian force attempts to propel warring Afghans toward peace and protect advances for women without the support and reach provided by the military mission.

Current and former officials described an array of obstacles that a shrinking cadre of civilians in the bunkered U.S. Embassy in Kabul must navigate, with the coronavirus pandemic and the specter of a possible diplomatic evacuation compounding the significant difficulties inherent to working in Afghanistan.

“In the absence of a military complement in Kabul, the task of the U.S. Embassy is made infinitely more complex, dangerous and difficult,” said Hugo Llorens, who served as the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan under presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Learning from the War: “Who Lost Afghanistan?” versus Learning “Why We Lost”

Anthony H. Cordesman

It does not take much vision to predict that the collapse of the present Afghan government is now all too likely, and that if the current Afghan central government collapses, a partisan U.S. political battle over who lost Afghanistan will follow. It is also nearly certain that any such partisan battle will become part of a bitter mid-term 2022 election. It takes equally little vision to foresee that any such partisan political debate will be largely dishonest and focus on blaming the opposing party. “Dishonesty” seems to be the growing definition of American political dialogue.

It is possible that neither party will really want to debate the collapse and the loss of the war. However, it seems all too likely that the debate will focus on Democrats blaming President Trump and Republicans blaming President Biden.

The Democratic Party argument will be that the Trump administration horribly mismanaged the initial peace agreement it signed on February 22, 2020. The argument will be that the February agreement traded withdrawal for negotiations, but that it never defined a possible peace and never created an effective peace process, and in doing so, effectively “lost” Afghanistan by defining a date for U.S. withdrawal in 14 months: May 1, 2020. Democrats will claim this agreement led to major U.S. withdrawals and Afghan political turmoil before the Biden Administration took office, making the “loss” of Afghanistan inevitable.

Afghanistan’s continuing role in U.S. Strategic Competition in the absence of U.S. troops

Major Tom Hammerle

The nature of American overseas military operations is once again shifting, this time away from Counterterrorism (CT) and Counter Insurgency (COIN) Operations toward an era of Strategic Competition and Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCO). After nearly two decades of major operations in the Middle East, few are taking positions against the shift or promoting costly so-called “forever-wars”. But consensus on what the U.S. will no longer do does little to inform what the U.S. ought to do.

As “over the horizon” options for Afghanistan are considered, the U.S. must stay engaged in three ways – Intelligence Operations for indications and warnings of an imminent attack on the U.S. and allied homelands, Direct Action to conduct Counterterrorism where local forces fall short, and a diplomatic approach to maintain U.S. support to the GIRoA. The demand for these capabilities persists in Kabul and throughout Afghan national military and law enforcement organizations, even as American political and operational capacity diminishes.

‘Everyone is dying’: Myanmar on the brink of decimation


Two days ago, I spent six hours on encrypted apps with contacts inside the country trying to locate one – just one – oxygen concentrator for the mother of my friend, whom I will call “Ma Moon.”

Her mother’s oxygen saturation rate had dropped precipitously in one day from 95 to 70.

I do not know this for sure – in these circumstances, we know we cannot ask this question – but I think the family is being treated on a daily basis by doctors who have “gone underground” in a civil disobedience campaign.

Medical professionals are among the most respected individuals in the country, and so their decision to oppose the February 1 military coup d’etat that took down the elected civilian government carried immense weight among the population.

Is non-alignment making a comeback in Asia?

Shalabh Chopra

Despite their insistence to the contrary, discussions on the informal strategic relationship between the United States, India, Japan and Australia continue to be couched in Cold War terminology. Just as NATO served as a bulwark against the Soviet Union’s global designs, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) seems intended to become the answer to China’s increasingly assertive approach to international relations.

China and Russia, two of the most vocal critics of the Quad, have expressed concerns regarding its objectives. They fear that not only would the Quad reinforce the primacy of the United States to the strategic calculus of the Indo-Pacific, but it also carries the prospect of shaping the regional order in a way disadvantageous to them. A jittery China may feel compelled to launch a counter-bloc comprising itself and its partners in the region.

China tightens control over cybersecurity in data crackdown


BEIJING -- Tech experts in China who find a weakness in computer security would be required to tell the government and couldn’t sell that knowledge under rules further tightening the Communist Party’s control over information.

The rules would ban private sector experts who find “zero day,” or previously unknown security weaknesses, and sell the information to police, spy agencies or companies. Such vulnerabilities have been a feature of major hacking attacks including one this month blamed on a Russian-linked group that infected thousands of companies in at least 17 countries.

Beijing is increasingly sensitive about control over information about its people and economy. Companies are barred from storing data about Chinese customers outside China. Companies including ride-hailing service Didi Global Inc., which recently made its U.S. stock market debut, have been publicly warned to tighten data security.

Has Erdogan achieved his goal to build his 'New Turkey'?

Cengiz Candar

Some dates serve as milestones. For Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, July 15 is one of them. The failed coup attempt to remove Erdogan on July 15, 2016, has become the founding myth of "New Turkey" in his historiography.

For five years, the anniversary of July 15 has become a celebration of Erdogan's victory that helped him to replace the country's parliamentary democracy with his one-man rule under his executive presidency. The date also marks the commemoration of the 251 "martyrs" who lost their lives in suppressing the coup attempt.

Commemorative ceremonies were all around the country, especially in Istanbul where the most significant number of casualties occurred, particularly during the clashes on the Bosporus Bridge linking the Asian continent to Europe.

Turkey's high-risk gamble in Afghanistan


It’s easy to view the American-led war in Afghanistan as a disaster. Twenty years after US and Nato forces arrived to end years of harsh Taliban rule while vanquishing Al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, the Taliban is retaking great swathes of territory as US forces depart and the country tumbles toward chaos.

Observers foresee another civil war or Taliban takeover, while the militant group has banned smoking and prohibited men from shaving in some areas it controls, and the US’s post-9/11 president, George W Bush, has emerged to denounce Taliban brutality, making the past two decades seem almost like a mirage.

But now here comes Turkey, arriving to hold the line and potentially save the republic by taking over security at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, as first reported last month by The National. The deal is not yet final, but US and Nato officials have confirmed their interest in Turkish forces taking control of a crucial symbol and a logistics, economic and military hub. US-Turkey talks last week are said to have made real progress.

Disinformation experts doubt authenticity of leaked documents describing a Russian plot to help Trump in 2016


Some experts doubt the truth of papers obtained by the Guardian purporting to come from the Kremlin.

According to form US cyber chief Chris Krebs, they may be part of a disinformation campaign.

The papers purport to confirm a secret Russian plot to help Donald Trump win power in 2016.

Former US cyber security chief Chris Krebs and other disinformation experts voiced skepticism of the authenticity of documents apparently revealing a secret Kremlin plot to help Donald Trump win power.The Guardian published a report based on the documents on Thursday. It says they describe Russian President Vladimir Putin approving a plan to covertly help Trump win the US presidential election at a security council meeting in January 2016.

Facebook Tells Biden: ‘Facebook Is Not the Reason’ Vaccination Goal Was Missed

Cecilia Kang

WASHINGTON — Facebook and the Biden administration engaged in an increasingly rancorous back and forth over the weekend after the administration denounced the social media giant for spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines.

On Sunday, the surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, reiterated warnings that false stories about the vaccines had become a dangerous health hazard. “These platforms have to recognize they’ve played a major role in the increase in speed and scale with which misinformation is spreading,” Mr. Murthy said Sunday on CNN.

In a blog post on Saturday, Facebook called on the administration to stop “finger-pointing” and laid out what it had done to encourage users to get vaccinated. The social network also detailed how it had clamped down on lies about the vaccines, which officials have said led people to refuse to be vaccinated.

Our Broken Engagement with China


In July the Chinese Communist Party celebrated its 100th anni­versary with familiar totalitarian pageantry: displays of military hardware, cheering red-scarved youth, and a nationwide crackdown on dissidents to ensure “political security.” The cult of personality that CCP general secretary Xi Jinping has assiduously built for himself was also on full display, as the unelected supreme leader of China delivered a speech wearing a drab tunic commonly referred to as a “Mao suit.” The symbolism Xi was trying to convey to the Chinese people with his garb was obvious: I am equal in significance to Chairman Mao as a leader. To the rest of the world, the message in Xi’s speech was just as overt: Any foreign force that attempts to “bully, oppress, or subjugate” China “will certainly be battered and bloodied in collision with the Great Wall of Steel built by 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

Biden Goes After China’s Cyber Attackers


U.S. officials announced new measures aimed at exposing and disrupting China’s government-sponsored cyber criminal activities, including enlisting key NATO and other allies to reveal new details about the methods by which some massive cyber attacks have affected thousands of government and private networks in the United States, and how to protect against them.

The officials said the international effort was a direct output of President Joe Biden’s first foreign trip to meet with G7 and NATO leaders, last month. It also may be the first step in a new multilateral coalition of allies that could eventually impose economic penalties on the Chinese government, similar to those that some Western states have placed on Russia. But those penalties aren’t here yet.

A senior administration official told reporters on Sunday that the United States had convinced allies to name China’s Ministry of State Security as a key player in various criminal cyber activities. The official gave no indication that economic penalties would be arriving soon.

The US needs a 'Digital Marshall Plan' to counter China's Digital Silk Road


The United States is poised to launch a much-needed initiative to advance American global competitiveness. Done right, such an initiative could usher in a U.S. era of strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, along with reinvigorated global leadership. Both Congress and the Biden administration are contemplating major initiatives. They should take bold action, lest they squander this moment.

The new focus on competitiveness has been prompted by a confluence of factors: a global pandemic that highlighted supply chains and the importance of domestic manufacturing; a digital revolution that has emphasized the importance of digital inclusion, training and infrastructure; and the technological competitiveness of a risen China.

One of the few issues on which Congress and the administration appear to agree is the importance of maintaining American leadership in critical technologies as part of an expanded vision of national security. Bipartisan support has evolved in favor of an industrial policy for a limited number of key technologies, such as semiconductors, 5G, the ORAN alliance (open radio access network) and others essential to maintaining American innovation and technological leadership.

Is the U.S. in a cyber war?

Jeff Neal

In the wake of a series of damaging cyber intrusions on private businesses controlling critical pieces of U.S. infrastructure, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem says that countering the growing threat will require erasing the “legal fiction” that cyberattacks are different than physical attacks on American civilians.

In May 2021, the Colonial Pipeline became the latest high-profile company to fall victim to a ransomware attack by criminal organizations operating out of Russia. Stretching more than 5,000 miles from Texas to New York, the pipeline supplies nearly half of the fuel consumed in 14 states and Washington, D.C. The event disrupted the flow of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel up and down the East Coast. At a summit this June, President Joe Biden presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with a list of 16 types of critical infrastructure that, if attacked by Russian actors, would provoke a U.S. response. Within weeks of that meeting, however, hundreds of businesses across the U.S. and abroad were temporarily crippled by a ransomware attack on Kaseya, a Florida-based information technology company. The Russian cybercriminal group behind this latest incursion is also suspected of attacking JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, earlier this year, disrupting American food supplies.

South Africa Sees the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

John Campbell

South Africa is in the midst of urban rioting not seen since the end of apartheid. South African and international media carries pictures of mayhem featuring looted televisions and burned-out strip malls, and some commentators are saying that South Africa is what a failed state looks like. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is in disarray. Supply chains are disrupted and the unrest is derailing the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. President Cyril Ramaphosa is mobilizing the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist the police in restoring order. It is the worst of times in South Africa—at least since the end of apartheid.

However, the South African judiciary has reaffirmed the rule of law by sending to jail former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. The judiciary followed the spirit and the letter of the constitution. By jailing Zuma, it has reaffirmed that no South African is above the law. It has also struck a blow against a culture of official corruption. In terms of a democratic trajectory and the rule of law, it is the best of times in South Africa.

Military-grade spyware found on journalists' and activists' phones: report


Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm was used in attempts to hack into smartphones belonging to journalists and activists, according to a new investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners.

The Post reported on Sunday that the spyware, licensed from the Israeli firm NSO Group to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals, was used in attempts to hack into 37 phones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women who were close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Some of the hacking attempts were successful.

The phones were included on a list of more than 50,000 numbers, many of which were based in countries that are known to surveille their citizens and are recognized clients of NSO Group, according to the investigation. It is not known how many of the phone numbers on the list were ultimately targeted or surveilled.

Japan’s Olympic security balancing act leaves few satisfied


Struggling businesses forced to temporarily shut down around Olympics venues. Olympic visitors ordered to install invasive apps and allow GPS tracking. Minders staking out hotels to keep participants from coming into contact with ordinary Japanese or visiting restaurants to sample the sushi.

Japan’s massive security apparatus has raised complaints that the nation, during the weeks of the Games, will look more like authoritarian North Korea or China than one of the world’s most powerful, vibrant democracies.

The worry for many here, however, isn’t too much Big Brother. It’s that all the increased precautions won’t be nearly enough to stop the estimated 85,000 athletes, officials, journalists and other workers coming into Japan from introducing fast-spreading coronavirus variants to a largely unvaccinated population already struggling with mounting cases.

According to a senior British military official, the United Kingdom will launch covert missions of its special forces against Russia and China

Tony Joseph 

The change in focus of British Special Forces could mean that the corps trains the navies of countries near the South China Sea or establishes surveillance against military and intelligence units from Russia and China.

Britain’s special forces will focus on a new covert mission against China and Russia as part of their shift to counter “big state adversaries”. he pointed This Saturday in the newspaper The Times to the Brigadier General of the Royal Marines, Mark Totten.

The British Royal Marines would assume the roles traditionally reserved for the country’s special forces. Special Air Service (SAS) And this Special Boat Service (SBS)– so that these units have more time and assets to complete “high risk” actions against other states, according to Totten.

How a former Afghan interpreter became a US Army officer

Adam Morey

After being born in 1988 amid the Soviet–Afghan War and having to move at the age of 11 to avoid the suffering that follows the Taliban, Fahim Masoud graduated high school in Herat, Afghanistan.

Then he had a decision to make — one that would ultimately lead him to commissioning in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Masoud’s story stands out at a time when the U.S. military is finalizing a withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the fate of many interpreters remains undecided, or at the very least, in a precarious position.

Standing at the crossroads of life at the age of 17, Masoud could’ve chosen to go to school in India, or he could’ve decided to pick up a rifle and join the Afghan Army.

The Political Effects of Social Media Platforms on Different Regime Types

Guy Schleffer, Benjamin Miller
Today, for the first time since 2001, there are more autocracies than democracies in the world. The number of electoral and liberal democracies dropped from 55 percent of all countries at its peak in 2010 to only 48 percent in 2019.1 This decline in the number of liberal democracies is crippling the U.S-led liberal world order, weakening America’s post-Cold War hegemony, and shifting power to authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia, leading Fareed Zakaria to claim that “American hegemony died.”2 It seems that illiberal democracies and authoritarian regimes are on the rise all across the globe. Even in the United States, President Donald Trump favored a new kind of hegemony — an illiberal one.3

This phenomenon can be explained by many factors, such as the rise of xenophobic populist movements in reaction to immigration, cultural change, the decline in job and economic security after the 2008 financial crisis, the opposition to globalization, and the loss of sovereignty.4 For authoritarian regimes, the growth of national populist movements in Europe and America is proof that “the liberal idea has outlived its purpose,” as the public has turned against immigration, open borders, and multiculturalism.5 Recent elections worldwide reflect a deep groundswell of anti-establishment sentiment that can easily be mobilized by extremist political parties and candidates.6

Changing How App Stores Operate Could Have National Security Implications

Michael Hayden

As more aspects of our lives move online, we become increasingly dependent on the digital marketplaces that make them possible—the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, online retail platforms like Amazon, and social media sites like Facebook all impact what products and services are readily available to consumers. Such companies, referred to as ‘gatekeepers’ by European regulators, can effectively control what services or apps are available on your phone, computer, or social media platform. This power has led the European Union, through the proposed Digital Markets Act, and U.S. lawmakers, through proposed legislation like the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, to consider new requirements designed to increase competition in digital marketplaces, giving consumers and app creators choices, just as one might have for their car insurance.

While increased competition may be a worthy goal, some of the proposed changes have potential cybersecurity and national security implications. Giving all app makers increased access to core device functions or allowing app installation from unknown or unverified sources creates risks to customers that lawmakers and regulators should consider when considering new rules designed to spur competition. Device makers and mobile platform providers have long been moving to enhance the security of our mobile devices, limiting the ability of apps to access data from other apps, track user locations, and defraud users—poorly crafted competition regulations would undermine these gains.

When Biosecurity Is the Mission, the Bioeconomy Must Become Government’s Strategic Partner

Andrew Philip Hunter

The Issue
Biosecurity—protecting humans, animals, and plants from biological threats—is an essential government mission, the importance of which has been dramatically highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government’s pandemic response has been enabled by the emerging bioeconomy, which provides core biosecurity capabilities that are essential to the success of the mission. The government’s engagement with the bioeconomy has grown in recent years, encompassing a range of agencies with a focus on laboratory and product safety and an emphasis on supporting research and development (R&D). However, the government lacks mechanisms for providing a broader strategic focus that integrates priorities, including biosecurity, in partnering with the bioeconomy. As a result, the government’s engagement with the bioeconomy remains insufficient to support the translation and integration of R&D into the delivery of biosecurity capabilities. The government is often not able to fully capitalize on the innovations happening throughout the bioeconomy, especially those developing outside the sphere of government-sponsored research. Today’s imperative toward better preparing for future pandemics must be leveraged to produce a true strategic engagement with the bioeconomy across multiple levels of government and critical agencies in the biosecurity community of interest.

How African states can tackle state-backed cyber threats

Nathaniel Allen and Noëlle van der Waag-Cowling

At first glance, the ability of most African states to prevent or respond to a cyberattack by state-backed hackers would appear limited. African countries tend to have low levels of cyber maturity and possess limited offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. Virtually all rely on foreign actors to supply critical information infrastructure and manage data using cloud technologies. This limits sovereign control over the electronic information produced by African citizens and renders tech stacks in countries across the continent vulnerable to compromise. African governments and regional organizations have already been targeted by some high-profile state-sponsored attacks, including Chinese espionage at the African Union and North Korea’s 2017 Wannacry Ransomware attack.

Though few African states can compete with the world’s major cyber powers, the region is not inherently more susceptible to state-sponsored cyber threats. Like other regions, Africa faces its own series of opportunities and challenges in the cyber domain. For now, low levels of digitization limit the exposure of many countries in comparison to the world’s more connected, technology-dependent regions. As internet-penetration rates increase, African states can draw on established good practices, international partnerships, and regional cooperation to identify, prevent, and respond to state-sponsored cyber espionage or sabotage of critical infrastructure.

HAFNIUM targeting Exchange Servers with 0-day exploits

Update [03/16/2021]: Microsoft released updated tools and investigation guidance to help IT Pros and incident response teams identify, remediate, defend against associated attacks: Guidance for responders: Investigating and remediating on-premises Exchange Server vulnerabilities.

Update [03/15/2021]: Microsoft released a new one-click mitigation tool, the Microsoft Exchange On-Premises Mitigation Tool, to help customers who do not have dedicated security or IT teams to apply security updates for Microsoft Exchange Server.

Update [03/08/2021]: Microsoft continues to see multiple actors taking advantage of unpatched systems to attack organizations with on-premises Exchange Server. To aid defenders in investigating these attacks where Microsoft security products and tooling may not be deployed, we are releasing a feed of observed indicators of compromise (IOCs). The feed of malware hashes and known malicious file paths observed in related attacks is available in both JSON and CSV formats at the below GitHub links. This information is being shared as TLP:WHITE: CSV format | JSON format

Microsoft points the finger at Israeli spyware seller for DevilsTongue attacks

Charlie Osborne 

Microsoft's war against private exploit and offensive security sellers continues with a strike against Sourgum.

On July 15, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said that the Redmond giant has been quietly tackling the threat posed to Windows operating systems by the organization, dubbed a "private-sector offensive actor" (PSOA).

A tip provided by human rights outfit Citizen Lab led Microsoft to the PSOA, dubbed Sourgum, a company said to sell cyberweapons including the DevilsTongue malware.

"The weapons disabled were being used in precision attacks targeting more than 100 victims around the world including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics, embassy workers, and political dissidents," Microsoft says.

Approximately half of DevilsTongue victims are located in Palestine, but a handful has also been traced back to countries including Israel, Iran, Spain/Catalonia, and the United Kingdom.

Milley Marks Full Operational Capability of NATO Command in Norfolk


The NATO command is the only Joint Force Command in North America. If deterrence fails, the mission of the command is to fight and win the Battle of the Atlantic.

Preventing that war is paramount. "In my view, the world is entering a period of potential instability as some nations … and clearly terrorist groups and perhaps some rogue actors, are seeking to undermine and challenge the existing international order," the general said. "They seek to weaken the system of cooperation and collective security that has been in existence for some time. The dynamic nature of today's current environment is counterbalanced by an order that was put in place 76 years ago, at the end of World War II."

That war was the most destructive in human history. Between 1914 — the start of World War I— and 1945 — the end of the second World War more than 150 million people were killed. These were wars between great powers and they were incredibly destructive. "That is the butcher's bill of great power war," Milley said. "That's what this international order that's been in existence for seven and a half decades, is designed to prevent. That's what JFC-Norfolk is all about. It's to prevent that outcome."

Three Blunders in Rebuilding Afghan National Defence Security Forces

Major Sunil Shetty, SM (Retd)

Who would have imagined, way back in 2001, when the US troops had landed in Afghanistan, that exactly two decades later, the Taliban would come back to reoccupy the country and that too before a complete withdrawal by the international forces? The militia group now claims it controls “85 percent of the Afghanistan’s territory.”

Furthermore, who would have imagined the current scenario where the Taliban, backed by Pakistan in both standoffs, would force two superpowers: the US and Russia, whom it has comprehensively defeated, to engage with it in peace talks and follow its dictates at the negotiation table.

Recently, India’s Foreign minister S Jaishankar cautioned the world leaders about the “legitimacy” of Taliban rule over Afghanistan. He also reminded the validity of the “New Delhi-Moscow-Tehran partnership of the 1990s in support of the Ahmed Shah Masood’s Northern Alliance” during his recent summit in Moscow.

IBCS Overcomes Electronic Attacks, Downs Cruise Missile


WASHINGTON: The Army’s missile defense network, IBCS, has successfully downed a surrogate cruise missile at the White Sands Missile Range, tying together data from F-35As, the Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability, the Marine’s G/ATOR radar and a PAC-3 anti-missile battery.

The inclusion of a beefed up electronic attack, combining the pod on the surrogate cruise missile with the effects of a more powerful ground-based system, marks an important achievement for IBCS. Should the Pentagon go to war with China or Russia, it will need to overcome the clutter and confusion electronic attack can cause, because both adversaries have placed great emphasis on EA capabilities.

Mark Rist of IBCS maker Northrop Grumman explained that this effort involved EA against the radars involved in the test, while previous tests had been directed against the communications systems binding IBCS to its sensors. Rist is Northrop’s program director for the missile defense network.