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AUSA 2011: ITT unveils secure smartphone

10th October 2011 - 13:30 by Beth Stevenson in Washington, DC

ITT has developed an Android-supported smartphone and tablet for the US DoD based on COTS technology and the company’s secure network processor, it has been announced.

Designed for ‘secret and below applications’, the GhostRider smartphone and GhostWarrior smart tablet include the company’s National Security Agency certified secure network processor, ITT officials revealed at the AUSA conference in Washington, DC on 10 October.

‘Smartphones change every six to nine months, and we want technology that keeps up with this,’ Richard Takahashi, director of information assurance at ITT told Shephard.

Commercial smartphones are deemed to have ‘the benefits, features and capabilities desired by DoD users’, but are lacking in the correct level of security, and therefore require secure processor technology such as that provided by ITT, he continued.

The phone is currently undergoing testing by the US Army at Fort Gordon, Georgia and Fort Bliss, New Mexico, with the last major evaluation having been the AWN/T (Advanced Wireless Network-Tactical) in July/August.

Takahashi confirmed that the company ‘did respond to the RfI’ with the GhostRider for the Nett Warrior handheld end user device requirement released in September.

In September, the Nett Warrior programme morphed into a US Army requirement for a handheld commercial-based, integrated computer. Takahashi considered the Ghost family to be a ‘suitable solution’ for the requirement.

The concept for the systems was first thought up in 2009, when there was ‘an early indication that the government wanted something more portable than standard radios’, Takahashi explained.

The platforms were developed on the premise of ‘preserving the quality of the smartphone while integrating the secure processors into the phone in a low profile way’, he continued.

The GhostRider completed development last year, and proof-of-concept models were delivered to the DoD in February. The tablet variant was designed this year, and proof-concept models are expected to be delivered to the army after AUSA.

However, it is anticipated that the tablet will catch up with the phone in terms of testing, with evaluation of both systems expected to be completed by March next year, at which point they will both reach the development stage.

Takahashi also confirmed that this should be done in time for the systems to participate in the army’s bi-annual Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) exercise, also conducted at Fort Bliss.

The NIE exercise is designed to recreate the in-theatre tactical network, and is set to next take place this month, so the company hopes to participate in the following round of testing next year.

The tablet and smartphone are the same size, with the former having a larger display screen, and Takahashi described the tablet as being ‘basically a larger smart phone’, despite there only being a slight difference in weight between the two systems.  
Meanwhile, ITT’s Common Core Operating Environment (OE) has also been certified as compliant with the Software Communications Architecture 2.2.2 and Applications Programming Interfaces by the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Joint Program Executive Office.

The Common Core OE is at the heart of ITT Electronics Systems’ new line of software defined radios’, including the Soldier and Rifleman Radios, plus the SideHat variants.

Having a complaint OE means that costs will be lowered, and that ITT’s work in this area is of ‘the most current standard’, company sources said.

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