By Brian McMahon, Director of Cloud Architecture
In late 2020, the ManTech team was invited by the U.S. Navy to join other technology companies in a competition designed to showcase the effectiveness of autonomous, artificial intelligence and machine learning-backed data processing using tactical edge devices in a Denied, Disrupted, Intermittent and Limited (D-DIL) environment. We were also needed to demonstrate the impact of our approach on available bandwidth. No small order.
Our solution involved deploying our Secure Tactical Edge Platform (ST3PTM), which combines configurable hardware, application services and solutions to enable a user’s environment to operate and thrive anywhere in an ecosystem. When ST3P is connected, it acts as a hybrid cloud solution. When disconnected, it serves as an on-premise cloud solution. The benefit is that ST3P can bring cloud capabilities to on-premise or local environments – including at the tactical edge.
We showcased ST3P’s benefits by quickly building a roll-on, roll-off communications and cloud service offering that could be used in a connected or disconnected environment. Alongside, we used our advanced cyber range environment (ACRETM) solution to create a digital twin of the operating environment on the Navy’s prototype M80 Stiletto, a stealth ship which uses advanced stealth technologies and was designed for combat in shallow, coastal waters.
The exercise, conducted just offshore from Marine Base Camp LeJeune, North Carolina as part of the U.S. Navy’s ANTX experimentation, allowed our team to, among other things, use ST3P to connect into the ship’s communications and tracking services to demonstrate how we could use it with their camera system to capture data, parse it and generate an operational picture of the system at a point in time over satellite communications. The exercise also gave ManTech an opportunity to show how ST3P could be used to connect to commercial LTE signals (cell phones), to track the ship’s location, speed and direction and plot it on a map in real-time. The team consumed a live camera feed and identified and tagged objects, watching them from the shore. The team was also able to identify, alter and refine incorrect tags within the ST3P ecosystem on the fly.
Because we had created a digital twin of the environment, we also created virtual, autonomous “humans” with profiles and behavior patterns simulating threats or behaviors that presented risk. We could then model and rework the threat landscape and change resources or actions in order to mitigate risk. This also enabled us to create trainings and other learning management systems to tie back to or inform future requirements.
ST3P is delivered “as a service,” meaning the customer does not need to own any of the hardware and can optimize and effectively utilize existing bandwidth. Its open architecture environment enables users to build, test and deploy using agile development methodologies, and provides data and analytics automation at the edge. There, users can employ edge-friendly AI and quickly and securely access data. These capabilities made ST3P a perfect fit for the Navy’s ask of us.
Following the demonstration, which included more than 100 technologies from multiple vendors, ManTech’s ST3P platform was chosen as a Top 10 technology, ranking high for innovation and operational relevance. The tool was evaluated by both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and we were awarded a Defense Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) Pilot, which is a competitive program designed to help obtain solutions or new capabilities that fulfill requirements, close capability gaps, or provide potential technological advances.
We are excited about the continued demonstration of the ST3P platform and the opportunity to bring a range of solutions to this effort. Through this exercise, ManTech proved that modular compute/process/storage is possible at the tactical edge; that with it, network operations in a contested combat environment can continue uninterrupted; and that ST3P’s users can access reach-back services in a D-DIL environment.
When we talk about Bringing Digital to the Mission® at ManTech, this is exactly what we mean.
To learn more about the ST3P platform, visit: https://www.mantech.com/mantechs-secure-tactical-edge-platform