Why the Pentagon took up 5G networks
The US military is gearing up to fight a new futuristic battle ‒ 5G networks that are expanding across the world. The draft US budget for 2021, presented by the American government, increases the funds allocated to finance fifth-generation networks.
The Pentagon is exploring how lightning-fast 5G networks can transform warfare, from training and logistics and mission planning and communications to new battlefield tactics such as deploying drone groups.
The Republican Party, which holds the majority in the US Senate, on November 10 presented its draft of $1.4 trillion in total government spending, of which 696 billion is planned for defense.
Tensed negotiations have begun in Congress, and several Democratic Majority debates have already taken place in the House of Representatives.
In general, as indicated by Defense News, the bill on the budget for 2021 was approved by the Senate on a bipartisan basis, that is, the Democrats, in principle, weren`t against it.
Specifically, the bill fully funded the Pentagon’s $449 million budget request for 5G defense projects, up 19 million more than the House of Representatives suggests.
In justifying its budget, the House of Representatives referred to “historical underperformance” of the previously recommended $430 million.
The Pentagon has been working with industry on many of the ongoing 5G experiments being carried out at military bases across America. The US Department of Defense has recently awarded $600 million in contracts to carry out work in this area.
The military is investing heavily in the development of new technology ‒ in part, according to analysts, looking at China, which has made 5G its military priority, writes the authoritative American newspaper Wall Street Journal.
The US Department of Defense announced the allocation of the first tranche of $600 million to conduct experiments on the use of the next generation 5G network at its bases. The test begins before the launch of 5G, which, according to the plans of the US military, will take place in January next year. In a press release, the department said: “The Department of Defense announced the allocation of $600 million for research and testing of 5G technologies at five US military test sites, which will be the world’s largest full-scale tests of dual-use of 5G technologies.” Further funding for testing is envisaged.
Dual Purpose Stream
New technologies can provide the American army with additional capabilities and support the national industry. The infrastructure at the disposal of the Ministry of Defense will accelerate the implementation of the network for the military and, they say, will spur progress in this area. The Pentagon Command, in promoting 5G development, believes that a strong economy is directly related to national security. The fifth generation of mobile communications can significantly increase the speed of the Network, reducing data transmission delays to a minimum.
The US Defense Department’s website says: “The Department of Defense is at the forefront of advanced 5G testing and experiments that will strengthen the country’s combat capabilities as well as the US economic competitiveness in this critical area.”
The United States’ drive to overtake China in fifth-generation networks is now being put in the first place, even postponing the hypersonic race in which the United States was forced to recognize Russia’s priority. The White House has removed and blacklisted the Chinese company Huawei from its market, claiming Huawei’s long-standing fraudulent practice of misusing sophisticated technology and accusing it of activities that pose a threat to national security.
The presidential administration is in favor of new-generation networks being built by American companies, the government has already been supported by Microsoft and Dell, AT & T’s telecom operator. It is also possible to attract Europeans to the project. Equipment supplies are possible by the main competitors of the Chinese company Huawei ‒ Swedish Ericsson and Finnish Nokia. Also, Samsung developments are used. The Swedes have already officially announced the conclusion of contracts in the USA, Canada, and Japan. The USA will continue to release networked microchips that will be supported by 5G and enable the release of next-generation smartphones.
However, Huawei is not inferior to its world leadership in building 5G networks, Ericsson and Nokia are following it.
The US Department of Defense will conduct experiments at its bases that are quite difficult for civilian companies, despite the greater backlog in the promotion of new network technologies, since they may require local, regional, or state permits for testing. For example, the US Department of Homeland Security clashed with several departments over the possible construction of a 5G generation cellular network by Lidago, explaining its actions by interfering with the global positioning system GPS.
The main criterion for the selection of sites for experiments by the Pentagon was access to frequency bands that would allow setting infrastructure requirements, taking into account improvements, to conduct controlled experiments with a division of the spectrum of medium frequencies. In a press release, the US Department of Defense said the bases were selected “for their ability to provide orderly access to spectrum bands through advanced fiber and wireless infrastructure with access to key facilities to support new and improved infrastructure requirements, as well as their ability to conduct controlled experiments with dynamic spectrum division.”
At selected military sites such as the Lewis McCord Joint Base in Washington State, two US Air Force bases ‒ Nellis in Nevada and Hill in Utah, US Navy Base San Diego in California, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia, the capabilities of the fifth-generation network will be improved with the cooperation of the military, industry specialists and scientists. The Ministry of Defense and industry need access to 3.4-3.8 GHz frequencies and are ready to jointly seek compromises. 5G will partially use this already used band; it is planned to install additional transmitters for previously unused millimeter waves. Such devices will allow you to receive high-speed wireless communication in rooms, even in dense buildings. It is possible to connect up to a million devices per 1 square km of coverage; now fourth-generation networks allow connecting about 4 thousand devices. The military will test the ability to ensure the confidentiality and security of channels during experiments.
Projects will include testing 5G augmented / virtual reality for mission scheduling and military training, testing smart warehouses, and evaluating the use of technology to improve decentralized governance.
On a joint basis, Lewis McCord will create a stable and secure 5G network, connect a test bench developed using Samsung 5G technologies for experiments. It is planned to use the mid-frequency spectrum, providing high capacity and speed. Various companies will participate ‒ AT&T technology development program, Ocean Networks for the field training environment, Booz-Allen Hamilton for combat training using augmented virtual reality.
A 5G smart warehouse will be developed at the San Diego naval base, where cargo is handled, to deliver material between onshore facilities and naval units. Improving logistics operations involves identification, accounting, organization, storage, retrieval, and transportation.
Albany Marine Corps Logistics Base will create a 5G smart warehouse to store and maintain vehicles, using them to improve the efficiency of logistics operations.
At Nellis Air Force Base, 5G networks will be deployed to assist in the fight against lethal threats in the air, space, and cyberspace. Flexible participation in combat activities should increase the survival of command and control, the network will be used “to downsize existing command and control systems and make them more flexible in a mobile futuristic battle.”
Hill Air Force Base addresses the issue of dynamic spectrum exchange. Air Force radars and 5G cellular services are deployed. The purpose of the experiment is to develop effective methodologies that allow the joint use of on-board radar systems and cellular telephone systems in the 3.1-3.45 GHz range.
The Pentagon aims to accelerate the process of frequency band allocation and deployment of 5G networks.
The Department of Defense began trials of 5G-related tests last year at about a dozen sites. Recent experiments are broader in scope and have more funding behind them.
China is taking similar steps, analysts say. While the PRC government has kept its military experiments with 5G a secret, experts are confident that China has worked to combine private sector know-how with the military-industrial complex, which shows how promising its leaders see the technology militarily.
Almost from the very beginning of the development of this communication standard, China aspired to become the world leader in 5G and investigated its possible military applications, WSJ notes.
The publication writes that Washington’s concern about the deployment of Chinese-made 5G equipment in telecommunications networks overseas is growing.
The American side attributes this to security problems, although Chinese companies deny it.
“The worldwide expansion of 5G networks by Chinese companies will jeopardize the security and resilience of other countries’ networks,” said a recent Pentagon report.
Worryingly, this equipment could be used to spy on netizens or launch cyberattacks, a possibility that both the Chinese government and Chinese 5G equipment manufacturers have denied, the Wall Street Journal writes.
Chinese-made equipment in this area is prohibited in the United States, but the US military often works in countries where local telecommunications networks use products from the PRC.
While the United States may establish secure 5G networks at its bases when the military travels to local cities, their communications could be compromised, fears the military.
Therefore, the Pentagon is looking for ways to secure the communication of American soldiers when deploying them overseas, even if these 5G networks use Chinese equipment, writes WSJ.
Also, 5G can provide more reliable and secure communications on the battlefield. China and Russia have invested heavily in the ability to block military communications, and 5G could allow the US to reduce its effectiveness, says Dan Gonzalez, a senior research fellow at Rand Corp., a military-focused think tank.
The way communication signals are handled on 5G networks makes it difficult to disrupt, he said.
According to the WSJ, the military is experimenting with the sustainability of communications at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas.
There they are modifying the traditional Air Force command center ‒ the central hub in air warfare, where missions are planned and targets assigned. Rather than placing the personnel in one location that could be targeted by the enemy, 5G could allow teams to be distributed and mobile.
Another potential application of 5G technology is based on its ability to process huge amounts of data, allowing users to connect millions of devices through the so-called “Internet of Things”.
For the Pentagon, this potentially means being able to track where all the bombs and ammunition are stored, making it easier to get the right supplies to the right places on time ‒ a crucial factor in war.
The military is also betting that 5G could have more futuristic uses, the WSJ notes, pointing out that it could be augmented reality and virtual reality for mission planning, training, and combat.
The Pentagon also believes 5G will allow drones to form a group that is more resistant to enemy attacks than a single unmanned aerial vehicle, says the publication.