Technological innovation, but with a khaki tint. As of this Thursday, the Ministry of the Armed Forces presents 110 innovative projects internally or supported by the French defense on the occasion of the third edition of its forum dedicated to innovation, the showcase of the work of the defense innovation agency. Review of three instructional projects on how armies reinvent themselves.
1. Democratize simulation in the military
Forty years have passed since the French Air and Space Force has relied on flight simulators to train its pilots. It is an essential but very expensive technology. In a parliamentary response, the Ministry of the Armed Forces estimated the total cost of a center with two Rafale simulation cabins in Mont-de-Marsan at € 29 million.
By relying on consumer technologies, a mix of aerial simulation games, and virtual reality headsets, the military now wants to democratize the use of simulation. Therefore, they are developing a new much less expensive simulator program. The first two cabin cabins developed at the Helicopter Crews Training Center (CIEH) cost just € 30,000.
An economy that can be explained by much less specific needs. With this massive network simulation project, in gestation for three years, the objective is not to reproduce the vector as faithfully as possible, for example the helicopter used. But to create a realistic immersion of a high intensity scenario, in short, massive tactical training.
“We will be able to simulate mission management and see how the different soldiers work together,” sums up Commander Fabien from the helicopter crew training center. Not all participants in the simulation need to be at the controls of a cockpit to follow the maneuver. This, once again, reduces costs. The Air and Space Force estimates that its needs would be met with one hundred cabins and one hundred simulation stations.
2. A sovereign software suite for DRM
A search engine, a relational chart generator, and a translation service. At first glance, the Hontas software package from the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM) does not seem particularly innovative. And yet, for the analysts of this service in charge of the intelligence necessary for planning and conducting the military maneuver, it fills a real void. The reason: these agents cannot use, for obvious security reasons, the equivalents available to the general public.
“It’s our offline, internal ‘Google’,” sums up one of the project managers. The Hontas software package thus enables analysts to perform an initial classification of collected documents, whether they are files extracted from databases or from hard drives and USB keys, to represent relationships and finally translate documents or audio files.
Supported by the artificial intelligence section of the DRM, created three years ago, this project has been in operation for 18 months. However, the nine developers working internally on this issue are not reinventing the wheel. In fact, the sequel is based on different bricks available in open source. Its role is, first of all, to adapt these services to offline operation. And to ensure its use by managing access rights according to the need to know them. Developers are adding new features over time, such as automatic transcription, added to the suite last June.
3. Strengthen the security of electronic chips
Supported within the framework of the Rapid system by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Bordeaux SME Eshard, specialized in embedded software security, has just completed one of its research projects, Scatter. Subcontractor of large technology companies, such as Google, Thales or Visa, this company tests the physical security of terminals or smart cards, one of the pillars of our cybersecurity.
His speciality? Attacks by auxiliary channels, in plain text the extraction and interpretation of different signals emitted by a system, such as electromagnetic activity, for example. An area heavily invested by attackers: with time and resources, electronic devices are vulnerable. Launched four years ago, the Scatter project aims precisely to study a new attack technique that allows to overcome a slow pace, the synchronization of signals. The results, which have just been presented in a scientific publication, are promising.
According to the company, the test of this new tool allowed to obtain cryptographic keys with between three and ten times less observation data required than traditional techniques. A significant result for Aurélien Vasselle, a security analyst, who “risks moving the cursor in favor of the attacker.” The technique, of course, will be of interest to intelligence agencies. Although this new threat must now be taken into account, for the design of their products, by the manufacturers of telephones, smart cards or connected objects.
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