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Old 12th June 2012, 3:18 PM   #1
antipody Thread Starter
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Default U.S. Navy turns to Linux to run its drone fleet

U.S. Navy turns to Linux to run its drone fleet

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Seeming eager to avoid potential malware attacks that could cripple its drone fleet, the U.S. Navy will begin installing Linux to control some of its autonomous flying vehicles.

The contract, which is worth $27,883,883, calls for a "Linux transition on the tactical control system software for vertical take-off (VTOL) unmanned air vehicle ground control stations."

...

The U.S. military is not new to Linux, and has learned from past problems with less-reliable operating systems. "While the US military has been a growing user of Linux, the contract might also have something to do with the swabbies learning from the mistakes made by the flyboys and girls in the US Air Force," The Register wrote. "After a malware attack on the Air Force's Windows-based drone-control system last year, there has been a wholesale move to Linux for security reasons."
Geez... quite a vote of confidence from a security POV I guess...
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Old 12th June 2012, 4:43 PM   #2
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How cool are those little helicopters
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Old 13th June 2012, 3:02 PM   #3
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BSD would have been a better choice
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Old 13th June 2012, 3:47 PM   #4
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BSD would have been a better choice
True but it's unmanned, so not mission critical
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Old 13th June 2012, 5:50 PM   #5
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The other day I read that no one uses BSD anymore anyway, using Linux is more modern and cool (hence they they have modern and cool helicopters).

If they used BSD the helicopters would look more like this:

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Old 13th June 2012, 5:57 PM   #6
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I'd love to know more about their UAV's in general. I've been messing around with my own little dinky remote control quadcopter, and it doesn't take much to fly or control it -



This is the Ardupilot Mega, a "pro-quality IMU autopilot based on the Arduino Mega platform, which can turn any RC vehicle into a fully autonomous Unmanned Aerial (or Ground) Vehicle".

Fully autonomous, includes GPS and can very easily add a camera for real time video feeds. If you had access, you could easily add satellite uplinks and control and monitor it from anywhere in the world.

If amateurs can get their hands on this, what exactly is the military using I wonder...
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Old 13th June 2012, 7:59 PM   #7
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2012 - Year of the Linux Desktop Warfare Systems?
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Old 13th June 2012, 9:18 PM   #8
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"Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don't know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy." - Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, Lockheed Skunk Works engineer.

Maybe every other software vendor just told them to fuck off, or went broke...
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Old 13th June 2012, 9:58 PM   #9
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I'd love to know more about their UAV's in general.
Look up Northrop Grumman MQ-8B. That's the drone in question.

This is an armed version of a drone that has been in service since 2002...Armed as in Hellfire anti-tank missiles and laser-guided rockets. (Its similar in layout to the unguided rocket pods you'll see on Apache or Cobra attack helicopters, but its more expensive and accurate. Still far lower cost than firing off a Hellfire missile.)

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If amateurs can get their hands on this, what exactly is the military using I wonder...
Probably something similar, but modified to satisfy various mil-spec standards. The US military tends to have a hard-on for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology.

For example:

The real-time systems in military hardware are often equipped with advanced hardware memory protection and secure partitions for each sub-system. Unlike your typical consumer OS, the memory system is designed to offer guaranteed functionality. Stuff doesn't slow down or lock-up if it runs out of memory. It just limits and re-allocates resources. It doesn't allow you to do stupid things like you can with your desktop/notebook system. So they have scheduling protection. Components are expressly written for one purpose and not allowed to do anything else. Kernel has its own memory stack. And there's another one for a user process. Memory-based attacks don't happen with these systems like they do on consumer ones. No buffer/stack/heap overflow related vulnerabilities.

...On-top of all this, it needs to be robust. So platform itself has to undergo testing through NSA's National Information Assurance Program (NIAP) lab. ie: They have extremely intelligent people who's job is to hack the crap out of it in order to guarantee specific stringent standards and certifications.

So when a drone falls into enemy hands (like the RQ-170 Sentinel that did in Iran); one will only be able to read maintenance logs and nothing more. They won't be able to get into the Classified-rated stuff...Which is exactly what happened when Iran bragged about knowing where the drone had been in terms of maintenance activities! Anyone familiar with military systems will laugh at propaganda!

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2012 - Year of the Linux Desktop Warfare Systems?
I don't quite agree with that statement ...Mainly because I know the US Army has been using Red Hat Linux since 2007. (They are Red Hat's single biggest customer...All funded by the American taxpayer!)

The USAF is switching over to Linux for its drone's ground control system, because the Windows-based ones became infected with malware in Sept 2011. (The GCS doesn't actually fly the drone. That's a separate system for obvious redundancy reasons. Its for management of missions, etc.)

Look at the following unclassified slides...

The centre display is the user interface part of the GCS. It's Windows-based.


It's a two-person team, as they rotate between flying and watching things from a tactical perspective. (Drone missions go for hours.)

They're upgrading the solution to wide-screen displays and transitioning to a Linux-based GCS.



For the US Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout program, a custom version of Linux is being used for the Tactical Control System. The TCS is for mission planning, data link communications, surveillance imagery processing, etc. The contractor (Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems), also did a scaled-down prototype version using Solaris 8 on laptops.

The OS on the drone itself is likely to be using something like Green Hills's INTEGRITY Real-Time OS. A known and thoroughly tested solution for mission critical applications like used in military systems.

...Interestingly, Green Hills Software doesn't like Linux for its open source nature.
=> http://eetimes.com/electronics-news/...re-for-defense
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Old 13th June 2012, 10:02 PM   #10
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Maybe this is why they are moving to linux:
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011...s-drone-fleet/
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:07 PM   #11
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I have always wondered whether there would be a direct correlation between the increase in adoption of linux by government/military agencies and the increase of malicious software/viruses etc exploiting vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel.

Also I assume they will have to make changes to the kernel to run on their particular equipment, of all the work they carry out I wonder how much will be open sourced.
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IACSecurity View Post
The other day I read that no one uses BSD anymore anyway, using Linux is more modern and cool (hence they they have modern and cool helicopters).

If they used BSD the helicopters would look more like this:

image
Theo had that falling out with DARPA what, about a decade ago? Got OpenBSD's funding pulled?

.
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:19 PM   #13
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I cannot remember, but wasn't it the US Navy (or USAF) who used Linux PS3 clusters a while back??
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:56 PM   #14
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I cannot remember, but wasn't it the US Navy (or USAF) who used Linux PS3 clusters a while back??
Wasn't that the saddam government because the US wouldn't sell them any powerful computers (fearing they'd be used for uranium enrichment).
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:58 PM   #15
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Wasn't that the saddam government because the US wouldn't sell them any powerful computers (fearing they'd be used for uranium enrichment).
i'm pretty sure there was an embargo on selling/shipping PS2s to them for this reason.

was a while ago though so my memory may be a little off.
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