In the ever-evolving landscape of defense technology, staying ahead is not just a goal; it’s a necessity.
The recently announced AUKUS Sovereign Tactical Edge Cloud (ASTEC) emerges as a beacon of innovation, reshaping the way defense communities approach their operational and strategic challenges. ASTEC serves various defense scenarios, from diplomatic posts to failover systems, abandoned base reactivation, and forward operating base (FOB) scenarios. In this post, we explore some of the engineering that goes into taking SoftIron’s true private cloud, HyperCloud, to the tactical edge in the form of ASTEC.
AUKUS sovereignty ensured
ASTEC is not just a tactical edge cloud; it’s a testament to AUKUS sovereignty. Every engineering decision, from hardware selection to software architecture, is grounded in ensuring the autonomy and control of the AUKUS nations over their defense capabilities. This commitment to sovereignty resonates throughout ASTEC’s design, aligning seamlessly with the strategic goals of defense decision-makers.
Keeping sovereignty at the forefront of our decisions, we optimized for what we consider the most important drivers determining the usefulness of products in today’s and future military settings: Agility and Scalability; Reliability and Durability; Security; Interoperability, and Standardization.
Agility and scalability for evolving threats
Defense is not static, and neither is ASTEC. SoftIron’s cloud infrastructure is designed with agility and scalability at its core, and in the case of ASTEC, it allows quick adaptation to evolving threats. Whether expanding operations or responding to unforeseen challenges, ASTEC provides the flexibility needed to scale resources on-demand, ensuring mission success in any scenario.
A core aspect of the agility of the solution is its compactness. Utilizing shock mounts that minimize space between the inner chassis and outer shell, ASTEC’s housing provides equal or superior shock and vibration properties compared to other solutions, hence ensuring compact dimensions without compromising protective characteristics.
Internal cabling is protected by highly durable yet lightweight metal covers, using a honeycomb pattern design to ensure stability and protection in the field while minimizing the system’s overall weight. This same honeycomb pattern maintains minimal airflow impedance and provides a “straightening” effect for even air distribution.
The system’s well-balanced center of gravity ensures safe and rapid deployment, contributing to its mobility in the field. All covers are mounted using star knobs for quick removal and reinstallation in the field. Six fully recessed ergonomic handles enable easy movement.
Reliability and durability through engineering excellence
At the core of ASTEC lies a meticulously engineered infrastructure, designed to meet the unique demands of the defense sector and ensure a sovereign and agile tactical edge, offering defense against a range of environmental stresses, from extreme temperatures and humidity to sand, wind, and water damage.
The system’s housing is constructed from a highly durable and specifically selected aluminum alloy, ensuring robustness and longevity. Attesting to a commitment to quality and durability, the housing boasts a superior volume/weight ratio compared to alternative designs. The housing is coated with a primer and polyurethane enamel specifically developed for military use cases, ensuring durability in diverse environments.
The internal systems are mounted using eight (8) wire rope isolators specifically designed and calibrated for the exact weights of the components as well as the most common shock and vibration patterns, enhancing stability and shock resistance. Materials used for the external housing and internal chassis provide protection against electrical stress, including interference and electromagnetic issues, as well as internal stressors like dissipated heat and high voltage components.
Redundancy is built into the system where possible, both on the networking and power distribution side, with two separate internal networking interconnects and two power distribution units (PDUs) providing failover protection.
The system utilizes tried and tested IT infrastructure building blocks operational in secure data centers across the globe, benefiting from widespread scrutiny and testing within the industry, resulting in more robust security features. This helps stay ahead of potential threats in contrast to custom solutions, which may have security vulnerabilities that are harder to identify and address. This also ensures short training times for personnel as well as resilience from a supply chain standpoint.
ASTEC also has pre-provisioned space and mounting solutions compatible with common HAIPE encryption devices such as various TACLANE models from General Dynamics. This allows quick installation and removal of these units without the need to disassemble the entire system.
Interoperability and standardization
ASTEC presents a uniform look and feel, coupled with a compact form fit, and function. This intentional design choice enhances not only the cohesion of the system but also its practicality in various defense scenarios. The sleek and compact nature of ASTEC also ensures ease of deployment and integration into existing defense infrastructure.
The use of widely adopted building blocks in the form of SoftIron’s suite of storage and compute appliances promotes interoperability with a wide range of hardware and software components. This compatibility allows customers to easily integrate new technologies, third-party solutions, and tools, fostering a more flexible and robust ecosystem.
ASTEC can be adapted to local needs through the usage of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) parts, ensuring interchangeability of components for tailored configurations.
Standard stacking feet and corresponding recesses, along with four (4) lifting lugs, allow for convenient stacking, loading, unloading, and transportation of multiple systems. Fully recessed handles and closures, along with positive stacking provisions, enhance practicality in various deployment scenarios.
In a world where agility is paramount, ASTEC stands as a testament to the power of innovative engineering in defense. The fusion of cutting-edge technology, AUKUS sovereignty, and a commitment to real-time responsiveness positions ASTEC as a game-changer for defense professionals. With a focus on tailored design, compact dimensions, and defense against a spectrum of environmental and internal stresses while leveraging proven building blocks of widely adopted IT infrastructure solutions, ASTEC ensures the safety and reliability of your mobile infrastructure in any operational scenario.