2nd July, 2021
The DISCRETION proposal led by DEIMOS Engenharia, Elecnor Deimos branch in Portugal, was the first classified in the Cyber situational awareness and defence capabilities, defence networks and technologies for secure communication and information sharing topic of EDIDP’s 2020 call for proposals (EDIDP-CSAMN-2020).
The project will be developed by an international team composed also by Instituto de Telecomunicações, Instituto Superior Técnico, Altice Labs and Adyta Lda. (all Portuguese entities), Telefonica Investigación y Desarrollo S.A.U., Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (both from Spain), Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH and Nextworks, from Italy.
DISCRETION aims at integrating and combining the technologies of software defined network (SDN) and quantum key distribution. This, combined with legacy optical networks, will build a highly secure, scalable and resilient network control architecture for advanced tactical operation services. Compared with the traditional approach, where the network configuration and management interfaces are typically proprietary and tied to a specific manufacturer, SDN represents a revolution that supports further network evolution, opening it to potentially disruptive technologies like Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and quantum technologies in general.
This technology will reinforce the European Defence’s autonomy in secure communications and will enable European armed forces to also use Radio Spectrum for military activities.
‘This activity is a stepping stone for Deimos in Telecom’, states Nuno Ávila, the Director of Deimos Engenharia. ‘Quantum technologies are the future for dependable communications and we are thrilled to be the pioneers building up this capacity for the European defence’.
Catarina Bastos, DISCRETION Project Manager in Deimos Engenharia, states: ‘We are really happy to have the possibility to develop such a network in Portugal. Our consortium is unique in terms of experience and innovation. We will join all of our forces to change the communications and information sharing paradigm in Europe’.
An application of these technologies was demonstrated in Lisbon on the 30th June, with an experimental test supported by the EMGFA, the Portuguese General Staff of the Armed Forces, and GNS, the National Security Office. Some of the Portuguese partners in DISCRETION –Deimos, Instituto de Telecomunicações (and Universidade de Aveiro), Instituto Superior Técnico and AlticeLabs– have set-up a pioneer experiment, consisting in the interchange of messages between two Portuguese Defence facilities (5km apart from each other) using a quasi-quantum link and fiber optics.
General Rocha, from EMGFA, stated: ‘This field experiment allowed to demonstrate the national capabilities of Portuguese industry, academia and defence internationally, and to start DISCRETION in a perfect time.’
Almirante Gameiro Marques, Head of the Cybersecurity group in the National Security Office added: ‘The development of projects of this nature will enable Portugal –and Europe– to have its proprietary technology in these areas, including its own encryption machines, and the respective cryptographic key production processes’.
Elecnor Deimos also takes part with relevant roles in other EDIDP awarded projects in the area of Space Situational Awareness.
The European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) is an industrial programme of the EU supporting the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the union’s defence industry.
EDIDP, with a financial envelope of €500 million for 2019-2020, was the first ever EU grant programme targeting capability development and co-financing the joint development of (new and upgrading of existing) defence products and technologies. EDIDP was one of two precursor programmes of the European Defence Fund.
Some members of DISCRETION team after the first quantum field experiment for validating quantum communications in the Portuguese Ministry of Defence