Is demand for Tempest equipment turning around?

By John Rhea

WASHINGTON - Demand for Tempest secure communications and computer equipment, which has been in free fall for the past decade, may be poised for a turnaround.

Representatives of the dwindling band of Tempest suppliers who attended last month`s TechNet conference sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association (AFCEA) say they are pinning their hopes for renewed interest in Tempest on growing concern over new information warfare threats to civil networks in the post-Cold War climate.

Tempest refers to special metal shielding designed to contain stray electronic emissions from computers, displays, communications devices, and other electronic equipment. The central reason for Tempest is security. Sophisticated eavesdroppers using special equipment sometimes can steal computer data by intercepting their electronic emissions.

Government demand among NATO countries for Tempest-qualified hardware remains flat. The market, which peaked at about $200 million annually, has shrunk to $54 million, say officials at the dominant supplier, Wang Laboratories of Tewksbury, Mass. Half of that represents the value of the OEM equipment to be enhanced to Tempest standards established by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Wang supplies an estimated $30 million of all Tempest-qualified equipment, followed by four domestic suppliers: Cycomm Secure Solutions (formerly XL Computing) of Sebastian, Fla.; Grid Systems of Westlake, Texas; Raven Systems of San Marcos, Calif.; and Secure Systems Group (SSG) of Wilmington, Mass. Three additional suppliers are located overseas: Siemens in Germany, Thomson in France, and OSPL in England. Once there were 135 suppliers worldwide.

Full-Tempest specifications are only rarely required since Defense Department leaders quit Tempest-protecting all their sensitive equipment, and instead started conducting risk analyses on a case-by-case basis to determine which equipment required the additional security.

Yet there are still opportunities for intermediate levels of security, says Jules Rutstein, vice president for business development at Cycomm. Executives at his company are aiming at legal and financial applications and are offering Tempest versions of the Compaq DeskPro computer and Hewlett-Packard laser jet printer.

As a rule of thumb, a full- Tempest unit runs about twice the price of its commercial equivalent, notes Jennifer Rick, senior vice president and general manager at SSG. The difference is in the filters and sheet metal, she explains. The value added is the engineering and testing to meet NSA specifications.

The intermediate step is known as the Zone level of Tempest. This step, released in 1990 with backing from the NSA, costs halfway between the commercial grade and full Level 1 Tempest, Rutstein estimates. This is where the Tempest suppliers will be targeting the commercial markets using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer and communications equipment. Yet even those prices are likely to be prohibitive for all but the most sophisticated users.

Marketers at Ricoh Corp. of West Caldwell, N.J., for example, sell their full-Tempest secure laser facsimile unit for about $7,500, explains Irv Sentz, manager of fax sales in the company`s Alexandria, Va., office. The company is the OEM for Tempest versions based on modifications by Raven Systems.

Notebook computers with Pentium microprocessors as fast as 200 MHz cost $7,000 to $9,000 - as much as $12,000 for ruggedized versions - says Rick at SSG. Tempest notebooks also weigh a lot more than their commercial-grade counterparts because of the Tempest shielding, she adds. Add Tempest shielding to a 20-pound desktop computer, and the new system can weigh as much as 75 pounds.

James Johnson, manager of customer accounts in SSG`s Sterling, Va., office, says Tempest demand among NATO and other allied countries is now exceeding the U.S. market as these countries upgrade the equipment in their embassies and other diplomatic data networks.

As the OEM portions of Tempest systems such as personal computers, peripherals, and switches, continue to decline in price along with other COTS equipment, the Tempest increment represents a constant factor immune to cost reduction, estimates James Duane, manager of secure systems design at Wang. This can create the market perception that the price of Tempest equipment is actually increasing relative to commercial-grade equipment.

Another trend in Tempest-related design involves concentrating less on servers and other equipment that are already secure inside closed rooms in the interior of buildings, and more on dispersed equipment, such as personal computers and terminals located near windows and thus in danger of signal interception.

On one issue all the Tempest manufacturers are agreed: the need for optical-fiber network interconnects, even for short paths and low data rates. Attempts to secure copper cabling proved too expensive, notes Duane at Wang.

Military Tempest demand has been stagnant among the U.S. services and the contractors that in the past were required to use Tempest equipment as a condition of their contracts. Yet Sentz at Ricoh says he does see opportunities in tactical environments for high-level communications among high-ranking officers, for example.

But one of the main reasons the few remaining companies stay in the business is to protect their other secure communications product lines even if this means making little or no profit on the Tempest items, say representatives of Tempest providers and the OEMs.


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

XPand6020 | Small Form Factor (SFF) System Featuring XPedite5205 Running Cisco IOS® and XPedite7450

The XPand6020 is a Small Form Factor (SFF) system that features an XPedite5205, which runs Cisco ...

XChange3011 | Conduction- or Air-Cooled Redundant Gigabit Ethernet Switch

The XChange3011 provides two independent Gigabit Ethernet switch fabrics. These fabrics allow com...

XPand1300 | 3U VPX Air-Cooled Development Platform

The XPand1300 is a low-cost, flexible, development platform. This system supports up to fifteen 0...

XPm2010 |3U cPCI PICMG 2.11 Power Supply with Integrated MIL-STD-461E

The XPm2010 is a PICMG 2.11 power supply that takes in a MIL-STD-704 28 VDC input voltage and pro...

XPedite2470 | 3U VPX Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA Module with FMC Site and Freescale P1010 Processor

The XPedite2470 is a high-performance, reconfigurable, conduction- or air-cooled, 3U VPX, FPGA pr...

XChange3012 | 3U VPX PCIe and Gigabit Ethernet Integrated Switch with XMC and Management Support

The XChange3012 is a conduction- or air-cooled 3U VPX module that provides both PCI Express and E...

XPand1400 Series | Development Platform For XPand6000 Series, X-ES COM Express® Modules, and PMC/XMC Modules

The XPand1400 Series COM Express Development Platform targets the X-ES Small Form Factor (SFF) XP...

XPm2020 | 3U VPX Power Supply with Integrated MIL-STD-461E Filtering

The XPm2020 is a VITA 62-compliant 3U VPX power supply that takes in a MIL-STD-704 28 VDC input v...

XPedite5205 | Embedded Services Router (ESR) with Cisco IOS® on an XMC/PMC Module

The XPedite5205 XMC/PMC-based Embedded Services Router (ESR) router runs Cisco IOS® Software with...

XChange3013 | 3U VPX Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3013 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 3U VPX Ethernet switch module. The XChange3013 pr...

Related Companies

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc

GA-ASI is a leading manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-opt...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

DDC-I Inc

Offers complete solutions for embedded software developers with a focus on mission- and safety-critical applications....

DiCon Fiberoptics Inc

Offers fiber optic switches, tunable filters, and VOAs. Founded in 1986, the company is a US based, AS9100 certified,...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Harris Corporation

Harris provides advanced, technology-based solutions that solve government and commercial customers' mission critical...

Crane Aerospace & Electronics

When failure is NOT an option...rely on Crane Aerospace & Electronics. We supply high-density, high-reliability c...

MERITEC

Signal integrity leaders and preferred vertically integrated manufacturer of high-performance electrical and electron...

AcQ Inducom

Develops and produces non-certified and certified high-tech modular hardware- and software solutions for on-board and...

Advanced Conversion Technology Inc

ACT designs and manufactures, since 1981, an extensive range of AC-DC and DC-DC power supplies (switching, linear, ra...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

July 2015
Volume 26, Issue 7
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE