TEMPEST power line filters from MPE make shelters spy-proof

1st July 2024
Sheryl Miles

The Armag Corporation of Bardstown, Kentucky, is a provider of high-security, modular, and transportable secure facilities as spy-proof shelters.

Since 1969 Armag has manufactured and delivered thousands of such secure multipurpose modular units up to 5,000 sq ft floor area. The company is utilised for wide-ranging defence, armoury, security, and commercial applications across the USA and some 23 overseas territories.

Prefabricated RF/EMI shielded modules can be joined together to provide a single prefabricated complex, giving RF/EMI shielding in accordance with all required military standards. Armag’s patented RF seam allows for a mechanical assembly that is easy to deploy and fast to assemble.

Crucial to information dissemination, strategising, and overall mission success, SCIF rooms provide secure locations for the discussion of military strategy and exchange of intelligence without the risk of outside interference. Military SCIF rooms are also often used to maximise space for base camp activities such as training and reconnaissance. They come ready-to-use with secure pre-wired power and communication ports.

So Armag's flagship product is their spy-proof A.R.C. (Armoured Rapid-Deployment Compartmented) vault, an SCIF room designed to meet or exceed ICD 705 and SAPF (Special Access Program Facility) specifications.

The A.R.C. vault is a custom-manufactured modular SCIF, providing a significant level of TEMPEST, ballistic and forced entry protection, with its material of construction being a continuously welded 1/4" steel. These highly versatile modular shelters are tailorable to a project's needs, offering external building space or an internal secure room within an existing building. The modular design facilitates rapid deployment and relocation, as well as reconfiguration for new missions.

So Armag has supplied multiple hardened modular shelters incorporating custom MPE Extended Performance TEMPEST power line filters, designed and manufactured in Liverpool, for a major United States Department of Defence (DoD) programme.

The TEMPEST threat to information security was first recognised by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ in the 1960s. Governments, armed forces, municipal authorities, and companies now share this concern that electrical and electronic equipment such as computers and peripherals give off unintended electromagnetic emanations which can then be reconstructed beyond the boundary of a building as intelligible data. Countermeasures are aimed at preventing eavesdropping on data radiated as signals via conducting lines such as power, telephone, or control line cables.

TEMPEST was originally a military code word, subsequently rationalised as an acronym for terms such as “Transmitted ElectroMagnetic Pulse Emission Standard” or “Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected from Emanating Spurious Transmissions”. In defence parlance, the countermeasures applied to prevent intelligence interception are known as hardening, and TEMPEST hardening represents a vital aspect of total facility protection from electromagnetic threats in theatre.

For the Armag A.R.C. vault project for the DoD programme, MPE supplied custom 400A Extended Performance three-phase and neutral power line filters. These provide TEMPEST protection to NATO SDIP 29/1 and compliance to MIL-STD 461 and DEF STAN 59 411. With a proven record of excellence in safeguarding shielded rooms, IT hubs, datacentres, and EMC test chambers, MPE's high-reliability Extended Performance filters were specified for Armag's A.R.C. vaults, ensuring their optimum acoustic protection against espionage.

Then, above and beyond this, MPE's experienced design engineering team in Liverpool undertook all the customisation necessary to suit the particular operating conditions and constraints of these shelters. The filters needed, for example, to operate at 270/440V AC to maximise flexibility of operation in different locations.

So, following the successful completion of this contract, Armag and MPE are continuing to work together on power line filter protection for several new transportable shelter projects.

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