Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, announced a $54.6 million three-year contract last Friday to the Northrop Grumman Technology Services segment in Herndon, Va., for the Unified Platform Systems Coordinator project.
This contract gives Northrop Grumman the lead in developing the next generation of cyber applications and cyber tools for U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md., by designing a virtual backplane for future cyber warfare computer resources.
This contract to Northrop Grumman is part of a potential $217 million five-year U.S. military cyber warfare effort.
The goal of Unified Platform is to develop a common tool set to enable U.S. cyber warriors to act as a coordinated military unit in offensive and defensive cyber warfare operations.
Unified Platform will enable Cyber Command to operate without using the National Security Agency (NSA) infrastructure, and not interfere with NSA’s intelligence-gathering activities. Cyber Command and the NSA are co-located at Fort Mead, Md., and historically have shared cyber resources.
Unified Platform will pull together information from disparate systems into one standard view of the cyber battlefield that shows threats and the status of U.S. cyber forces.
It is as essential to cyber warfare as military aircraft are to air warfare, and as submarines are to naval maritime warfare, experts say. Cyber operations require software applications that work together with network software.
The Unified Platform involves activities that involve prototyping, testing, and integrating cyber capabilities to craft effective cyber weapons. It will help deliver working hardware and software to enable cyber forces to conduct real-world operations.
The Unified Platform program has the Air Force acting as executive agent and systems integrator, and Northrop Grumman as the Unified Platform coordinator. Future contracts to separate companies will focus on developing cyber warfare tools and applications.
The Unified Platform will involve several projects instead of one big contract. Northrop Grumman is the systems coordinator, and other companies will be prime contractors.
The Unified Platform project will create a prototype of a service-oriented architecture that connects users on a military network to enable access to different applications written to a common standard to enable rapid software and hardware development and upgrades. It also will prototype software applications for cyber warriors to use, evaluate, and improve.
The Unified Platform will unify existing or evolving systems infrastructure, mission capabilities, data analytics, and programs for the Pentagon's cyber mission force.
This requires integrated domain-wide planning and execution of all cyber teams. The Unified Platform will enable U.S. cyber warriors and their applications to be interoperable and interconnected; secure, operate, and defend the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Information Network (DODIN); provide cyber information in real time; and attain freedom of action in cyberspace while denying same to adversaries.
On this contract Northrop Grumman will do the work in San Antonio, Texas, and should be finished by October 2021. For more information contact Northrop Grumman Technology Services online at www.northropgrumman.com, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at https://www.wpafb.af.mil/aflcmc/.
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