SAN ANTONIO — The Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed the winner of a “significant” IT modernization contract it announced this week: Washington, D.C.-based cybersecurity firm Invictus.

The contract is to modernize the top-secret Joint Worldwide Intelligence Collection System, or JWICS. DIA announced the deal Wednesday, but did not initially reveal the winning company. It’s the largest investment ever made in the network used by the intelligence community and the Department of Defense to transmit sensitive information, agency officials said. The DIA, which provides the U.S. Department of Defense with information about foreign countries’ military capabilities, manages it.

Program manager Katie Lipps told reporters during a briefing at the DoD Intelligence Information Systems Worldwide conference in San Antonio, Texas, Thursday that Invictus is the lead on the eight-year contract and will have a diverse team of subcontractors.

JWICS was designed in the 1990s to provide secure video teleconferencing between DoD and DIA headquarters, but its scope and user base has grown significantly since then. The network now includes data and email services and has more than 200,000 users, according to DIA Chief Information Officer Doug Cossa.

That increased demand, a need for greater security and a desire to incorporate new technology are the drivers behind the JWICS modernization initiative, he said during a Dec. 15 briefing.

“It has become the connective tissue that brings everything together — whether that’s collection or analysis that supports strategic competition,” Cossa said.

The modernization program will focus on three lines of effort: replacing outdated infrastructure; improving cybersecurity; and ensuring that the system can meet the long-term requirements of military and intelligence community users. One area of interest for the agency is making JWICS more mobile so that it can operate in hard-to-reach areas using secure satellite communication networks.

“We’re now looking all around the world at some of the most difficult possible places to provide connectivity to,” Cossa said. “Traditionally, our networks have been terrestrial, so looking at physical fiber lines, undersea cables that connect us with the rest of our sites around the world. . . . What if that doesn’t exist in the future, especially in those hard-to-navigate areas?”

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.

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