Much like traditional military capabilities have platforms from which to launch attacks, Cyber Command and the services’ cyber components need a comparable platform.
This effort underway is called the unified platform, which some have equated to a “cyber carrier,” and the Department of Defense’s budget request for fiscal 2019 describes a plan to develop such a program.
The Air Force, designated as the executive agent, will procure the unified platform for Cyber Command and by extension the joint force. In its research and development budget, the Air Force asks for $29.8 million for the Unified Platform program for fiscal 2019. It asks for $10 million fiscal 2020 and $6 million in fiscal 2021.
The unified platform provides “a Joint cyber operations platform capable of mission planning, data analytics, and decision support for the execution of full-spectrum cyberspace operations at the operational through tactical levels of warfare,” the budget reads. “UP integrates existing, but disparate, Service-specific cyber capability, delivering a minimum viable product (MVP). Subsequent build iterations will continue to deliver a flexible, interoperable and scalable war-fighter capability.”
Within the program element, the Air Force lists two projects: AF Prototyping and USCYBERCOM Prototyping, both of which seek to develop rapid research through prototype development, risk reduction, testing and integration of cyber capabilities contributing to the UP program.
The Air Force’s budget request $19.8 million in FY19 for the AF Prototyping project and $10 million for the USCYBERCOM Prototyping project.
In outlining an acquisition strategy, the documents state the program will utilize both new and existing contractual vehicles, such as Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) vehicles (Alliant, Encore II, Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement IV (SEWP IV), and General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedules and a new Cyber Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.