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1/13/2012
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Air Force Seeks Revolutionary Ideas In Cyber Tech

The Air Force wants ideas on how to out-innovate its adversaries using technologies such as telecommunications, cyber-enhanced rocket engines, and satellites.

>Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
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The Air Force has shed light on its future vision of using technology innovation to support its missions with a call for "revolutionary" ideas to help the military arm gain a cyber advantage over adversaries.

The Air Force is seeking ideas in a number of areas, including science and technology research, operational concepts, and mission support innovations, according to a request for information (RFI) posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

The RFI also provides insight on how the Air Force strategically considers cyberspace and recognizes the military’s need to work alongside other stakeholders in the technology industry to use innovation successfully.

The ideas potentially may be included in the Air Force Cyber Vision 2025 study, which aims to lay out a strategy for short-, mid-, and long-term advances in "revolutionary cyber capabilities to support core Air Force missions," according to the RFI.

The study aims to analyze the current state of cyber affairs in the Air Force to come up with key areas of research and help identify threats and vulnerabilities that should be addressed going forward.

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The Air Force in particular is focusing on achieving an "assured cyber advantage across air, space, cyber, C2ISR (command, control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance), and mission support," and provides detail in the RFI for how it wants to address each of those areas.

Technology areas the Air Force aims to enhance in its space operations, for example, include ground stations; telecommunications hardware, software, and protocols; cyber-enhanced rocket engines; and satellites in space as well as their control and data-processing centers on the ground, according to the RFI.

One idea the military arm presented for how technology could enhance its satellite operations: by providing autonomous command and control for satellites as well as establishing intelligent processing centers on the ground to increase their responsiveness, resiliency, and readiness.

The Air Force also makes a distinction in the RFI between its physical operations and cyber operations, noting the differences between the two and the challenges the latter poses. "The Air Force operates missions in and through cyberspace, a human-created domain that knows no geographic boundaries (in contrast to air, land, sea, and space)."

Threats that must be addressed when considering Air Force missions in cyberspace include "external, internal, supply chain." They also "may employ a diversity of methods such as denial, deception or social engineering" with the intent to steal information, disrupt, or even physically destroy military assets, according to the RFI.

As it considers its cyberspace position and defines future investments, the Air Force also recognizes it must pay special attention to the implications of the private sector--which largely owns the critical infrastructure that powers cyberspace.

Interdependencies with "the defense industrial base, commercial providers, academia, non-profits, and federal laboratories" also are key areas of concern, according to the RFI.

Interested parties have until Feb. 24 to respond to the RFI.

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