recommended reading

Air Force Casts a Wide Net For Cyber Warfare Tools


The Air Force is scanning the market for “cyber warfare systems” tools, in an acknowledgment of the need to open up the opaque and inaccessible space to new players, documents show.  

The acquisition unit for Air Force cyber operations known as the Network Warfare Systems Branch, posted a request for information from firms that could offer software and services to support cyber operations. “The objective of this effort is to overcome restricted competition barriers in subsequent acquisitions for cyber warfare systems supplies and services resulting from legacy security policies, practices, and guidance,” according to the document released Friday. The market research will influence whether the service should bid out contracts openly and set aside some to small businesses.

A more transparent bid process would engage more start-ups when the work of supporting the Defense Department’s classified surveillance and offensive security machinery has typically fallen to the largest defense contractors, even with cheaper products in an increasingly-crowded market.

The document, obliquely worded, did not specify what the Air Force was seeking, but said that “CWS [Cyber Warfare Systems] information includes, but is not limited to: source code, installation code, unit test scripts, unit test data, application programming interfaces, data schemas, training material, graphics, and technical manuals.” There was no mention of exploits or vulnerabilities. Only unclassified information will be accepted. The window for responses is narrow: the call for information closes May 30 at 4 p.m.

The Air Force estimates base spending of $9.89 million in fiscal 2014 for unclassified offensive cyber operational support -- including computer infrastructure and software to perform data analysis.

Service officials are open to reviewing classifications around certain cyber operations, a move that would allow firms to bid for the contracts more easily, the Air Force signaled. It plans on “reviewing the system information of existing cyber warfare systems, preparing that information to be transferred to the appropriate (lower) security levels,” the document said.

The move to loosen up the security classifications on these systems coincides with the willingness of the top brass to highlight the administration’s commitment to honing its adversarial computer capabilities, especially in the face of attacks from Chinese and other foreign entities.

When the Air Force began searching for providers to offer hardware and software maintenance on “network warfare operating systems” in 2010, it focused on contractors with clearances in San Antonio, where the 24th Air Force, an operational warfighting unit that protects Air Force networks, is housed at Lackland Air Force Base. General Dynamics, which was tapped for the work, was hindered by unspecified “operational constraints” from completing deployment before the original contract was slated to end and a follow-on order was drawn up, federal databases reveal. The Air Force also indicated that it plans to launch within five years a full and open source selection for subsequent contracts involving logistical support for those network warfare operating systems.

(Image via Orion-v/

Threatwatch Alert

Social Media Takeover

Qatar News Agency Says Hackers Published Fake Stories

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.