Air Force wants 'mini crypto' devices for battlefield ops

As the military services work to improve battlefield communications, the need to secure communications and devices becomes paramount. They need to protect data both in transmission and at rest, in the event devices are lost or stolen.

The Air Force is addressing this challenge with its Mini Crypto program, seeking cryptographic devices that meet National Security Agency requirements while also falling within low Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) parameters. The Air Force has just issued a request for proposals for the program.

Like other services, the Air Force is making use of a growing number of small form-factor devices, from smartphones to cameras sending video feeds from unmanned aerial vehicle. “Without a cryptographic solution in these tactical devices, communications may become increasingly vulnerable to compromise and exploitation,” the solicitation states. “Additionally, analysis showed an embeddable solution does not exist to address the full set of security needs.”

The service wants an inexpensive, low-SWaP NSA Type 1 certified module that can be embedded in a range of small devices, securing information at secret and below classifications. It should use Tactical Key Management and require Cryptographic High-Value Product handling for maximum protection, the solicitation says.

The solicitation follows an industry day for the program held last fall, at which time the Air Force said it was looking for up to 10,000 devices at a cost of about $1,000 each.


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