Defense IT

Air Force takes open approach to upgrading its network

The Air Force is upgrading its enterprise network infrastructure through an open-standards approach that will keep its components fairly fresh while reducing cyber vulnerabilities.

The upgrades are being made through the Base Information Transport Infrastructure, or BITI, program run at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., or BITI, program and involve wired and wireless systems at 44 bases. The Air Force awarded four contracts, worth a total of about $24 million, to Affigent and ThunderCat Technology last year for the work. Juniper Networks announced today that it will provide the switching technology for the modernization.

Those four contracts are the first round of new recapitalization efforts under BITI, a program started in the 1990s and which provides network capabilities for 175 bases worldwide, serving some 800,000 airmen, according to the Air Force. Program leaders plan to upgrade networking hardware every five years, which is in line with commercials standards and can help protect networks by keeping the equipment current.

"BITI efforts are effective in mitigating vulnerabilities against cyber attacks," Adam Hurst, BITI program manager, said when the contracts were awarded. "However, to ensure the network sustains its reliability, maintainability, availability and equipment certifications, component refreshes are needed every few years."

Juniper said it will be involved in upgrading core hardware as well as network management and training. The company said that, in addition to open networking standards, the upgrades also will help the Air Force meet demand for more bandwidth.

Work under the current contracts is expected to be completed by September 2016.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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