Cyber Defense

The Air Force bolsters its Cyberspace weapons systems

The Air Force’s Cyber Command and Control Mission System (C3MS) synthesizes Air Force cyberspace data to strengthen cyber command and control on the operational level from its current home base at the 624th Operations Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Raytheon Cyber Solutions Inc. has received a multi-million dollar contract to add alternate locations to the C3MS system as part of the latest generation of Air Force cyber space weapons systems. The system allows operational level 24/7, year round control of the Air Force’s presence and activities in cyberspace by providing Command and Control (C2) and situational awareness capabilities for Air Force cyberspace forces, networks, and mission systems.

Specifically, it connects the 24th Air Force Commander (24 AF/CC), the Air Force Cyber Command, and the Joint Forces Cyber Command so they can collaborate on formulation and execution of cyber strategies and directives, according to Air Force Space Command (AFSC) statements.

In its situational awareness capacity, the C3MS synthesizes the data being collected by Air Force sensors and weapons systems throughout the world, with data from databases and other sources to ensure constant knowledge of activities and situations that affect the Air Force and the Joint Forces Command, according to the AFSC. The ISR component brings cyberspace intelligence and data analysis into the situational awareness data pool for processing and action.

Air Force personnel monitor all networks and software, and if unusual activity is noticed, such as a flow of information from an Air Force network to a foreign IP address, then the 24th Air Force Command is notified, according Brig. Gen. Robert J. Skinner in 2014 when the C3MS was first given initial operating authority. From there, the situation enters the C2 phase, with planning and actions to address the security breach.

The C3MS creates centralized secure servers that have higher data volume and speed capacity to streamline and strengthen C2 operations in the cyber field. By consolidating network data, C3MS allows cyber command centers to process the data and use it to strategize and operate faster and more effectively.

To this end, the C3MS encompasses five mission components: situational awareness; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); planning, execution, and integration.

Applying the Air Force’s “fly, fight, and win” mission to the realm of cyberspace means leveraging cyberspace as a mission enabling and force multiplying domain, while securing Air Force data systems and networks from infiltration, Skinner explained

For example, “as the life cycle manager, we are responsible for providing effective and affordable upgrades to fielded systems…and we do so by acquiring and integrating new capabilities in response to an ever-evolving cyber threat environment,” said Col. John Bedingfield, C3I Infrastructure Division senior materiel leader in a press release.

Planning occurs when the C3MS’s ISR and situational awareness data is analyzed and used to formulate strategic assessments, plans, and actions in the fields of offensive and defensive cyberspace operations, and the Pentagon’s overall information network operations, said the AFSC statements.

Execution of strategic plans follows, where the C3MS also facilitates the AF and Joint command’s ability to monitor and command cyberspace operations.

Finally, the C3MS’s integration component comes from the its ability to give the Air Force more force impact capability in the cyber realm by creating a tighter network of command and control operational nodes.

The new $8,539,214 contract is funded by other procurement, and research, development, test and evaluation budgets, and the contracted work on the C3MS is expected to be complete in exactly

About the Author

Katherine Owens is a freelance reporter for Defense Systems

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