Northrop Grumman [NOC] is offering a new “weapons system”-like platform for Cyber Command capable of integrating offensive, defensive and command and control mission applications across all cyber forces ahead of an expected downselect decision before the end of the year, a company official said Tuesday.

Chris Valentino, Northrop Grumman’s director of joint cyberspace programs, said the company submitted a proposal for the Unified Platform program in July, which looks to bring together model-based engineering and agile software development to deliver the first joint tactical cyber platform for Cyber Mission Forces.

Credit: Courtesy of Northrop Grumman
Credit: Courtesy of Northrop Grumman

“I believe the system, and of course it’s going to evolve over time, will enable the Cyber Mission Force to be able to better effectively communicate, as well as create applications and capabilities and do deploy them to an environment that allows them to meet the speed and the need of the requirements they’re getting as warfighters,” Valentino told Defense Daily. “By the end of the calendar year we’re anticipating a decision [on Unified Platform].”

The Air Force, serving as the acquisition lead for Unified Platform, issued a request for proposals in June directly to vetted companies with previous Cyber Command program experience through the General Services Administration’s Alliant contract vehicle. Alliant is intended to speed up the process of awarding contracts for select large military IT projects.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] is also competing for Unified Platform and offering their “Henosis” platform (Defense Daily, March 6). Lockheed Martin and several other companies developed their platforms under an initial $30 million Air Force award delivered under the Alliant program.

Valentino said a downselect on Unified Platform could arrive as early as this fall.

“We’ve focused our efforts around the model-based engineering and some application development where we thought there were things that would be clearly needed. That was based on the initial engineering work we did from the government investment. So that’s been our focus space relevant to preparing for the program,” Valentino said.

Unified Platform is among Cyber Command’s highest acquisition priorities to date as officials look to find a cyber weapon system platform to rapidly deliver new applications to warfighters and start to break down the services’ stovepiped capabilities.

“We are providing a platform environment that would allow the services to integrate their capabilities together to support the joint Cyber Mission Force, which is really important,” Valentino said. “The real game changer is to recognize the opportunity of being able to support a joint mission force and to have the services bring the forward the best capabilities they can and integrate them into an environment that will allow them to work seamlessly amongst each other.”

Cyber Command officials have discussed a need for a platform that acts like any other joint mission system used to deliver a kinetic effect.

Valentino said Northrop Grumman’s Unified Platform offering leverages both model-based engineering and agile software development to create a virtualized environment that would allow for more seamless command and control battle management across all Cyber Mission Force components.

“That allows you to really work in a dynamic environment where you don’t have to spend years doing design and engineering work before you can start developing capabilities. You can do those designs, do that engineering work in a dynamic environment, that needs agile software development capability. That translates to getting capability to a warfighter faster, but yet still doing it in a disciplined fashion,” Valentino said.