The need for increased security in our distributed training networks has become an emergent requirement for our armed services as they seek to train in a secure environment. To explore where the services are on this topic we sat down with Colonel Dan Marticello, USAF, Chief of the Simulators Division, AFPEO Agile Combat Support, AF Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB Ohio, for an exclusive Q&A on the future of security.
In his role as the Chief of the Simulators Division, Col. Marticello directs 400 employees in research, acquisition and sustainment for more than 40 USAF and 10 foreign air force aircraft training systems. He is also responsible for leading multi-command, industry teams in creating the acquisition strategy for distributed mission operations.
Wes Naylor: What is the AF’s view on how we should approach this requirement?
Col. Marticello: Ensuring the security of our USAF training systems and networks is paramount.
We in the Simulators Division of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center are approaching this requirement by moving towards a common, open system architecture for the majority of our aircrew training systems. Think of the cell phone industry as a good model of where we are going. In the past, there was a diversity of designs and operating systems –Nokia, Blackberry, Windows, iPhone, Android, etc. Since then the industry has moved to basically two common architectures – iPhone and Android. The underlying architecture is the same with the diversification between individual users delivered as applications that run on the common core.
Convergence to a common system is powerful and much more cost effective. Should a vulnerability be discovered, a patch can quickly be promulgated across all systems with a common baseline vs. having to deal with 40+ disparate baselines as we do today. Additionally, by moving to a common open system architecture, we can compete the underlying architecture while segmenting proprietary information for each platform in applications. This reduces regression testing and enhances competition.
Wes Naylor: Can your describe the AF’s current efforts or programs to help tighten cyber security in it’s LVC infrastructure, and what can industry do to assist in clarifying or defining the standards for increased cyber security in the LVC domain?
Col. Marticello: The umbrella effort we are pursuing these changes under is called SCARS–Simulator Common Architecture Requirements and Standards. We’ve stood up a government IPT and look forward to seeing feedback from industry soon on our options going forward. One way we will definitely engage industry is via the draft RFP process. As we move towards a competition in FY18 for the development of the common open system architecture and the conversion of the first few systems, we will release draft RFPs along the way to ensure we capture industry feedback. This will be the best avenue for industry to assist in clarifying or defining standards.
Our initial acquisition strategy discussions have focused on the concept of “skin in the game”. The initial competition for converting systems over to SCARS should include not only the establishment of the standards, but also include the conversion of 2-3 systems and the subsequent sustainment of those systems for a period of time. By structuring the competition in this manner, we hope to ensure all offerors take into account the lifecycle implications of the design vs. sub-optimizing along the way.
Wes Naylor: How is the AF working with the other services to come up with a standard or program that would enable a secure LVC environment across the services?
Col. Marticello: Lastly, we are working closely with the Navy on both the SCARS effort and LVC in general as well. PMA-205 is on the SCARS IPT. We are working closely with the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) as well to ensure USN assets can participate in large force exercises such as Northern Edge 17 via the USAF’s DMO network (CAF DMON). It is our opinion that the USN should join the DMON network for high end networked fast jet virtual training. It’s up and running and ready for use.
Thanks to Col Dan Marticello, USAF, for taking the time to talk to us regarding these topics of interest to those who are supporting our warfighters in the LVC environment. We will continue to reach out to the service leaders to bring you the latest thoughts on how they vision the future of LVC and how industry can best partner with DoD to bring the best training value to our warfighters.