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US Air Force plans cyberspace offensive

Wants to buy cyber weapons
Wed Aug 29 2012, 15:38

THE US AIR FORCE has announced (PDF) that it plans to procure "cyberspace warfare operations" (CWO) capabilities.

The US Air Force includes Space Command, which extends the service's remit to operations in outer space. Since "cyberspace" includes the word "space", this might give it some excuse to claim the internet as part of its rightful domain in Pentagon funding battles.

Kaspersky Lab reports that the Air Force is asking contractors to submit concept papers for technological demonstrations of offensive cyber warfare operations. The announcement seeks CWO capabilities in categories including "cyberspace warfare attack" and "cyberspace warfare support".

The Air Force defines such attack capabilities as giving it the ability to "destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp" the adversary's ability to use cyberspace to its advantage.

Its request for concept papers seeks support that includes capabilities for operational commanders to intercept, identify and locate sources of vulnerability for threat recognition, targeting and planning. This includes providing information needed for immediate decisions as well as gaining intelligence or providing targeting for attacks.

The request also seeks "situational awareness capabilities that give an operator near real-time effectiveness feedback in a form that is readily observed by the operator", and goes into some detail about what it thinks that means. The wish list reads almost as though the writers have been reading too many cyberpunk science fiction stories, such as William Gibson's early novels.

However, if the US Air Force procures these cyberspace warfare efforts like it has been buying advanced fighter aircraft for the last 20 years, there's probably very little for potential adversaries to worry about. US Air Force cyber warfare might cost tens or hundreds of billions of dollars paid out to the usual defence contractors, but it likely will be chronically late, far over budget and 10 years out of date when it's finally delivered. µ


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