HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Digital engineering, open architecture, and agile acquisition are all interrelated, symbiotic, and necessary for our success, a Hanscom Air Force Base senior official told members of the Hanscom Representatives Association during their virtual presentation Nov. 10.
Joe Bradley, director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems and associate director of engineering and technical management at Hanscom, discussed the steps his office is taking to leverage digital engineering in order to reduce cyber vulnerabilities in Air Force weapons systems.
“At the end of the day, digital engineering is what we’ve been looking for,” said Bradley. “We need to apply it to the systems that our warfighters need and we must do it quickly.”
Digital Engineering is an integrated approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models as a continuum across disciplines to support Air Force lifecycle activities from concept through disposal.
CROWS personnel are looking for ways to standardize cyber resiliency in the acquisition process, ensuring that Air Force weapons systems outpace threats. One way CROWS accomplishes this task is by collaborating with industry partners.
“We have to really work with our industry partners, and our efforts require more than a single vendor solution,” said Bradley. “We have a strategic relationship with all of them.”
During his presentation to HRA, Bradley also discussed data security, a major challenge associated with digital engineering.
“If anyone can access our data, whether it is an industry competitor, a hacker, or a near-peer adversary, we will lose our competitive advantage because they will know exactly how our system works,” said Bradley. “We have to ensure we have the encryption to transfer that data, and we have to make sure that industry and government adequately protect it.”
In an effort to analyze the cyber vulnerabilities of major weapons systems and report findings back to Congress, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center stood up CROWS in late 2016.
“Whether we win or lose is going to be decided by how quickly we react, so we need to change our thinking and become more agile,” said Bradley. “We need to understand that digital engineering is not a fluke, it’s our future.”
HRA brings representatives from small, large, and start-up Hanscom area businesses together to encourage collaboration in the acquisition process.