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Data in Transit Encryption Algorithms for Hand-held devices and Man-pack Radios



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMO MC3, Program Management Office, Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Command, Control and Command

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop Encryption Algorithms for Hand-held devices and Man-pack Radios. The encryption algorithm is to provide Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) protection and integrity and confidentiality of transmitted information. The transmitted information will include Command and Control (C2) messages and Precision Location Information (PLI) for dismounted radios and tactical hand-held devices while providing the ability to be certified at the classified level, agnostic to the network used (i.e. encrypt the data portion of the packet only).

DESCRIPTION: Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) provides advanced algorithms for use in Command and Control (C2) network solutions to the Marine Corps. In an operational environment, dismounted Marines may encounter information operations against them in trying to decrypt or infiltrate Marine Corps Enterprise Networks (MCEN) or other information threats. These attacks will be unpredictable in frequency and occurrence and may include electronic warfare directed attacks. Dismounted Marines operate tactical hand-held devices or man-pack radios to send Command and Control (C2) messages as well as Precision Location Information (PLI) messages at the tactical edge. Additionally, Dismounted Marines have relied on the use of Control Cryptographic Items (CCI) type 1 encryptors for protection of classified information to the tactical edge while maintain connectivity to the MCEN Secret Internet Router Protocol Network (SIPRnet). With the new addition of the Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) office, the National Security Agency (NSA) in partnership with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) have provided an alternate means to protect classified information utilizing double encryption instead of requiring type 1 encryption. The development of technology solutions for this type of environment creates several challenges. Currently approved algorithms allowed require point to point connectivity as well as a dual vendor requirement. Additionally, it is desired for the algorithm to work and be certified for use in both the Windows and Android operating environments. Presently, the solution that has been deployed is to use a type 1 CCI device, however, the inclusion of Data in Transit algorithms may allow for the use of wireless hand-held devices, integrated wireless to radios and also the ability to interoperate with coalition forces that may not have type 1 CCI. At this time, there is no robust, viable technology solution that provides multicast transmission for this ongoing need in the application cited.

MARCORSYSCOM is looking for a solution that must be able to provide protection in a multicast transmission such as those in C2 and PLI messages. Agnostic Data in Transit algorithms, will initially be used for Marine Corps radios AN/PRC-117G and for the new acquisition program Marine Corps Handheld (MCH). The following hand-held and man-pack tactical radios may also use the above mentioned algorithm: AN/PRC-150, AN/PRC-117F, AN/PRC-117G and AN/PRC-152 (Ref 1). The radios will be used as a transmission medium only and will be used for proof of concept testing by the Program Management Office (PMO). Concepts proposed must provide the impact on the availability and throughput (rate of transmission) of messages while still providing integrity and confidentiality. Proposers must address how their technology solution(s) provides the ability to protect classified information, any novel technology combination (algorithms) used to achieve a classified protection, and any applicable algorithm performance information. These algorithms should meet the requirements for protection of classified information per the CSfC process (reference 2). Proposers should employ open architecture designs principles as much as is practicable to protect only the payload portion of an Internet Protocol (IP) message. Preference will be given to solutions that have an overhead of less than 6% (4% overhead for the TCP/IP header plus 2% overhead for encryption) when used in current Marine Corps systems (MCH connected to radios) for a notional 1 kilobyte message. Lastly, the solution should describe any current or previous experience with the CSfC process to include the ability to be certified by NSA which is an ultimate requirement for this technology.

PHASE I: The company will develop a novel data in transit algorithm that a hand-held or man-pack radio may use to protect the integrity and confidentiality of data to the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs through modeling and simulation and will establish the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility may be established by testing and/or analytical modeling, as appropriate. The company will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction as well as the plan for certification through the CSfC process. The company should develop a solution with means to protect the algorithm from disclosure for inclusion in the CSfC process and subsequent NSA CSfC certification if selected for a Phase II.

The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work. The Phase II effort will likely require secure access, and the contractor will need to be prepared for personnel and facility certification for secure access.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype of the algorithm for evaluation. The prototype will be used on both Android and Windows Operating System Environments to meet the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirement for wireless transmission and protection of classified information, with a preference and initial use on the Android Operating System. Additionally, the small business shall carry this product through the CSfC process in which the particular algorithms used may become classified when certified. The performer will still be able to use the certified technology for commercial use but may have disclosure restrictions imposed during the CSfC certification process. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype inclusion of a software encryption of the algorithm on a handheld device and evaluated in both wired and wireless transmission to man-pack radios by integrated testing with existing Program Office events. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design meeting Marine Corps requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Marine Corps use in both the Windows and Android operating system environments with initial preference to the Android Operating system. Additionally, the company should provide in the plan for a transition to both coalition and Naval forces interoperating with Marine Corps.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps, Navy and coalition use. The company will integrate the algorithm for inclusion in a handheld form factor to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The small business will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. Private Sector Commercial Potential: Municipalities, law enforcement, and first responders also use radios. New data in transit algorithms would also be attractive to these applications for integrity and confidentiality of the data. Such applications could be applied to both handheld or vehicle mounted applications, shipboard applications and interoperability of coalition forces without the use of CCI.

Additionally, commercial use of data in transit algorithms that provide protection at the classified level are also appropriate for use with health and banking data and almost any application which requires data protection.


  • AN/PRC-150 Military HF Radio, AN/PRC-117G Wideband Tactical Radio, AN/PRC-152 Multiband Radio.
  • National Security Agency Commercial Solutions for Classified.

KEYWORDS: tactical radio; tactical; handheld; AN/PRC-150; AN/PRC-117F; AN/PRC-117G; AN/PRC-152

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