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Ability for Electronic Kneeboard (EKB) to Communicate and Operate in a Multi- level Security Environment


The Electronic Kneeboard (EKB) is currently being developed to enable access to digital publications, tactical imagery, and other dynamic data in all USN and USMC aircraft. This capability will greatly enhance aircrew situational awareness, reduce cockpit clutter, improve precision fire, and enable in-flight mission re-planning. The warfighter would greatly benefit from a mobile platform capable of communicating on multi-level security domains, leveraging any and all available transport media. The utility of EKB is dependent on a tablet device ability to operate at both unclassified and classified levels, within a loosely-defined and inconsistent connectivity model. Unclassified operation will be required for various administrative functions (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS)/Naval Aviation Technical Information Product (NATIP)/Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), study, access to email, and routine mission planning); while the classified environment will be essential for tactical mission execution that includes but is not limited to ingestion of live data feeds, chat, tactical imagery, etc. The objective of this project is to design and develop a software-based solution to achieve unclassified and classified (definition for classified is Secret) personas on a single tablet. The development effort will have to address a major challenge, which will require a highly innovative approach to devise a software tool that is sufficiently "secure" to meet National Security Agency (NSA) requirements for highly classified communications. Proposers should consider the requirements of NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program (see reference below). Further, the software-based solution should utilize a variety of transport media to send/receive data from/to the device when a network connection is present. The solution should address the need for predictable, timely execution of system commands. The software tool should utilize a smart algorithm/load balancer to analyze available connections and make the most efficient use of the bandwidth provided over each security level, based on network performance metrics, application priority, and others. For example, a shipboard environment may have a Satellite Communications (SATCOM) presence/Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) Wi-Fi, a Forward Operating Base may have SATCOM/cellular, and a training squadron may have cell/Wi-Fi/Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) hardwire. This approach would enable devices to receive, process, and display a variety of data types from existing networks, aircraft systems, and sensors. Data types to include standard Office documents, imagery files, e-mail, text, and voice traffic. A smart processing construct is critical to the success of this effort. Current solutions in this problem space fail to effectively leverage both internal system resources and external system interfaces. Internal resources (i.e. system memory, Central Processing Unit (CPU) cycles) are simply divided based on a predetermined split across various virtual machines. This structured methodology does not account for the dynamic reallocation of critical resources based on mission need. Further, current tablet technologies do not gracefully assess system interfaces and the bandwidth available across each of them. Standard bandwidth monitoring techniques are obtrusive, utilizing methods which further exacerbate the limited bandwidth problem. PHASE I: Design and develop a software-based concept to achieve high assurance data isolation/compartmentalization via dynamic data identification. PHASE II: Develop a prototype software tool with a path towards multi-level secure processing capability and certification. Preliminary testing of the prototype will be conducted with the inputs/artifacts provided by the government sponsor to support flight certification process. Demonstration of load/resource balancing across security levels is key. Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DSS and NAVAIR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract. PHASE III: Integrate the software tool into EKB tablet to assure interoperability with existing EKB applications (list to be provided as needed) and conduct operational tests with mission representative datasets in simulated network environments. Collect performance metrics from developmental tests and refine smart processing algorithm(s) to optimize performance. All certification and accreditation artifacts will be provided for both information assurance and flight certification.
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