Science and Technology News

Friday, June 26, 2015

BITI awards contracts, upgrades Air Force cyber infrastructure

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


6/18/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Base Information Transfer Infrastructure program office here recently awarded four contracts geared at recapitalizing or replacing critical network components.

BITI is responsible for upgrading the Air Force's cyber infrastructure and provides both hard-wired and wireless network capabilities to 175 active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard bases worldwide.

According to program officials, the four contracts mark the first round of recapitalization efforts for 44 installations in the operations and support phase for both wireless and wired systems. The total value of the contracts is approximately $24 million with an expected completion date of September 2016.

Full deployment is anticipated for February 2017.

"BITI efforts are effective in mitigating vulnerabilities against cyber attacks," said Adam Hurst, BITI program manager. "However, to ensure the network sustains its reliability, maintainability, availability and equipment certifications, component refreshes are needed every few years."

The recapitalization will update hardware such as core and critical distribution nodes every five years once the initial installation is complete. The five-year update is in alignment with industry standards for commercial-off-the-shelf refresh cycles on BITI-related network components.

According to Hurst, this will drive out obsolete equipment that could introduce vulnerabilities to the network.

BITI also has the capability to address the growing demand for additional bandwidth, which is driven by voice, data and imagery requirements. If requirements are approved, the program will adjust to meet the users' data transport needs.

"We will be looking at several different initiatives in order to provide better capabilities and lower costs," Hurst said. "Some of these include expanding the wireless networks, right-sizing the network to accommodate increased bandwidth requirements and supporting the transition to the Joint Information Environment. BITI will also look at new ways to architect the network and new equipment technology in order to provide the best data transport solution."

With 800,000 users worldwide, the Air Force network infrastructure that BITI provides affects every single Airman. It allows service members to communicate via email, access mission applications and even conduct wireless F-22 Raptor maintenance, such as running diagnostics.

BITI, which is part of the much larger $3 billion Combat Information Transportation System program, began in the 1990s, but at the time, dealt strictly with wired networks. BITI-Wired provides base-wide connectivity for all core facilities deemed mission essential while maintaining connectivity to all other base network users.

These "turnkey" active-duty, Guard and Reserve installations include a distribution system element, such as fiber optics, a manhole and duct system; inside plant element, consisting of power, ground, cooling and physical security; and a network element, which includes switches for distribution and user access.

The wireless component of BITI was added in 2005.

Beginning in 2011, the BITI-Wireless began to upgrade elements of the system starting with the authentication server. Later, the wireless controllers and access points were updated.

The BITI wireless component of the program will be added to the recapitalization effort beginning in fiscal year 2016.

"The recent contract awards are a step in the right direction toward updating our Air Force cyber infrastructure," said Col. John Bedingfield, C3I and Networks Infrastructure Division senior materiel leader. "The contributions made by the BITI team are vital to the Air Force network and impacts every Airman across the globe."

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