Milestone: Air Force Cyber Weapon System Fully Operational

Washington, D.C.

A new cyber weapon developed by the U.S. military is at full operational capacity and at the disposal of Air Force Cyber Protection Teams, according to the service’s space command.

On Monday, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) announced that it had “achieved a significant milestone Feb. 12 when the Cyberspace Vulnerability Assessment/Hunter [CVA/H] Weapon System reached Full Operational Capability [FOC] status.”

The announcement comes as Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper deemed cyber threats one of the top global threats facing the United States.

As the leading actors posing a cyber threat to America, Clapper identified Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea as well as non-state actors such as terrorists, according to the latest Worldwide Threat Assessment compiled by the U.S. intelligence community.

The Air Force’s CVA/H became the second cyber weapon system to go online in just over a month, notes Military Times.

“Achieving FOC means the CVA/H weapon system is fully capable to serve as the premier enclave defense platform for prioritized traffic in the Air Force Information Network [AFIN],” explains the Air Force in a press release issued Monday. “The CVA/H weapon system enables execution of vulnerability assessments, adversary threat detection and compliance evaluations.”

AFIN refers to the cyber system the Air Force Space Command is charged with protecting and defending.

“CVA/H is a tool for cyber defense, used inside the boundaries of the defended cyber system. The Air Force equips its Cyber Protection Teams with the CVA/H weapon system,” points out the Air Force in the release, later adding, “The weapon system provides the ability to find, fix, track, target, engage and assess advanced persistent threats to AF missions on prioritized network enclaves within the AFIN.”

Air Force Cyber Protection Teams are now employing CVA/H as a defensive tool within the internal bounds of the cyber system they are defending.

“The Air Force is developing its cyber capabilities and personnel as part of broader Defense Department-wide efforts to train and staff the offense and defense teams that will comprise much of U.S. Cyber Command’s operations at the service level,” reports Military Times. “All of the services are charged with developing cyber protection teams as part of CyberCom’s cyber mission forces.”

“This achievement underscores our commitment to the U.S. Cyber Command Cyber Protection Team mission and to the defense of prioritized cyberspace terrain in the Air Force portion of the [DoD] Information Network,” Brig. Gen. Stephen Whiting, AFSPC director of integrated air, space, cyberspace and ISR operations, said in Monday’s press release. “CVA/H defends the Air Force’s ability to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.”

Nearly a month prior to the recent announcement, the Air Force launched its first cyber weapons system — the Air Force Intranet Control (AFINC) Weapon System, which reached fully operational status in January.

AFINC reaching fully operational status means that the system “is fully capable to serve as the top-level defensive boundary and entry point for all network traffic into AFINC,” the Air Force explained as it announced the milestone in a press release in January.

“Other Air Force cyber weapons systems in the pipeline include the Air Force Cyberspace Defense Weapon System, the Cyber Security and Control System Weapon System, the Cyber Command and Control Mission System Weapon System and the Cyberspace Defense Analysis Weapon System,” points out Military Times.

DNI Clapper acknowledged that the new developments in cyberspace pose challenges to U.S. cyber defenses, but also noted that they open the door to new opportunities for the United States’ intelligence community.