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An Air Force Cyberspace Weapon System Attains Full Operational Capability

Published: January 20, 2016

USAFCybersecurity

The Air Force has enhanced its defense against cyber-attacks with its Air Force Intranet Control (AFINC) cyberspace weapon system, which is now fully on-line, according to Air Force officials.

At the Air Force, as it is across much of the Department of Defense (DoD), IT leaders have been pushing a culture change that recognizes the integrated and interconnected nature of warfare, weapons systems, and information systems and other IP-enabled technologies and systems. Consequently, we’ve heard top brass and other IT leaders increasingly promote an outlook that views information systems as weapons systems and the cybersecurity of all systems as integral to mission assurance and overall battlespace dominance. The cyber-domain joined air, sea, land, and space.  

Several years ago, the Air Force indicated that it would focus more attention and funding toward cyberspace by officially designating some of its cyber-systems as weapons systems. In March 2013, the Air Force Chief of Staff officially designated the Air Force Intranet Control (AFINC) system to be weapon system.  

This week the Air Force announced that it has reached an important milestone by declaring AFINC to be the first cyberspace weapon system to reach full operational capability (FOC) status. According to Air Force officials, the AFINC weapon system controls the flow of all external and inter-base traffic through standard, centrally-managed gateways and is comprised of the following elements:

  • 16 gateway suites
  • 15 SIPRNET nodes
  • 200+ service delivery points
  • 2 integrated management suites

As such, AFINC will serve as the top-level defensive boundary and the entry point for all network traffic into the Air Force Information Network (AFIN). AFINC replaced and/or consolidated more than 100 regionally managed Air Force network entry points to provide greater agility to take defensive actions across the network.

The system is operated by the 26th Network Operations Squadron (26th NOS) located at Gunter Annex, Montgomery, AL and is supported by Air Force Lifecycle Management Center Program Office at Hanscom AFB, Air Force Space Command (HQ AFSPC) at Peterson AFB, the 24th Air Force staffs at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, TX, and by Cyber Defense Information Assurance, which is providing contracted IT services.

AFINC is part of the Air Force’s alignment with the DoD’s implementation of Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) and is the first of five cyber-systems the Air Force has designated as weapons systems.

The multi-year effort to consolidate and overhaul existing infrastructure to reduce the attack surface of Air Force networks demonstrates the ongoing vulnerabilities of existing systems and the challenge and effort it will take to secure them.